Being able to print objects at home is all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Or prints a fully functional assault rifle. That’s just what gun enthusiast “HaveBlue” did, using a Stratasys device (though which model printer exactly isn’t specified). Now to be fair, he didn’t print the entire rifle. First he made a .22 caliber pistol and successfully managed to shoot over 200 rounds with that. He then tried to turn it into a rifle by connecting the receiver to a .223 upper receiver but “had feed and extraction issues.” This is not much consolation however since the receiver is really what counts a the “gun” and the rifle’s failure might have been due to a faulty .223 upper receiver than to a defect with his printed part.

Now we’re not familiar with gun laws, so we’re wondering just how legal this is. Can you print your own guns at home? Or is there no legislation to address this since, well, no one figured it could be done?

VIA [ UberGizmo ]


  1. Firstly, it’s not an assault rifle, it’s a pistol. It is based on an AR-15 rifle, that’s predominantly used as a paper hole punch, and occasionally used to hunt boar and deer. A variant of it is used in the military with the notable difference that it’s fully automatic, where as this one is not. As you said, the creator chose to chamber it in .22 caliber, which essentially means it’s would be very effective at killing rabbits.

    When compared to any other .22 handgun, this thing is a monster, and one of the worse choices for a concealed weapon. It sure *looks* scary though doesn’t it?

    Secondly, people have been making guns at home for hundreds of years. It’s 100% legal.

  2.  Um, technically you could print a bullet but the flight dynamics would be appalling. Mythbusters did a show where they cast silver bullets and they were less accurate than lead bullets, probably due to the weight (probably also due to the hand-cast vs machine cast tolerances). Of course you can’t print the casing, primer or powder. Yes, I am being pedantic.

  3. It’s obvious that gun control laws Do Not keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of criminals, any more than the War on Drugs keeps dangerous substances from those who want them. Real crime should be fought and punished, not owning something the government doesn’t want you to have. It doesn’t really matter whether a heroin addict or a teetotaler murders someone. Crimes are crimes if there is a victim.

    The more the population widely owns guns, the less fear and violent crime there will be. If drugs were legalized, it would remove most of the profit incentive for gangs and thugs to peddle the product, especially to children and young adults. Our Constitution clearly stated that for a free state to exist and be secure, it required an armed and trained citizenry that composed our state militias, which were completely separate from the military (which was not to be active against the people: read Posse Comitatus). Believe me, it has nothing to do with being some kind of militant wack-job and everything to do with the freedom and security of the United States. As far as I know, most citizens of Switzerland are required to be armed. You don’t hear of the Swiss suffering terrorist attacks nor collapsing as the rest of the West is currently.

     Western Civilization is collapsing. If people cared, they would read and study what made our civilization great, what did not work, and take the best of the lessons to be applied in today’s world. Hint: The Roman Catholic Church was not nearly the evil force that your statist history books make it out to be. Quite the opposite. All institutions on earth are made up of people, and therefore, will not be perfect. But it is faith to ideals which call us back to better behavior and love of neighbor. Love of neighbor also means sometimes speaking the truth, even if it is unpleasant.

    The mainstream media poses false issues to brainwash people and distract them from the essential. Is gay marriage, for instance, something so important that we all need to go to “Defcon 4,” and get all in a tizzy over? Or are the wars and the financial corruption and violence more pressing issues? If we don’t hold high morals, and allow ourselves to be ruled by criminals, we will never govern ourselves under a legitimate authority that produces good fruit.

  4. This technology has been around for years and has been used to print out working models of all sorts of machinery including firearms.  What is new is its getting to be affordable to buy the 3-d printer for home use.   As for printing the bullets – you can cast them at home – this has never been outlawed + plastic bullets are about as useful as bicycles are to fish .  You can make casings from copper tubing.  Gunpowder and primers are also doable but you need to add chemistry to your tool box of information to do that. 

  5. This is a game changer.  If 3-D printers become as common as regular printers, then objects like these will become incredibly common.  Game over for governments who want to control guns, or impose stupidity on their populations.  

  6. it seems like all the tech sites are all over this story lately. it is a bit misleading though, and i’ll explain why…

    first off, firearms will ALWAYS require certain metal parts (such as the barrel and springs, among other parts.) when it comes to parts that require an insanely accurate method of manufacture, like the rifling in a barrel, it’s not something the average (or above-average) person is going to be able to do at home. even parts such as the receiver require a fairly high degree of accurate machining, and just because someone CAN print them out of a 3-D printer doesn’t mean they’re going to work very well, if at all.

    second, even firearms that use plastics (such as Glocks, some AR-15 lowers, Springfield XD’s, etc) use a specific type of “glass-filled” nylon…it’s basically a rigid nylon with fiberglass strands embedded in it. not something that can be extruded from any 3-D printer that i’m aware of. the problem with using other types of plastics is that they can be either too soft and flexible (inaccurate and dangerous) or TOO hard and brittle, which could easily result in a catastrophic failure (even more dangerous.) if anyone things firearms manufacturers just use whatever plastic is cheap, you’ve got another thing coming. they spent years doing R&D to find the proper materials, just like any other precision product requires. furthermore, most firearms that use composite parts (they hate calling it plastic for some reason) have steel embedded into the composite to strengthen it at key points. as an example, Glocks have steel guide rails embedded into the composite receiver of their pistols: this not only adds structural rigidity, but otherwise the slide would beat the hell out of the receiver and basically ruin it in short order if it ran on purely composite guide rails. embedding those types of steel “bones” into a 3-D printed part isn’t possible right now or in the foreseeable future, at least not for home users. parts like that have to have the steel molded into it.

    i don’t think many people are aware of just how much pressure is contained in the chamber of a firearm: for instance, a .223 round can produce upwards of 50,000psi. while most of this pressure is contained in the chamber within the steel barrel, the slide or bolt and the frame of the gun has to be able to handle quite a bit of pressure itself from the action of the components cycling when the gun is fired. ANY time a firearms manufacturer designs a new weapon, it’s fired remotely in a safety chamber so that if it fails (in other words, “blows apart”) it doesn’t take anyone’s hands, eyes or other body parts with it. i very much question the safety of printing a part like this without having a controlled environment to test it in. even though the lower receiver of an AR-15 takes comparatively little stress compared to the upper, it could still prove to be fairly dangerous if it fails.

    lastly, there’s the matter of cost: you could cherry-pick the top of the line parts to build up an AR-15 and it would still cost less than buying a 3-D printer (not to mention raw materials and the time spent learning/using the software among other things.) the chances of a criminal opting for the expensive, time-consuming way to get a gun (that may not even work anyway) is pretty much non-existent. the AR-15 was designed in such a way as to have very tight tolerances, but the drawback to that is that if one little thing is out-of-spec, they often just don’t work (as the original builder experienced.) that’s one of the reasons they usually have a forward assist built in.

    so while it’s obviously TECHNICALLY possible to print some 3-D gun parts, the reality is that it’s just not efficient by any stretch (especially because a quality AR-15 lower costs less than $200.) this is definitely a project for the nerdy engineer-minded, rather than the average gun owner (and certainly not criminals.) there’s just too much of an investment of time and know-how involved, and even then, there’s a pretty good chance it won’t even work properly. there’s absolutely no reason to worry that it’s going to turn into some kind of “gun-printing epidemic”.

    [BTW, yes it is perfectly legal to build your own firearm for your personal use. but because it usually requires an expensive milling machine for things like the receiver, it’s usually something only gunsmiths and custom gun makers undertake (i’m talking about actually milling parts, as opposed to kits.) however, if someone intends to sell a weapon they made, then it must be imprinted with a serial number and registered with the ATF. receivers used in kits already have a serial number and require the same background checks as purchasing a fully-assembled gun, so no, you can’t just buy all the parts online and bypass laws. if you want to purchase a receiver online, you must go to a licensed dealer with a class 01 Federal Firearms License, have them order the receiver (usually for a transfer fee) and then submit to a background check. online dealers will NOT ship receivers to anyone without an FFL 01 license, under any circumstances.]

  7. Well said. That a gun could be printed is rather encouraging to me – perhaps people will have the means to retain their freedom…if they don’t decide it’s not worth fighting for, that is.

    If you had a blog I’d read it.

  8. All this means is that someone with upwards of $1500 AND a very good working knowledge of firearms will be able to build PART of a gun and order the rest. Guess what, any idiot can go out and get an unregistered gun for a fraction of the cost! Think about it. You’re looking at spending near $2000 in total to print…a .22? You can get a .45 for $500 on the street without needing any math skills whatsoever.

    This is an imaginary problem. Anyone who tries this without fully understanding the process is likely going to end up either killing themselves or doing enough damage as to severely limit their ability to even hold a gun.

    Who are you more worried about? The guy who tinkers with a 3D printer and happens to make part of a pistol, or all of the criminals out there buying functional guns out of the back of a van?

  9. I agree with most of your post in a broad way. Just a couple of points.
    -“…most citizens of Switzerland are required to be armed.” They are also all required to serve in the Swiss military, where they get training in how and when to use those arms. If we had mandatory firearms training and education here, I’d be a lot more comfortable with everyone having a gun. That’s the “well regulated” part of the Second Amendment which we don’t seem to pay as much attention to.
    Also, the Swiss don’t tend to stick their noses into the business of rest of the world. They are the very model of a neutral country. We, on the other hand, tend to get involved in activities around the world. Some, I think, are none of our business. We tend to draw attention to ourselves, usually not in a good way.
    And I would disagree that it’s the mainstream media who’s going all nutso on gay marriage. Look to the religious conservative movement for that. But your point is taken that the media is not doing much to help the current situation.