UPDATE APRIL 2016: PLEASE NOTE: The below article was written in 2014. CURRENT GENERATION PLUMCRAZY GEN II from E3 Arms and SUREFIRE INSTITUTE are fully compliant with BATFE.
PlumCrazy was a brand of polymer AR-15 lower receivers that were manufactured by PCF Manufacturing until they mysteriously went out of business in late 2011. Recently, a company, whose name I have been asked not to disclose, sent in a sample of a PlumCrazy lower to the BATFE to find out if the method they used to attached the metal serial number plate to the polymer lower was legal. Turns out, its not! PlumCrazy lower receivers are illegal, and have always been illegal under Federal Law.
Metal serial numbers plates attached to polymer firearms must be embedded in such a way that removing them will significantly damage or destroy the firearm. In the BATFE letter, dated June 18 2013, Firearms Technology Branch technicians were able to remove the PlumCrazy serial number using just a hammer and a screwdriver in just one minute and without doing any damage to the receiver. The letter says …
During the examination of the submitted AR- 15 type firearm receiver section (serial number RM00501 ), FTB also found that both the height and depth of the serial number markings are acceptable and thus compliant with§ 478.92. With respect to the adequacy of the attachment of the insert for this frame, the FTB evaluation revealed that the serial number consisted of a thin sheet of metal-like material and was attached to the surface of the embedded metal insert. This serial number was easily removed when a hammer and screw driver were used to peel the sheet off of the metal insert. This action took approximately 1 minute and caused no damage to the receiver. (See enclosed photos depicting the removal of the serial number insert.)
… the method used to attach the serial number insert (serial number RM00501) on the partial receiver sample is not compliant with Federal Law.
The last thing posted on the PCF Manufacturing website, dated 6 October 2011, was this message (copied verbatim, including spelling errors and odd punctuation, emphasis added) …
If you’re confused because you were looking for PlumCrazy Firearms,don’t be -·you’re in the right place; we are just adding a variance to our licence. Our composite lowers will carry the new branding and maintain the high level of quality you’ve come to expect from our products. We wil,l however, be phasing out the Plumcrazy branded lowers, so get them while you can! So what’s the reason for the branding change? Well, as we have more law enforcement and military wanting to use our products, having “PlumCrazy” on the side of the magwell may not be the best· idea……, that’s it -·no conspiracy or anything, just a simple business decision that allows us to further broaden our market place. What’s this change mean to you? Well, nothing unless you just can’t live without seeing “Plumcrazy” on your lower. We plan to maintain the same price point as before, and·continue to provide you with·the best customer service in the industry
PumCrazy lowers were quite popular. There could be thousands of gun owners around the country who, in good faith, purchase an illegal product.
UPDATE: Just to clarify, this letter is not online anywhere as far as I know. I do have the entire letter. The letter covers a number of unrelated questions a manufacturer asked the BATFE. Nothing else in it is newsworthy or interesting. I was asked not to publish the rest of the letter and so I will not.
UPDATE: David Famiglietti and his company New Frontier Arms were not mentioned in the above post but David Famiglietti has been harassing us, making accusations and and throwing around insults (Apparently I am both Piers Morgan and also not a man).
Phil was about to call David, when I decided it would be better to have his response on file, so I instead emailed David asking him a number of questions and asking him to provide proof that the PlumCrazy lowers and his own lowers were legal.
You want to share you side of the story with me. I am not actually sure how you were involved with PCF. While it is obvious that PlumCrazy lowers and your New Frontier lowers were at some point based on the same mold, you will notice I never mentioned New Frontier in my blog post. You are welcome to share any information with me. If I believe it is necessary, I will set the record straight.
I would ask that you also answer the following questions point by point. None of these are sensitive questions, but they provide context for this discussion.
1) What happened to PCF? Why did it go out of business?
2) How were you involved with PCF?
3) Who owned PCF?
4) Does New Frontier use the same or modified molds as PCF uses?
5) Which company just lost a lawsuit against New Frontier? What was the lawsuit about?
6) Are all PlumCrazy lowers illegally serialized, only some, or the only PlumCrazy lower serialized illegally as the one submitted to
the BATFE last year?
7) Can you provide me with a letter from the BATFE confirming that the PlumCrazy lowers are serialized legally?
8) Can you provide me with a letter from the BATFE confirming that the New Frontier lowers are serialized legally?
Regards, Steve Johnson
Our conversation was of course on record. He had been on TFB discussing this issue, hurling insults, saying we got it all wrong and that he could not get in touch with me to discuss it. He could not then claim in the 4th email I received from him, and in reply to my reply, that we were having an off the record conversation.
I want TFB readers to see his entire response in full so you can make up your own mind. David cannot accuse me AGAIN of taking things out of context.
Steve, again, I wish you would just call like a man so we can discuss the
issues, but if it’s easier to be behind a keyboard, I will re-type
everything I had to comment on today for you here. I understand that you
didn’t mention New Frontier Armory, but what you seem not to understand is
myself and other dealers sold thousands of Plum Crazy lowers as well as tens
of thousands of New Frontier polymer lowers and we are responsible to our
customers for those products, so we had to answer all the silly questions we
got today from concerned customers because of a one year old determination
letter you posted. You realize that a determination letter is not a law,
right? Or a regulation, right? It’s a onetime ruling/official stance on
ONE SINGLE PIECE OF PRODUCT that was sent in, not an entire product line.
You saying “ATF says Plum Crazy Polymer Lowers are ILLEGAL” is a blatant
misinterpretation of the facts, and you should clearly see that. Again, a
phone call would be much easier to clear up any confusion you have on this.
An easy question to ask you is if ATF sent this reply almost a year ago, did
they just decide to not enforce it or follow through with it after that? We
get traces all the time on PCF lowers. We’ve gotten ATF inspections where
agents have inventoried them along with thousands of other firearms on site.
Why were they not confiscated?
If you plan on using any of this e-mail in an article quoting me, I request
a phone call first for permission so I can check with other parties involved
in these matters that it may affect.
I will try to answer your questions the best that I can, but because of
pending legal matters and NDA’s that have been signed by myself, my
customers, and my vendors, I hope you can understand why I can’t disclose
some of the information requested.
Again, a friendly phone call from you anytime on my personal cell will
always be welcome and probably very helpful for both of us to better
understand each other’s point of view.
On to your questions:
1) PCF had earned a bad reputation in the industry for their horrible
customer service, and they were poor marketers. We were approached by an
injection molding company as PCF was failing about possibly selling their
products as well name branded for us, but they wouldn’t offer us an
exclusive deal because they had an ongoing relationship with PCF, who they
were also producing receivers on a variance for. We agreed to sell our
almost identical product alongside PCF’s, and within 3 months we had sold
more of our branded product than they had sold of their own PCF marked
lowers over an almost 2 year period. No one was buying their product any
longer because we offered the market an improved, more affordable, more
reliable product, with better parts, and extremely better customer service
and marketing to the public then they could offer. It got to a point where
they had no need to order anymore product and eventually withered on the
vine since they couldn’t compete. They also left the relationship with the
injection molder owing a substantial debt for product delivered.
2) I was not involved with PCF in any way besides being a dealer of their
product up until we released our own branded polymer lower, the LW-15
3) The original owners were Russ Maxwell and Ed Macinerney (2010 —
http://images.azcc.gov/scripts/cgi/dwispart2.pl) with Ed later leaving the
company on paper in 2012 (http://images.azcc.gov/scripts/cgi/dwispart2.pl)
after Russ took on an investor by the name of Brian Baumkirchner who
eventually bought all rights to PCF. There was much controversy over the
investment and not being able to pay back the investment, and from what I’ve
seen in legal documents that I had access to during litigation between
Baumkirchner and NFA, Baumkirchner was lied to about what PCF actually owned
(machines, molds, etc) and he came looking for his money from the molder and
NFA when the PCF guys pointed fingers are way. This has since played out in
court and is still an active court case where at this point, NFA has been
dropped from any accusations in the suit after being proved innocent of all
accusations, and the molder is in an ongoing leading preceding to recoup
lost profits, legal fees, etc from Baumkirchner.
Mcinerney later went on to start another similar company called E3 arms,
that has also withered away:
Baumkirchner (with Maxwell in the background) started yet another similar
company which has also failed called U.S. Arms LLC which attempted to sell
the “Patriot 15” polymer lower.
As stated in your article with a funny jab at the spelling and grammatical
errors on their website, they weren’t the best business man and could have
done much better with the product they had access to if they understood
public perception, customer service, and marketing. All of their ventures
have gone to shit with the fault only being them, not their products.
4) I can’t factually tell you that because I honestly don’t know as I have
the receivers made for NFA on a variance with an AZ company. I can tell you
that it is the same molder that was contracted by PCF, and the product is
almost identical with some minor design changes, and material changes on
several parts, including the receiver body itself to get more strength out
of the product.
5) The lawsuit details I am at liberty to share privately with you were
discussed in #3. For obvious reasons I can’t go into more detail at this
time because its an ongoing legal matter that involves friends and vendors
of mine. I will try to dig up the complaint for you with a link that was
made public about a year ago.
6) That I am aware of, and understand after speaking with the actual MFG,
there are NO illegally serialized Plum Crazy Firearm lowers that went out to
customers. Like stated several times today, and where your main
misunderstanding seems to be, is that I can send anything in with the New
Frontier name, or any company name to ATF for a determination. That does
not in any way mean that I will or should produce it that way in mass
production for distribution. It certainly would not be produced in that way
after ATF determines there is an issue with it. This has happened with
other products, and ATF simply asks the mfg to make changes to said products
to comply and everyone moves on with life. So no, according to ATF and the
actual mfg of the lower receivers, the lowers that made it to market are not
in any way illegal or in violation of any ATF regulation. If they were
action would have been taken on several occasions over the past year since
that determination letter was issued. I have good knowledge of the serial
number ranges produced as PCF and NFA, and I know the lower in that picture
was an initial demo lower produced for PCF, so I know one of the 3 mentioned
above (or one of their associates) sent that in after modifying it. I am
assuming it was E3 Arms and associates, since one of the captions on a
picture you posted in your article quoted “E3 Arms”.
7) No I can’t because I don’t possess that information since I am not / was
not the actual mfg of PCF lowers. I can however tell you from my experience
selling them, and later taking on a similar product line that the serial
number is on ONE piece of metal square tubing that is molded into the
receiver, very similar to Glock’s process, and meets all guidelines and
regulations posted by BATFE. Remember, just because you saw a letter that
says ONE sample that was sent in was not in compliance in NO WAY means all
produced were not. I read in the letter (or the small part of the letter
you revealed) That the serial number was on a second piece of “metal like
material” that could be peeled off. This is not the case on any PCF that I
sold as they all have box steel embedded with numbers engraved in them as
stated a few lines above. That leads me to believe it was modified before
sent to ATF to use as a “wild card” in ongoing legal battles with the
8) Same story as #7. ATF has inspected the actual mfg as well as our
facilities and have assured us both that in no way are we having any
compliance or mfg issues. We ask every time a rumor like this pops on the
net and get the same answer: “If there was something we wanted change or
didn’t like, you’d hear it from us first, not a blog on the internet” (the
answer I got this morning from a local agent) and “If it wasn’t legal, do
you think we would let you keep making/selling them?” (the answer from an AZ
agent when the molder called them this morning)
Again, I hope you can see there is more to the story than you know, and I’m
not just some joker on the internet talking shit for no reason from Mom’s
basement. I hope there are no hard feelings, but hopefully even slightly
see where I’m coming from, and how this article could have startled some
already “scared of the gov” customers and vendors into a frenzy by not
understanding the whole situation. The upsetting part was the misleading
title and the article were based purely off the speculation that all lowers
were produced the same way to the one that was sent in to ATF for
determination. ATF made it clear in their response for a reason, so it
wouldn’t be misinterpurted. They clearly state that that ONE single part /
serial number is not in compliance. In no way has or will the ATF make a
statement saying that all PCF lowers are illegal (which is what your title
states vividly and in CAPS to emphasize “ILLEGAL”).
No hard feelings, and I’d love to hear back from you, especially a quick
phone call as time permits. Besides this article I enjoy following your
site, and have promoted links to articles on many occasions and will
continue to do so in the future. I hope we can move past this as industry
partners, if not friends.
Let me know if there’s anything else I can help explain!
I am disappointed David could not provide any documents supporting his argument.
This ends the matter for TFB. Both sides have made their argument. Now you have Dave’s side of the story and you can make up your own mind.