Defense Distributed claims working 3D printed handgun

Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson claims he has attained his stated goal of 3D printing a working handgun. There's no footage of it firing yet, nor details on how many rounds it fires before the plastic is worn out. And although this is a fascinating provocation, it is not (yet) a game-changer, especially in America where traditional guns (capable of firing thousands of rounds without melting down) are cheap and easy to get. You can even "3D print" a gun by asking different CNC shops to cut and overnight you all the parts to make up a working gun, breaking the job down into small pieces that are unlikely to arouse suspicion.

All sixteen pieces of the Liberator prototype were printed in ABS plastic with a Dimension SST printer from 3D printing company Stratasys, with the exception of a single nail that’s used as a firing pin. The gun is designed to fire standard handgun rounds, using interchangeable barrels for different calibers of ammunition.

Technically, Defense Distributed’s gun has one other non-printed component: the group added a six ounce chunk of steel into the body to make it detectable by metal detectors in order to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act. In March, the group also obtained a federal firearms license, making it a legal gun manufacturer.

This Is The World's First Entirely 3D-Printed Gun (Photos) [Andy Greenberg/Forbes]


  1. I am still quite doubtful that a 3D printed gun can outperform a traditional zip-gun made out of crap from Home Depot.

    1. Zip-guns run a wide gamut. Some are incredibly inaccurate and almost guaranteed to jam, quite possibly putting them below this printed gun in safety and reliability (with the caveat that I haven’t fired the Liberator personally nor seen any rigorous testing). But a well made zip-gun by an experienced smith can be almost on par with a really crude conventional firearm.

      My guess is that decent printed firearms are going to have to await advances in ceramic-medium 3D printing. ABS plastic is good for at most a few shots before the barrel melts beyond useability. In fact, if I were using this thing, I’d want a new barrel for every round. A gun that explodes in your hand is not an encouraging prospect.

      One feature of a printed gun, though, is that it’s easier to recycle or destroy after use.

      1. They have 3d printed guns that can fire 600 rounds, I think that so far we have overcome the durability issues.

        1. That’s an AR-15 lower receiver, a fairly low stress part, there are commercial molded plastic lowers on the market, the interesting thing is that is legally the gun (which means if you wanted to do different things with it, the part you would want to stay the same is legally the gun, so you’d only be changing the parts with no legal restrictions).

          1. It is worth noting that the injection-moulded ones have the advantage of considerably tougher plastics(glass-fiber filled nylon vs. FDM ABS with a potential weakness at every layer…); but the general point stands. It was a plastic lower with off-the-shelf metal AR-15 parts attached. A cute legal hack, because all the off-the-shelf parts are legally treated as being on par with screws, while the lower is a ‘gun’; but not really a proof of viability.

            If you look around, virtually every part of a reasonably common modern gun that isn’t directly involved in the ‘firing’ process has somebody knocking out polymer versions(often to replace a part that used to be wooden or cheapie stamped aluminum).

        2. That’s impressive. I’d be interested to see how quickly their range and accuracy  drops off.

          That said, this was inevitable. Someone was going to make printed guns and a host of other tools currently restricted by licensing. Locksmiths, anyone? Whether or not they should make them is irrelevant to whether they are making them. You can’t control what hundreds of millions of people do in the privacy of their homes, but you can resist the expansion of the police state to new laws against 3D printers. Don’t hand over your rights in the vain hope the authorities can re-bottle the genie.

          Technology democratizes the availability of the means of production. The only endgame where the State is able to restrict access to production is one where the State is able to restrict access to technology. It’s the Crypto Wars all over again.

          1. I wonder if you’ll have the same attitude after your plane is hijacked by someone with a 3D printed gun.

          2.  If someone wants to hijack a plane they can bring a real gun. Just ask Schneier.

            Either way we have bullet-proof cockpit doors and air marshals now – the two new security measures that might actually prevent a hijacking.

          3. Yes, you’re right. What was I thinking? Plane hijacking is clearly a problem so widespread that we should surrender our rights hand over foot in the hope that the authorities can find some magical way of winning a global game of whack-a-mole.

            It’s not like plane highjacking its a rare problem. It’s not like your vastly more likely to die from a drunk driver, or street crime, or cancer. It’s not like the Bush II administration used it as an excuse to expand and consolidate unprecedented powers under the executive branch to circumvent the courts and other checks and balances. It’s not like the FBI was able to smuggle a veritable arsenal of conventional firearms onto planes right under the Trained Sexual Assaulters’ noses. Oh, wait, it’s exactly like all those things.

            Jebus H. Christ! Wake up, grow a spine, and stop sacrificing your and my liberties at the alter of the illusion of security. Your great-grandchildren will thank you for not throwing away their freedom because you fancied the color green.

          4.  The Defense Distributed one isn’t. There have been 3d-printed lower receivers for a while but this is the first (almost) entirely 3d-printed gun.

          5. Max: perhaps you’re too young to recall hijackings prior to 9/11, but airplane hijacking does not require penetration of the cockpit.

            Gulliver: your overheated rhetoric suggests that I hit a nerve. Friendly advice: personal attacks are generally considered a crutch for intellectually weak arguments. Suffice to say you know nothing about the nuances of my position on these issues – but that’s not entirely surprising given that yours displays none. 

            But all this misses the implied point I was making, which is that 3D guns present a very real problem that can either be acknowledged and attempts made to deal with up front, or after the first tragedy – at which time a more intelligent response is far less likely. 

            On the other hand, if someone thinks that 3D guns are a long-awaited solution to a hitherto unaddressed problem from which the world has long suffered, then they might just be considered a tad wacky by more sensible folk.

          6.  @Modelcharlie (below reply nesting threshold):

            perhaps you’re too young to recall hijackings prior to 9/11, but airplane hijacking does not require penetration of the cockpit.

            It does now.

          7. Why? If a group of hijackers threatened to start killing a passenger every five minutes until the pilots complied with their demands, do you think that the pilots would just ignore them?

          8. @mode1charlie

            your overheated rhetoric suggests that I hit a nerve.

            This from the person who calls my arguments a personal attack. You may want to look up the term ad hominem.

            Friendly advice: personal attacks are generally considered a crutch for intellectually weak arguments.

            I replied to what you said. I don’t know you personally.

            But all this misses the implied point I was making, which is that 3D guns present a very real problem that can either be acknowledged and attempts made to deal with up front, or after the first tragedy – at which time a more intelligent response is far less likely.

            An intelligent response is for you to treat law-abiding citizens as responsible people. The fantasy that crimes can be stopped by trying to take away things that might make or be made into a weapon is delusional. The fantasy that computers can be hackproof is delusional. The fantasy that both can be done together is golden stupidity. Passing laws attempting to chase those chimeras has only and will only result in restricting legal access for law-abiding citizen users and placing hurdels that anyone with an internet connection can circumvent.

            This won’t be the last thing with which you don’t trust your neighbors that technlogy will make avaiable. Trying to keep that technology out of an informed populace’s hands isn’t merely a losing battle, it’s a battle you’ve already lost before it begins. Criminalzing ordinary poeople, confiscating the rights of the lower and middle-classes, and throwing more tax money at surveiling, underminning and incarcerating all those poor people you don’t trust while basic government services are being sequestered is not solving the “problem” you percieve in people having unfettered access to technology. If you want to solve the problem, trying getting to know the poeple around you. Try participating in your community. Try learnign to replace your fear with fellowship.

            On the other hand, if someone thinks that 3D guns are a long-awaited solution to a hitherto unaddressed problem from which the world has long suffered, then they might just be considered a tad wacky by more sensible folk.

            I could not care less about this dingbat’s mission to reduce his finger count. But I’ll be damned if I’ll let his stunts be used as another blank check to restrict access to technology.

          1. Funny how you replied to the comment above and my own by posting a video that shows an AR-15 with a 3D printed -part-  and -not- a 3D printed gun that can fire 600 rounds.

            Until there is a 3D printed -barrel- and -upper receiver- (along with every other piece of the weapon, but mostly those two) that can fire 600 rounds, you are simply wrong.

        3. There are no 3D printed barrels that can fire 600 rounds. The gun you’re mentioning didn’t even use a 3D printer upper, if memory serves.

          1. Okay berock212, I’m going to make you famous.

            1. GOTO your 3D printer.

            2. Print a solid block, rectangular,  10cm x 2cm x 2cm

            3. Prepare your press release

            4. Congratulations, you have the first 3D printed serrated steak knife.

            5. Enjoy the failsteak

          2. Please don’t post the same thing twice in response to different comments.

    2. For any endeavor, an intelligent skilled mind combined with resources means innovation.  This can mean innovation in medicine, arts, or I suppose the means to make lethal weaponry that circumvents regulations.  I am suspect regarding the true motives of the latter.  It can’t be a simple exercise in “intellectual curiosity”…

    3.  The main benefit of a 3D printed gun over a handmade zip gun is its addition of standardization and exact tolerances.

      And of course as Gulliver said, a zip-gun made by an expert smith will most likely be superior, but as far as im concerned, if its being made by an expert gunsmith then thats just custom artisanal weaponsmithing, and i dont know if would even really call it a “zip gun” at that point.

      1. My experience with 3D printing indicates that the tolerances are not exact and the output is not standardized. Manufacturing simply doesn’t work that way, especially not in uncontrolled settings.

  2. Compared to a zip gun made from a piece of pipe or tube, this is legal. While the barrel survives it is probably also more accurate.
    A legal pistol barrel must be rifled, and presumably the printed plastic barrel is. The barrel is really the most interesting part from a gun-makers standpoint, it is not that difficult to bore a pistol barrel and pull a button through it, but it does take a fair amount of tooling for a home shop to do that, this takes just the printer.

    I love their choice of name, very appropriate! Anyone with a capable 3-d printer and an appropriate pistol round can have a nearly undetectable gun if they wish. Or a legal gun if they add the hunk-o-metal. Its not much of a gun, but in a newly emerged police state, a desperate person with access to a 3-d printer really could print this gun and use it to capture a better weapon- a nice variation on the original Liberator concept.

    I wonder if they can design a printed plastic shell casing which will work in a common pistol caliber? Black powder could be made at home, and bullets cast easily enough from tire weights. To truly allow anyone to make and use a firearm though, we still need easy to make shell casings and primers.

      1.  An unrifled barrel in a firearm other than a shotgun constitutes an “Any Other Weapon”, requiring NFA registration, LEO permission slip, etc.

        If you had a 3-d printer, you could legally make this gun in many states, it would require no registration of any kind. The manufacturers tax and license is not required if the weapon is made only for your private use. Some states have additional requirements, ymmv.

    1. The name comes from a cheap single shot pistol dropped in huge quantities over France in WWII. 

      1. Just saw one of the original Liberator FP-45 “assassination pistols” recently- I’d never heard of it before.  Kind of a grim concept in the original: give people a super cheap, short range weapon that is (barely) good enough to injure or kill an enemy and take his better weapons. Make a million of them, throw them over enemy lines, and suddenly your opponent has an armed and angry populace behind them.

        Notably, the FP-45 wasn’t used in large scale operations for its intended purpose.  Thousands (out of the million produced) were distributed in Europe, and a some more were sent here and there, but none of the powers-that-be thought much of them for practical use (getting this from the WP article above). Where resistances were provided with weapons, emphasis was on providing them with arms capable of first use without risky steal-and-upgrade operations. 

        Honestly, I think that’s also a notable parallel here, as well.  Anyplace where 3D printers are available, there are are numerous better options for weaponry already easily at hand. The new Liberator is nifty from a technical standpoint, and inflammatory as a discussion piece… Worryingly so for people who would like to see popular adoption of 3D printers for home manufacturing sometime in their lifetime. Strangely enough, uneducated congresscritters tend to get antsy when they hear about OMGWTFBBQ! FREE SECRIT GUNZORS FROM TEH INTARWEBZ!  Not that I can blame 3D print developers for ignorant lawmaker overreaction, but I see things like this and fear 3D printing is going to be DRM’d and restricted into oblivion before it ever takes off.

  3. I kind of wish these guys would fuck off.  I recognize that, sooner or later, someone is going to make a gun with a 3d printer.  that much seems like something of an inevitability.

    But having a gun – one that can’t be found by metal detectors no less – as nearly the first thing that  comes out of 3d printing seems like an engraved invitation for bad laws to strangle this tech in its cradle.

    1. Actually, it might work in the reverse. Any type of sane gun legislation is bound to die in the US right now. So by linking 3-D printing with guns, Congress will refuse to regulate it.

      1.  well except that congress represents the NRA which represents gun manufacturers who would stand to lose from wide spread 3d printing of guns.

        1. You know this to be true how?

          All of the people I know who’ve dabbled in manufacturing, NFA sales, etc have been extremely excited about open-source firearms, homebrew receivers, etc.

          There are thousands of small gun and accessory manufacturers, the NRA represents them as much as they do their vast and loyal membership, and of course the NRA does now receive the majority of its revenue from businesses rather than members (who often buy the $400 lifetime and later maybe remember the NRA in their will). Much of that business money, though, is from customer “Round up for the NRA?” fund-raising efforts, so figures are likely distorted by your sources.

  4. One gets the distinct impression that Cody Wilson doesn’t give a shit about what happens to society, “interested” as he is in the outcome of his work in this field. 

    1. The manufacturing of firearms at home is a technically simple (if somewhat costly, for the equipment) process, and totally legal, and has been for quite some time.

      However, though it’s technically relatively simple, it’s cumbersome.  You have to have gunsmiths, equipment, and space to make guns in any significant number.  It’s far easier to just buy them.

  5. Judging from the photo above showing a snapped trigger, I’m guessing this thing won’t be able to fire many rounds! 

    Still, I’ve no doubt that given how new 3d printers are, we will not be far off much more reliable 3d printed weapons. In the US I don’t see this as a big problem; access to firearms is already so high, one new channel is unlikely to be particularly revolutionary. However, in other countries it could be much more of a game changer.

    1. It could be a game changer after the first incident of someone getting through a metal detector with a printed plastic gun and using it to hijack a plane, shoot up a courtroom, etc.

      1. Are they unable to detect the lead/copper/brass of a bullet? Metal detectors once found unprocessed camera film in my pocket, so they must be pretty sensitive.

        1. To some extant, that depends on how they’re set. To have them set off an alarm for small amounts of non-ferrous metal means more false positives and more thorough removal of all metals for xray.  Which means slower lines and more guards, so many “security theater” checkpoints aren’t run that way.  Because everybody complains that there is too much security until the day that it fails, then they complain that it wasn’t effective.

      2.  Hmm, then i guess everyone will just have to start learning how to live in a society where governments and corporations actually treat people with dignity and respect. What a shame.

        1. What are you talking about? You think a hijacking or court shooting would force governments and corporations to treat people with “dignity and respect”? Good luck with that, I’m pretty sure it would just result in more backscatter machines and patdowns. But I’m not even sure that would be a bad thing in a world where it’s easy to make a plastic gun…would you rather that they just made no attempt to check if people had weapons on them before going on planes or into courtrooms? Surely even though there are problems with “security theater”, the answer is to remove unnecessary aspects like taking off shoes and not carrying any fluids, not to remove security altogether.

  6. I’m looking at that snapped off trigger, it makes me think the whole thing is as sturdy as a toy.

    This whole “print a weapon” thing baffles me, I guess it’s tied to that American sociological shorthand : Guns= freedom.

    What is the end goal here? To get a quality experimentally engineered weapon (if so the CNC option seems more viable) , or to prove a political point? If its the latter it’s very very misguided, equivalent to proving you can make your own bombs. The only people with a penchant to make unstable untraceable weaponry are surely not the best advocates of gun ownership.

    1. They’re trolling Democrats and trying to make a political point (don’t bother to pass gun control legislation because we can just print guns at home).  I suspect all they’re actually going to do is fuck 3D printing over in the process.  So… yay?

    2. It may be sturdy as a toy and break after firing a few bullets, but many nefarious purposes can be accomplished with a single bullet.

      I too think this has the risk of causing lawmakers to license 3d printers or something awful.

      1. Yep, if I was a gun enthusiast I wouldn’t want these guys on my team. Not a good strategy if you actually want to win your battles, painting a target on your chest. However, if they just want to be a martyr, it seems like a great strategy.

        1. It worked for the Black Panther Party, the first American revolutionaries since the Confederacy to wear uniforms.

    3.  Its more like “Total and equal distribution of power = freedom”

      And as any student of history knows, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

  7. This isn’t going to be the first line of defense against a police state. This is going to be yet another justification for a police state. Can’t find ’em with metal detectors? Well, that’s just more justification for pat-downs–not just at airports, but at schools (straight down to kindergarten), any sort of government building, any national monument, major corporations, etc. Whoever signs this legislation into law will be known as a “job creator” and gun manufacturers will get on board with it since printable guns threaten their livelihood. You think the TSA is bad now, hoo boy…

    1. Can’t have a police state in a democracy unless a slight majority of voters can be turned into ban-happy fools willing to vote for representatives who promulgate the police state.

      1.  Sadly, even here in the US, most people seem to WANT a police state – so long as it’s pointed at the OTHER guys, you know, the ones they don’t like. Obviously they, themselves, should and will be exempt.

        1. Right. For the average, low-information voter, any security theater measure which increases their own sense of security while foisting the cost onto what they consider edge cases (which currently includes air travelers and public schoolchildren, who have the weird dual status of second-class citizen and Precious Ones For Whom No Sacrifice Is Too Great) is a no-brainer. Just wait until next year’s Boston Marathon. 

      2. Generally less than 40% of Americans vote in “mid-term” elections; a little over 50% vote in presidential elections. Elections in the US are an excuse not a mandate.

    2. And yet nobody here in New Zealand is even batting an eyelid, and some would even argue we have even more reason to do so. In that, it is quite hard to get hold of guns here. If this were a real issue you’d think all the people who would like an untraceable, undetectable gun would be rushing out to buy 3D printers, they’re not. I think it’s the attitude towards guns that is the problem. We think guns are for shooting animals and targets and if you live in a city we really don’t much see the use for them. Whereas the USA for some reason thinks of guns as some kind of human right/defense mechanism, and the bit I really don’t understand about the 2nd amendment is why people always focus on the second part and sort of ignore the first part. “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state”
      Because with the police and the army existing one could argue the state can keep itself pretty free without enthusiastic amateurs running about the place with semi-automatic assault rifles. Or is the ‘free state’ keeping itself free from the army and the police?

      1. I think people forget, the number of gun owners in this country when the country was founded were very high.   IN FACT, there was a law passed (but not horribly enforced) , called the Second Militia Act of 1792, which basically mandated gun ownership to protect freedoms amongst all free white males.  (Which, at the time, pretty much means everyone.)    It basically organized everyone into “militias”, whether loose or tightly bound.. that’s up to the states.  Many states actually refer to this militia in their constitution as being a loose conglomeration of all the citizenry.

        Washington signed this law.    It really _IS_ a core belief in this country because it was designed to BE a core belief in this country. The founders thought if we had weapons, we could protect ourselves and revolt if necessary.  They said this over and over.

        No, they didn’t anticipate drones or wmds or the like, and so their argument is slightly dated.. but that’s why there’s this belief.  This country was founded on it and created by it, and everyone knew that at one time.

          1. True, but those people made the Constitution.. and that Constitution was pretty clear.  It’s the ultimate law of the land here.  All laws must be based on it, or they are illegal in themselves.  And one of those items was that gun ownership (or more accurately, arms ownership), is a right that cannot be infringed.  

            Now, I’m a liberal.. very liberal.. and I think that there’s some datedness and some problems with what the founders believed.. but that’s really why we have that opinion/belief.  

          2.  As an outsider looking in, this is precisely the problem I see with the Constitution. It is treated as an inviolate document when it is nothing of the sort, and has become a shield behind which groups with vested interests can hide in lieu of legitimate, cogent argument. The Constitution is now little more than a document of rhetoric and political convenience, and if the Constitution isn’t politically convenient then government can pass an amendment. Alcohol is bad, pass an amendment banning it, alcohol isn’t so bad anymore, pass another amendment making it legal again. Even the “right” to bear arms is an amendment. It isn’t inconceivable that another amendment could rescind the right to bear arms, and what then? Is that unconstitutional? By definition it can’t be as it would be in the Constitution.

            Now granted, there are a lot of amendments that I absolutely agree with and are still entirely relevant, women’s suffrage, abolition of slavery, voting rights in general, you’ll get no argument from me there, but a lot, as you point out yourself, is anachronistic and not suitable for modern times, and the sooner the majority of America wakes up and realises this the better.

          3. Dr Wadd, it doesn’t let me go that deep on replies, but yes.  That’s the design of the constitution.  You SAY “just pass an amendment” and yes, new amendments can override any part of the constitution.. but it’s not a simple matter to JUST pass an amendment.   The last amendment that got passed was the 27th amendment in 1992.  That particular amendment started its process in 1789.  (Concerning congressional pay raises).   There are over 100 bills brought forward as amendments every year.. most of them don’t even get to a vote or get through the congress.  Once they do, they go to state legislatures, where 2/3rds of all the state legislatures must also ratify them.. with 2/3rds majority.  There are four amendments right now from 1789 – 1924 that are STILL currently pending in front of state legislatures.  

            It’s not an easy thing to pass an amendment in this country.

            So yes, we CAN just amend the constitution to ban guns.  Or require you to be Christian.  Or any number of other things.  Theoretically.  But there’s a big difference between SAYING we’re going to make an amendment, and actually getting roughly 2/3rds of all of congress and all the states to agree to it.

          4. jarrodhenry, In principle, I believe that the Constitution is an excellent concept, and I equally believe that the UK should have an equivalent enshrining our basic rights. However, I do think the US way of doing it is flawed, and the way you describe the process as being very long-winded I think could be very easily addressed.

            I’d argue that the US should switch to a
            simple majority referendum of the general voting population once an
            amendment is being considered. Surely, if it is truly a document that enshrines the rights of the people, then the people should be deciding on its contents, not the politicians.

          5. I’d argue that the US should switch to a simple majority referendum of the general voting population once an amendment is being considered.

            That’s inching close to fascism.

          6. I’m wary of a simple majority rule.  A simple majority rule would have passed an amendment stating blacks were not human and shouldn’t get the vote.  A simple majority rule would not have granted women the vote in 1919.  The majority of people in a country at any given time are a mob.  That’s why the founders of this country (and many others) went with a representative style of government.  

            I mean, look at the US for an example here.  The majority of people in the US did not vote in the last presidential election.  More people voted in American Idol’s finals than voted in the presidential election, and this was an apparently very heated and important election by all accounts.

            And you think those people will select good amendments?  

          7. I agree.  But then again, there are people basing their world views and attitude towards science on what people thought 4,000 years ago…

        1. mandated gun ownership to protect freedoms amongst all free white males.  (Which, at the time, pretty much means everyone.)

          You and I are working with very different definitions of “everyone.”

      2.  “Well-regulated” means “well-trained”, hence the Redcoats actually being officially called the British Regulars.

        Also, that is the is the first clause of the Second Amendment, the second clause very clearly gives the uninfringeable right to bear arms to, specifically, “the people”.

  8. I’m pretty skeptical of the claim that you can 3D print a gun by farming the pieces out to different CNC shops. I think this shows a pretty basic misunderstanding of the laws around firearm manufacturing. Manufacturing any part of a gun other than the receiver is totally legal, so there’s no reason to hide that you’re doing it at all. 

    Additionally, manufacturers can make receivers up to 80% finished, and they don’t count as firearms at all. These are commonly sold with the “complicated” work done, leaving the owner to finish the last 20% of the machining. Firearms created this way are subject to special restrictions that I won’t go into here, as they’re not really relevant.

    Manufacturing the receiver past 80% finished for anyone but yourself requires you to be a licensed firearms manufacturer. Any CNC shop who builds a firearm receiver for someone without being a firearms manufacturer is opening themselves up for some uncomfortable attention from the ATF. Presumably, CNC shops have procedures in place to detect and prevent this from happening.

    1.  Even if the gun doesn’t show up on a metal detector, the bullets will, so I fail to see the point of this gun…

      1. Well, it would be helpful if someone who knew something about how metal detectors work would chime in. They don’t necessarily detect all metal, because I’ve been through some that required me to remove my belt–because of the buckle–some that passed me through, and some that would beep if it were a military-style web belt buckle. 

        1. from what i understand, metal detectors use a radio signal to induce an electric current in the metal, which causes the metal to produce another magnetic field which is detected with a magnetometer. they only beep however if the magnetic field is above a certain threshold (otherwise they would beep from the magnetic field in your body and be pretty useless, also your zipper…and buttons) if you pass through certain metal detectors you can see a series of lights on the side which increase with the strength of detected magnetic fields (note: a metal need not be ferrous to set this off, it need only conduct electricity)
          so you can have a certain amount of metal on you and be fine, but too much, or too concentrated an amount in one spot will set it off.

          1. From what I’ve read, titanium tends to not set off some metal detectors.  

            It’d be a horrifically expensive gun, though.

          2.  titanium prices are currently around $10.00/LB the weight of a colt .45 is around 2 lb, so for around $20 you could have a full titanium colt .45 (obviously it wouldn’t be that cheap since manufacturing would take most of the cost, also there would be no reason to replace all he mass of steel with titanium that would be silly. titanium is lighter and stronger. so there are a lot of variables but an equal mass of titanium to the mass of steel in a colt.45 would be only 20 usd.)

          3. Would it be a horrifically-expensive shell casing?

            Would take quite a firing pin, though.

      2. metal detectors don’t detect ALL metal, nor do they detect metal below a certain concentration (so the metal button on your pants or your zipper for instance isn’t enough metal to trip the sensors) a single bullet would likely not trip a metal detector

        1. Our chief of police here in Melbourne travelled by air for weeks until a metal detector identified a bullet in the bottom of his back pack. Then there was a bit of a shitstorm.

      3. I dont think the intent behind these 3D printed guns is to make them undetectable, its to democratize and distribute their manufacture, thus making them un-bannable.

    2.  Not only can you buy the 80% receivers, I have seen them come with the steel templates that attach to the 80% receiver to finish the final 20% of cutting so even someone like me with basically zero machining experience could complete the receiver.

    3. If a person was sufficiently motivated (and willing to invest a bit of cash) it’s relatively easy to build a homebrew CNC.  

  9. “Breaking the job down into small pieces that are unlikely to arouse suspicion?”  Dude, you can buy an arsenal at Wal*Mart without arousing suspicion.  Ammo, too.

    1.  …not so much the ammo right now, unless you’ve got a shotgun or an odd-caliber handgun.

      1. You ain’t kidding.  It’s more than a little ridiculous to walk by and see the cases cleaned out.

  10. I think you have a better chance successfully macing somebody in the face to protect yourself.  And it’s non-lethal!  

  11. Even a relatively weak round like .25 ACP produces up to 25,000psi of pressure.  I find it extremely difficult to believe that any 3D-printable material is capable of withstanding those pressures with any kind of reliability.

    Even if you make the “well it only has to work once” argument, I’d still point out that any failure of an all-plastic gun is likely to be catastrophic.  This thing is at least as dangerous to the person holding it than the person it is pointed at.

    1. catastrophic, meaning probably a blow-out through one of the sides near the receiver… but not so much catastrophic, like the gun blowing up and taking some fingers. the same thing that makes this a single-shot weapon makes it fail safer.. instead of a steel pipe zip gun that explodes in your hand spewing shrapnel, ductile plastic will pop and deform, but is unlikely to spray anything heavy enough to damage the user much, especially with such a small round (it’s a .25?)

      it’s the same problem artillery crews had when changing from brass cannon to steel, steel cannon last quite a bit longer but they tend to explode like a giant pipe bomb, killing the entire gun crew. brass tends to just pop a (big) hole in the side, or split the barrel, deforming instead of disintegrating.

      still, this is grandstanding with a dumb idea to make the point that .. what, that artists can make guns at home? no shit we can make guns, and many of us could make a much, much more functional gun.

    2. Right even the cintered metals and ceramics that people keep referencing as a solution to this problem are extremely brittle as compared to the metals typically used. Its an artifact of how they are built from powder. You’re not going to match the reliability and durability of a conventional  gun. 

  12. Zip guns always have been entirely trivial for a minimally educated person to make.  Bullets and propellant aren’t much harder.

    Ever seen what a country boy can do with a junkyard heat exchanger tube?  They come pre-rifled in diameters up to at least 3″ (much bigger I’m sure, but that’s the biggest I’ve handled) pretty much any length you want, immense pressure resistance, and no license required for purchase.

    This technology just democratizes zip-gun making out to over-educated apartment-dwelling city folk.  As a troll for the Democrats, it’s awesome; but it has not much meaning beyond that.  Nearly anybody who wants to kill, can do so; with this or without it – the challenge for humanity is to build a culture and ethos that prevents unnecessary killings and recognizes the necessary ones appropriately.

    1. Heat exchanger tubes?  Like for cars?  And why on Earth would they need to be rifled?

      1.  Rifling creates a greater surface area, which means more efficient heat exchange.

  13. One consideration I haven’t seen is that you might not be able to trust any design you find online. The 3D printing process allows you to introduce hollows or other weakness into otherwise solid parts. Trolls could modify designs in ways that wouldn’t be obvious, but would cause the gun to fail catastrophically upon being fired.

    1.  That same process is currently an issue with popular torrented software (trolls and copyright holders intentionally seeding the torrent with corrupted file information), and the easiest solution around it is simply to allow comments on the download page. If there ends up being a problem or defect with the file, believe me, people will complain about it.

  14. Someone ought to better document the improvised weapons being used in Syria, put out plans for them, and throw them up on wikileaks.  Better than a 3D gun. 

  15. Here’s my worry, in a few years 3D printers become common enough that lots of people in the ghetto get them, at this point true gun control is a moot point because they can just print off a gun to pull off a gang hit (can still regulate ammo, but that’s much harder).

    I don’t take this to mean gun control is a lost cause, but rather it’s essential NOW. Get in some serious regs that make it really hard to own hand guns, the gun supply in the street dries up in a few years, and the gun culture and cycle of violence dries up. Then when the 3D printers show up in the inner cities the gangs won’t be as used to grabbing guns.

    1.  people in the ghetto already have guns. Serious regs that make it really hard to own handguns only affects law abiding citizens, a criminal isn’t going to care about your laws when they obtain their firearms on the black market illegally. If anything, you’re probably going to get more violence now that the populace is disarmed.

  16. Technically
    it is possible but practically it is not advantageous because of the cost.
    The thing about it is though is that it is undetectable from metal detectors
    so it is still very dangerous when in the hands of a professional assassin.

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