The First ‘Fully’ 3D-Printed Gun Had A Successful Test Firing (Video)

(Credit: Michael Thad Carter for Forbes)

Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed was previously mentioned here for 3D-printing a key component of an AR-15 rifle and then making the first 3D-printed AR receiver which fired over 600 rounds without breaking. Now Andy Greenberg of Forbes has watched him test a “fully” 3D-printed gun with mixed results.

We put fully in quotes because Wilson used a standard metal nail as a firing pin, and he also had to insert an unnecessary six ounce piece of steel in the gun’s body to make the gun set off metal detectors in compliance with the Undetectable Firearms Act. This doesn’t mean, of course, that anyone who downloads the free CAD files will also insert useless metal, and the nail used as a firing pin isn’t a sufficient quantity to set off the alarm.

Wilson calls this 3D-printed gun The Liberator after the one-shot pistols the Allies air-dropped into France during the WWII Nazi occupation. (He just up and Godwin‘d this whole thing before a commenter could do it.)

When tested remotely, The Liberator could fire .380 caliber bullets without breaking (although it did misfire once). When he swapped out the interchangeable barrel for a 5.7×28 rifle cartridge, the 3D-printed gun exploded on the first shot. Here’s a close-up of the gun pre-explosion:

(Credit: Michael Thad Carter for Forbes)

The Liberator consists of 15 plastic 3D-printed pieces and one metal nail.

(Credit: Michael Thad Carter for Forbes)

It was printed on a used Dimension with a chamber heated to 167℉ for better resiliency. Wilson also treated the gun barrels with acetone vapor to smooth the surface and reduce friction. This may be why the gun is able to withstand the heat and pressure of .380 caliber bullets that would normally destroy this type of plastic.

Two members of Congress have already decried this development, reports Forbes:

New York Congressman Steve Israel responded to Defense Distributed’s work by renewing his call for a revamp of the Undetectable Firearms Act, which bans any firearm that doesn’t set off a metal detector. “Security checkpoints, background checks, and gun regulations will do little good if criminals can print plastic firearms at home and bring those firearms through metal detectors with no one the wiser,” read a statement sent to me and other reporters. […] On Sunday, New York Senator Charles Schumer echoed Israel’s call for that new legislation to ban 3D-printable guns. “A terrorist, someone who’s mentally ill, a spousal abuser, a felon can essentially open a gun factory in their garage,” Schumer said in a press conference.

Unfortunately, people are going to misuse technology. Zip guns aren’t going away either. Hopefully, these guns won’t hold back the technology of 3D-printing itself. We need more 3D-printed medical prosthetics and cool toys (like these and this) and eye-popping 3D-printed dresses.

Here’s a video of Cody Wilson shooting a .380 caliber bullet out of a newly-printed gun after the previous model exploded. That’s his dad Dennis in the background who says, “Outstanding. Congratulations, my son.” We were hoping it was a comic book villain who calls everyone “my son” because this story wasn’t quite complicated enough already.