Building A Better 3D Printed Gun

Back in 2013, [Cody Wilson] of Defense Distributed designed and built the world’s first completely 3D printed pistol. He called his gun the Liberator, after a World War II-era single-shot pistol designed to be cheap and easy to manufacture, easy to conceal, and for members of the French Resistance, ‘a great gun to obtain a better gun’.

cyl[Cody]’s Liberator turned out to be a great gun to obtain two or three fewer fingers. Not only was this a single-shot pistol, it was a single barrel pistol; with each round fired requiring a new 3D printed barrel. Tests were carried out, explosions happened, and we couldn’t even get the thing to print. For all the media hubbub, for all the concerned legislators, the first 3D printed pistol was much ado about nothing.

3D printers are still an extremely interesting technology, and if history has proved one thing, it’s that engineers and tinkerers will keep building guns. Last week, [James Patrick] released his latest design for a working 3D printed gun. It still fires the .22lr of the Liberator, but this is a double action revolver, it won’t blow up, and if you drop it, it won’t discharge. It’s the little things that count.

[James]’ revolver is either a 6 or 8-shot revolver uses a pepper-box design, where the gun has multiple chambers and barrels in one gigantic cylinder. The double action design first rotates the cylinder to the next chamber, pulls back a striker loaded up with a firing pin nail, and (hopefully) fires a round. In the video below, [James] goes over the design of his action, and ends up showing off a few test firings of his newly designed gun.

What’s very interesting about this build is how closely the development of 3D printed firearms is following the development of historical firearms. First, we had guns that probably shouldn’t be fired, ever. Now, the technology for 3D printed guns is about up to 1830 or thereabouts. Give it a few more years and we’ll be up to 1911.

Disclaimer: if you live in the US and think this sort of thing should be illegal, contact your state representative and tell them you support a constitutional convention to remove the personal right to own and operate firearms. This right has been upheld many, many times by the judiciary, and a constitutional convention is the only way your wishes could be carried out. Your state representative probably doesn’t read Hackaday; there is no need to comment here. Let’s talk about engineering and technology instead.

Continue reading “Building A Better 3D Printed Gun”

Timelapse of the 3d printed gun being printed.

Once the DoD requested the 3d printed gun files be removed from the internet, a couple things happened.

  1.   The Streisand Effect went into full force. The file was shared all over and can still be found easily.
  2.   I suddenly realized that I was going to be printing a 3d printed gun and doing another article on it even though I had just written an opinion piece about how I don’t care.

I’m not above admitting that it is childish of me. I was told I couldn’t have this thing and suddenly I knew I had to make it. I see it with my kids all the time. Toys can sit in a corner collecting dust for ages, but the second it is in threat of being removed, they have renewed interest, at least for a few minutes.

I figured, if I’m going to be childish about it and print a gun that a) won’t work because I don’t have the right printer, and b) I won’t use anyway because I don’t generally play with guns, I might as well make a fun timelapse video of the more recognizable parts being made.

It initially seemed like it was going to be quick and easy. However, I quickly found that just printing this thing was going to be a time consuming and frustrating task.

1. the scale on the individual files was way off. 

I suspect this has something to do with the printer it was designed for. It seemed very close to being 1 inch = 1 mm. Not a completely uncommon problem. Manually resizing got some files to look right, but I found many simply wouldn’t resize.

2. Almost every single item had errors.

If you’ve done 3d printing, you’ve found that a model can have all kinds of issues that will stop it from printing correctly. I found every single item for the gun had errors. I actually learned a lot about how to repair non-manifold items from this exercise, so it was good in the end.

Some items, like the hammer and the hammer springs simply would not print. I ran them through systems to repair them and fix errors. It would say that everything was fixed, but when I tried to “slice” them for printing, the software would crash.  This means that my gun is incomplete. It has no hammer. Not really that big of a deal to me.

the whole gun
Note that it is missing the hammer mechanism. More on that later.

Do I care now?

Nope. I climbed to the top of the fridge and got my cookies. I’m a happy child. The reality is that a zip gun is still cheaper, easier, safer, and more reliable.  Here’s an example.