Illicit, if not Illegal, 80% Lowers on GunBroker

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I have to hand it to the seller, they found a niche that they could exploit. In this case, a GunBroker seller was offering fully trademarked 80% Colt lower receivers. The receivers are marked in the old “A1” style using older logos.

Colt claims and has filed for trademarks on nearly all of their logos, including the prancing horse engraved on the lower receiver (link to PDF).

The seller claims the receivers were manufactured by Tactical Machining. We e-mailed Tactical Machining for comment. Their reply was:

I think what the person is referring to is that the lower receiver was manufactured and then engraved by them. The only custom engravings we perform are available on our website. I think ATF might have a mild stroke with the sear pin hole being marked as well.

Given Tactical Machining’s statement, its obvious the seller is likely committing serious trademark violations having not consulted Colt for permission to use their trademark. Further, the seller marked the location of the full auto trip sear, which per the eloquence of Tactical Machining, is dubious at the least and highly illegal at the worst.

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The seller would be in quite the grey area, as the ATF defines machine guns typically as having any machining work done to accept full auto components. With the engraved (machined) marking, it could easily fall into the “already machined” category despite being only 80% at the time of engraving.

Original auction: http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=530797154#PIC
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Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • lucusloc

    I get the technical aspect of the law, but it is really really dumb. Repeal the NFA and the Hughes amendment!

    The trademark stuff though, those are mainly good laws to have around, so yeah, don’t be an ass and steal trademarks.

    • iksnilol

      What if I make a logo of a prancing mare, not a horse?

      • marathag

        Dancing Donkey with an Arrow in its mouth

        • Anomanom

          Jackass Reciever

      • lucusloc

        lol, I guess you’ll have to take that up with the Trademark office and Colt.

  • Ambassador Vader

    Deep breath, the more we give into ATF technicality the more we validate it. Its a cool lower engraving. A great replica idea given the fact you can’t make an actual colt with the sear pin hole. Besides no sympathy for colt in the trademarking dept. they can sue as soon as they finish up in the bankruptcy court room.

    • FightFireJay

      It’s already valid. People have gone to prison.

      “I will not comply” is a nice sentimen, unless you’re the one going to a federal penitentiary.

      The way to fight it is legislatively with the NRA and in the courts with the SAF.

      We win when we no longer have to “not compl” .

      • Ambassador Vader

        Yup, just like they have been fighting since 1934, but yea they are totally on the verge on winning any day now. Aaaaaannnny day now. “I will comply” to an unconstitutional law is a nice sentiment if you completely abandon the idea of why you are allowed to own fire arms in the first place.

  • MR

    Copyright infringement is the only legitimate legal concern here. Not that that has ever stopped the ATF.

    • marathag

      Like the ‘Full Auto’ Shoe String?

      • Anomanom

        That person should have been beaten with a large rubber dildo.

  • Walter E. Kurtz

    I agree with Ambassador Vader: “Deep breath, the more we give into ATF technicality the more we validate it.”

    It is a hunk of aluminum that somebody engraved with a copyrighted logo.

    Don’t get your panties all bunched up.

    Colt’s lawyers can pursue if they wish, otherwise there is nothing to see here. Move along.

  • Mike N.

    It’s obviously intended for the retro-AR, Mk12, or Mk18 clone crowd, but they didn’t even do it right, because the lower is shaped like an A2 lower (radius below front take down pin hole, reinforced area at rear where buffer tube goes in).

    I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with a fake sear hole, same as labeling a Colt 6920 as a “M4 Carbine”. It’s no more an actual sear hole that that 6920 is an actual M4. The crime is actually drilling that third hole.

    • Ken

      Engraving does remove a little bit of the metal. The ATF might try to claim that it’s the start to drilling the hole.

      • billyoblivion

        Piss on the ATF. Bunch of anti-american douche-nozzles.

    • HSR47

      Actually, it’s shaped like an A3/A4 lower.

      The easiest way to sort Colt’s lowers by age as current, older, oldest is by the reinforcement near the buffer tube threads: A3/A4 has large squared off reinforcements as seen above, A2 has a less pronounced reinforcement with no sharp corners, and A1 and earlier receivers have a very short (extends forward from very rear of receiver approximately 3/16″) squared off reinforcement.

  • Bear The Grizzly

    Is this one of those gun show loophole thingies? Looks dangerous.

    • VTR1

      I know. I nearly crapped my britches.

  • Geoffry K

    So it has serial number, but is only 80%, so does it need a 4473 and FFL or what?
    80% not a firearm, serialized is a firearm even if not completed?

    As for the sear hole marking, anybody with 2 cents worth of intelligence can find the location and dimensions on the Internet. M16 drawing are all over, with reference dimensions. What would burn you is milling out the lower to M16 dimensions, which are only slightly different from the AR15, then drill out the sear hole. Now you have an unregistered machine gun.
    Probably would also be illegal even without the serial number.

    I would stay away from it.

    • Cymond

      The issue is that ATF has ruled that marking the pin holes is sufficient to make an 80% paperweight into a firearm receiver.
      Idiotic? Yes. Arbitrary? Absolutely. But such is the nature of regulations. Someone is always going to find the limit, so the limit must be defined in some absurdly specific way.

  • Swarf

    So… “get one while you can” is the message I’m getting here?

    • hydepark

      So glad to see TFB crew starting to talk like guys at TTAG used to.

      Swarf, this is an interesting point. I’ll volunteer to take the charge if someone will agree to pay bail and all legal expenses. This could be a good way to challenge the NFA laws in general (and specifically the 1986 FOPA) . Everyone keeps talking about it and we may actually be in a position to do it in the next eight years.

      • Kurt Akemann

        You should know that in federal gun cases bail is often not granted. Most likely the person charged in a case like this would sit in jail till the case is adjudicated.

  • Random Disabled Person

    A shame, since a lot of people are doing the engravings in various retro settings. Many to specific models, years and manufactures. Some even buy crushed receivers and then have the magwelll section welded in the 80% magwell. The retro fad with the roll marks is that big. Since we can’t buy new/used sourced from the military and other stockpiles and fewer can afford to buy the real one in ever skyrocketing price market…. Dress up is the most some can every have and it makes them happy. Retro is new tacticool. So someone has combine the steps lots of people were doing privately in a ready made jump started 80%. I would be curious to now what the price was for the extra engraving?

    Now if Colt was smart , they would see a market here(they would actually be a bit innovated in catering to customer wants), just like for their retro models ( seriously the A1 defining parts are getting absurd ( a nice triangular hand guard , especially with the early colors will cost what a nice free float hand guard does) and even the A2 parts have started to climb). Brownells is getting in on making more parts that have changed. Look at the back up nodak spud for ordering, let alone if you want the bolt cocking trigger in the hand guard style upper…..

    The thing with Trademarks if Colt doesn’t defend this in court, they can risk loosing their trademark and brand name rights. Which is part of the reason the laws suck and forces companies have to go after the little people. Stifling small inventions/invitations and people filling niche markets because governments use a hammer since ignorant fools write laws on industries and issues they know very little about and assign agencies that have to justify their jobs.

    But then again we Xerox things on anything but a Xerox, we use numerous adjustable wrenches by many makers called crescent wrenchs, the PC personal Computer… just to name a few. So history and legal lessons here are pretty big. if Colt waits to go after the really blatant people who are make fake copies and passing them off as genuine, they haven’t aggressively defend and protected their trademark. The courts in the USA will consider the term in public domain usage. No higher compliment with no worse sting on the bottom line. I’m sure someone can make a big list farther proving this point with many words some of us may not even now were brands and trademarks at one time.

    I have a plastic M-16 toy that has the same level of third hole pin
    indention, is it a machine gun? It does “fire beeps” multiple times with
    one trigger pull. The thing has rails and a removable stock(sbr?), someone went overboard on the design. Wish I had source to post but found it used.

    If the BATFE wants to take the once a ______ always a ______. Then 80% and even 0% receivers and many parts should count as deadly molten metal and /or volcanic eruptions. Especially since liquid metal has the potential to form many items in a gun and/or machine gun, hell even nuclear rockets which are DOD devices…. Speaking of intent with mere possession.

    • Random Disabled Person

      To answer my own question on price

      Started at $120.00 and ended at $365.00

      Which is one hell of mark up on price for the engraving. I assume the 80% and need ing to fix the front pin retainers for angle( for matching correct appearance) would count in the finishing out the 80%( a magical number) along with a few others like the fence around the mag release.

      Proof that the market is out there and hungry for such parts. Likely to cause even more to filter out by people making a buck and the weasels misspelling a word or using a zero instead of the letter O and other font tricks for the engravings. Which would make it a different name by legality but appearance and quick eye glances would mistakenly assume.

  • Kivaari

    What we need is a faithful copy of an M16A1. Well, I need one. A Colt SP1 is just wrong, and has always been wrong.

    • Lance

      Nodak Spud receiver/ AR fire control group, with a current M-16A1 parts kit you can built a dedicated A1 AR-15 then.

  • Lance

    Not realm its a A2 reinforced receiver with A1 marked on it some Ham with a joke is selling this.

  • Robert Rodriguez

    Meh, I’ll wait for the FN logo version to come out.

    FN: Because you rock, and we love you!

  • If Colt goes after anyone it should be the guy selling fake Python boxes. They aren’t worried about him and he is selling them as original. Outright fraud. They could care less about this and it is something that has been going on in the retro AR community for a long time. Go check out the Retro section on ArfCom and you will see what I mean. Those guys do it right, unlike the lower in this auction.

  • jerry young

    if you’re going to build your own AR from an 80% lower why would you want someone else’s name on it? why would you want any markings at all?

  • The Stig

    Trademark violation? Yes.

    Machine gun? No.

    That is all.

  • afsdf

    Yeah, piss off. Nothing illicit about this. Nothing illegal about this. The ONLY problem is that perhaps the seller might get sued for copyright infringement by Colt.

  • Joseph B Campbell

    Even if not, it gives the appearance of a forgery!

  • Wolfsbane

    This is interesting.

    People build replicas and clones of pricey unavailable muscle cars all the time. One’s a that are complete down to the smallest detail.

    What’s the difference with building a semi-auto clone of a fully auto, down to the markings? Just unable to actually select full auto, even though it has it engraved on the receiver.

    Since an 80% is essentially a block of metal. What’s to stop anyone from engraving markings that makes it appear to be a much more pricey product replete with a serial number from one of them in the process of 20% completion just like people do with muscle cars?