Stag Arms Raided By BATFE, Over 100 Unmarked Lowers Seized

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Due to what appears to be more oversight than crime, the BATFE raided Stag Arms’ New Britain, CT plant in September, after the gun maker failed to serialize approximately 3,000 rifle receivers within the allotted time. The Associated Press reports:

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Federal authorities are investigating a Connecticut gun-maker after agents found nearly 3,000 assault rifle parts missing serial numbers, according to recently filed court documents.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents seized nearly 300 of the AR-15 parts from Stag Arms in September following routine inspections, prosecutors said. At the time, the father of Stag Arms owner Mark Malkowski told authorities that the employee who places serial numbers on parts was on vacation.

The New Britain-based gun-maker gained a high profile in the state when Malkowski became a vocal critic of a stricter state gun-control law passed in the wake of the 2012 Newtown school shootings.

The allegations that Stag Arms violated the National Firearms Act came in a forfeiture request by filed by prosecutors May 6 in federal court in Bridgeport. Prosecutors asked a judge to allow the government to keep nearly 110 of the seized assault rifle parts for “the use and benefit of the United States.”

Spokesmen for the U.S. attorney’s office and the ATF said the investigation of Stag Arms is ongoing. They declined further comment.

Malkowski didn’t return phone and email messages seeking comment.

Stag Arms released a statement this week saying it is cooperating with government officials.

“Although the allegations relate primarily to timing and record keeping, and Stag believes public safety was never compromised, the company takes its obligation to comply with all laws very seriously,” the statement said. “Stag has made comprehensive changes to ensure that similar problems cannot happen again.”

Neither Malkowski nor the company has been charged with criminal wrongdoing. Any violation of the National Firearms Act carries up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 upon conviction.

The ATF sought search warrants for Stag Arms manufacturing facilities in New Britain after routine licensure inspections in July and August found the 3,000 AR-15 parts without serial numbers and a lack of required records — both violations of the National Firearms Act, prosecutors said in court documents. None of the parts was properly registered to Stag Arms, the documents said.

Agents seized nearly 300 rifle parts and several computers. The confiscation was first reported by The Hartford Business Journal on Monday.

Stag is reportedly working with Federal agents to fix the issue, but the BATFE has retained over 100 receivers since the raid.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • davidio flavio

    Learn to spell for cripes sake…..

    • I’m not seeing it. What did I misspell?

      • allannon

        “… after the gun maker failed to serialized …”, I guess?

        • Ahah, that is a typo, thank you for pointing it out.

          • Leigh Rich

            davidio flavio is an ass

  • Amsdorf

    Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

    • Not_a_Federal_Agent

      Post stupid comments, to let everyone know you are stupid

    • MR

      Anymore, doing business in New England is becoming a very stupid game.

  • Casey Baker

    Am I the only one wondering why the federal government is so keen on keeping a bunch of unmarked rifle parts for “the use and benefit of the United States”? O_o

    • MrEllis

      That’s what is says when you seize any evidence.

    • MacK

      Well the days of ATF Agents robbing gun stores at night seemingly as given-way to ATF Agents robbing Gun Manufacturers in the middle of the day.

    • Bob

      They wanted some free ghost guns

      • Bob McHugh

        They wanted the account lists from the computers

    • Dixie Shooter

      My thoughts exactly. For what valid reason and legal use would the prosecutors asked a judge to allow the government to keep nearly 110 of the seized assault rifle parts for “the use and benefit of the United States.” Sounds to me like they want some “throw down” guns. Why would it not be illegal for them to have 110 lower receivers with no serial number on them? Oh wait, they are the government and they do what they want to without any repercussions.

      • Thomas Williams

        You guys are derping pretty hard around here, aren’t you?

        • Dixie Shooter

          I don’t know what derping is, but I do know possession of a gun without a serial number is a federal offense for John Q. Public. The same should apply to everyone, especially the government since they’re the ones making the laws.

          • Thomas Williams

            That’s a specious argument. It’s illegal to put handcuffs on someone and put them in a cell, but it’s not when the government does it with due process of law. It’s illegal to possess heroin, but it’s not for the government to seize it and hold it in evidence. It’s illegal to own a nuclear weapon; the government has several. You’re objecting to all of those cases? Try harder, buddy.

          • Dixie Shooter

            First, I’m not your buddy. Second, I didn’t see anything in the article about handcuffs, heroin, or nuclear weapons and I happen to agree with you on those three points. If they were wanting the receivers for evidence why didn’t they confiscate all of the illegal parts? Why did they only take 300 out of 3000 and ask to keep 110 out of the 300. Was the other 2,890 OK? There’s more to this than meets the eye. My opinion only.

          • Thomas Williams

            You’re not great on analogies, or abstract thought in general, are you? Those situations are analogous to this one, demonstrating why your claim that the government should not be able to possess the lowers is specious. You also haven’t defended your ridiculous claim about the government seizing unserialized lowers to use as drop guns, which doesn’t make sense on any level. You keep changing your point, leading me to believe you don’t have one.

            There are any number of reasons they might have seized only 300 of 3000; that’s all they felt they needed for evidence, that’s all they had evidence room space for, or a typo, for example.

            And yes, you are my buddy, buddy. I love everyone, even those who spew nonsense from their mouths without logic or coherence. 🙂

          • Dixie Shooter

            Did you not read the last 3 words I wrote? It was my opinion only. Everyone is entitled to that. I don’t know what really happened at Stag Arms. If you don’t think some crooked cops carry drop guns, (a gun to drop by someone they just killed for some unjust reason), you’re living in a bubble. Since you’re spewing analogies, abstract thoughts, and specious claims, here’s you one: the DEA finds a field of marijuana containing 3000 plants 6 feet tall. They cut down 300 of the 3000 and take them in and ask to keep 110 of them while 2,700 are left growing in the field because that’s all they felt they needed for evidence, that’s all they had evidence room space for, or a typo, for example. Kind of makes one wonder what’s going to happen to the other 190 plants. One thing is for sure, you know a lot of fancy words. I love everyone too, even those who don’t have any common sense.

          • Thomas Williams

            “Just my opinion” does not remove the need to make sense or be supported by logic. You’re entitled to it; I’m entitled to laugh at you. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to how you’re still spouting ridiculous claims. Okay, let’s say I accept that crooked cops carry drop guns, yeah? Okay, so questions. 1), you think they’re carrying ARs (or AR lower receivers) for that purpose? Seems like a Lorcin .22 would be easier and 2) do you not see how an unserialized weapon would arouse more suspicion than just using a cheap, already essentially untraceable but serialized gun, like the thousands already on the private market? That’s the derp I was referring to; your claims don’t make any sense.

            Now, as for how many were seized, we’re working off an AP article; they don’t know guns, they don’t know manufacturing, they’re throwing numbers out to seem like they have information. Depending on how you read it, it kind of sounds like they inspected 3000 and found 300 that violated regulations; that is, had been manufactured more than 7 days ago. That could also explain why they only kept 110 (or so, the article isn’t specific), if some of those 300 were later found to be newer.

            Now, I know that’s boring, so feel free to keep going all Alex-Jonesy with your “opinions”. I’ll let you get the last word in, with you people that’s usually the only way to get you to shut up.

          • rrdonovan

            Give it a rest man. Both of you are like fighting school children. Now! Where was I … damn, getting old and forgetful…..

          • totally not alex jones ;^)

            Nah man, this guy is right. The federal government seized these guns to use them in operation fast and furious 2: Paul Walker Texas Ranger so that they could be untraceable for the use in the upcoming war against the illegal alien (extraterresterial kind) reptilian overlords who are working directly with obama and the illuminatti to impose gun control over us, steal the moon, and outlaw tacos.

            And plus, its not like there are any places that anybody can get an unserialized AR lower that only requires like the last 20% or so of the work to be done without any background check, which is why they had to disguise this as a raid, ya know because that was the most inconspicuous way to get AR15s.

            Nice try CIA/FBI/ATF/AT&T/Reptailian overlords, but I’m on to you

            also, jetful can’t melt steel beams

          • Zack

            Just to throw this out there… but, the government has deemed unserialized guns illegal to possess if they are resold. This means that someone could manufacture and own one for their own uses. It also is suspicious that the government only seized x amount of anything illegal by your logic. They don’t routinely let drug dealers or terrorists keep a little heroin or uranium if they find it, they find/make room because each bit is another charge. So, to say that unserialized rifles are no different is a bit of a reach, and as you like to think of yourself as such an in depth thinker, that shouldn’t be too difficult to put together. By the way, it is legal to put someone in handcuffs and detain them under due process. It’s called a citizens arrest. Therefore, that point is completely invalid.

          • Bob McHugh

            “possession of a gun without a serial number is a federal offense” – Not that I’m aware. SELLING a gun without a serial number is a crime. Removing a serial number from a gun is a crime. As I understand it, you could make your own gun, you just can’t sell it. They need to serialize the lowers to sell them. But I think if you made your own on a mill it would not be a crime unless you tried to sell it. I’m sure the rest of you will correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Thomas Williams

      As Mr. Ellis pointed out, that’s a standard phrasing in legal documents about seized evidence. If you’re trying to go for a “they want untraceable weapons, OMG conspiraciez!!!” vibe…have you considered that a professionally-manufactured weapon with no serial number would be very rare and therefore more suspicious and easier to trace than one with a serial number?

  • hami

    If the law says you must put serial numbers on your rifle within a certain amount of time, and you don’t, then you should receive a punishment. Stag can whine all they want but it seems like an open and shut case to me.

    • Pike0331

      It’s a BS law and a victimless crime, the NFA is a whole boat load of bull. Stag did nothing morally wrong and harmed no one

      • flyingburgers

        It’s an internal theft issue. Companies assign serial numbers to every single part before they’re even built in order to prevent “factory overruns” from being sold, especially when manufacturing is done in China.

        • CatInCT

          Stag Arms manufacturing is done in CT. They have 7 days to engrave the serial numbers and it was 7 days production that was seized.

          • flyingburgers

            So you’re saying that people in the US don’t steal high-value goods? Industry best practice for FFLs to enter all guns into their A&D records immediately, even though they have 7 days. Why should a manufacturer not serialize at the earliest possible time?

            As I said, high-value goods manufacturers serialize before the work is started. That way, somebody can go onto the plant and associate every single piece in work with a work order. If something can’t be accounted for, then the worker is trying to steal. (And in some industries like aerospace, it’s for FOD control)

          • RICH

            It’s quite obvious that you have never ran a production business ! When you experiance times when employees are on vacation or on sick leave everything slows down ! ! ! Wake up, it’s just the way the feds want to screw all of us over and backdoor ‘OUR’ 2nd Amendment rights ! ! !

          • RICH

            The day the BATF&E anounced the ban on the feared ‘M855’ 5.56 round they raided an ammunition wholesale manufacturer, SEIZED millions of the unloaded ‘M855’ projectiles and lodaded rounds ready for shipment ! ! If you can’t understand actions like that against businesses you surely must have your head up your ass or some politicians ass …! ! ! WAKE UP PEOPLE !!!!

          • Thomas Williams

            The ATF did not ban M855, they proposed it. Also, *citation needed.

          • UnrepentantLib

            I can’t help thinking there’s more to this story. Why did they even suspect there were unnumbered parts? Were they tipped off (and why?) or did they have a reason to keep a close eye on Stag Arms?

          • Ergo

            they found out that stag donated to the Romney 2012 pac.

          • The Forty ‘Twa

            It tells you how this was found out in the article.

          • yelloturd

            there is a difference between a FFL and a manufacturer. There are steps you take before putting a one time use serial # on it. And these were being made for a gov contract since they were FA.

    • Westin

      A slight paraphrase of civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate of the book Three Felonies a Day — “It remains a fact of criminal law, and of common law, and of common human sense, that while anyone might commit an unlawful act, and in fact in these times everyone does do so for it has been made unavoidable, there nonetheless cannot be a -crime- without -criminal intent-.

      So, .. open and shut your mouth : ) Thanks.

      • RICH

        …… AND THAT IS OUR ‘GOVERNMENTS ‘ ATTEMPT TO CONTROL EACH & EVERY ACTION THAT WE MAKE IN OUR PERSONAL DAILY LIVES….. ! ! !

        • echelon

          “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has
          is to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals,
          one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that
          it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a
          nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But
          just pass the kinds of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced
          nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of lawbreakers –
          and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden,
          that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to
          deal with.” – Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

      • Bill

        Wrong: look up the definition of a strict-liability offense.

        So, open mouth and insert your foot :0 Thanks

    • CatInCT

      They have 7 days to engrave the serial numbers. There was 7 days production without serial numbers. All Stag Arms parts are manufactured in CT. This is just part of CT governor and Obama administration vendetta against gun manufacturers. Keeping the seized parts when no crime has been proven is truly outrageous.

    • Bill

      It’s sloppy quality control on their part. What would happen if an auto manufacturer neglected to put VIN numbers on new cars? I’m supposed to feel sorry for them because apparently they didn’t think to have a back-up plan in place for when the one guy who could engrave serial numbers goes on vacation, gets sick, or dies?

      • echelon

        Why should VIN numbers or any other serial markings be a requirement? If a car company or any other company that makes a product puts out shoddy product and then won’t stand by it when if fails would and should go out of business. The market would respond correctly. No need for silly .gov mandated numbers and markings.

        • Aurek Besh

          Serial numbers are excellent ways for tracking things like proof of ownership, manufacturing traceability (dates/times/batches/QC/certifications/etc), registrations, documentation, and plenty of other useful purposes. In many industries (say, auto, aerospace, food, medical) it’s mandated because of the importance of tracking critical information. Even when there is little need for that, serial numbers are still useful and often voluntarily applied by manufacturers for their own record keeping.

          • echelon

            Ah, but see, you used the key words here: “voluntary” vs. “mandated”. I have absolutely no problem with companies voluntarily putting any sort of numbers on their wares for whatever purposes they wish, and likewise companies should be allowed not to.

            The market – down to each individual – will decide what works and what doesn’t, what is acceptable and what isn’t.

            But .gov mandated numbers lead to unlawful tracking purposes and ridiculous abuses such as this where chunks of metal are confiscated and a company gets fined (or worse) for not being in compliance.

          • Aurek Besh

            You question the purpose of VIN, which is mandatory. Cars are a product where safety is absolutely critical because when things go wrong, people are injured or die. Private industry has repeatedly demonstrated that it can’t be trusted to fix problems or concerns on its own (see for example the current problems with GM ignition switches, or Takata airbags) and here’s where the mandatory regulations, serialization, and documentation is needed in order to track down where, when, and why the problems occurred, their extent, who is affected, and how to prevent future issues.

          • echelon

            Wrong.

            If the private industry can’t be trusted then the market should be able to and can respond by no longer buying those products. In the case of GM, rather than letting it die as it should have, the federal government made all of us lowly taxpayers pay to bail it out and prop it up. It’s a crony system.

            Another problem is that the legal system is also set up to favor the .gov and the elite so the market cannot typically get proper recompense from private industry failings.

            And the last time I checked, all the VINs, regulations, serializations and documentations in the world still don’t prevent companies such as those mentioned from making mistakes or taking short cuts and it doesn’t really penalize them either.

            Again – I don’t question the supposed usefulness of a VIN itself, I question the fact that it is .gov mandated. It’s a power the federal .gov does not have in the constitution…not that anyone puts much stock in that document anyway, but…

          • Bill

            Well, in that case, why bother with deeds to property? The purchase of real estate is typically between two individuals, so a spit in the palm and a handshake should suffice. We don’t need no stinking deeds or plat maps in some county recorders office…..until your neighbor runs a fence across your driveway.

            And speaking of VIN numbers and their worthlessness, Google “Katrina Cars.” Dealers were hosing the dead fish out of all the new cars on their lots after they’d been totaled by insurance companies after the storm. Then they’d ship them across country to other dealers who’d sell them as new (That black mold is a no cost feature, not a problem). The only way to track them was by VIN. Shenanigans with VIN numbers is common enough that most, if not all states have criminal investigators who do nothing but title fraud cases, leading to the confiscation of illegally possessed and contraband hunks of metal.

          • echelon

            You seem to have gone off the deep end here and mistaken my intent. Having a deed, bill of sale, title, etc for a piece of property is not something I’m against in the slightest. I’m against the regulation and/or mandatory use of them.

            Property disputes can and do happen, but it also doesn’t mean they can’t be settled either out of court or through legal means. You act like that because there an office that keeps paperwork in it that it automatically solves all problems and couldn’t possibly create a host of its own new ones…

            As far as the criminal activity that you mention…I see no evidence that government regulation or mandate reduces the incidences of these issues. In fact I see more instances of govt cronyism protecting criminal behavior and/or exacerbating it.

            If fraud, scams, theft, etc is a real enough problem then the market will decide.

          • Bill

            “If fraud, scams, theft, etc is a real enough problem then the market will decide.” What the hell does that mean? If there’s enough fraud, the “market” will force a company to close from lost revenue?

            You have no idea of how often property disputes happen. Ask any Common Pleas Court Judge what their least favorite kind of case is and you’ll get “fence line disputes, encroachment and illegal closure of right of way.”

            Without that office full of paper, what kind of evidence will be used to solve a disputes? Scratch a line in the dirt?

            Look up the National Insurance Crime Bureau for evidence of the criminal activity I mentioned, because I don’t think you have a clue about the scope of that type of crime.

          • Aurek Besh

            GM nearly keeling over basically was the market doing just that. GM’s competitors had superior products and so people spent their money elsewhere, meanwhile GM’s management completely failed at adapting to the situation. However, the bailout, cronyism, and regulatory capture are completely separate issues from serialization and a company’s failure to do so. I don’t know what you mean by the constitution not providing the power for the government – the constitution authorizes the regulation of commerce as well as the creation of laws.

          • echelon

            I guess I don’t agree that all of those issues can be separated. They all lead back to govt overreach and abuse of power. The serialization is not happening in a bubble.

            The interstate commerce clause has been so utterly raped and abused that it is essentially unrecognizable. The same can be said about the entire document. I guess I should clarify and say that at face value the constitution doesn’t appear to give government the powers they have, but implicitly it’s quite obvious that it either does or has been powerless to prevent them from doing whatever they want.

            Consider the following:

            “But whether the Constitution really be one thing,
            or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a
            government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In
            either case it is unfit to exist.”- Lysander Spooner; No Treason

      • Zack

        Auto manufacturers only put VINs on cars that pace qc. The same as any other manufacturer. While the number may be outlined and set to a specific part or group of parts during manufacturing, it likely won’t be applied to the part until it has been inspected to ensure that the number can be reused if the part fails qc. But, yeah, no, makes perfect sense to waste numbers on flawed or failed parts/products.

    • Dixie Shooter

      I can’t believe they have only 1 employee that can stamp serial numbers on the receivers and when he or she is out sick or in this case on vacation that job goes undone. What some outstanding management.

  • gggplaya

    Common “assault rifles”……… By definition they aren’t assault rifles, “military style rifles” at best.

    • yelloturd

      They were Full Auto

  • tony

    Government extortion at its finest !!!

  • Random Disabled Person

    The state STAG Arms is in had nothing to do with this what so ever…… Nor there outspokenness on issues against the powers that be….

    There is far more to this than the article says and we will probably never know the real details.
    Not like there isn’t a history of misusing goverment agencies against people,parties,companies that are against the side in power….

    I find that 3,000 number and that 300 number to be a very interesting variance….

  • KestrelBike

    omggg Thank you ATF for saving us!! unserialized lowers at a manufacturer… the horror! Why, when the guns in my safe heard about this, they about ND’d in sheer terror. Hell, one of the AR’s popped it’s trigger pins right out!

  • Zach

    In the end I hate to see any kind of ATF intervention anywhere, but I can’t help but to think,

    Thank God it was Stag

  • Bal256

    For some reason these things seem to happen more in the more anti-gun states. Are there local complaints, or are the local authorities more complicit there? Its a good way to drive out business. Also I wouldn’t understand giving the ATF the benefit of the doubt on ANYTHING given all the crap they’ve pulled in the last couple of years.

  • faex

    The last Stag lower I saw, and the Stag lowers I own, are roll marked with the manufacturer info and serial number. Lower receivers that are roll marked have to be marked before the mag well is broached or the roll mark process can compress the mag well opening. Either they had unmarked completed lower receivers, at which point it would have been to late to serialize by roll marking, or they had 80% lowers waiting to be serialized, which are not complete and would not be of interest to the ATF. It appears Stag had a quality control failure of the manufacturing line and it was significant enough to get the attention of the ATF.

  • natshare

    First off, DUMB, for staying in Connecticut. Should have moved out of state, once they passed their foolish gun control law, like other manufacturers have done, in other states.

    Second, DUMB, for being one person deep on such an important position, as the guy who engraves serial numbers on lower receivers. Seriously, what would they have done if he’d had an accident and died, instead of just going on vacation? ALWAYS have a backup, for those types of positions!

    Third, DUMB, for having THREE THOUSAND un-serialized parts laying around. HELLO??

  • Sn SM

    …and folks wonder why the 80% lowers are so popular. Blatant
    abuse like this by an out of control Fed chips away steadely at any sense
    of loyalty or trust…

  • Ringo Lapua

    Amazing how the real gunrunners, Barack Obama and Eric Holder got away with murder because of misguided politics. The BATF should only issue a warning in this case and nothing more. We now have a Republican control over both houses of Congress and it is NOW TIME TO REVAMP THE BATF. The BATF needs to be defanged and a Congressional appointed board should be the final judge over matters like this. The BATF should only have the power to bring about a complaint but not decide it. The BATF should not have any jurisdiction over non military semi automatic public weapons.

    • AlDeLarge

      The problem was discovered in “routine licensure inspections in July and August,” and the raid was in September. I think they were warned.

  • 45 cal

    Does anyone here think we have out of control federal regulatory agencies?