Modified Liberator 3D printed gun made with cheap printer, fires 9 shots

Joe, an engineer from Wisconsin, modified the (now censored) designs for Defense Distributed's 3D printed gun, the Liberator, and printed a working model on a Lulzbot A0-101, a $1,725 consumer printer that is much cheaper and more widely available than the Stratasys Dimension SST printer used by Defense Distributed.

The gun printed by Joe, which he’s nicknamed the “Lulz Liberator,” was printed over 48 hours with just $25 of plastic on a desktop machine affordable to many consumers, and was fired far more times. “People think this takes an $8,000 machine and that it blows up on the first shot. I want to dispel that,” says Joe. “This does work, and I want that to be known.”

Eight of Joe’s test-fires were performed using a single barrel before swapping it out for a new one on the ninth. After all those shots, the weapon’s main components remained intact–even the spiraled rifling inside of the barrel’s bore. “The only reason we stopped firing is because the sun went down,” he says....

...Still, Joe’s cheap homemade gun isn’t without its bugs. Over the course of its test firing, Joe and Guslick say it misfired several times, and some of its screws and its firing pin had to be replaced. After each firing, the ammo cartridges expanded enough that they had to be pounded out with a hammer. “Other than that, it’s pretty much confirming that yes, Defense Distributed is correct that this functions,” says Guslick. “And it’s possible to make one on a much lower cost printer.”

$25 Gun Created With Cheap 3D Printer Fires Nine Shots (Video) [Andy Greenberg/Forbes]


  1. The only positive of this I can think of is that if it goes as far as the lunatics out there could take it, it could mean the end of the NRA. Who’d need them? Just the ammunition lobby.

    1.  These guns aren’t manly enough though.  They need lots of scopes and lights and loading noises.

      1. If you’ve got 3D printers, adding all that Macho Flash Stuff is just more data.  And besides, having to extract the used bullet casing from the gun with a hammer is definitely manly.

    2. The NRA will never let it happen.  They’ll find a way to convince/trick/or payoff politicians and civilians into thinking these ‘guns’ are Anti-American and against-God or some such b.s..

  2. I get it that some people need to be provocative, and printing a gun feels like sticking it to the man. I just don’t think there are very many people out there who ‘need’ to sneak a firearm past a metal detector, and for those that do,  there are better weapons for the job.

     As a benchmark, though, it seems like a real world application that most people can understand. I’d like to see other, more interesting benchmarks explored: how powerful an electric motor can be printed? What about a working bicycle? 3d printed motor scooters, or cars?

    Is it possible to 3d print parts for a 3d printer that is more accurate than the one before? Images of big waldos making smaller waldos down into the nano scale. Or in the other direction, could I end up 3d printing a house from a printer I’d printed myself?

     These thoughts are probably trite cliches by now, but the prices are coming down enough for me to start dreaming.

    1. I’d like to see other, more interesting benchmarks explored

      So go buy a printer and explore! These are early days and your contributions will definitely be welcome.

    2. The bike’s been done, and I agree, it’s tons cooler than the gun:

  3. “even though they had to pound the cartridge out with a hammer”

    Sure seems that there is another reason for taking such offense to the 3D printing of a lousy firearm.
    For much less than that $2000 price tag a piece of pipe , a nail and a rubber band can shoot a bullet too.
    So, are they preparing to outlaw rubber bands too?

      1. The only parts the story mentioned being changed were the barrel, the firing pin, and some of the screws.

  4. “I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire nine shots or only eight?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a Lulz Liberator, the most inexpensive printed handgun in the world, and tends to misfire on every other shot, assuming it doesn’t melt down or jam up completely, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

    1. Man, thanks for the laugh. You nailed it big time. Seriously though, replicating Prime beef steak is high on my list of reasons to be cheerful and I’m just off out to my local 3D printer store to save the world!

  5. lulzWeapons . . . heh. I am beginning to see a future full of dangerous clowns. It has already arrived, but hasn’t yet metastasized. How long before we have a president who wears the mask while giving press conferences? First, as a joke on a late night show, and then . . . it just works too well. She takes to wearing it all the time. The next election anonymous wins by land slide and the person behind the mask is only a meat puppet and the crowd takes direct control. Shooting people becomes obsolete as identity becomes a transferable commodity. The most effective political actions in this environment turn out to be absurd confrontations which reveal the slowness of a crowd sourced reaction. One night the President is approached by an unmasked assailant with an unpeeled banana held like gun. As the President waits for the answer to this trial to arrive she looks out through the holes of Guy Fawkes eyes and sees the banana . . . she just looks at it.

  6. “People think this takes an $8,000 machine and that it blows up on the first shot. I want to dispel that,”

    That must be why it’s being fired by a string pulled from a safe distance..

    1. Yep. There is a difference between confidence and idiocy. It’s hard to go back to the drawing board without your drawing hand.

  7. I’m not really worried about the public safety aspect of these types of weapons until the user can fire it without concern that they are not very likely to be as severely injured in doing so as anyone on the receiving end of the payload. As long as they are only safely used from a distance, via string, I don’t see too much for the DOJ, or anyone else, to worry about.

    1. Yeah, it’s hardly likely that the technology of 3D printing will be advancing any time soon. I feel very safe.

  8. This is my personal observations and I have no gunsmithing credentials
    after my name. When a spent casing must be “pounded” out after firing,
    that means the all-important receiver has failed. The receiver is the
    empty cavity into which the unfired “bullet” is inserted in preparation
    for firing. The material surrounding this cavity must be strong enough
    to prevent any sideward release of the explosive energy resulting from
    the BANG. A proper receiver will not yield even slightly during many
    thousands of firings. An inferior receiver will deform in unwanted
    directions, resulting in constant jams as were seen here. Someone from
    President Andrew Jackson’s era could probably win a duel using a
    muzzle-loading pistol when matched against an opponent with the current
    iteration of the Liberator.

    1. I think you are confusing the chamber with the receiver.  The chamber is located in the breach end of the barrel and that is where the cartridge/bullet goes.  

      If he doesnt want his bullets to stick in his plastic chamber, he should try fluting the chamber like  H&K/walther did with their roller locked weapons.  Chamber flutes running up into the barrel will allow enough gas to come back into the chamber to float the cartridge casing and make keep it from sticking to the plastic… though since his chamber/barrel is more plastic (hahah other meaning for the word) than metal, the case might stick anyway.

      1. No, that’s not the problem.  Or likely not it (I have not built one of these, so I am going by engineering judgement here).

        The plastic barrel / chamber was stretching within its elastic range during firing, I think – the range of stretch in which it acts like a spring and comes right back to original shape.

        The metal of the cartridge however, was probably stretching into its “plastic deformation” range – past its “yield strength”, where it does not return to its original shape.  See:

        This means that the cartridge ended up bigger than the hole it was in, after firing.  The inside of the barrel / chamber was compressing in on the now-expanded cartridge, holding it in place.  

  9. They’re making such a big song and dance about it because they want to legislate for registration of 3D printers so they can control what you do with them. They’re terrified of the disruptive technology getting into the hands of the common man as it’s going to disrupt the business models of the big bosses.

    1. No, they’re making such a big song and dance about it because the Firearms Enthusiast subset of the Maker crowd are going around saying “Bwahahah!  Your gun control laws can’t stop our puny weapons any more!  Bwahahah!”  It may be playing into the hand of the Intellectual Property Mafiaas, but it’s really the maker crowd pushing this and the other side reacting in a highly confused manner.

    2.  Nothing so insidious, just stupid people scaring themselves and other stupid people then acting stupidly.  The solution is as it has always been.  The elimination of stupid people through proper education and STEM initiatives.   Every kid should have a 3d printer.  And the stupid people will despair.  Because they are stupid.  No other reason.

  10. If the progressive instantiation of new laws governing gun ownership cannot be leveraged from the exploration of this topic, then my name ain’t…

  11. Cool. Now they need to post the fixed-up files for everyone to download. The 3D lulzberator must not be stopped.

  12. I think I am going to have to see a shot go into some ballistics gel or water bottles to verify that a bullet has penetrative power before I’m fully going to accept that this plastic gun works. As far as we know, they could simply be firing blanks or reducing the amount of gunpowder in their bullets.

  13. If people think this is scary you should see the guns that can be made with a few hundred bucks worth of used machine tools off ebay!  The “scary” part is not the guns – its the 3d printer.  If the guy had used a mill and lathe to make the exact same thing people would just shrug.

  14. Why do people think a 3d printed gun is any more dangerous than a gun made at your local hobby store, ala “In the Line Of Fire” or even your local shop class?

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