This story isn’t just about Weapon Outfitters. Thanks to the recent ITAR related “guidance” that included an expansion of the term “manufacturer”, many gunsmiths are finding themselves reconsidering their businesses or at least the services they offer. Weapon Outfitters just happens to be one that is on my radar but there are certainly others.
Weapon Outfitters is known, in part, for AR-15 builds with unique 13.7″, 14.0″, and 14.5″ barrels. These barrel lengths, of course, require permanently attaching a muzzle device, which under the new guidance may constitute “manufacturing”. This is a broadening of the threshold for what constitutes a manufacturer and thus may require that the “manufacturer” pay a $2250 fee yearly to the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls. Many gunsmiths may be unwilling or unable to absorb this fee.
Weapon Outfitters released the following statement via their Facebook page:
We’ve been offering high quality pinning and welding as well as basic gunsmithing services for years through 3rd party providers local to me. A machinist did fantastic work with the lathe and end mill, and a welder did fantastic TIG welding for us.
Due to these new regulations with significant financial cost and legal burden, we have to stop all gunsmithing services immediately.
There is certainly an argument to be made that the guidance does not apply as outlined very well by Adam Kraut. However, many gunsmiths are still going to be unwilling to risk their own livelihoods or those of their vendors to find out who is right.