Print out your next gun

| February 19, 2013

The Washington Post tells the story of Travis Lerol, a software engineer who prints out pieces for the lower receiver and some magazines for his AR-15 in this video;

I’m guessing that the upper receiver would be a little more difficult, but at least it gives the Left something to wring it’s collective hands over.

Three-dimensional printers offer a potentially easy way around restrictions and registrations — a source of growing consternation among gun-control advocates and some allies in Congress.

“There’s really no one controlling what you do in your own home,” Lerol said.

Though printing guns is a craft still in its infancy — Lerol hasn’t tested his parts yet at a gun range — technology experts, gun rights proponents and gun safety advocates say the specter of printable firearms and ammunition magazines poses a challenge for Obama and lawmakers as they craft sweeping gun-control legislation.

Category: Guns

Comments (18)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. ComancheDoc says:

    There are alread plans that have been tested and built that have fired dozens of rounds and they are
    working on building specs for a weapon that fires hundreds before it breaks. 3D printing is an arms control advocates nightmare; the plans are freely available open source and the printers thaelves aren’t Tooo expensive…

  2. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    I mentioned this previously in some of my responses to other posts. 3D printers are like every other technology they get better, not worse, with each generation and the price drops. Simple machines that work in soft materials can be had for less than $3,000. It won’t be long before the more expensive metal making machines drop in price as well.

    In my opinion 3d printers and robotics (drones) represent a way to open manufacturing up to the masses in a way unknown to mankind in all of recorded history.

    When a hobbyist can design, create, and assemble weapons and robots for small money personal weaponized drones are not much of a stretch for an organized group of well financed individuals. If the cartels can build a submarine to transport a ton of cocaine and use the submarine just once or twice, it won’t be hard for the cartels or al qaeda to manufacture whatever they can imagine with printers and robotics.

    Every single crackpot with a few bucks could also generate one-off unique weapons that are made from composite materials and not necessarily metal making detection difficult if not impossible.

    Disarming the law abiding will create a nation of people vulnerable to criminals who can afford these devices.

    It’s too bad our politicians are so worried about writing laws for things that don’t solve the problem they are designed to resolve instead of spending some time doing a little research as to what the technology capacity of individuals in the nation will look like in less than 10 years.

  3. AW1 Tim says:

    I do not believe for one minute that any off the shelf 3-D printer can produce a barrel and upper receiver (bolt, chamber, etc) that can withstand the pressure of modern ammunition (or any ammunition)of more thn one round without destructing.

    Those printers primarily use plastics and resins. Other materials that might be able to produce such items are only found at large-scale industrial (and very expensive) printers. But the costs are much higher than traditional methods.

    I have no doubt that th major parts (sans springs) of magazines, lower receivers, stocks, etc, can be produced with at home 3-D printers, but I’d need to see some absolute engineer vetted proof that any of those machines can produce a barrel or receiver unit that will function without killing the firer or someone near by when it ruptures.

  4. AW1 Tim says:


    You can purchase an off-the-shelf, large scale R/C model airplane that can have a camera mounted onboard for around $1000. What with available R/C aircraft motors (both jet and prop) being readily available in any number of sizes, plus the R/C system, inexpensive cameras and chipsets, anyone can build a drone right now for not a whole lotta money.

    Of course, arming the critters is a whole ‘nother story, but hey….. we Americans are a savvy bunch when it comes to figuring things out. 😉

  5. dnice says:

    It’s almost like Gun Control Advocates opened up a pandoras box. And just like criminals (add our enemies abroad too) don’t really care too much about gun control laws, i don’t think they’ll care about 3-D printer regulation. So adding a mix of drones, 3-D printing, hacking, and whatever else is coming, i’m getting very concerned:

    “Evil is easy, and has infinite forms.” —Blaise Pascal

  6. Reaperman says:

    I was recently shopping 3d printers for my upcoming birthday but opted against the idea because I couldn’t think of enough to print to justify the $500 pricepoint I was shopping in. However I did stumble over this nice lower receiver thread at the forums:

    I’m not so much of a gun person, but I really like the idea of being able to print them out and get around at least some regulations.

  7. Ken says:

    Aren’t the really cheap machines the ones that only do plastic? Basically, it glues the plastic particles together.

    Metal is a little more tricky proposition, at least the ones that I have seen. You can use the glue to hold the metal into shape, but you’ll still need a furnace (and probably one with a reducing atmosphere) in order to sinter the metal together.

    Still, as pointed out, the machines are getting cheaper and cheaper. If the technology can get good enough- imagine a point in time where your local auto mechanic can print his own parts when he needs it!

  8. Ex-PH2 says:

    Resins are carbonate fibers held together in a matrix. They’re used to build airplanes now. A lot of car parts are made up of resins. They’re a lot stronger than you think, and very cheap in price.

  9. FatCircles0311 says:

    You didn’t create that!

    Damn you free people with your free will. Why can’t you just eat your soylent green, work for the government, and vote Democrat!

  10. 68W58 says:

    Ex-PH2: I was thinking of carbon fiber as well, especially something like carbon nanotubes

    I won’t pretend to know enough science to know how you might be able to use material like that in 3D printing, but I’m willing to bet some pretty smart researchers and/or engineers could figure it out.

  11. Ex-PH2 says:

    If Afghan craftsmen can make exact replicas of anything, including AKs and crank out functioning bullets, then anyone who can dismantle something can copy its functioning parts.

    @10 – It’s already in wide use. It’s how Richard III’s portrait was updated after his remains were excavated, and ditto the two sailors recovered from the Monitor.

    Aaahhhh! Here it comes: the shrieking about the untraceable gun.

    These people give me a HEADACHE!!!!!!

  12. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    The basic components barrels, bolts, upper receivers, etc can all be purchased online or made using current machining technology, the current home 3d machines can make the parts that were shown in the article.

    There are industrial grade machines that are working in aluminum alloys, and as they continue to test different lasers the materials will get more exotic as is always the case with technology.

    A point I was trying to make is that with drone technology and a 3d printer a weaponized single use vehicle could be very easily produced for very small money. If the weapon is designed to be used once it really doesn’t matter if the components are not extremely durable they only need to deliver a single shot/explosive/chemical and then fail. That could happen tonight with less than $3000 worth of gear.

    Larger scale weapons manufacturing can take place with someone who has some machine tools in their home workshop and a 3d printer to make the lower receivers and other simpler components. It’s been done with a .22 LR Pistol that has used a home 3d printer’s plastic resin to make the lower receiver and has been test fired with several hundred rounds.

    There is a set of plans on the internet for a home made 9mm smg using basic parts available at a hardware store and some basic welding and machining. Crude weapons are even easier, albeit far more dangerous to the user, to construct by almost anyone.

  13. PhillyandBCEagles says:

    The lower receiver is the “controlled” part, and seems to be the hardest to come by right now. The question is, can a 3D-printed lower receiver be made to such exact specifications that it could be put together with a factory-manufactured upper and the rest of the lower components and be able to function?

  14. AW1 Tim says:


    Absolutely. You can get some exceptionally fine tolerances with them.

  15. SGT Kane says:

    I love the second to last paragraph in that article.

    “…one way to prevent dangerous, illegal usage of 3-D printers is to better control gunpowder”

    This goes a long way to explaining the decline of home chemistry kits doesn’t it? Outlaw Knowledge! Restrict access to basic chemistry! Do it! For the Childern!

  16. David says:

    there are already some pretty nice lower receivers out there that are completely “plastic” – NFA comes to mind. They use the same resin as Glock uses for their frames, and the resultant complete lower receiver is cheap and durable. There is little mechanical stress on the lower in operation, and the pressures are confined to the chamber and barrel.

    Think the last test I saw of a 3D printed AR type weapon blew up on something like round 2 or 3. With a decent barrel gas tube and BCG,however, there is almost no reason a good resin couldn’t be used for all the other parts. Some resins are STRONG.

  17. Mike says:

    THIS has ALREADY been done LIVE. The lower reciever starts to break up almost immediately due to the material it’s made of.
    Google it….

  18. Ex-PH2 says:

    ‘one way to prevent dangerous, illegal usage of 3-D printers is to better control gunpowder, an idea that has come up in gun control in the past’ — gunpowder is a simple combination of sulfur, potassium nitrate and charcoal. You can mix it up in your bathroom.

    I’m fascinated by the incredible fear of no control over the individuals who are able to blatantly do whatever they want to do, but aren’t breaking the law. They just aren’t asking permission.

    It’s called freedom.

    From a “Star Trek” episode: CLoud William: Freedom? Freedom is a holy word. Only yangs may use it. You are not a yang.