3D Printed Guns, Laws And Regulations, And Philosophical Discussions On The Nature Of Printed Objects

For as long as they’ve been banded about, 3D printers were regarded as the path to a new economy, a method of distributed manufacturing, and a revolution for the current consumer culture. With every revolution, a few people need to get angry and the guys at Defense Distributed are doing their part to make that happen. They’re designing a handgun able to be printed on a hobbyist-level 3D printer

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a 3D printable weapon; this 3D printed AR-15 lower receiver is the only part of an AR-15 that contains the ID markings and serial number. Legally, the AR lower is the gun, and requires a background check to purchase (with the footnote that this varies from state to state and country to country – long story short, the BATFE probably isn’t happy about a 3D printed AR lower). The one drawback of a 3D printed AR-15 lower is that every other part of the gun must be purchased elsewhere. This is where Defense Distributed comes in: they propose designing a gun that is 100% printable on a hobbist-level 3D printer such as a RepRap or Makerbot.

Right now, Defense Distributed is looking for funding to produce two gun designs. The first design, WikiWep A will serve as a research build, allowing Defense Distributed to answer a few questions on what can be built with a RepRap. WikiWep B will have moving parts for the firing action and very nearly all the parts will be printable on a RepRap or Makerbot.

In the video Defense Distributed put up for their now cancelled IndieGoGo campaign (available after the break), the guys talk about the distribution of a CAD file of completely 3D printable weapon being a threshold of a new economy where laws and regulations cease to apply. We’re not sure we agree with that statement; after all, anyone with some metal forming tools can build an excellent weapon to acquire another weapon, but we’re interested in seeing what governments and regulators will make of Defense Distributed’s project.


237 thoughts on “3D Printed Guns, Laws And Regulations, And Philosophical Discussions On The Nature Of Printed Objects

  1. …… OK gonna put on my tinfoil hat here.

    Every time I see something like this, I can’t help but think its being pushed by a group that’s actually trying to stifle 3D printing.

    By intentionally appending as much legal/political red tape to 3D printing as they possibly can. Because I can guarantee for as much prime time news coverage I have seen on 3D printing (read: Zero). I can now almost be guaranteed to see some news piece about how all 3D printers are going to be used by gangs and drug dealers to print untraceable guns……

    So on that note in B4 proposed laws are drafted to make 3D printers illegal ~.~ thanks to crap like this and people who don’t understand technology (read: legislators).

      1. 3D printer ban? Really? How would that be enforced? I see two possible futures for 3D printing… either it never makes it out of the maker niche phase in which case those who want a 3D printer will just make one or it becomes so popular that banning it is political suicide. Either way.. the maker who wants one can just build one.

      1. Difference is, theres bugger all civilian reasons to own a automatic.
        A handgun could be argued for defense, a shotgun even if your a farmer. There is usefull reasons to own some gun types, sometimes.

        For some reason though large numbers of people think this should extend to “everyone should be able to have all weapons”. A automatic or semi has no practical use besides shooting lots of things you want dead.

          1. There’s no crime where you are? I kinda figure as long as there are rapists, armed robbers, and the like in the world, there’s justification for me to provide for my own defense against such people. Furthermore, the folks that put together the government I live under were all pretty unanimous that the way to preserve freedom is to make sure the people — and all of them — can form an effective military unit. Granted there’s more to that than just ensuring they have weapons, but weapons are pretty indispensable. So until those founders are proven wrong, I’ll keep my weapons, thank you very much.

          2. I agree,
            A lot of hysteria seems to be manufactured about the taking away of freedoms, semi-automatic weapons, high cap clips etc… and all it tends to do is put money in the pockets of weapon manufacturers and polarize regular people.

            Make no mistake, the people pulling the strings are very smart and line their pockets with cash with fear based sales whenever the debate comes up for ‘rational’ discussion. It’s got nothing to do with self-defense or protecting freedoms and everything to do with sales. If I was a more cynical individual, I’d just invest in weapon stocks and watch the money pour in.

        1. Egads, don’t ever let on to the politicians that an automatic is often LESS useful form of fire power. There’s a reason that there’s a paraphrased quote “Auto is useless until it’s needed… then nothing else will do.” that essentially points this out. It is very useful in dealing with front-line situations, obviously. It’s not so useful for accuracy – if you can keep a bead with a gun on full auto, I’m very damn impressed, Superman/Wonder Woman. ;) Interestingly, sometimes people want a lighter caliber so they can get more rounds for the given weight which makes sense when even the lighter round scares the heck out of people. Imagine carrying 150 pounds (68kg) of gear.

          My point is that even if I was some sicko wanting to kill unarmed strangers in a victim, err gun-free zone… the auto is less effective except for very ideal situations. And someone seeing you pull it out will pretty much eliminate that situation unless in a tunnel too crowded to move in. At point blank, automatic just makes you waste bullets. Either way, this is a pretty remote possibility even in Chicago or some other crime capital of a state in the union. I’m more worried about drunk drivers… Because I’m bound to come into tons of them (not intentionally?) trying to kill me in my lifetime, but maybe if I’m really unlucky, I’ll see a mad gunmen once. This is assuming I don’t choose the wrong lifestyle/career.

          Mentioning dangerous careers, guess which is the most deadly per 10k workers… Hint: It involves a place with tons of myths and legends behind disappearing workers. The 24/7 exposure is partly why it’s a few times more dangerous than almost any other job you can get. Hint2: It’s not one were people typically get killed by another human being or fire.

      2. There are plenty of reasons to own a semi-automatic weapon (most modern handguns are semiautomatic, anyway), or even an automatic one. They’re, at very least, the same reasons you might want to own a ski boat, a ridiculously large home, or a swimming pool. It’s fun. Actually quite a lot of fun. Moreover, individuals have a right to defend themselves if the need arises, and to obtain tools for that self defense. It’s awfully hard to defend yourself against anything significant with, for instance, a single-shot rifle. Just ask the police, or anyone that has ever defended anything.

        1. OMG you evil person you! How could you be so ignorant as to think your interest in preserving your life is higher than the trainer professionals?!
          Sorry, couldn’t help it. Yeah, that’s the typical comment I’ve seen lately, though. ;)

    1. I agree, there are those who are not so excited about the proliferation of “hobby-level” 3D printers. Judging by the printer used in the AR15 lower,this guy is in the manufacturing industry. He would have a vested interest in the regulation of 3D printing. I could be wrong, but I’ll share that tinfoil hat with you.

    2. What really?? I doubt they’d ban 3d printers because someone decided to try to manufacture weapons with them. If that were the case, they’d have to regulate drill presses, lathes, milling machines, files, hacksaws and any other tool that can be used to machine metal. Take off the hat and make something already.

  2. [q]They’re designing a handgun able to be printed on a hobbyist-level 3D printer[/q]

    The “vitamins” you need to successfully print a gun are still out of reach for hobbyists, because you need a chamber, barrel, ejector, springs etc. All the existing methods of printing in metal produce end results that simply aren’t a match for the hardened and forged steel alloys actually used in guns. They might hold up if you shot with black powder, or other low velocity propellant.

    Of course you can shoot once even with a plastic gun. It’s just that you can already build a zip-gun out of a piece of pipe and a block of wood, that’ll do the job equally well.

      1. ammunition they discuss in the video is .22LR in the United States it is the cheapest and most widely available ammunition types over any other. you only have to be 16 to buy it and you could load it in anything from a pistol to a mini machine gun. when i went to Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot there was a gentlemen there who had a home made, bench built, American 180 [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_180] that only required a pistol permit to own. it was fully automatic and while being the most beautifully hideous gun I’ve ever seen startlingly easy to own.

        current gun laws make it possible for a 16 year old to buy the ammunition but you still have to be an adult to buy the fire arm. this engineering project/protest would make it possible for anyone regardless of age or restriction to make a firearm.

      2. @Ryoku

        16 years olds can not legally purchase ammunition. Don’t be ludicrous. US law has an age limit of 18, with some states restricting .22LR to 21 year olds because it can be used in a handgun (i.e. California)

    1. Point being, that if you print a gun, what are you going to fire with it?

      If you buy a box of rounds, they’ll be designed for a higher chamber pressure than your gun can safely handle. You’d have to make the ammunition for your gun yourself, and that’s yet more difficult.

      If you want to DIY a gun, it would be more productive to produce 3D models for a lathe that can cut and drill a standard barrel.

    2. You honestly never had machine shop in school? Do you have any idea how many metal and wood lathes are in-service in the world? I can turn out miles of springs in a couple days. Most of that time would be making a simple jig to toss on my lathe.

      Man, gun making is just not high technology at work. The only thing that sets today’s guns apart from those made 400 years ago is some fancier materials and ideas on tolerances.

      Let me entrust you with this knowledge: A long barrel smoothbore shooting a ball bearing will kill a deer at two hundred yards. It might not fire fast, but it fires accurately.

        1. If I needed a barrel, I’d start with a rod of cold rolled steel and drill the bore. Then I’d pull a tap through it to make the grooves.

          I’ve seen some fantastic work done in the most unlikely places. In many countries where gun ownership is unregulated, there are gunsmiths squatting in bazaars and alleyways who are able to replace/rebuild damn near anything.

      1. “The only thing that sets today’s guns apart from those made 400 years ago is some fancier materials and ideas on tolerances.”

        And fancier gunpowders, rifling, better bullets, casings, caps, and automatic firing mechanisms.

        Seriously, you can’t shoot a 17th century gun with modern gunpowder because it’ll just fly apart. The miniballs were large and heavy because they couldn’t afford the high chamber pressures to get high velocity. Making your own black powder substitute is slightly difficult and very dangerous because you have to control for chemical composition and grain size and loading to not have it detonate and blow up your gun.

        1. Sure you can use modern powder. you just don’t use as much and you tailor the weight of the ball. Just because you’re using an antique weapon doesn’t mean you can’t refer to reloading tables ;-)

          I’m trying to get across the point that gun making is not some esoteric black art. It’s not even rocket science. Just basic metal work.

          1. Hell, some of the oldest barrels weren’t even round. Imagine a barrel shaped like a hexagonal pyramid! Yeah, it’s all essentially the same old science of Newton’s days, but the technology to make the materials has improved greatly. No more using polygonal barrels because we can’t easily make a round one that narrow. No using powder made before they realized that water followed by drying makes it _better_. The point is that it’s even EASIER to make a gun than it was in the days of muskets.

      2. IIRC, back in the early ’80’s CBS’s “60 Minutes” did a segment on village in Afghanistan. It showed scraps of metal being melted in a forge (hole in the ground), poured into molds, then milled (yes, this village had a mill), and assembled into an AK-47. Then they fired off a few rounds with it. The charge for this service was $1200 USD and was accomplished in 24 hours. (I’m guessing the molds had already been built). That was back when Afghan rebels “were on OUR side”.

      3. “Sure you can use modern powder. you just don’t use as much and you tailor the weight of the ball.”

        It doesn’t work the same. The pressure profile is different, and the gun is likely to break up in your hands. Underloading a cartridge is even more dangerous, because of what happens when modern gunpowder detonates instead of burns.

        If something is meant to be pushed, you don’t tap it with a sledgehammer just gently.

        1. Which gun are you speaking of? The hypothetical one with a barrel designed for higher pressure or some 18th century antique? You are aware that extremely high pressures were obtained using black powder or nitrocellulose.

          May I humbly suggest that you restrict yourself to commenting on electronics?

  3. An interesting idea, but not one mention of how they plan to make the barrel. The gun is pretty much useless without this difficult to machine part. Printers won’t be able to make usable barrels for decades.

    1. A hole drilled in wood can be used to fire once. A smooth steel pipe will take couple rounds, provided it doesn’t split from the pressure.

      They have no way of printing or producing rifling in the barrel, so they’ll be restricted to what are basically just 3D printed zip-guns.

  4. That’s crossing the line. The idea is to have less guns around, to avoid shootings and idiotic acts, instead of more. Now kids will print this, seeing as 3D printers are getting cheaper all the time and they will be cheap enough for teens to buy them any time soon. Let alone, soon gangs and terrorists will bring a bad name to 3D printers because of this, making everyone suspicious of something that was well intended to be harmless.

    1. Any kid with half a brain could produce an improvised gun that is just as good if not better than what you could produce by printing.

      The main problem is getting the ammunition.

      1. no getting ammuniton is not a problem… even though I live in a country where it’s almost impossible to get a license I can get blank cartridges for poweder powered tools… they are just like regular ammo but miss the bullet

      2. “Any kid with half a brain could produce an improvised gun that is just as good if not better than what you could produce by printing.”

        The problem is the ones without a brain!

    2. “That’s crossing the line. The idea is to have less guns around, to avoid shootings and idiotic acts, instead of more. ”

      Please, tell me more about how the stellar gun control laws in Chicago and NYC help reduce shootings. I’ll hold my breath.

      *THE idea* ? Nope, sorry. That might be your idea, its certainly not mine nor the majority of people.

      THE idea is: because I am a supposedly free person, I’m going to have as many guns as I damn well please – for self defense, hunting, target shooting, and *gasp* safeguard against tyranny.

      Personally, I think this is great. Maybe if guns become easy to make then people will stop thinking that ignorance and sticking your head in the sand is a viable alternative to learning and teaching kids about basic gun safety.

    3. “The idea is to have less guns around” who’s idea? certainly not mine. I’d give them out for free on the street corner if i could. especially to women. I hope that the ease of making guns at home helps put some sensibility into gun laws and restrictions.

    4. Please cite your sources that show that a decrease in firearms leads to a decrease in firearms related violence.

      The trouble is, you can’t do that because that notion is not backed up by reality. In every case where legal possession of firearms is restricted, violence goes up. This is because criminals don’t care about the law… they do what they want to regardless of the law. Restrictions of firearms possession only keeps law-abiding citizens (by definition not criminals) from possessing the tools that can be used to defend themselves and their property. There are multiple examples where near ubiquitous ownership of firearms results in a reduction in violent crime against individuals (e.g. Switzerland, numerous states after relaxing gun control legislation) and numerous examples that show the opposite is also true (e.g. Chicago, DC before Heller).

      1. I’m sorry, Switzerland? If the rules that are in Switzerland were implemented in the US, no one would have to worry anymore.

        But seriously, I really don’t want to brew a shitstorm over who’s right or who’s wrong.

      2. @jboogie

        of course it is high when there is gun for every living person in the US

        the thing is one need to compare number of all violent deaths – if a man don’t have a gun he won’t use it, but there is good chance he will use an ax, crowbar, metal pipe, knife, baseball bat, pitchfork or whatever he can obtain instead

      3. @jboogie That is also over the course of 2004-2006 the ones above the USA and even below it are over just one year. Not to mention the majority of the gun related deaths were suicides.

      4. Considering how impossible it would be to get rid of all of the guns out of the USA, trying to do so seems like closing the door after the horse has run out of the barn. What I am in favor of is a simple firearms license. We don’t let people drive dangerously large vehicles around without checking they know how to use one, why not do the same with firearms?

          1. Well there’s this theory called a militia. You know – the state or county is responsible for running, and it’s not used for regular wars but continental wars (although you could transfer to the army/navy departments). Come to think of it… The last time I think I’ve heard of militias besides some unofficial survivalist camps was I think during reading about the Civil War where guys in a battle were often from only a few areas.
            I probably wouldn’t be totally against requiring law enforcement to teach people responsible gun ownership any more than how I had to learn how to drive a car without running down pedestrians(LOL). If you’re found owning a gun and didn’t take the training and can’t pass a written test, you could be held liable just like people who leave cars up on jacks without blocks or something along those lines. Think of criminal negligence and dangerous properties. The only major problem I see is the precedent of the KKK and disenfranchisement. It would have to be mandatory that they couldn’t pick-and-choose who is allowed to learn (except obvious felony convictions/mental illness/etc.) or to game the system to stop people they don’t like from passing the tests. Say, objective line cards or “identify this gun/part/what’s wrong” exams if a county/state has a history of being dicks. This is vaguely how it works for the Swiss, except it’s practical for them to make it national given the size of their country?
            Yeah I know – a fantasy that it would ever happen in the current climate or that it wouldn’t go horribly wrong and bite us in the a** as a republic.

      5. Firearm-related homicide rate in USA is more than 10 times higher than the average european rate, with relatively similar model of society, level of poverty, and even similar overall level of criminality.

        1. That is one of the reasons that knives are so regulated in the UK. I think the maximum blade for a folder in the UK is 2.5 inches. Forget about owning a decent sized Buck folder or anything in that range.

          1. So what do they do if someone gets the bright idea to tape a knife to a stick? Or get a piece of glass and break it? “OMG that’s more than 2 inches!” XD Oh, is it still a ‘knife’ if I have a sharp pointy stick with no handle to stop the blade like the ‘knife-spear’ above would?
            Something just aint… right in the head of people trying to restrict even kitchen knives.

      6. All you have to do is look North to see a country where gun possession is restricted and violent crime is down.

        Up here you can get a rifle or a shotgun and if you fill in the right paperwork you can get a handgun but you can’t get assault rifles or big clips or automatic weapons and unless you’re an undercover cop, you can’t carry concealed weapons. You can’t fire a gun within the city limits unless you’re at a range and you don’t hunt with hand guns.

        We still have our fair share of whacky or deranged individuals and even have the odd shootout but this year we’re on track to meet the same percentage of violent crime that occurred in 1972. I believe that is a good thing.

        IMO, the problem with everyone having guns is like the problem of only having a hammer in your toolbox. You run into an issue and you pull out the only tool you have instead of taking a moment to considering other solutions.

        1. That’s why I’m trying to think of something that would make guns be just one tool in the box for self defense. Obviously there’s martial arts and such, but that is kind of useless if you have a bullet in you before you take 2 steps.

          I know it’s kind of silly but the Chinese have this net/hook thing that is supposed to slow down/stop knife-wielders and I’m wondering if there can’t be some analogy tool for guns. I know it was SciFi but I read a story years ago (Character name in it: Doc Savage) where they had a device that induced magnetic fields in metal – it heated the metal but left nonconductive objects alone. That would be a nasty thing to bring a gun near, or even just bullets. *snap* *crackle* *BANG*
          In more practical terms, I think you could find the right sound waves to trigger the ammo, without frying everything electronic in a 3-mile radius. Or at the least, have man traps that react to the unique physical properties of guns. Think of some sensor that detects barrels and triggers a glue/net trap. I know, sounds like SciFi still, but hey at least it’s an idea.
          Stun guns and wands/gloves or related are useful when your opponent is unarmed but a lot stronger than you are. Tear gas or similar sprays are normally show stoppers but in enclosed areas are generally a very bad idea as they’re chemical weapons. Flash bangs are popular with certain types of police but I don’t see them being too practical for self defense in a home. A really bright flash (no bang) might be useful against people confronting or chasing you, though since you’d have warning and close your eyes while looking away. I could actually see in certain types of residences, using a water cannon. Not exactly the best idea in a normal home, though and unfeasible on the street unless you have tons of warning and can choose the location. Big dogs… scare the heck out of most people. But see the martial arts issue. This list is just physical tools. There are many, many psychological methods to get people to back down. If we used a physical method first, then we’d be like a hypothetical cop that shoots someone just for looking similar to a known bank robber. Only in the exceptional cases should you shoot first and ask questions later.

      7. Interesting you should choose Switzerland as your example, considering that gun ownership there is compulsory for the majority of citizens. They’ve still got half as many per capita as the US, but both their violent crime and their gun crime are far, far lower than that would suggest. Most big US cities have dramatically higher crime rates than the entire country of Switzerland – even Chicago, where guns are more heavily regulated than almost anywhere else in the country. I wonder if it’s a political or ideological difference, rather than an issue of the guns themselves?

        Swiss gun laws
        Gun ownership worldwide

    5. Sasha,

      Find and attend a “Women on Target” event near you!

      I have been an instructor at one of these events, its a great way to get introduced to firearms. And surprisingly cheap – I think it was $40 at my club. Thats less money than a good night out on the town.

      For the guys (and gals too), I think there is the NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation) “First Shots” program. I don’t know too much about it though

      1. Even cheaper way: make friends with a gun nut. Sooner or later, you’ll be invited to go shooting with them, especially if they find out you’ve never fired a gun before.

        The challenge at that point is ensuring said gun nut friend doesn’t start you off with a hand cannon. I have a .22 carbine that’s perfect for a first-time shooter(and in fact I got it as a Christmas present when I was 7). The .357 may be more fun, but it’s also more likely to terrify a first-timer.

        If you don’t hang out with the kind of people who are likely to be gun nuts, then the $40 would still be well-spent.

        Also, if you look up gun-related deaths, please also look up automobile-related fatalities. Those things are DANGEROUS.

      2. Very true about starting small. My father used to competition pistol shoot, and he’d see a lot of people with “The flinch”.

        They’d start off with a .22, work their way up to a .38, etc., and then decide to get a giant round (.357, etc.) and the massive recoil threw off their shooting. They’d go back down to a lighter round, but they’d flinch in anticipation from using a hand cannon. Hard habit to break if it gets its teeth in.

      3. First of all, I’m not a woman. Secondly, I luckily no longer live in the US, and thirdly I have a shooting range only a couple hundreds of meters from my house which I frequent. I’ve shot guns many times, hypocritical, I know, but they never came into my house.

        As far as I’m aware, no one can take their firing mechanism home here. You must leave it at the shooting range or with the army, if you’re part of it. They also keep very detailed logs of who has what, and they do their best to reduce the number of firing mechanisms that people keep in their homes. I think last year the number was just 7000 or something.

    6. IMHO the ammo and the barrel are those essential pieces of a gun which can’t be made from scratch.

      If someone with a good workshop and a box of junk metal parts has the parts listed above, a simple blowback gun for pistol ammo isn’t a big deal. The parts for a crude gas operated, roller locked mechanism also could be filed from blocks of steel.

      The AR15 is just a piece of crap, with a too complex shape and too many pieces, so that noone can buld it from scratch.
      The AK is a much better design to built at home, since it could be build from scratch if you have the barrel and the bolt, as seen in the romanian kits

      1. the same can easily be siad about you too phantom

        the problem is that “freedom” doesn’t mean you have the right to do whatever you want. Freedom without limits is just chaos and tyranny because my freedom and your freedom overlap and without rules and laws to clear things up it just lead to people dying.

        Sure this can work on small scales, of largely isolated towns of with a few 100’s to the low 1000’s if you get lucky, but in large highly interconnected civilization only leads to collapse of the system.

        You freedom has to be limited to respect and preserve other peoples freedom just as theirs are to protect yours. But that doesn’t make people feel good so people don’t want to believe it.

      2. dex, most of what you say is correct, but you left out one critical bit: Do not limit my freedom for crimes I have not committed.
        It is fundamentally wrong to punish people to punish people who have comitted no crime. Once you start to do that under the rubric of “safety” or “homeland security” or “Think of The Children”, you will lose all your freedom bit-by-bit.

    7. the point being that if you take away a law abiding citizens right to protect himself from the criminals who obviously dont give one shit about the laws. The criminals will have no fear what so ever in commiting their crimes.

      I’d rather have my gun and not need it then need it and not have it.

      1. RE: “Canadian Eh…” You’re welcome to call it irrational if you’d like — certainly any being that looks out actively for its own defense will raise its defenses by mistake sometimes. There are plenty of people you never hear about in the news who have successfully defended themselves from obvious attackers simply because they carried firearms. There are plenty of others who could demonstrably have averted tragedy had they been allowed access to a firearm. I don’t understand how you can countenance calling those people irrational for protecting their own lives. Sounds pretty irrational to me, or at least heartlessly callous, to say, “You shouldn’t have been allowed guns to protect yourself. You should have been left defenseless against the thugs you stopped with your gun.”

        1. Hey, I’m not saying there aren’t bad people around but it’s unhealthy to promote a society that feels they need to be armed to the teeth and expect that every person you meet, in a park in the middle of the day for instance means to do you harm.

          In Canada I don’t worry a) that someone is going to harm me and b) that someone has a gun on them. To me, that’s irrational thought; It’s not healthy to live in fear.

          Also, I promote the idea that people should be outgoing and friendly in public with a hello or have you been to the stampede (if it’s stampede weekend).

      2. @Canadian Eh…. I think you’re being irrational. If guns didn’t exist, the people out there looking to harm you would just do so with a knife. Seriously, it’s part of our in-built concern with survival. You can’t escape it, else you are eliminated via natural selection.

        So in short, you shouldn’t exist :-)

          1. I have auto insurance and have ‘security/programming tools’ on my computer just in case. The fact that hacking tools just happen to also be known by names like ‘compilers’, ‘debuggers’, ‘rootkit/detectors’, and so on, doesn’t remove the potential for both good and bad from them. You don’t have to carry a gun if you don’t want/aren’t allowed to, but a nice big metal flashlight can be pretty damn handy too. Ever wonder why they’re solid black and bright enough to temporarily blind someone? It’s a multipurpose tool, much more so than a gun. Makes me think of “Walk softly but carry a big stick.” as a certain crippled national leader used to say. Adapt and thrive is the name of the game, in human evolution.

      3. I agree that it’s unhealthy to live in constant fear, however I don’t think carrying a weapon, or behaving defensively, is indicative of constant fear. I carry a weapon, and don’t feel constantly fearful. Most American police officers carry weapons regularly, and don’t live in fear. The news story you cited certainly omits various facts about the participants’ exact actions and the implications thereof, and also conveniently fails to mention cultural differences. It’s hardly rare for one group of people to feel threatened by actions that are entirely normal for another group. The only thing particularly irrational I see is someone admitting there are “bad people around” and at the same time claiming the best course of action is to forget that fact. You’re welcome to chose to forget whatever truths you want, but don’t call me irrational when I don’t.

        1. Well of course you aren’t going to subscribe to the idea that you don’t “need” to carry a weapon. As you’ve said, you carry a gun. It’s part of your every day regime along with car keys in left pocket, wallet in vest or back pocket, socks on before shoes, etc… I won’t be able to convince you that you don’t need a gun to protect yourself, it’s not open for discussion.

          The police however don’t carry guns for the same reason you do. They aren’t carrying because they are concerned about being attacked as a member of the general public. They carry because they’re the ones who are tasked with protecting the general public. The cops I’ve talked to up here are happy that the general public don’t have the “right” to carry. It makes their job a lot easier. You see someone with a gun, they’re either another cop or a bad guy, there’s no grey area.

          1. Question: If the “general public” can’t legally be armed why do the cops need guns? To, as you say, “protect the general public”? I guess they are everywhere, all the time to defend the public against violent criminals? Nobody is ever a victim of a violent crime in Canada because Sam Steele is everywhere?

            NEWS FLASH! Violent crime rates in Canada are higher than the USA! For 2007 Canada was 900 per 100k while the USA is 475/100k. Sounds like you need some armed citizens!

            The fact that citizens can’t protect themselves with like force makes it easy for the cops where you are. By the time they get there the citizen has already been beaten, raped, robbed, or killed and the perp is gone, so the cops just have to call the ambulance (or coroner) and do some paperwork.

            You talk about being “irrational”. Isn’t it irrational to fear an inanimate object so much that you think it needs to be banned? Unreasoning fear of a tool is insane.

            Tell you what, I’ll give up my guns, but only after two other groups give up theirs first: The criminals and the government. Then we can argue over the insanity of banning kitchen knives…

          2. So then only as many people get beaten, raped, robbed, or killed before the cops arrive as did in 1972 and are now legally not allowed to defend themselves with like force. I see. That makes it better. For the cops. Less paperwork.

            Now how about addressing the insanity of fearing an inanimate tool? And how you have cops everywhere instantly so nobody is ever the victim of a violent crime in Canada? And why the police carry guns when they should never need once since nobody can legally carry a gun?

            Thank you for your cooperation, Citizen.

          3. Our gun laws haven’t changed much in 40 years. We aren’t scared into thinking we’ll be somehow safe by owning a gun because we’re already pretty safe as backed by statistics.

            Also criminals in Canada who have guns, get them from from US. Thanks by the way.

          4. Regardless how you spin it, it aint going to happen. Freedom, real freedom is being able to walk the streets without fear. You keep your guns, we’ll keep the lower crime rates.

      4. Actually I *do* “subscribe to the idea that I don’t ‘need’ to carry a weapon”. I choose to carry one, and you’re welcome to choose to do the same, for all I care, but I don’t need to, and won’t presume to tell you what you need to do (that’s part of freedom, see — not having everyone else decide what you need to do). I’ve used my gun, multiple times, in defense of my home, against predatory animals, so in my view it’s a good choice to carry it. If the next predator happens to be human, I won’t be happy to shoot, but I will shoot, because as they say, “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” Perhaps Canadian police have magical transport or something, but here, plenty of times the police’s job is to clean up the bodies, not to prevent things from happening in the first place, because they just can’t take the call and get there fast enough. The Aurora police got there quickly enough … when the first call came in 10 minutes after the shooting started. For whatever it’s worth, although there’s certainly division on the subject, plenty of police here end up encouraging citizens to carry, and plenty more vocally support the right to bear arms.

      5. Freedom is “being able to walk the streets without fear”? Let’s work on that definition a bit. Stalin and Mussolini could walk the streets without fear… though the unwashed masses under their control weren’t afforded that option. Perhaps a better definition would specify who exactly gets to walk the streets without fear. In the US you can walk the streets without fear if you choose the right parts of town, have a nice job and stable home life, and happen to navigate the bureaucracy correctly. I’d prefer a freedom that says everyone gets to do what they want with their own body, life, and property, as long as it doesn’t infringe on my doing as I like with mine. That’s not always orderly or entirely beautiful to all beholders, but it is freedom. Unfortunately allowing such freedom means the occasional whacko will abuse it; I choose to maintain my own ability to protect my self and family from some of those possible abuses.

  5. In the US it is perfectly legal to make any type of gun which is not otherwise prohibited so long as it is for your own use. You may not sell them or give them away.

    They can be transferred upon your death, but there’s a good bit of red tape involved.

    As for the 3D printing aspect, there are far easier and more efficient ways to make guns.

    Technically, unrifled weapons w/ barrels lesss than 18″ require an NFA registration and payment of a $200 tax. So a steel tubing zip gun IS illegal unless it’s got an 18+” barrel.

    1. Not so true. You can sell firearms made for personal use, and ti is perfectly legal. You just can’t make firearms for sale and you can only sell a limited number in a given time period.

      1. Er, according to the BATFE page at http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/firearms-technology.html

        No, an unlicensed person may not make a firearm for sale or distribution, only for personal use.

        I agree though that frankly, the BATFE is at most mildly apprehensive about printed parts. Homemade firearms are a long standing traditional hobby in the US and was clearly protected in the wording of the 1968 GCA. I would guess what they are more apprehensive about is electronically fired weapons, whether via a solenoid or some other arrangement. A Teensy and a bolted on solenoid and some buttons/ switches would make for a really really simple full auto conversion for any semiauto weapon. Then again, so can a shoelace…

    1. I do believe that you are wrong. On both counts:

      I think everyone is getting too focused on the technicalities of building a firearm, which does take some measure of skill. Very little skill for a throwaway zip gun. A lot of skill if you want to build something comparable to commercially made weapons.

      I think that they would actually be scarier if they focused on enhancing the ammunition available to an existing weapon system: paintball markers.

      In history, the American Explorers Lewis and Clark took an air powered rifle with them for hunting small game if they couldn’t make any powder.

      Police already use “less lethal” rounds like pepper ball ammo and superballs. All they need to focus on is making a “more lethal” round. A micro rocket powered (see “gyro gun”) and sabot sleeved smart bullet, or a ball of fin-stabilized flechettes, that you could dump in a hopper of a $50 wal-mart CO2 marker would really make people sit up and notice.

      1. I own hundreds of thousands of 3d printers and have been closely following the industry for 5+ years you read one article and are convinced drugs and fireams are readily printable or soon will be? *laugh*

        Someday, sure. Right now? No. A few years out? No. A decade? Maybe – in a limited form and for lots of money.

      2. You own hundreds of thousands of 3D printers? Like, at minimum, $400 * 100000 = $40M ? First of all, what are you printing -or- why are you sitting on that much inventory? Second of all, being a millionaire, what are you doing spending your time on a DIY electronics site?

  6. BTW On the “OMG they’ll outlaw 3D printers” silliness.

    CNC lathes and mills are routinely used by hobbyists and industry to make guns every day. and have been for some time. Before that manual machines were used.

    There are countries (e.g. Saudi Arabia) where ownership of a lathe or mill is restricted, but most places are more sensible.

    1. This is true. In fact, for some firearms you don’t need anything more than some jigs to bend some sheet metal.

      Do you know a machinist? OMG, he could be making guns in his basement!!! We need more machinist control laws!

    2. It is silliness, of course it is. That doesn’t matter a damn all you need are a couple of stupid newspapers to blow it out of all proportion and then a group of idiots support it.

      The Govt. then responds, especially in the UK. I like the fact it’s hard to get guns here, especially hand guns, but gun law in the UK is largely a collection of knee jerk reactions. It’s not hard to forsee someone making a part of a gun(maybe even a sabot to allow bullets to fit in pipes properly) that’s used for a couple of crimes and the papers snatching on that, knee jerk reaction law bans 3D printers.

      Heck the ability to create replica weapons may be enough to make the papers. They’re pretty regulated in the UK too.

  7. “long story short, the BATFE probably isn’t happy about a 3D printed AR lower”

    Actually, I think they are currently indifferent. Current U.S. federal law allows an individual to produce up to 5 personal use firearms (read: receivers) a year. Since current 3D printing has a rather steep entry curve for the average consumer, it is currently cheaper and easier to just buy a gun, and unless we are talking about someone intelligent yet mentally unstable, very few criminals have the mental capacity to use a 3D printer to print a gun.

    Until 3D printers truly become ubiquitous and as easy to use as an ink jet or laser writer, this is really a non-issue.

    1. THIS!
      The BATFE doesn’t really care about home made receivers as long as they are for weapons that are otherwise legal for the individual to own. Sure, you would get your ass kicked for making a short barreled rifle, but they’ll bust you for that if you own a pistol and a stock that happens to fit said pistol if you don’t pay for the NFA tax stamp.

      Will this make them work a little more? Maybe, probably less than small milling machines did. After all, with a mill, you could get an 80% receiver and finish milling it, and then turn a barrel and firing pin on a lathe, and work out the rest of the parts how ever you like.

      As for using a rep-rap to print a whole gun? I want to see youtube videos of that thing firing. The chamber and barrel will probably explode on the first round. I doubt that even sintered metal powder will create a strong enough firing chamber.

  8. “long story short, the BATFE probably isn’t happy about a 3D printed AR lower”
    I’m guessing that you guys don’t know about 80% receivers. Can have them shipped to your home all that’s needed is a bit of milling.

  9. dear hackaday editors,

    you should probably stop posting stuff about 3d printing firearms, because those of us who care about it already hear about it through firearms-related blogs.

    and your editorial commentary just makes you look silly. over and over again.

    and you’re terrifying all the sheep.

  10. It seems pretty clear they just want money for a new printer.

    There’s not a single mention of how any printed chamber is supposed to handle the pressure/temperature… not even an acknowledgement of the problem. The AR-15 lower maybe could work since it’s apparently not subject to much stress. This could not.

    There ARE printers that print directly in titanium, though.

    1. This.

      As someone with a 3D printer, and quite a bit of 3D printing experience (and loving it). I found this whole “3D printed gun” silly.

      You might produce something which won’t explode on first use, with low caliber rounds. But I wouldn’t want to be near it when you fire it.

      So this is all a cry for attention. It’s not really innovating. It’s like printing dildo’s, you’ll get a lot of attention, but it’s silly.

        1. The glock barrel, slide, and springs are all metal. So’s the firing pin, though there’s no need for a metal firing pin except habit. The pin itself experiences virtually no shock whatsoever.

          The pin pokes the primer cap which contains a bit of fulminate of mercury on a tiny copper anvil. When the cap and anvil meet, the FM ignites and you get a jet of burning gas through the base of the cartridge to ignite the powder.

  11. I will not have this immature nonsense as a part of the hacker community!

    So sad to see when creativity results in things that are meant for damaging other people.

    Their engineering skills are really need elsewhere.

  12. Should be a non-issue, except…

    Makers of RepRaps and other such machines call them “self-replicating”. By proper definition, this would mean that they can make all required parts to build a new one.

    Of course, WE know that’s not the case. RepRaps can’t make precision parts, especially moving ones. Anything from metal or with high tensile strength. And so on.

    But what about a LAYMAN? Will a bureaucrat or lawyer, when seeing something described as a “self-replicating machine”, take the term literally? And then assume than any automated machine advanced enough to create copies of itself, can also make a decent gun?

    I’m afraid that at least a few will. I know from experience, all it takes is a few to turn this into a sensationalized issue, that stirs up the public into supporting whatever they might propose as a solution to this non-existent problem.

    And if they do, we can’t just blame the bureaucrats, lawyers, or even the public. The real root of blame falls on the hacker community. We started the sensationalism by using false language like “self-replicating” in the first place.

    Misusing, or needlessly changing the meaning of language, has consequences. Whether it’s “self-replicating”, or Arduino Team renaming programs to “sketches” for their own dubious purposes, I’ve rallied against it time and time again, with no measurable success.

    Oh well.

    1. Programs called sketches.

      Tartan weaving patterns called plaid when a plaid is a rolled up tartan patterned blanket that’s part of the traditional Scottish military field kit.

      The traditional Pawnee and Iroquois hairstyle called a Mohawk, thanks to the 1939 movie “Drums Along the Mohawk”. The Mohawk male hairstyle was a 2~3″ square on the upper back of an otherwise bald head, with the patch of hair done up into three short, decorated braids. I assume the movie makers were either ill-informed or just decided that a Pawnee hairstyle looked more dramatic and generations of clueless people have used the wrong name.

      How do we go about grabbing the collectively dumb by an ear and get them to use the proper names for things and stop calling them by the wrong name?

      Got any other things that people commonly use an incorrect or inaccurate name for instead of calling the thing by its real name?

    2. Current RepRap designs have a “RepRap” factor. The true self-replicating machine will have a RepRap factor of 100%, it’s the goal, but they are not there yet.

      It’s like saying food programs are ineffective because there is still hunger in some parts of the world.

      1. And so “self-replicating” will be incorrect, for the several decades it will take to reach a RepRap factor of 100%.

        In the meantime, the term is used not because it’s correct, but because it captures interest. Consequentially, this headline does too:

        “Hobbyist Self-Replicating Machines Can Make Guns”

        Now put yourself in the mindset of the average person, and look at that headline. Does it worry you? What is the probability that you will read, listen to, or watch the accompanying report? What is the probability that the average media outlet will clearly list the technical limitations that make this headline false, or at least nothing to worry about; rather than going for higher ratings and readership?

        As a further experiment, try replacing “Self-Replicating Machines” with other things; including both alternate descriptions of the RepRap, and other tools than can *actually* make competent guns *today*. For example:

        “Hobbyist Mills and Lathes Can Make Guns”
        “Hobbyist Plastic Extruders Can Make Guns”

        Do you have an equal reaction to these? Or any other phrase you can think of?

    3. There’s nothing stopping anyone from putting a pump, reservoir to hold the salt water, high amperage DC power supply and electrode in place of the extruder head and making a ECM out of one of these 3dPrinters, or change that to kerosene for the dielectric fluid and graphite (or POCO, sintered copper/graphite) for the electrode and square wave pulse generator to make one a EDM. Either could machine even carbides.

      Admittedly, it’s no longer a “printer” but a more traditional subtractive machining using nontraditional methods.

      The power supply for the EDM could be a ridiculously simple resistor capacitor design.

  13. I don’t see any of this as having anything to do with 3D printers, what this seems to be is another propaganda tool for the “gun grabbers” to force ratification of the proposed UN Treaty on banning small arms around the world, thus effectively rendering our 2nd amendment rights null and void.

    1. I’m not American so forgive me if I’ve missed something, but isn’t the second amendment the right to keep and bear arms?

      Saying nothing about the size of caliber of the weapon. Nor does it prescribe what arms to which you have a right to bear. Banning small arms does not infringe your right to bear arms, it simply limits which arms you have a right to bear. A shotgun for instance is not a small arm, you would still have the right to bear it.

      Perhaps everyone should be allowed nuclear weapons as well?

      1. A shotgun is a small arm. Most any arm that can be used by an individual is a small arm. That includes big 50-caliber machine guns and even RPGs.

        To understand the Second Amendment, look at the history of the USA. The Bill of Rights was written at a time when ordinary people rose up against their tyrannical government and overthrew it. They defeated the government’s army. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to guarantee American’s retain the right and ability to defend themselves against tyranny, defeat government forces, and overthrow the government when it becomes tyrannical. If Americans are restricted to only token firearms (“small caliber”, etc.), that right is usurped.

        Don’t forget for a moment that in the 20th Century more people were murdered by their own governments than were killed in all the wars. The Second Amendment is designed to prevent America from ever experiencing a genocide or democide.

      2. accidental report instead of reply… please disregard, HAD staff.

        The definition of “infringe” includes “to encroach upon,” by which definition any limit on the rights of law-abiding citizens to arm themselves in any way is an infringement, and therefore a violation of the 2nd amendment.

  14. Somebody should print a whole gun using COTS 3D printers … and do a demonstration of the gun in operation with normal gun ammo.

    People would be a lot less impressed with this hype if they saw the gun blow up when fired.

    Do try this at home FROM A SAFE DISTANCE. I don’t think anyone here needs a tutorial on how to pull the trigger of a gun from 50′ away from behind solid cover. (watch this demo from a webcam)

    Agreed that the real cause of the hype is people / corps likely to lose money from 3D printing.

    1. Um… Safe distance? 50′ away? I don’t think it’s even a matter of distance. Some rounds can travel for miles! Granted a less controlled explosion will be less focused and thus go nowhere near as far but I wouldn’t want to try to guess how close is safe!

      If someone is going to do this, please don’t just put distance between yourself and the gun. Put mass between yourself and the gun. Personally I would take the gun to a gravel pit and rig it to fire remotely in the bottom of the hole. Meanwhile, I would be at the bottom of another hole!

      I’d have a camera set up to record the event. It would be an old or inexpensive camera that I could afford to lose because I would NOT be counting on it’s survival.

      You might even want to do the recording remotely from the camera itself, either wireless or with a long wire. It would really suck to set all this up and have a piece of shrapnel go through the storage device.

      1. Typically a string and a wall to hide behind are enough. You do realize that even though a bullet can travel for miles, if the gun does explode, the bullet isn’t going to magically turn around / switch direction. The bullet is going to try to go down the barrel, and a chamber explosion is going to reduce the distance the bullet travels because explosion will escape instead of pushing the bullet. The biggest concern is the shrapnel, but that’s not going to fly as far as a bullet because shrapnel is not as aerodynamic, much of the energy has already dissipated from having to rupture the metal, and the explosion isn’t concentrated on pushing a singular small object in one direction.

  15. I make suppressors (with proper tax stamps/federal permission) and other firearms. I am a firearms enthusiast, and find them to be amazing little machines. I appreciate a well crafted example as much as many techies appreciate how well crafted a modern engine can be. I’m not some deranged gun nut living alone in the woods hugging a bible and spouting hate against others.

    That said, I have been building my own handguns and rifles, in my workshop, since ~2002. All I need is a lathe, a drill press, some custom tooling i have built, and presto. You can literally make a decent magazine fed semi-automatic weapon from pipes, a blank round stock of decent grade steel, and sheets of aluminum.

    With a group of 5 underlings, my tool shop and a few hours of minimal training, I could mass produce 10-15 sheetmetal AK47 receiver style weapons a day with plain steel button rifled barrels. Hell, out of BOREDOM, when I was in the hospital, I used an aluminum tray, sharpie, ruler, tin snips, and a hole punch to make a 90% AK47 receiver, tack weld on rails, throw in a bolt, trunnion, trigger pack, and barrel and it would have been done. It took me four hours. Add a gas system and it would go from single fire to semi-auto.

    The point is, 3d printing will not make guns easier to get. Its a LOT of work to actually print a reliable gun, and you would have to source the ‘vitamin’ parts from an illicit source if you wanted it untraceable. Any idiot who wants a gun can steal it from police, military, or just buy an illegal weapon from someone else. Rather than a money trail (have to buy the printer, materials, skills, etc) leading back to you, there is now a person of questionable repute trying to remember which one of 100 illegal transactions led to you getting a firearm.

    Stop spreading fear.

    1. Just to backup what i am talking about:


      Print that image out 1:1, verify some measurements, glur it onto sheet steel, and follow the pretty markings. You’ll have a semi-auto ak47 receiver in about an hour and a half if you have a 99 dollar harbor freight drill press with a 15 dollar drill bit kit. Order the rest of what you need online (‘parts kit’) for about 150 bucks.

    2. I’m entirely with you here. So many people don’t realize how easy it already is to make firearms. Plenty of people have been making CNC guns for years, and nobody bitches about the legal aspects of a CNC mill. What is the government going to do, ban tools in general? You can already buy guns privately without checks for dirt cheap, and I doubt a 3D printed gun is “cheap”.

    3. ” Any idiot who wants a gun can steal it from police, military, or just buy an illegal weapon from someone else.”

      Most of the illegal weapons in circulation are actually stolen from private citizens’ homes and cars. If I remember correctly, about 2/3 of the illegal guns in circulation come from burglaries.

      Which is kinda pointing towards the reason of the whole problem. The guns are rarely there when needed, or the gun owner isn’t, so the more guns the civilians have the more guns the criminals have.

    1. I with you on that one. Open airsoft designs would be much more practical and it wouldn’t result in a psuedo-political talk about the “evils” of firearms and mainstream media. But, are there affordable printers with +/-0.3mm precision? Especially one that can print a perfectly straight +8 inch barrel? If that was possible, I’d fire up the CAD software in a heart beat.

  16. 3d printed weapons? what a waste and what a load of hype, most won’t do it and continuing to post articles about the retards that do is doubly stupid, pointless article, you can machine gun parts to, who cares this is America we have guns, unlike most gimped whipped countries. point is its a non issue

  17. The type of gun I am worried about is the one use gun that has a plastic projectile that looks like a cell phone or pager.
    There are already a cellphone gun that uses 22 shorts with 4 shots!
    The Xray screener has to be really sharp to pick one out.

    It is possible right now to make a multi shot device that is totally made from high density plastic. Sure it won’t have any real range but if you have it point blank next to your targets head it really could be lethal.
    This also falls under the heading that anything could be used for unlawful uses.
    I,E plutonium.
    One way you can use to to power the mars rover.
    and you know the other way.

  18. I have my doubts whether this can be made to work without any machined parts. I see the barrel deforming and greatly reducing the muzzle velocity and useful range.

    As far as this being the reason that 3-d printing is banned. Sorry this will not be the reason. It will be some winning jerk of a company screaming that people are violating their patents and must be stopped, while they hand out brief cases filled with cash to our so called corrupt politicians.

    And don’t get me started on what I think about our so called leaders.

    1. To get 3D printing banned or more likely, restricted, having a climate of public fear politicians can use as an excuse for a ban helps. We haven’t advanced to the point where a politician can say openly “This law is needed because my major donors bought my vote fair and square”. Yet.

    1. The problem with that article is:

      “Pretty soon you’ve got the best armed little maquis unit in your part of France, all from that cheap little pistol and the guts to use it. ”

      That never happened. The liberator pistol, while a good idea in theory, didn’t actually help because it’s so easy to defeat by assigning two guards instead of one where resistance movement was to be expected, or even just for standard practice. Even if you had two one-shot pistols, you couldn’t shoot them both at once.

      The whole idea was based more on Hollywood than reality, like many other clever weapons such as the sticky bomb.

      1. Besides, even if you did manage to nick a gun from a guard, there’s hundreds of them around anyways. The “getting out of Dodge” part is the part where the theory breaks down, because you’ve got a whole army unit tracking you down and only whatever ammunition you managed to grab to fight back.

        You’d have to be John Rambo to actually pull it off, and if you do then you’ve got a further problem: the opposing army now knows there’s resistance in the area, and that they probably only have the one gun you managed to steal.

        So what good is a handgun against an army? Not a whole lot. Neither the Liberator nor the subsequent Deergun saw any success in their intended purpose.

      2. like most tyrannical situations, the oppressed outnumber the oppressors by a wide number. the difference between them is usually a monopoly of force. once there is no longer a monopoly of force, by giving cheap and disposable weapons to the oppressed, you balance the scales.

        the situation described HAPPENED. the number of liberators given to the resistance forces has always been in question, but it would be the same tactics with any pistol. how many people who want to be free, would be desperate enough to do the same? how many people desperate just to LIVE would do the same?

        please do not project your cowardice onto others.

      3. “the difference between them is usually a monopoly of force”

        Monopoly of force doesn’t include just arms. It includes organization, coordination and planning. The reason why a small army can oppress a large majority is because the civilians are about as organized as a flock of sheep. They have no communication, no leadership and no plan to operate on. Give them guns, and they’ll shoot each other as much as they shoot the enemy, and some of them will probably even side with the enemy.

        That’s why the constitution talks about organized militia.

      4. the constitution (Title 10 U.S.C. 311) also designates everyone from 17-45 as the unorganized militia. and “well-regulated” meant equipped, not as the current definition or “regulation”. and at that time militias were SELF-equipped. out of their own pockets, or in the case of private militias by the towns they came from, usually local industry.

        and as far as “organization, coordination, and planning” please reference “the starfish and the spider” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Starfish_and_the_Spider

        large organized groups LOSE to small, disorganized attackers over time.

        (for another reference, see..oh I don’t know.. every war that’s ever been fought in afghanistan including the current one)

  19. they propose designing a gun that is 100% printable on a hobbist-level 3D printer such as a RepRap or Makerbot.

    They also propose making a lunar orbiter, space elevator, commercial aircraft, Star Trek replicator, quantum teleporter and a TARDIS. No big deal, just a little ABS plastic and tons and tons of other parts.

    Good luck designing something that IS NOT PRINTABLE USING THE HIGHEST LEVEL TECHNOLOGY AVAILABLE, let alone shitty makerbots.

  20. Luckily all printable polymers make really bad guns that at the very least will make the weapon inaccurate and endurable..

    Let me know when poor people can 3D print steel or strong composites or carbonized materials, then all the suburbans and people who aren’t smart enough to know why a nation needs individual firearm ownership can go in their typical ostrich frenzies..

    P.S. there aren’t even rigs that do quality grade ABS outside industrial yet..

    1. I’m not smart enough to know why individuals need firearms, could you please explain it to me? I know about defence from tyranny, but as I’m in the UK I can’t see the US invading anytime soon.

      Saying that, if they did, I’m sure a handgun or two would be enough to see off the ICBMs.

      1. Ah yes, WW2. This is why I’m too stupid to see the need for guns, because I’m not expecting a massive ground war relying on 30’s and 40’s technology.

        They also encouraged us to “dig for victory” at that time – should we be demanding that every citizen keeps a spade? Or should we not base our entire way of life on extraordinary events happening in a bygone age? I dunno, I’m in England so I’m not expecting the King to kick my door down at any moment, but I understand you Americans live in daily fear this?

        Shouldn’t you worry more that almost 10% of your presidents have been shot and killed whilst in office, in their own country? The law that protects your defence against tyranny seems to be enabling tyranny rather than preventing it…The leader of a country where every citizen can be armed in the name of civil defence is less safe than your average bank robber in Mexico!

        It’s a US cultural thing, like “freedom”, Jesus and obesity. It’s not the laws or availability of guns that’s the problem, it’s the mentality of the citizens.

        As for the hack, it’s nothing that couldn’t be achieved with other tools. The big issue is that it’s downloadable. Right click, save as, click, BANG. Not quite so easy to achieve with a lathe/mill.

        This won’t be the thing to stop the progress of 3D printers though, it will be when BMW or Apple find out spare parts are being printed rather than bought.

    2. You have to be an exceptionally sheltered and/or ignorant person to not know what would happen without dense gun ownership in a nation..

      I live in a baltic country, we don’t own guns, but every time russians riot here we have to call in the only half-honest countries that have them, which are NATO allies..

      If it wasn’t for dense citizen gun ownership in America there would be corruption levels like here, and after air strikes america would be a sitting duck even to ground units..

      Maybe read history books and think before you speak?

      1. My guess is that you are not from the Baltic region and are just promoting an agenda on behalf of gun lobbyists, promoting the lie that guns somehow provide democracy. They don’t. Democracy and gun ownership are separate issues. The people who come to your rescue in the story that you are floating aren’t individuals with guns, they are militia from other countries.

        If America didn’t have the everyone must have guns mentality that has risen over the last 20–30 years, they might have more confidence when walking down the street and have reduced violent crime, like Canada. Hiding behind the barrel of your weapon, locked up in your compound has nothing to do with freedom.

        1. Do you drive around without a spare tire? Not everyone must have guns. But if you want one in America it’s your right! Not everyone here carries a knife. I do and it’s over three inches long. Last time I used it I cut a seat belt to get a man out of a burning car. I am not a afraid to walk down a street armed or not armed. Making a weapon with hand tools is quicker and easier.

      2. I’m from Estonia as the people behind HaD can confirm..

        I’ve lived all over the world including the states. Get rid of dense gun ownership in America and watch what happens.. It balances things believe it or not, and if you do the deduction on crime statistics to make them proportionately comparable to smaller ‘non-violent’ nations it’s really no worse..

        Russia has staggering corruption and crime, including on an international level, and none of it is done with guns(except where KGB is selling weapons)..

        I do agree there should be regulation on guns, but I don’t see this as a threat as it’s barely accessible on a practical level; ABS plastic will degrade fast in this application..

      3. xorpunk: You’ll forgive me if I choose not to believe you simply because you urge me to. I prefer to pay attention to actual evidence and history, which strongly suggest an armed society is much more resilient and less susceptible to tyranny than a disarmed one. You’ll recall that your home country of Estonia wasn’t able to govern itself for most of the 20th century, precisely because people kept conquering it. I’m an American, and carry a gun almost everywhere I go. In the relatively short time I’ve had that habit, I’ve had occasion to use my weapon several times, on various predatory animals that live around here. The smaller calibers, ammunition restrictions, and other restrictions gun control proponents suggest won’t work in my environment.

  21. People have made rifled barrels for alot longer than 3d printers have been around. Without the benefit of modern machinery. RIFLE BARRELS….pistols are 10000X easier. The hardest portion of making a barrel is drilling it…forging is common in hand produced rifles…easier then drilling such a long bore. But a pistol? you could get away with a drill press….lathe would be better.

    Most people think the rifling is the magic and hard part. While there are some sophisticated techniques out there….the simplest solution doesnt require multiton presses. Just some simple carpentry……

  22. Maybe it’s time to print ammo as well?
    By the way, isn’t it possible to make a better gun by traditional means, e.g. by using regular, well-known (for at least 50 years) tools?

    This looks like someone frustrated by avaliability and ubiquity of 3D printers is trying to “regulate” them. Sounds like: “you can make a gun with 3D printer, so let’s treat 3D printer like a gun”. Thinking this way, conclusion is to “regulate” “potential instruments of rape” too.

  23. Add my vote to the “a gun made from the kind of thermoplastic that can be used in a 3D printer may as well be made of chocolate.”

    Beyond that, the courts aren’t stupid.. there’s very little new under the sun, and ‘minimum effective means’ is a long-established precedent in most US regulations. Criminals use gloves to avoid leavng fingerprints, but that doesn’t mean we ban gloves.

    There are countless substantial, non-infringing uses of 3D printing, so the worst-case scenario here is that 3D printed guns go in the same category as 3D printed bombs, and nuclear warheads.. probably controlled by other statues, and more likely to result in a Darwin Award than the death of an innocent victim.

    As for plastic bullets, don’t even try to go there. The temperatures and forces involved would either vaporize the thing or break it into a cloud of stinging dust.

    Basic materials science folks: copper, brass, and aluminum are about ten times harder/stronger than wood. Mild steel is about five to ten time as hard/strong as copper, brass, and aluminum. Hardened steel is about ten to fifty times as hard/strong as mild steel, excluding the exotic variants.

    Wood is about ten times as hard/strong as any plastic whose name you can say off the top of your head. That puts mild steel about 50-100 times as strong as plastic, and hardened steel about 1000 times as strong.

    Secondary data point, for reference: the lifespan of a good steel rifle barrel, measured in time with bullets going from breech to muzzle, is about ten seconds.

    The prolem with plastic guns is, and always has been the same: getting it to hit one, and only one, wall of a refrigerator — from the inside — when fired.

    1. Your basic point about materials is valid, but your numbers are orders of magnitude off. For the sake of containing pressure in a firearm tensile strength in yield is the most suitable measure. Brass is around 210 MPa yield. Aluminium around 414 MPa, common steels are around 250 MPa, high strength steel around 700 MPa. Talking about exotics, AISI 4130 quenched and tempered steel around 900 MPa and maraging steel at around 2600 MPa, but you specifically excluded these. Strong plastics are around 80 MPa. Except for the exotics, all this is within a single order of magnitude. High strength steel is not even near 1000 times as strong in this application as nylon. Now you do mention hardness (and by implication elasticity) and of course plastics generally are not stiff enough to make efficient cases for a piston, especially at high temperatures, so, your point is still valid. Being an EIT I just cringe when I see specific numbers so wildly off. ; )

      1. 4130 isn’t exotic, it’s a common commercial steel. I used it (exchangeable with p-20) unhardened in dies behind the hardened stripper face on every progressive die I ever built or designed, or in fixtures for the WEDM.

        If you ever see “Prehard” in the materials column in a BOM, these steels are what is meant. P-20 or 4130 and the like.

      2. Actually, I goofed. I usually used 4140, a little more Carbon and Manganese, slightly higher Tensile Strength and Yield Strength, 3% less elongation.

        The backing plate for the stripper isn’t something I usually gave much thought to. It had to be tough enough that the press fit TR Jones leader pins didn’t get all wobbly, and ductile enough to transfer the spring pressure without fatiguing, but not so ductile it would flex and crack the stripper face. The face were usually hardened and drawn back to RC 50-52 or so, commonly O1, but sometimes more abrasive resistant stuff (D2 M2 etc) if we were stamping something like silicon steel for transformer or motor laminations.

        4130 still is a common commercial steel, though. One use is shear pins, for it’s consistent failure point.

  24. Not getting into the debate but these poor guys were trying to fund an idea and they got bounced.
    So here is the info for the new site and donation page:


    Indiegogo has cancelled our off-site crowd-funding campaign after a TOS review, refunding the $2,000 we raised in 22 days. We disagree with their reading of their terms and are disappointed sorely by their choice to not facilitate a serious effort at the frontiers of free speech. Online crowd-funding should be a public, above board way of demonstrating to the world the worth of any project. But the ideas represented by the Wiki Weapon are challenging. With apologies to confused contributors, we currently offer the following methods for contribution:

  25. Of course, i expect something along the line of “we are not responsible for your actions. By using these designs you agree that any fault is your own responsibility and we will not be held accountable if you accidentally print a pistol shaped grenade.” to be on their website.

    1. What do you mean “get away with” a steel barrel? Are most .22 barrels not steel? Everyone seems to think ANY gun requires some super-exotic materials. A lightweight barrel for a Ruger 10/22 is aluminum with a steel liner. You can fire a .22 out of just a rifled barrel liner without damage (a barrel liner is quite thin).

      1. Either one. A .22 short is max 21,000psi and a .22lr is 24,000 . Mark Serbu on youtube has a video of firing a .22lr through a standard barrel liner by striking it with a hammer. I also know from experience that this works.

  26. I’m from Madrid, Spain (Europe, just in case).

    I have never seen a weapon in hands of a person other than a policeman. I feel secure. I don’t need a weapon, nor I know anyone that would need it. If someone enters my house, I would call the police (which is trained, and well maintained by our taxes).

    I calmly walk at night here. As I did in half Europe the last year. I lived in Münster, Germany, for a whole year a while ago. It felt even safer. I even not saw police as often.

    We have never ever had a shooting in a school, or something close to it. never. ever. It hardly happens in Europe (last thing I remember, the 2011 norway attacks). In the last week, I saw 2 shootings from USA in the TV. There seem to be at least 1 school shooting per year in USA.

    Guns are dangerous. Maybe you don’t feel how secure it is to live without them, because they have been always around you.

    I just hope this idea and this site gets declared illegal and closed, because it’s inviable to hope that this would not be accesible from Europe.

    P.S: I love open source and FOSS. I love 3d printers. I love free information. but I love more to be safe and calm. You could be really improving this world, and this is not gonna do that.

    1. by the way, as i say the post needs moderation (it says, comment awaiting moderation):

      PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, hackaday, delete this article. stop advertising this.

      I urge the people to get hackaday in stoping this.

      1. What in the world has become of Europe? From the renaissance, empire-building, and the scientific and industrial revolutions to groveling “please please please” so that other people, an ocean away, won’t discuss fabrication of a tool that you find too scary?

        Have you forgotten your own history? The worst genocides have been perpetrated, either upon people who had no weapons, or people whose weapons were taken away from them under the guise of making the public “safe.”

        Are you so brainwashed that you honestly think that removal of this article from Hackaday will somehow make the world a safer place? Your masters must be very pleased.

        Here in America, the “hacker” and “maker” tradition began with early colonial blacksmiths/gunsmiths. I for one hope to see MORE firearms-related projects and hacks on Hackaday.

        Knowledge is power.

        1. I am sorry but it is you that don’t get it. If I hear noises at night in my apartment I don’t run for the shotgun. I expect it to be a friend pranking me or a cat doing nasty stuff. I walk alone at night, I’m friendly to everybody. I don’t expect the worst from life and I’m happy living like that. Sure, one day I might be unlucky but don’t we all die one day anyway??
          You guys should just go spend some years in Tibet to have some enlightenment because honestly, that’s a fucked up world you believe in.

          PS: I’m not against the publishing this article. I’m against the everybody needs a gun mentality.

    2. But your culture was formed with a noble class and another of peasant farmers and shop keepers who were not permitted weapons.

      That’s one of the major differences. The US was still a frontier while Europe spent 400 years embroiled in one war or crusade or mongol invasion or another. Heaven forbid there be any armed dissent in the spear levy….

    3. I’m in Chicago, where we have Cops like:
      Drew Peterson, Currently on trial for the murder of his 3rd and 4th wives

      Jon Burge, Chicago Police Department detective and commander who gained notoriety for allegedly torturing more than 200 criminal suspects

      “Hammering Joe” Joseph Miedzianowski, CPD gang taskforce and drug kingpin

      And Judges like Judge Thomas J. Maloney, who was indicted in 1991 on bribery charges and convicted in April 1993 of fixing three murder cases.
      “A total of 92 people were indicted, including 17 judges, 48 lawyers, ten deputy sheriffs, eight policemen, eight court officials, and state legislator James DeLeo”

      Trusting the Police can not be done in this city.

    4. I recently had to stop carrying a knife because the screws holding it together worked themselves out and I lost them.(guess that’s what I get for buying a cheap knife) I have never felt so naked.

      Here in the US, police response time is typically just long enough for a home invader or a mugger to do whatever it was he was there for and disappear entirely. An armed, on-site citizen or an armed victim can halt a crime in its tracks, and we have statistics indicating that armed citizens greatly reduce not only crime rates, but also the body count in crimes that become violent. Police can only clean up the mess afterwards.

      I choose not to be part of the mess.

      1. I live in Europe. I never carried a gun or knife, during my entire 29 years old I was only stolen one time (wallet). Would it have changed anything if I had a knife? What about a gun? I don’t care, I only lost my wallet – it is just a worthless piece of my life. Credit cards are insured, and you can get all the lost documents back for a small fee.. the remaining was money which is just .. money.

        1. Seriously? Single-point, personal anecdotal evidence to support your idea that civilians should be banned from having guns? You’ve got to be joking me.

          An employer once told me, referring to ordering spare parts, “It is better to have than to need.” I’ve taken to applying that to much of the rest of my life. Ever had your home invaded, MrX? Family threatened?

          1. “Seriously? Single-point, personal anecdotal evidence to support your idea that civilians should be banned from having guns? You’ve got to be joking me.”
            You would be amazed to know that my use-case is generalized by most of European population.

            An” employer once told me, referring to ordering spare parts, “It is better to have than to need.” I’ve taken to applying that to much of the rest of my life. Ever had your home invaded, MrX? Family threatened?”
            Dude, seriously, I think you are watching too much movies..
            My home invaded, by whom? Aliens? LOL
            If someone ever breaks into my house, yeah it is very inconvenient, but that’s what house insurances are for.. And why the fuck would I have my family threatened? I don’t live in a fucking jungle.

            Dude just stop being such a fucking pussy scared of everything, go out and enjoy your life. One day you will eventually die and at that point it all just sums up to how happy you were. Living behind a shotgun, scared that one day someone might invade your house is not happiness.

          2. This guy! Resorting to cursing. Can’t express yourself well enough?

            Also, you haven’t really made very good points. “Too much (sic) movies…”?

            You’re worse than the gun nuts with your ranting!

  27. Nine men (hired to beat me up) visited my home and fled when I confronted them with a Mossberg 500 shotgun. Too many souls lost to gun violence but there are so many untold stories like mine where a gun saved someone in a desperate situation. Would you rely on a 3D printed fire extinguisher for home emergencies? To me, this is really a non-issue and people successfully making homemade carbine recievers are in gunsmith territory more than hackerspace.

    1. I don’t know for your specific case, but it has been shown that in case of “home visit” you are much more likely to be killed if you own a weapon than if you don’t. It’s arguably better to stay alive with your TV stolen than to be dead.

      1. Please think of other countries.
        A printed AR-15 lower may seem laughable to you,
        but here in Germany possession is a felony and could very well result in jail time.
        As i know the retarded laws and lawmakers here i am very afraid of a not only possible, but foreseeable ban.
        Railgun/coilgun regardless of the power? Banned.
        Any kind of spudgun? Banned.

      2. Please provide a link to the statistics you are using, because the statistics I’ve seen indicate bodycounts are almost universally lower when citizens are armed, and crime rates across the US show that crime in general is universally and significantly lower when citizens are armed.

    1. did any democratic country banned lathes, milling machines etc. etc.?

      for god sake it is easier to put bullet in some pipe and hit it with hammer than actually use printed plastic gun

  28. @haltux said:

    “Firearm-related homicide rate in USA is more than 10 times higher than the average european rate”

    List of countries by intentional homicide rate per year per 100,000 inhabitants.

    Eastern Europe 6.4
    Northern America 3.9
    Northern Europe 1.5
    Southern Europe 1.4

    your point being…?

    1. In your stat, Eastern Europe includes Russia and Ukraine, so it means nothing. “European Union” Eastern countries, even the poorest ones, have low homicide rates.

      So (from the same source as yours):

      Homicide rate per 100.000
      Western Europe: 1.0

      10 times was for firearms homicide. So for all homicide, it is still 4.2 times greater in USA than in western Europe, which is, to say the least, still significant.

      And for your information (again from the same page as yours), Northern Europe relatively high homicide rate come exclusively from the high rate of Finland, which is the “gun nut” country of Europe.

  29. OMG ppl – why do you think that barrel is hard to get ?? ever heard of hydraulic seamless tubes ? they are dirt cheap and come in variety of sizes and wall thicknesses… I personally have a 1 meter lenght of 9mmID by 12mm OD…. perfect for anything firing 9mm Parabellum

    1. “an armed society is a polite society”

      anyone acting “psycho” will be dealt with in short order.

      ever notice there are no mass killings at gun ranges, police stations, gun shows, and gun shops?

      when the “victims” will shoot back, the “psychos” go elsewhere.

      1. Really? You really believe this?

        My levels of flabber are way past gasted. For a nation that has done so much good, there sure are a lot of backwards thinkers.

        And just in case it was missed elsewhere, almost 10% of your serving presidents have been shot dead. Way to protect yourselves from tyranny America.

        The issue isn’t gun ownership (see Switzerland and other places with high levels of firearm ownership), it’s mentality. America seems full of people intent on “defending their freedom” against enemies that don’t actually exist, and believe it’s just to shoot dead a junkie trying to steal your TV.

        You make me sad America.

        1. “The issue isn’t gun ownership (see Switzerland and other places with high levels of firearm ownership), it’s mentality. America seems full of people intent on “defending their freedom” against enemies that don’t actually exist, and believe it’s just to shoot dead a junkie trying to steal your TV.”

          This! Most insightful comment I saw so far. I repeatedly see people defending the argument that everyone should have firearms to defend themselves. I always ask myself: defending from whom? A terrorist??? The junkie stealing your wallet or cellphone? An unfortunate thief that wants your highend TV? So what? They are just material things, commodities, they do not play an important role in your life!
          Really, in what third world country do you live in where you don’t trust the government, the justice, the society? That you need to carry a firearm with you to feel “safe”? Did you people ever though of that?

          1. You don’t have a family, do you, MrX? Having their lives threatened a single time, gunpoint or not, is likely to change your entire outlook on gun possession.

          2. @Le Samourai
            No descendants yet. Still I find it very hard to have someone threaten me or my gf. I’m very friendly to everyone and that is it.

            In any case, do you care explaining me on how possessing a firearm would protect me and my family? If I can have a firearm wouldn’t the person threatening me also have one? How would it work then? The first one making the warning shot wins? The one with bigger gun? Would I camp at home with my family 24/7 to protect them? If I ever point a gun to someone else, wouldn’t that person have a reason to come after me with a gun later on?
            My questions are real, I don’t really see how having a gun can solve things. On the contrary, I think it complicates them.

          3. Again, I agree with your point…

            A lot of the fear rhetoric (marketing from weapon manufacturers) is based on protecting your civil liberties from the big, bad government. This is all just more marketing and its effective. Gun sales are through the roof. It’s really quite sad.

      2. 10% of our sitting presidents…hmmm….out of 44 sitting presidents, that’s..

        Lincoln 15apr1865 Garfield 02july1881 Mckinley 05sept1901 Kennedy 22nov1963

        and out of them, only ONE post-dates the gun control act of 1934 (AKA the post-prohibition make-work act of 1934) and every single one of the assassins were foreign sympathizers or nutjobs, or both. and all but one were lacking trained, equipped armed guards..proving my point about the location of such shootings being where someone won’t be shooting back.

        so, if we “make you sad”, well, I’ll promise if you keep your “surrender your rights for the common good” attitude over there, we’ll keep our freedoms over here…and we’ll see who makes it out in the end, ok?

        oh and BTW my grandfather wants his P17 enfield he loaned to your country in 1940 back. should I just present you with a bill, with interest?

      3. Tell your Grandpa thanks, and it was appreciated and a very nice thing he did, but we already paid. In fact for all the aid and materiel US ‘gave’ to the UK in WW2 – the last debt repayments were made in april 2006.
        The UK may be significantly smaller than the US, but we paid our dues.

      4. no, it was supposed to be RETURNED. this wasn’t lend-lease. this was a personal firearm. given, as the contract stated, “until such time as more appropriate arms are issued, then to be returned to the original owner” it had a brass ID tag embedded in the stock with the contact information. my grandfather still has the contract framed on his wall. it WAS a symbol of him helping out “brothers across the pond” when problems arose. a few years after the war, it became a symbol of a lack of respect for others property. I know we’ll never get it back. it was probably one of the guns dumped in the ocean. that’s not the point.

  30. “The universal practice of carrying arms in the South is undoubtedly the cause of occasional loss of life, and is much to be regretted. On the other hand, this custom renders altercations and quarrels of very rare occurrence, for people are naturally careful what they say when a bullet may be the probable result.” – LtC Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, HM Coldstream Guards, 24 May 1863

  31. Just because I like this one:

    “The only purpose for a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should have never laid down.” – Clint Smith, founder of Thunder Ranch

  32. As to possible legislation….

    “All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse.” – Benjamin Franklin

  33. The video from Defense Distributed is strange to watch. As if they felt they needed to hire an attorney to review the script, but couldn’t afford one, and decided to tentatively “wing it”. Comment to this post are the same old same old whenever the topic of buns come up. Surely David Gingery’s series could be duplicated in the world of open source without violating copywrite. IMO a better route than 3D printed parts. I wouldn’t trust any 3G printed gun parts than I would trust an unproven Damascus gun barrel made by a self taught novice. Consult the fifth edition of the Foxfire book series for a simple rifling jig. how to hand forge a barrel out of flat stock as well

  34. Don’t think this has been mentioned, but if they’re designing a gun to be printed on any random 3D printer then why do they need the funding in the first place? They can print out the prototypes themselves for very little cost, particularly as they don’t seem to be bringing in any outside help with special (expensive) parts.

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