back to article Hobbyist builds working assault rifle using 3D printer

Hobbyists have used 3D printers to make guitars, copy house keys, and bring robot dinosaurs to life, but a firearms enthusiast who goes by the handle "Have Blue" has taken this emerging technology into a new realm by assembling a working rifle from 3D-printed parts. Specifically, ExtremeTech reports, Have Blue used 3D CAD …

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  1. SoaG

    For those w/o time in the military:

    .223 caliber is better known as 5.56 mm, the standard NATO assault rifle/light machine gun ammunition.

    Not sure about US, but here the bolt is serialized as well and I would think much harder to make a durable one from plastic.

    1. Simon Ball

      Re: For those w/o time in the military:

      The fact that the bolt (or the barrel) can't be made out of plastic doesn't mean that it can't be fabricated by someone skilled in metalwork. I suspect that the reason the lower reciever is serialised is because it is the one piece of the weapon that is of sufficiently complex shape to be very difficult to make in a backyard metal shop.

      Things will really start getting interesting the day someone perfects a matter compiler......

      1. jnievele

        Re: For those w/o time in the military:

        Actually, the reason why the Lower is serialised is because this part (along with some others) determines wether an AR-15 can fire full-auto or not.

        Oh, and good luck finding somebody skilled enough in metalwork to build you a working (and precise) barrel. Only a handfull of companies nowadays do that, most gun companies buy barrels from those few, as barrel making is a very complicated piece of work and requires special machinery not readily available....

        1. Avatar of They
          Thumb Up

          Re: For those w/o time in the military:

          Most of formula one is men in sheds bulding the most advanced engines on the planet (some would say)

          Top gear put a reliant robin by a bunch of men in sheds strapping precision rocket technology together (granted it was top gear and it failed badly) but it still climbed very high with a car on the side.

          NASA's space elevator prize has a leading contender in Washington DC that is an industrial unit.

          The three hippies in a US desert that are making petrol from air with the special engine they designed and one day want to market.

          At the end of the day "Men in sheds" have built most high tech things in the world, a gun barrel is easy.

          My high school has a 3d printer and as a sixth form college it has precision metal working lathes for college courses, I dread to think.

          1. Ken 16 Silver badge

            Re: For those w/o time in the military:

            a rifled barrel is not easy

            1. Steve Evans

              Re: For those w/o time in the military:

              It doesn't need to be rifled to be a lethal weapon at closer ranges.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Devil

              Re: For those w/o time in the military:

              "a rifled barrel is not easy" - Oh yes it is. Very fucking easy.

              In terms of repeatability of the fired rounds grouping accurately at predetermined target ranges, from;

              a) The same barrel and or;

              b) A group of barrels made by the same maker the same way.

              And most killing is done at short to modestly short ranges.

              But it's possible to have a not very good barrel group reasonably accurately, where most of the shots land 3 meters to the left at 100 meters...

              Just dial the scope in....

              Watching videos of the 3 and 4 and 6 inch smoothbore cannon with the round balls on Youtube - they are placing fairly accurate shots at human sized targets, like a mile away or more.....

              And smoothbore guns......

              The only real differences are incremental improvements, in the bores, the ammunition, the rifiling and propellants, that give flatter trajectory, better targeting, higher accuracy at greater ranges....

              While a really really good barrel and overall gun for say a sniper, may in fact be a fabulous piece of work, not many people are shot by snipers in the workplace, or at night clubs, or in criminal acts or in reprisals by people with sniper rifles....

              Even a shit gun with a shit barrel will do nicely thankyou.

              But a really good barrel, is actually fairly straightforward to make.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "How hard" it is to make a barrel / accurate barrel

                Interesting discussion above but all ultimately moot as barrels are available off-the-shelf and are not regulated.

        2. Nigel 11
          FAIL

          Barrel

          I wonder whether J. Random Lunatic really cares much about "precise". How precise do you need on full auto at a range of ten yards?

          1. David Eddleman

            Re: Barrel

            Accurate enough to avoid having the bullet spin out of control, or better yet, spin at such a rate that causes it to fragment in the air. As can happen with overspin on lighter bullets.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @jnievele 06:30,,,Re: For those w/o time in the military:

          Not true in many ways.

          Yes if you want a very good and expensive barrel or an unusual calibre, that is accurate over a long range there are a few specialist companies that make them.

          However the "Saturday night special" as they were called back in the 70's and 80's, as used by crooks don't need very good barrels. These can be made by any semi-skilled machinist anywhere with quite basic tools, in the same way they have been made for centuries. No high tech required at all.

          As for the receiver being the most complex part, that's not true, most modern military rifles are made from cheap stamped steel and plastic, and have been since the 1960's. It is certainly no harder to create than making the bolt/firing pin/trigger mechanism and cutting a precise breach to within a thou or two...

        4. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: For those w/o time in the military:

          No - building *accurate* barrels is hard.

          If the MythBusters can build a cannon out of gaffer tape then I'm sure someone can craft a musket barrel out of steel.

          It doesn't need accuracy, just the ability to withstand about 10 seconds of full automatic fire before jamming.

        5. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Re: For those w/o time in the military:

          Not just complex machinery, but also high-grade steel, which not everyone can come by easily. The lower receiver is also much less stressed than the upper receiver (which includes the chamber) or barrel, and the lower receiver can therefore be built up from folded metal (the AR-15 range are famous for introducing the idea of aluminium in the lower receiver to reduce weight). Personally, I always thought it would be a better idea to stamp a serial into barrel, upper and lower receivers, and wouldn't add massively to the cost of production.

        6. John 104

          Re: For those w/o time in the military:

          Wrong. Replacement barrels are very easy to come by. At least here in the US anyway.

        7. despairing citizen
          Big Brother

          Re: good luck finding somebody skilled enough in metalwork

          With all the CAD/CAM kit going these days, it does not take much effort to build the relevant tools.

          Bottom line, somebody with enough time, money and a reasonable amount of knowledge can build any firearm they feel like.

          the improvements in IT and manufacturing tools is merely making the time and money part a much lower barrier to entry.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Obligatory Response

        I'll give you my printer when you take it from my cold, dead hands!

      3. Graham Wilson
        Unhappy

        @Simon Ball - - Re: For those w/o time in the military: - CNC anyone?

        "Things will really start getting interesting the day someone perfects a matter compiler......"

        It's much simpler than that.

        A reasonably modern numerically controlled CNC machining centre could fabricate most of the weapon with the right programming, and CNC machines are commonplace today.

        Someone's only got to program and distribute the M-code program to all and sundry and even inexperience machinists could turn weapons out. Frankly, I'd be surprised if it's not already happening.

        After all, how do you think that manufactures make such weapons in the first place? Right, on CNC machines of course!

        Seems to me, no matter how much law there is, those with evil intent will find a way.

        BTW, 3D printers of the quality capable of producing that weapon probably cost about the same as an average sized CNC machine, so saying that CNC's are out of the reach of all but the most sophisticated probably isn't true anymore. For example, an employee with an M-code weapon design on disk/USB stick could probably run the CNC after hours or on the back shift without being observed. Disconcerting really, but such devious uses inevitably evolve as byproducts when equipment reaches a certain quantum of sophistication. As they say, "you ain't seen anything yet, mate, this is only the start of the beginning".

    2. Franklin

      Re: For those w/o time in the military:

      The bolt may be serialized as well, but it's easy to obtain without a license or background check...which is the sticky bit, I think.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For those w/o time in the military:

      Only needs to fire once to count as lethal

      1. Thorne

        Re: For those w/o time in the military:

        "Only needs to fire once to count as lethal"

        Only needs to blow up in your face once to be counted as lethal too

    4. LarsG
      Facepalm

      All you need is a CNC machine, get it to understand the code and you will be able to produce any piece and shape of metal. Now that would be progress.

      Build your own weapons, from start to finish and I doubt it will be long in the making.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @LarsG

        I have a CNC, and I'm fairly certain I could what you suggest.

        But why? I can get what I need/want, firearms-wise.

        I have also forged a blackpowder muzzle-loading shotgun (from ore and Walnut to working gun). She's a near replica of the gun that was forged by my Great-Great-Grandfather. They are side-by-side in my gun-case. Manufacturing firearms isn't exactly a 21st century invention, now is it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Jake

          "I have a CNC"

          Why does that not surprise me in the slightest?

          For the record, and with the obvious exception of any technology built after 1998, is there anything you don't have?

        2. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

          Re: @LarsG

          Time to wake up. You can get these things easily now but they will be clamping down on assault rifles and tear gas sales at Wallmart in the aftermath of Aurura.

      2. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Trollface

        If you do a quick search you'll see loads of CNC programs for receivers

        mostly developed in the US rather than China or India. Who says manufacturing is all going offshore?

      3. Stevie Silver badge

        Rubbish!

        "All you need is a CNC machine, get it to understand the code"

        I love computer geeks who honestly think like this.

        No, you have to be able to run whatever type of CNC machine it is (in this case a milling machine of some sort) manually without f*cking up the workpiece, the tool or the machine tool itself. You can run a 3d printer on simple jobs just from a drawing, but subtractive machining is a bit more skilled, even if you have a computer to turn the handwheels for you.

        That is why CNC machining is such an interesting hobby and such a well-paid professional field.

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: Rubbish!

          WELL PAID??? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          Excuse me while I fall off my chair choking to death on 1/2 a cup of coffee

          A top of the range CNC guy will cost you about £15/hr, About 30K/yr or so.

          For that you'll get someone with 5 yrs+ experience, more likely 10+ yrs of machining stuff with milling machines/lathes/ 5 axis machining

          You'll get a CAM package experience, usually MasterCam , but sometimes one of the lesser used CAM packages

          Tooling and fixturing experience, A whole artform in itself

          And if you are very lucky, someone who can talk to the loading robots too.

          Looking at the ads next to this forum , I can see Sys admin and Sys tech ads for £35K plus .... do they need 10 yrs worth of training/experience?

          Remember in my game one mis-placed minus sign and a £300 000 machine tool becomes £2K of scrap metal.

          All for less than 30K a year

        2. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

          Re: Rubbish!

          Yes exactly. You have to have a plan to shape the metal, not just know what shape you want to end up with.

          A 3D printer simply builds layers and layers of 2D.

      4. Dave Mundt
        FAIL

        Building Guns.

        I should point out that human-kind has a long history of hand fabricating guns, some of which have been fairly sophisticated. It does not take complicated tools to create a gun, just time and a certain amount of care. If one wishes to stamp out dozens of them as quickly as possible, then, yes, machines make it possible...

        Another point made in the story is that little remark about the gun jamming. That is a Bad Thing, because if one is in a position where firing the weapon is a good idea, one does not want it to jam!

        While this was an interesting thing to do, it is not as if this is going to allow untraceable AR-15s to flood the market because the criminals are cranking them out on printers. Perhaps one day, when the 3d printers are capable of printing with metal, it may be a problem, but, that is not going to happen anytime soon. The folks that mis-use guns will continue to get them the old-fashioned ways: illegal mass purchases from manufacturers, hijacking shipments, smuggling in weapons from countries where it is even easier to purchase weapons, etc.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I can see this selling

      Well in the USA

      1. BillG
        Stop

        Re: I can see this selling

        It's illegal to sell. In the USA a license is required to manufacture firearms.

        But I see 3D printer manufacturers putting in safeguards to prevent this sort of thing, the same way that the chips in printers and scanners sold in Europe are programmed to recognize and therefore not scan or print money.

        1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

          Re: I can see this selling

          Don't be daft. They put codes in money to tell the printer not to print it. Who's going to put codes in gun part drawings to stop them from working?

    6. jake Silver badge

      @SoaG (was: Re: For those w/o time in the military:

      ".223 caliber is better known as 5.56 mm"

      Close, but not quite. .223 ammo can always[1] be safely fired in a 5.56 chambered weapon. Not vice-versa.

      My question in this whole mess is "why bother"?[2] Getting a federal firearms license isn't exactly difficult, if you're sane and not a convicted felon ... certainly much easier & cheaper than figuring out how to, and then actually printing a receiver. Yes, I know, sometimes it's the journey ... But surely manufacturing replacement 1960s muscle car interior bits & pieces would be far more lucrative, and still provide the same 3D journey?

      [1] Actually, that's cannon ... in reality, there are quite a few cheap 5.56 weapons that I wouldn't risk firing my .223 varmint loads with ...

      [2] Unless you really want the BATF up your butt with a microscope, that is.

      1. frank ly
        Happy

        @jake re. "Actually, that's cannon .."

        Actually not. Cannons fire much larger loads and are so heavy that they have their own carriages.

      2. Blitterbug
        Mushroom

        Re: if you're sane and not a convicted felon...

        ...some would say you fail the former criterion immediately upon application for said licence...

    7. Steve I
      Joke

      Re: For those w/o time in the military:

      ...or mathematical ability...

      ".223 caliber is better known as 5.56 mm,"

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For those w/o time in the military:

      This is a common misconception - there actually is a difference between 5.56 NATO and .223

      Without going into a long rambling explanation, the main differences are lower pressures on .223 rounds. The 5.56 rounds have military casing, which is thicker, and if you do any handloading, you'll know this reduces powder capacity and increases overpressure. Rifles chambered for .223 have a shorter throat and headspace dimensions. If you chamber a 5.56 NATO round in a rifle chambered for .223, you can damage it badly, and also maim yourself in the process. If you put .223 rounds into a rifle chambered for 5.56 NATO, it will work reasonably well, but won't be as accurate. Hope that clears it up...

    9. David Eddleman

      Re: For those w/o time in the military:

      ".223 caliber is better known as 5.56 mm"

      Incorrect. 5.56x45 is actually .224 caliber. Aside from having a slightly different casing dimension, it operates on a higher pressure. Loading a 5.56 into a .223 weapon might work, but you run a serious risk of destroying the firearm in the process. .223 works no problems in a 5.56 weapon however.

      The bolt is not serialized here in the US. Only the lower receiver is. That's because the lower receiver is recognized, by the BATFE, as the firearm itself (the upper and other parts are not, just the lower receiver).

    10. Barry 8
      Black Helicopters

      Re: For those w/o time in the military:

      Under U.S. Federal law a firearm constructed at home with 80% of the work being done by the individual does not have to be registered with the BATF. In the case of the AR-15 series of rifles the lower receiver (the part with the serial number on it) is classified as the Firearm. Neither the Bolt nor the Bolt Carrier have a serial number. So yes this is a legal firearm. Also the reason the lower can be made of Aluminum or Plastic is that there is no stress on the lower. I own a plastic lower and like it very much.

    11. Charles Manning
      Stop

      Actually... 5.56 != .223

      Yes, the actual bullet is the same, and they are mechanically interchangeable, but a 5.56 round is not the same as a .223. The 5.56 is a higher pressure round.

      http://www.humanevents.com/2011/02/15/223-remington-vs-556-nato-what-you-dont-know-could-hurt-you/

      The same applies to 7.62 vs .308, but back in my army days a lot of 7.62 fell off the back of army trucks for use in .309 hunting rifles.

    12. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: For those w/o time in the military:

      In the US, the bolt, upper and lower have serial numbers on it.

  2. eurobloke
    Alert

    F**king Hell

    That is all I can say.

  3. LaeMing Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Since the part is usually made of amuminium...

    ...I can theroetically have a post-grad in the materials-engineering unit here at work print up a more hardy one for me tonight. Ouch!

  4. toadwarrior
    FAIL

    An AR-15 is more or less a M-16 but it's not fully automatic which is why it's not called an M-16.

    He didn't build a working assault rifle solely out of a 3D printer either because quite frankly a plastic gun won't work for long at all (if at all). His appears to mostly metal and it jammed. I'd like to see him do it with an all plastic gun.

    But even this is liable to get himself in trouble and give governments an excuse not to allow us to have 3D printers.

    1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

      What a whiner. Oh we may not be allowed to have 3D printers because we might be naughty. Grow up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whiner

        Hmm, but experience does tell us that what he decribes is indeed quite likely to happen.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "a plastic gun won't work for long"

      Tell that to the Austrians - Glock have been making guns entirely out of composites with only a metal or ceramic barrel for about 30 years.

  5. MIc
    Thumb Down

    I love the obligatory statistics on how many rounds have been amassed. 6000 rounds is not that many rounds when you consider that you can use up 200 in a day at the range and that they remain usable for a long period of time. Any hobbyist will buy up a large amount for a price break.

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Buy in bulk.

      If you could get ammo at Sam's Club or Costco, having 6000 rounds doesn't sound all that extreme. It would not be the first sort of thing people bought by the case just to save a buck.

  6. Kit-Fox
    Mushroom

    Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

    Cant anyone see what this guy has done?

    Why dont ID-10-T folks ever think first, all he has done is give governments a reason to regulate 3D printing.

    No doubt some senator will grab onto this and use it as a 'wont you think of a kids' thing to pass restrictive legislation against homebrew £D printers like the RepRap, which they will they try to force on the world no doubt using threats (probably such thingsa like cutting off countries who dont agree to regulation from US banking institutes etc)

    Goddamn it

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

      3D but yeah

    2. Franklin

      Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

      While I see your point, I find it unlikely that this, by itself, will lead to calls on 3D printers. After all, if it's possible to buy RAL guns with little oversight, it makes little sense to ban a machine that can (among other things) be used to make just one bit of one.

      I would find it a lot more likely that the government will start calling for a ban on 3D printers as soon as someone figures out a way to use one to make, say, a copy of a vinyl LP that the Recording Industry Ass. of America has a copyright on. Does that make me cynical?

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

        Or Disney Mickey Mouse toys.

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

          > Or Disney Mickey Mouse toys.

          Or Barbies, or (if the hair is too hard to attach) barbie's horse, car, happy meal toys, or Olympic rings.

          Then all hell will break loose.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Joke

          Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

          "Or Disney Mickey Mouse toys."

          Shut up you fule. They've already gotten copyright extended to 70 years after the authors death to protect their dibs on the rat.

          1. proto-robbie
            Holmes

            Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

            Yes, just let Apple patent this, and it'll disappear without trace.

      2. h4rm0ny

        Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

        I wonder how viable it is to mandate unique-to-printer markers be added to anything produced by a 3D printer? For a time, printers secretly put a small pattern of dots on the foot of any page they printed so that the police could identify which specific printer (not model of printer) the page was from. I don't know if they still do. Similarly there was a system built into some image software and many scanners which recognized the pattern of dots on a bank note and stopped working if found. So I wonder what might be proposed for 3D printers.

    3. auburnman
      Thumb Down

      Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

      "Why dont ID-10-T folks ever think first, all he has done is give governments a reason to regulate 3D printing."

      That's what I was thinking: Well done dickhead, now it's going to be almost impossible for the masses to get their own 3D printers. Having said that, the governments of the world were probably planning to come down on these anyway.

      Isn't "owning the means of production" a phrase from Communist ideology? Can't see that playing well in the USA.

    4. Paul_Murphy

      Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

      It's just as likely that microdots or similar will be added to the plastic, so that an item can be traced through the purchasing system to the person who bought it.

      And if he didn't do this then someone else would have, and maybe not been so public about it.

      ttfn

      1. Nigel 11
        FAIL

        Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

        It's just as likely that microdots or similar will be added to the plastic, so that an item can be traced through the purchasing system to the person who bought it.

        Fail. Make your own feedstock out of commodity plastic items purchased at Wal-Mart, if you've got something to hide. Can it be that hard to work out how to re-melt and extrude polythene, ABS, etc.?

        Restrict the technology and it will be driven underground, which means that you won;t be able to use it for tinkering with harmless things, but there will still be someone turning out knock-off copies of gun components for a black-market profit. Same as for recreational drugs, commercial sex, illegal porn, ....

        At present the best hope is to restrict the gun barrels, which are clearly the hardest components to make. And despite the above, I'm still glad I live in a country where posession of a complete gun is strictly controlled. I feel I have less to fear from gun-bearing career criminals than from gun-bearing lunatics or gun-bearing mobs.

    5. Nigel 11
      Thumb Down

      Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

      Surely would make a lot more sense to regulate guns. Or if you insist on the right to bear arms, to insist on the gun barrels being "serialized" and controlled rather than the bit which works even if printed out of plastic.

      Out of interest, how much does a computer-controlled milling machine cost these days? How hard would it be for a hobbyist to make his own computer-controlled milling machine out of a surplus manually-controlled milling machine plus some stepper motors and controllers?

    6. Rich 2
      WTF?

      Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

      "...give governments a reason to regulate 3D printing."

      Or, maybe a better idea, would be to do what the the saner parts of the world do and have the US govt regulate gun ownership? Now there's an idea!!

      Alternatively, start a new campaign - "Guns don't kill people - printers do!". The whole gun ownership thing in the US is so bloody stupid, you literally couldn't make it up for even the blackest of satires. I can't imagine someone in (say) the UK openly advertising on the web that he's managed to build a bloody machine gun at home (and yes, I know it's not technically a machine gun). Absolutely insane.

      1. Zippy the Pinhead
        FAIL

        Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

        Exactly as your title suggest...

        The VAST majority of gun violence in America is committed by criminals on other criminals. We know how much criminals love to obey laws now don't we!

        Also this is after they go to prison and learn to become master criminals for stuff like drug related crimes.. Stop throwing people in jail from drug related crimes.. you get rid of drug related violence and you get rid of the vast majority of violent crime.

        Everywhere in America when legalized gun ownership is allowed violent crime drops. Where gun ownership is curtailed (like Chicago for example) crime goes up.. Chicago just had gun legalized ownership heavily curtailed with some of the most restrictive laws in the country and they are going through a MAJOR increase in violent gun related crimes.

        1. Figgus
          Facepalm

          Re: Bloody wonderful, dont idiots ever think first?

          Yup. Chicago was a shithole before, and now it's managed to get even worse. I live 2 hours away from it, but will drive 4 hours the other direction to get to a "big city" instead of going to Chicago.

          Then again, Chicago voters don't seem to grasp the relationship between cause and effect so I think they are getting the city they voted for.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Metalwork class

    I don't know about this new fangled 3D printer stuff - but back here in the 19C we have lathes and mills and planars. With this we can build everything from a vickers machine gun to a battleship - hopefully this new metal technology never gets into the wrong hands.

    1. MIc

      Re: Metalwork class

      one way that this is different is that I don't have to know how to use equipment or CAD software. I can d-load the CAD files and have my 3D printer start cranking out parts.

      1. Aaron Em

        Re: Metalwork class

        You mean the 3D printer you can't buy off the shelf for less than $25k, but have to build out of a half-dozen gutted inkjets and some custom-fabricated parts which aren't easy to make without already having access to a working 3D printer? It'd be cheaper just to buy an AR-15...

        1. Dan 10

          Re: Metalwork class

          No, more likely the 3D printer that my wife's school bought for £3k last year - and the prices are tumbling all the time.

          Wait for it, and the biggest growth in torrented data will be *.sta (think that's what they're called) files that can be pointed straight to the printer. Once these relate to illegal items or those with copyright, this shit's going to get interesting.

          1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

            Re: Metalwork class

            @Dan 10

            Like the majority of equipment the cost of the kit isn't going to be the expensive part. If you try doing any sort of volume production you'll find the running costs far outweigh the price of the machine. Just like a regular 2D printer the annual supplies and utility costs is going to dwarf that £3k and I can guarantee you that machine doesn't have anywhere near the accuracy needed to build parts requiring even moderate tolerances. Also don't forget that most firearms manufacturers are making guns with a variety of plastic parts including frames but none of them use a 3D printer for production, even though they likely have one for prototype work, because the cost is prohibitive. Recycling plastic helps a little but it still needs to be fairly high purity stock with a consistent melt temperature to get decent structural properties out of it.

            If someone wants an AR-15 there are easier ways to get one. Granted, it might be wise to get rid of it fairly quickly to keep from being caught.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Metalwork class

        The skills needed to make a basic automatic weapon are not that hard. Building a sten gun from WW2 factory plans is comparatively easy.

        And don't put down the skills needed to get a 3d printer to print a part this large with the right dimensions and without warping. It takes quite some time to set the printer up. It's not as easy as assemble, d-load files and press go.

        1. Trygve Henriksen

          Re: Metalwork class

          You're right about the Sten gun.

          It was even manufactured in bicycle repairshops in Oslo during WWII, and the Germans were none the wiser.

        2. Ken 16 Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: Metalwork class

          I would have thought the simplest use would be to use the printer to make a mold, then make a cast or sintered receiver. The real breakthrough will be when they stop trying to make it look like a traditional weapon and adapt the design to the materials. Even .22LR can be dangerous in the right quantities (see MGV-176).

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: when they stop trying to make it look like a traditional weapon

            "...and adapt the design to the materials"

            Ah, I was getting ahead of you there. In my mind, I was finishing your sentence with something like: ...and start disguising guns as random household objects that don't arouse suspicion in airport X-ray machines. 3D printers could presumably make most of Q-branch obsolete.

            Just as well there are no terrorists reading this.

    2. Adam T

      Re: Metalwork class

      The only dodgy aspect of this is that you don't need skill to print a 3D model, beyond making the CAD file in the first place (oh, have this email attachment good sir).

      Stick a lathe or CNC (I don't even know what that stands for) in front of me and I wouldn't have a clue how to use it.

      File->Print. Now that's the life.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Metalwork class

        Lathes and milling machines are computer-controlled these days. Have been for quite a while (since before 3D printers arrived).

        I expect that a keen hobbyist could pick up an old manual milling machine and convert it to computer operation in his garage. You'd just have to replace the wheels that are turned by hand with appropriate stepper motors and sensors and controllers. The rest is programming.

        BTW learning to use a manual lathe or milling machine is not at all hard. (Learning to use it well, that's quite another matter).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Metalwork class

          Why Bother: http://www.emachineshop.com/ and similar services are coming on-line in volume. The result is that the internet can crank out those special parts that the Chinese are not making already.

          I have been doing electronics with PCB-pool for at least a decade. Now the mechanical engineers can do the same with their projects. I wonder whether there is any restrictions on what can be made, actually. Theoretically, one could spread the parts over a wide range of suppliers so the suppliers can always deny that they knew the purpose of the assembly; OTOH maybe GCHQ collects all the files!?

      2. Oninoshiko
        Boffin

        CNC abvr.

        "Computer Numerical Control" refers to the automation of machine tools that are operated by abstractly programmed commands encoded on a storage medium, as opposed to controlled manually via handwheels or levers, or mechanically automated via cams alone.

        (according to wackypedia, YMMV)

        always ware proper safety glasses when in the shop.

  9. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Damn

    I'm out of a job

    1. Steven Roper
      Alert

      Re: Damn

      Once replicators are truly perfected, everyone will be out of a job. But in a world where you can just replicate everything you need, there'll be no need for jobs. Or money. Or any of that related bullshit that makes our present civilisation so unbearable... speed the day!

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Damn

        "Once replicators are truly perfected, everyone will be out of a job. But in a world where you can just replicate everything you need, there'll be no need for jobs. Or money. Or any of that related bullshit that makes our present civilisation so unbearable... speed the day!"

        I await with interest the method by which one will pay for the supplies to run the replicator, the parts to repair it when it breaks down or indeed the replicator itself if we have sent money the way of the wire recorder.

        *I* predict coin in the slot replicators and legislation limiting private ownership of replicator tech.

      2. Figgus

        Re: Damn

        "Once replicators are truly perfected, everyone will be out of a job. But in a world where you can just replicate everything you need, there'll be no need for jobs. Or money. Or any of that related bullshit that makes our present civilisation so unbearable... speed the day!"

        Except someone still has to DESIGN the item in the first place before you can replicate it, plus the costs of power and materials... Transportation. Refining. Ad nauseum...

        I don't think replicators will be the turnkey solution to a communist panacea. By the way, our present civilisation is only unbearable to people who are too lazy to take care of themselves. The rest of us are getting along just fine.

    2. Silverburn

      Re: Damn

      If you work for a 3D printing company, then yes, you are. They'll all be banned shortly, just you wait.

  10. DrXym Silver badge

    So they didn't build a gun with a 3D printer at all

    Just some plastic widget which holds all the metal bits together. While it's not infeasible that some day an entire gun could be printed (save for stuff like springs), this is not that gun.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: So they didn't build a gun with a 3D printer at all

      No the article is more important than that. It's not about making a gun at home - that's easily down out of metal.

      It's that the government decided that this particular component is impossible to make (it's a complex shaped cast+machined part) so this is the component that they would serial number/track/register etc - this is the licence key to the gun. The poster has shown that this isn't a valid assumption with 3D printers.

  11. Roger Stenning
    WTF?

    more to the point...

    Where in the hell did he get the CAD/CAM plans for a bloody rifle?! I thought gun companies liked keeping this sort of stuff to themselves?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: more to the point...

      If he didn't get his hands on original plans, the part could have been reverse-engineered, either by a man with ruler and mouse (working for your choice of foreign powers or just for fun), optically (laser scanner or MS Kinnect), or by a touch-probe as made by Renishaws.

      It does not appear to be the most complicated of parts, so I would image it is the former case.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: more to the point...

      If one were motivated enough you could probably knock one up in a CAD package by finding gun strip down pictures on the internet and using a pair of calipers, plus physical parts of an existing gun such as the barrel, trigger etc. to figure out the correct scale of things. A few prototypes later and you have your receiver.

  12. Johan Bastiaansen
    FAIL

    For those w/o time to read the paper

    "It is legal in most US states to purchase AR-15 style rifles, provided the purchaser is licensed, which involves a background check."

    Really? I just that read that a certified loon legally bought a automatic assault rifle and shot up a theatre, killing 12 and wounding 58 around Denver somewhere.

    I also read that he's accused of killing 24 and wounding 116, calling into question the math skills of the prosecutors.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: For those w/o time to read the paper

      It's so when he pleads insanity they can offer him a 'deal' and drop half the charges!

    2. Aaron Em

      FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

      He had no criminal record prior to the Aurora shooting, and he doesn't seem to have been under psychiatric care either. Whether or not he should've been is an open question, but the fact of the matter is that he passed FBI/ATF clearance requirements to buy the firearms he did.

      Also, his AR-15-alike was semi-auto, not automatic. There are conversion kits, but -- guess what? -- they're not legal to purchase.

      1. Don Jefe
        Meh

        Re: FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

        There is no such thing as a full auto AR-15 & the M-16 fires a 3 round burst, not full auto. The M-16 has a 'Safe', 'Semi-Auto' & 3 round burst selection lever while the AR-15 has only 'Safe' & 'Semi-Auto'. The only way to make one of those rifles fully automatic is through a bunch of 'hacking' - they just weren't made to be used that way.

        1. jon 68
          FAIL

          Re: FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

          "The only way to make one of those rifles fully automatic is through a bunch of 'hacking' - they just weren't made to be used that way."

          - actually the M16 variants ( M16, M16A1, M16A2 ) that started replacing the M14 as the US Army battle rifle sometime around 1962 or so, and were kept in service through the early '90s were made EXACTLY for full auto. The selector switch went from safe, to semi , to auto ( not sure of the exact headings ). The entire reason the 3 round burst mode replaced the full auto setting was that too many 'John Wayne' types would spray and pray and deplete their ammo supply. By restricting the weapon to 3 round burst only, both the logistics of supplying ammunition to a battlefront soldier, and the soldier's own accuracy was improved.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

            "The entire reason the 3 round burst mode replaced the full auto setting was that too many 'John Wayne' types would spray and pray and deplete their ammo supply. By restricting the weapon to 3 round burst only, both the logistics of supplying ammunition to a battlefront soldier, and the soldier's own accuracy was improved."

            In the British Army we have something called Fire Discipline :-)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

              Before that you had the SA80 jamming every three rounds to enforce discipline ;-)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

                SA80? That's a trade name for a whole family of weapons.

                You must mean the L85A1 Rifle, which I admit was not the best bit of kit ever but was certainly not the clusterfuck that it was made out to be in the press.

                Now of course we have the L85A2 which is basically L85A1 with Service Pack 1 which performs just fine.

            2. mjwalshe

              Re: FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

              thease days Full auto is used to win the initail phase of a firefight and supress your oposition - you then switch to aimed fire.

        2. Darkwolf

          Re: FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

          As someone who has been in the military, and fired plenty of these, I can say for a FACT that the M16A2 has the following settings:

          1. Safe

          2. Single

          3. 3 round burst

          4. Full auto (aka Kiss your ass goodbye )

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

            Re: FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

            "4. Full auto (aka Kiss your ass goodbye )"

            IIRC that's about 3 secs of fire (from a full magazine) until you run out.

            At which point either all your opponents are dead or the survivors will kill you while you reload.

            I think this is one of those things that looks cool in movies but IRL will get you killed very quickly.

          2. Don Jefe

            Re: FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

            Early variants of the M-16 could fire full suto and were generally phased out of active duty in the late '80's except in basic training. If you've fired one of these you're either from the Vietnam era or still in basic.

          3. jon 68
            Thumb Up

            Re: FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

            You're right about the A2 variant, When I left the army in the mid 80's we only had the A1's. those most definately did NOT have a 3 round burst setting. The A2 was the first with the 3 round burst capability and was adopted by the Army late in the '80s. They also did away with the awful triangular front hand guards in the A2 or A3.. not sure which.

      2. Johan Bastiaansen
        Thumb Up

        Re: FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

        He WAS under psiychiatric care: www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/27/james-holmes-being-treated-psychiatrist

        But youi're right, the background check failed. Shouldn't the bureaucrats who gave him the green light to buy that gun, be held accountable? Shouldn't the politicians who passed these rules be held accountable? Shouldn't the NRA be held accountable for pressuring these politicians?

        I think they should.When the NRA sabotages the background check so they can sell more guns, and as a result a certified loon can buy these kinds of weapons, the public has the right to defend themselves against the brutal dictatorship of stupid and greedy men, and shoot the president of the NRA in the face.

        I wouldn't convict if I was in the jury.

        But I probably wouldn't pass the background check.

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

          "But youi're right, the background check failed. Shouldn't the bureaucrats who gave him the green light to buy that gun, be held accountable? Shouldn't the politicians who passed these rules be held accountable? Shouldn't the NRA be held accountable for pressuring these politicians?"

          In a sane world they would be. But in the US amongst gun owners any regulation of their precious guns is seen as a violation of the 2nd amendment.

          The actual answer IMO is to actually implement 2nd amendment in its stated intent and form a "well regulated militia", i.e. some kind of reservist force with defence obligations and training. Anyone part of that force may keep their government issued weapon at home just as Swiss reservists do. Everyone else would have no constitutional entitlement or right to any weapon whatsoever.

          1. Zippy the Pinhead
            FAIL

            Re: FAIL indeed: Holmes passed his background check

            Why should the NRA be held responsible? The person responsible was the one who pulled the trigger and ONLY that person!

            "The actual answer IMO is to actually implement 2nd amendment in its stated intent and form a "well regulated militia", i.e. some kind of reservist force with defence obligations and training."

            No it's not. Only Constitutional revisionist believe that. (ie Anti-Gun nuts)

    3. johnroe

      Re: For those w/o time to read the paper

      Well, he hasn't been certified loony yet, but it's entirely possible he is. Personally, I don't think so, but my opinion doesn't count (yet; I haven't been called for jury duty).

      The AR-15 he used was a SEMI-automatic, which may not seem like much of a distinction, but it is.

      Finally, he was charged with two counts of murder ("murder after deliberation" and "murder with extreme indifference") for each death, and two counts of attempted murder for each of the wounded. The prosecutors know very well what they're doing. This douchebag is going down, one way or the other.

    4. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: For those w/o time to read the paper

      He was not certified as his therapist never reported him.

  13. Aaron Em

    Letter to the editor: Sensationalism is one thing; outright lying is another

    Baltimore, Maryland, July 30, 2012

    The editorial staff of the Register

    Monsieurs et madames:

    Of course I am aware that the Reg is a red top, and therefore prone to exaggeration, especially for the sake of an eye-catching headline. It's one of the things I've always enjoyed about your fine publication. But could you please prevent your writers from actually telling flat-out lies in your headlines and your articles?

    One 3D-printed component of a firearm, and at that a component which is not subject to the force of a round going off in the chamber -- and a component made of a material which cannot withstand such force, and would immediately explode if anyone unwisely made the attempt -- does not a "working assault rifle" make, nor anything remotely close to same. Nor, given the limitations of the materials which 3D printers can now or will soon be able to work with, does it suggest in any sense that a "working assault rifle" could be produced with a 3D printer, however inexpensive those devices should become.

    There is also the quite salient point that, under US federal law, it is quite legal to manufacture your own firearms, so long as you never sell them and you are not otherwise prohibited from buying or owning firearms, whether you have a federal firearms license or not. Weapons and components regulated under the National Firearms Act(1) require ATF approval and tax payment in order to be legally manufactured; all other categories of firearms, specifically including this semi-automatic rifle whose barrel is over sixteen inches in length, require neither payment nor approval.

    In added light of the fact that the remainder of the firearm was assembled from "off-the--shelf parts", which implies legality of said parts' purchase under the National Firearms Act, Have Blue's manufacture of an AR-15 lower receiver, and his use of it in a finished firearm, is therefore perfectly legal and permissible under United States law, whether it carries a registration number or otherwise.

    To imply otherwise, as Mr. McAllister has here done, goes far beyond anything which might even charitably be called "exaggeration", and appears to reach and surpass the point of utter, bare-faced mendacity. Surely this is not the case, and the cause of this blatant misrepresentation of fact is not a lack of anything resembling journalistic ethics on the part of Mr. McAllister, but rather simply that he has failed to detect, much less address, his ignorance on this subject.

    I understand that the Reg is a UK-based publication, and that people on the eastern side of the pond mostly have some really strange ideas about firearms and firearms owners. I also understand that someone based in San Francisco, who statistically speaking has probably never so much as laid hands on a firearm in his life, probably has a lot of the same strange ideas.

    But would it be too much to ask that you check, or require that your writers check, with someone knowledgeable? In this case it would have sufficed merely to review applicable US federal law, and to read "Have Blue"'s own statement of what he actually did -- and then to represent it honestly, rather than whomping up a bunch of arrant nonsense that makes it sound like any Holmes-alike wannabe with a RepRap in his garage can manufacture automatic weapons wholesale with nothing more than a few kilos of ABS feedstock? I grant, of course, that Mr. McAllister never goes quite so far as to state in his article that this is the case; the implication of same, however, I think could not be made any more clear with any amount of effort.

    I would expect this sort of behavior from the Daily Mail, for example, whose authors are frequently known to be extremely tendentious to the point of lying outright in their work, or the News of the World, whose editorial staff is not above blatant criminality in the cause of stirring up scandal. Red top or no, I have always esteemed and respected El Reg as being above this sort of behavior, and in the past I have never had reason to question that esteem or that respect. That such outright falsehoods should pass, without any apparent effort on the part of the Register's editorial staff to redress the error, forces me to wonder whether I should reconsider that esteem and that respect.

    I would greatly appreciate it if said editorial staff would revisit this article and, when they find that my statements regarding the article's flaws are accurate, perhaps discuss the situation with Mr. McAllister to the end of modifying the article such that, at minimum, it at least avoids the sort of plain misrepresentation of fact which can only be due either to arrant ignorance or to blatant mendacity.

    Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

    I remain, sincerely, &c., &c.

    (1) "Machine guns", defined as anything which fires more than one round on a single pull of the trigger; rifles with barrel length under sixteen inches; shotguns with barrel length under eighteen inches; suppressors ("silencers"); explosives, missile launchers, and anything of caliber greater than .50, under the heading of "destructive devices"; "All Other Weapons", an ill-described category including, not all firearms, but rather only such esoterica as smoothbore pistols, disguised or concealable firearms, &c. (Source: 26 USC ch. 53.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Letter to the editor: Sensationalism is one thing; outright lying is another

      Good post Aaron, thank you for the clarifications and corrections. It was good to read a clear, well written post. The part about "people on the eastern side of the pond mostly have some really strange ideas about firearms" I will let pass because it was not the main thrust of a post that clearly had some thought and care put into it, and this is not the place for a (yet another) gun control debate or discussion.

      1. Aaron Em

        Re: Letter to the editor: Sensationalism is one thing; outright lying is another

        Always glad to be of help, and thank you very kindly for the compliment!

        (I would note, parenthetically, that I don't really see the "eastern side of the pond" bit as being particularly unfair, given some of the shit I've heard folks in the UK say, quite earnestly, about Americans and firearms. Just as you say, though, it's far beside the point. Thanks again!)

        1. Steve I

          Re: Letter to the editor: Sensationalism is one thing; outright lying is another

          "some of the shit I've heard folks in the UK say, quite earnestly, about Americans and firearms"

          What? That they basically appear to have wet dreams about owning a gun? Shit indeed...

          1. Aaron Em

            Re: Letter to the editor: Sensationalism is one thing; outright lying is another

            Yeah, that's pretty much the attitude. Good example, thanks. Feel free to keep showing everyone what I'm talking about.

            1. Rampant Spaniel

              Re: Letter to the editor: Sensationalism is one thing; outright lying is another

              Mostly a well written post. The comments regarding the UK are however very ill informed. There is gun ownership in the UK. The types of weapon and what you can do with them are more limited these days. I grew up in a rural area and many people had rifles for sport and work. Many still do. They just don't wander down the high street armed to the teeth. Perhaps they are just nicer to each other :-) If you act like an arse I can understand why you feel the need to carry.

              As for people having wet dreams about gun ownership, I'm not sure you would class a dream about living in a country where you are 59 times more likely to be murdered with a gun is a pleasurable dream. Hawai'i has some of the strictest gun laws in the US, it also has the lowest incidence of gun releated deaths. Concealed carry is extremely rare in Hawai'i although home protection is fine, as is hunting. I'm sure some people want CC, most just don't care.

              I am pro ownership of guns. In the right hands they are safe. The problem is the pro gun lobby forcing laws allowing nut jobs their guns back. In this case, I doubt any legislation, including an outright gun ban, would have prevented the massacre. He would have used different methods. That doesn't mean felons and loons should be allowed their guns back. Bad stuff is always going to happen to some degree, that doesn't mean you shouldn't try and minimise it. Allowing loons and felons guns back is the most likeliest reason we will see stricter gun control. Not somebody fabricating a part of a weapon or somebody with legally obtained weapons going postal.

    2. jake Silver badge

      @Aaron Em (was: Re: Letter to the editor: Sensationalism is one thing; outright lying is another)

      "One 3D-printed component of a firearm, and at that a component which is not subject to the force of a round going off in the chamber -- and a component made of a material which cannot withstand such force, and would immediately explode if anyone unwisely made the attempt -- does not a "working assault rifle" make"

      That's the entire point. The "printed" portion is the ONLY portion of the weapon that requires a federally tracked serial number ... Please, do try to understand the gist of the article before commenting. Ta.

      1. toadwarrior

        Re: @Aaron Em (was: Letter to the editor: Sensationalism is one thing; outright lying is another)

        The article I clicked on implied he print a gun, not one piece. Doing what he did is nothing special and he could have easily made the piece out of metal. He certainly didn't print a gun.

      2. Aaron Em

        Good advice, Jake. You should follow it

        Read the law I cited. A homemade lower receiver does not require a serial number of any sort, federally registered or otherwise, in order to be legal to manufacture and to own. You don't even need to hold a federal firearms license. You can't legally sell it, and you can't be someone who is banned from firearms ownership, but other than that you're free and clear.

        Care to try again?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Good advice, Jake. You should follow it

          If you re-read your own ... Maybe, just maybe, you are not so focused?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Aaron Em (was: Letter to the editor: Sensationalism is one thing; outright lying is another)

        jake,

        What you fail to understand is the reason that part has the number stamped on it.

        That is it is the part least likly to ware out and be replaced, the other part that usually has (part of) a serial number on it is the bolt assembly for similar reasons.

        springs, barrels, magazines, stocks, sights,... all get replaced quite regulalarly either due to them becoming worn out or simply because the owner wants something a little different. Making stamping numbers on any of those parts mostly pointless.

      4. The Mysterious Panda

        Re: @Aaron Em (was: Letter to the editor: Sensationalism is one thing; outright lying is another)

        Except it doesn't need a federally tracked serial number as it was not made for sale, only personal use.

        Please, do try to understand the gist of the letter before commenting. Ta.

    3. pixl97
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Letter to the editor: Sensationalism is one thing; outright lying is another

      Thank you for posting that.

      There are large communities of people in the US that manufacture their own firearms. Most commonly built was the AK-47 style rifle. Other then the barrel and trunnion an AK pretty simple. The receiver, the part that makes it a firearm is just a flat piece of metal thats folded and tack welded in a few spots. As you can see from this...

      http://armsofamerica.com/images/products/detail/ak_builder_sidefolder_flat12458586404a424b508dceb.jpg

      The AR was always more of a problem to build because it required a machining a lower receiver, which most people weren't going to let them run your mill to make, and even if you did, you probably wouldn't have enough experience to do it right.

      Most machinists will not help you run the tools, since they would be considered the manufacture and liable for making the weapon. If you build it yourself it's considered for personal use. What's interesting now is instead of machine shops it's computer labs that can do it now. Interesting to see where this will go.

      A question I have is can you embed reinforcing materials in a 3d print? A wound cable or Kevlar string embedded length wise would help reduce the risks of cracks forming and a catastrophic failure occurring while firing the weapon.

      *Also engrave or stamp the receiver with a serial number of some type and document when it was created. If the weapon is ever stolen you'll need the information to give to the police, and the ATF would be very unhappy at you if you released an unmarked weapon in to the wild.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: Letter to the editor: Sensationalism is one thing; outright lying is another

        "....Most commonly built was the AK-47 style rifle...." Never really understood why when the AR-18AR-180 is just as easy to make, it's an all-stampings welded receiver design that can be made with folded steel and it fires the US 5.56mm round. It's also a gas piston design, so not as sensitive to "dirty" ammo fouling as the AR-15/M-16 direct action designs. Maybe it's because Armalite are more likely to sue than the Russians?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Serialized Receiver?

    What idiot changed the rules? 20 years ago I was told I couldn't buy a replacement barrel for my damaged 22 because the barrels were the key serialized parts. A hardened barrel, rifled, and properly machined so it won't blow up in your face is a major undertaking both in the metal working and just the appropriate materials. I could carve that receiver out of a piece of seasoned oak and it would work as well as a printed plastic one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Serialized Receiver?

      Nobody changed the rules. You were lied to. I've had barrels replaced on several occasions (legally, mind you) spanning the past 30 years, and never once was the barrel the serialized part. It has always been part of the frame of the weapon - that is, the part that the barrel, trigger assembly, magazine, etc. are attached to.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Serialized Receiver?

        I should have indicated that is from the perspecive and laws of the USA, I do not know if firearms manufactured for sale / use in other countries are serialized in the same manner though I suspect many, if not most, are.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Serialized Receiver?

        Getting replcement barrels is no problem in the UK, you must however get a licensed gun smith to do the work.

        In the UK there are a lot of really odd laws on fire arms, with the basic premis that you cannot purchase without correct certificates/authority any component that is deemed fundermental to the operation of a firearm.

        So this includes barrels, bolts, receivers and moderators, it gets a bit more dificult on certain internal parts such as springs, firing pins as these parts as some of these may make a gun difficult to use but not imposible.

        Firearms legislation in the UK is a complete muddle, with hundreds of laws/acts/regulations layered on top of each other, many of which directly contradict each other.

        Note: some firearms are specificaly designed to allow the end user to change barrels/calibres (eg: the SAKO Quad) these require the owner to have each alternate barrel and the required ammunition added to their FAC prior to purchase.

  15. J. Cook Silver badge
    Boffin

    A few facts and clarifications...

    1: In the US, where this has all taken place, it's perfectly legal to build a firearm with no serial number, no registration, etc. on the federal level. At the state level, there may be laws and/or restrictions. (Frankly, that's a can of worms I'd rather not open- I'll be here all day otherwise) Haveblue just can't sell it to anyone, or make them for sale- he's breaking federal law at that point. (There are machine shops that skirt this edge rather frequently- google "80% receivers" and be educated.)

    2. The lower receiver of an AR-15 holds the fire control group (parts for the trigger, sear, and safety), the magazine well and the parts for the magazine catch and hold-open lever. It's under relatively low pressure with the exception of a few key areas, and can be made out of plastic or wood without a lot of hassle.

    3. The upper receiver is the portion that contains the bolt assembly (bolt, bolt carrier, and firing pin) and the barrel. This assembly is exposed to the high pressures of a fired cartridge, and frankly, anyone making one out of plastic I'd rather not be around when they test fire it. The upper receivers are also, at the federal level, unregulated. I can buy them via mail order from any number of companies as long as I comply with the state laws. ( See point one regarding that can of worms) The bolt is not required to be serialized in the US, and most are not. Same with barrels.

    1. No, I will not fix your computer

      Re: A few facts and clarifications...

      1. He can sell the firearm, as long as he can show that he didn't build it to sell

      It's also important to note that it's not as free and easy as people think, such as certain weapons are restricted (some you are not allowed to build, short barrel shotguns, full auto, silenced/surpressed etc.), some require tax to be paid if you build them (even not for resale) - and this requires preapproval (but can give approval for full auto if it's being manufactured for an agancy who can legally use the weapon.

      The point (in the US) is rather moot, as you can walk into a gun fair and buy an assault rifle without a waiting period with nothing more than a driving licence and cash (in some, not all states).

    2. pixl97

      Re: A few facts and clarifications...

      Everything you say is correct. A point of clarification about the serial number though...

      I was told by an ATF agent you should serialize and document the date of creation of all weapons created for personal use for a few reasons.

      1. If you get stopped by the cops with a unserialized (*modern) weapon it will be taken and you'll be thrown in jail while they are it sorting out. Most of the time unnumbered weapons are stolen and defaced and very few cops are taught the laws on manufactured weapons for personal use.

      2. Documenting the date of creation shows that when you created the weapon you were acting in accordance with all state and federal laws at the time.

      3. Serializing your weapons at the time of manufacture helps to show that you were making them for personal use and not for manufacture. If the ATF thinks you were manufacturing weapons for sale illegally, they will raid you with stormtroopers and make your life hell. Serial numbers give some means of accountability. When a numbered weapon breaks, document its destruction too.

      4. If your weapon is ever stolen, with a serial number there is a much higher chance you'll get it back. If you go to the police and tell them you had an AR-15 with the # A101 stolen, they'll never look in to the fact that you manufactured it yourself. If you say it had no #, first it will be hard to identify your weapon if it is recovered, and if it is you'll most likely end up at #3 of this list.

      *many old firearms do not have serial numbers due to the fact it was not required by law at the time.

  16. Shannon Jacobs
    Holmes

    6,000 rounds is not the question

    Actually, I think the number of rounds has become a misleading question. He only needed a few hundred rounds for the killing he actually did. That was plenty, thank you to the morons who think more well-regulated militias are just what America needs these days. My fuzzy recollection is that I bought rounds in boxes of 50. Three or four boxes would have been enough.

    Actually, when you start talking about thousands of rounds, then it doesn't make any sense to think that you are going to use them on innocent victims. You have to be planning on a major shootout against an army of policemen. Perhaps that was going through his crazy mind, though I wouldn't have minded if a few bullets had gone through instead. Alternatively, someone who really loves target shooting could go through thousands of rounds--but everyone knows the targets are guilty and deserve to be shot. I'd even argue it's a better waste of money than whiskey or cigarettes.

    Now the 100-round magazine and the complete body armor... Those raise more interesting questions. The presumption of innocence is a good thing, but the presumption of sanity in this case?

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: 6,000 rounds is not the question

      The body armour killed no-one. If you're going to allow that many weapons in a country, then perhaps innocent citizens should be wearing body armour routinely.

      I'll take the kevlar one.

    2. Yesnomaybe

      Re: 6,000 rounds is not the question

      When I used to do a bit of clay pigeon shooting with my mates, I used to regularly buy 12 gague ammo in quantities of up to 10 000. You get a much better price when you buy in bulk. Then we would head off to my friends farm, and blast away. This was in the days before bismuth shot, we must have pumped hundreds of kilos of lead into the country-side. Probably not brilliant for the environment...

      But this is a bit beside the point: What I was thinking was: I have made parts of relative complexity, and very high strengt from resin and metal-filings. Most often brass-filings, but on occasion steel-filings. How about loading up a 3D printer with iron-filings as the matrix dust, instead of the usual stuff? Would that work? Still probably wouldn't be able to print a good barrel, but possibly something that would fire.

  17. Mephistro Silver badge

    This is going to get interesting soon...

    I'd bet most of the weapon could be made with a 3d printer; even the metallic bits - except the barrel and springs- could be made with a method similar to Lost-wax casting, using 3d-printed plastic pieces as molds, perhaps with some little bit of machining afterwards for the rough edges .

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: This is going to get interesting soon...

      Lets go with Selective Laser Sintering and get the end use parts directly, parts that can have 'property gradients' (example, a beam made to be stiffer at one end than the other) and can often be superior to parts made by other processes. I don't want to know how much these cost, though!

      Hmm, lost wax... are there any 3D printers than can use wax in place of ABS?

      1. Vic

        Re: This is going to get interesting soon...

        > are there any 3D printers than can use wax in place of ABS?

        The CandyFab makes parts out of sugar. I'm sure that would work[1] in much the same way...

        Vic.

        [1] Albeit the resolution probably isn't up to much :-(

      2. Nigel 11

        Re: This is going to get interesting soon...

        Polythene and paraffin wax are pretty similar. (Same chemical formula CH3.(CH2)N.CH3, much bigger N for polythene). I expect with a bit of tinkering, they're interchangeable. At the printer end, the problem would be feeding wax "wire" which wouldn't have the tensile strength of polythene. At the lost wax end, you'd need to investigate whether it burns out of a clay mould as cleanly as wax. Molten wax will rapidly soak into porous clay. With polythene, you'd probably have to "cook" it for longer, and watch out for problems caused by gas pressure build-up behind a still-solid or highly viscous polythene plug.

    2. annodomini2

      Re: This is going to get interesting soon...

      The metal parts can be made of metal, use an EBM machine.

      Although these are well out of a (non wealthy) hobbyist's price range.

      Home CNC would be cheaper.

  18. cortland
    Big Brother

    ... be very, very afraid.

    People have made Sten guns using hand tools, and they never heard of 3D printers. One can make a functional if not particularly safe or accurate mortar from tubing available at many home-improvement (heh!) stores as well, and, somewhere in Gaza, someone is probably making a Kassem rocket as we type.

    However, THIS will scare people...

  19. Peter Murphy
    Stop

    You an't seen nothing yet.

    Wait until someone uses 3D printers to create the bullets.

    (It's probably impossible with current tech, thank god; I can't see how someone could print with mercury fulminate or cordite. But never say never.)

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: You an't seen nothing yet.

      The bullet itself may be a bit difficult to produce, but if we assume a 'caseless cartridge' design, it should be possible to manufacture the completed cartridge 'at home'.

      You'll need a mold where you place the bullet in the bottom, then cast the charge in the mold, and when that dries, you 'paint on' the ignition charge.

      Gunpowder is an old and not very good charge, but it can be manufactured at home, and incidentally, there's a liquid stage in the manufacturing process.

      Now, assuming that we're talking about a 'single use' weapon(say, something like a Derringer), it might be feasible to print the weapon out of plastic, cast the charge in place and have a working gun.

      (you probably have to add a metal firing pin. Maybe a small nail of some sort. and you'd also have to drill out the barrel after printing.)

      Or you could have a handgrip(with trigger mechanism) and replaceable barrels?

      The only part I can see a problem with is the initiating charge.

      (If you can accept the firing delay, it might be an idea to look at how matches are made?)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You an't seen nothing yet.

        Single use? Caseless?

        Electrical initiation, use a flashbulb with the glass removed

    2. Barry 8
      Happy

      Re: You an't seen nothing yet.

      Don’t need a computer to make a bullet. I cast lead bullets with and without a gas check base and Swag bullets with a brass jacket. Real old tech.

  20. Lucky2BHere

    This one is way too easy

    I got involved in the 3D printer biz a while ago. This is something that is talked about very little. It should, though. As some are waxing lyrically about the law and plastic vs. steel, the printer technology is getting better more quickly than ever. The ability to use a large variety of materials is certain. Larger pieces are coming, too. Faster speeds and lower costs are a given. I don't doubt machines like routers will also become more personal.

    We will all be able to acquire CAD drawings from all over the world for just about anything, including previously ridiculously expensive car parts (there is some good news in all this, after all). There will be an underground economy that will be nearly impossible to stop, and trade in stolen drawings will be only for the very greedy and fearless.

    This is not hard to pull off: Bad people (some good ones, too) can hop on a plane with just their clothes and a flash drive - or just buy one when they get there. They just need access to a computer and printer in a clandestine location and they're off and running. Download, print, assemble, shoot. No markings, no numbers, nothing to identify them. For the small job, the deed is done, leave the weapons. For big ones - like under-the-radar wars - this process can be replicated in the hundreds at one time. Even if this took weeks, it would be a better situation than most in need of weapons like this, have now.

    This is pretty serious. Asking a lot here, but I hope someone in leadership has their wits about them.

    1. cortland

      Re: This one is way too easy

      What about the EU calling everyone who has a 3D printer a manufacturer? And adding ANOTHER million Brusselscrats?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Go

        Re: This one is way too easy

        Then we should throw printed lower receivers at the fracking taxfeeders until they die!

    2. Amonynous

      Re: This one is way too easy

      If you're going to summarise one of the main plotlines of "Rule 34" by Charles Stross, at least attribute your source. (To be fair, one suspects that it was the main motivation for the thrust of the original article, so maybe all concerned should 'fess up to that one.)

    3. Nigel 11

      Re: This one is way too easy

      Could you make a gun barrel out of plastic, even for just one shot at short range? I'd have thought it had to be steel to resist the firing pressure (and of course extreme precision machining needed as well for long-range accuracy). Definitely the hardest component to DIY and the one most in need of regulatory control.

      If I wanted to kill someone at short range I'd make a crossbow. Just as deadly, less noisy, no technology needed that they didn't have in the middle ages (though modern alloys and composites would let you make it smaller and more powerful).

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hrm...

    Bullets are easy to make. You take some lead, melt it down and then pour it into a mold. Let it cool, break open the mold and you have your bullet. These types of bullets are suitable for low-powered ammunition like handguns and large, but relatively slow, rifle rounds. They are not suitable for something like the the Nato .223. To use those you need jacketed bullets and those are more complex to manufacturer.

    However if you take a soft lead bullet and have a small iron or steel spike molded into the center of it then you have 'OMG' armor piercing rounds.

    If you want to use your '3D printer' to make it bullets then what you need to do is use a soft plastic and make a series of bullets that are held together with lines. Those lines form a channel and you hard pack that plastic 'bullet' into sand, melt the plastic out, then pour the molten lead into the resulting void and you can make dozens of bullets at the same time. After it cools you can break the sand mold and you have now cast bullets.

    If you want to produce rounds of ammunition you must then have a copper case of the right size and gun powder of the right chemical nature. These typically you cannot make yourself, except you can recycle copper cases many times.

    As far as practical firearms using made entirely 3D printing you are probably going to be limited to blow-back operated firearms. Glock has proven that you can make incredibly reliable firearms using mostly plastic as long as you use large metal pieces in strategic areas.

    However to be able to fire ammo like 9mm in a handgun or .223 in a semi-auto gun it requires a complex recoil delay action. The gun uses the energy from the gasses expelled by the round to drive the action. On higher power guns a spring alone is not enough to control the action; therefore to make more powerful cycling guns possible you need a way to accurately delay the action after firing a round to reduce the energy that the gun's mechanism has to withstand.

    So for a practical self-made firearm made completely from scratch you are going to probably restrict yourself to lower powered ammo. So for larger guns you can use Luger 9mm. For handguns you are going to be limited to things like the 380 ACP. The bullets in both types are the same size and easy to come buy so you could use the same manufacturing facilities to produce both small-sized 380 guns and larger sized 9mm guns.

    If you are willing to accept these restrictions then the mechanism of the firearm is MASSIVELY simplified. It is well within the means of a technical person to produce reliable firearms with a small milling machine for manufacturing the metal pieces, 3D printer, and some practice. You could purchase everything you needed from a well stocked hardware store.

    What is more is that blow-back operated fully automatic firearms shoot at extremely fast speeds. With no delay action they operate as fast as a small steel spring can cycle from compressed to uncompressed. This is going to be MUCH faster shooters then what you will find being used by military and police forces.

    I guess your country is going to have to make it illegal to download 'How to be a Gunsmith' courses and license out milling machines and 3D printers if they want to be able to control the import of firearms in a decade or two.

    Of course, most people here being British I am completely certain that most people understand that denying people easy access to firearms isn't going to be people from being mass murders. The IRA proved that household chemicals have a lot of potential for mayhem. A backpack full of nail bombs is going to be massively cheaper then going out and buying decent firearms. It's just not as 'cool'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hrm...

      Just a minor correction. Hard cast bullets can indeed be fired in higher powered rifles like the .223 / 5.56, and when gas checked and properly lubed bullets made from the correct alloy are used they can be brought up to very nearly the same velocities as jacketed projectiles. It really isn't that difficult to achieve 2,000 fps, and 2,800 fps (.30-06 velocities) isn't out of the question.

    2. Steve the Cynic

      Re: hrm...

      A second minor correction. Cartridge cases made of copper will jam in most actions. Copper has the unpleasant characteristic of stretching permanently* under the sort of pressures you find in a cartridge case that's being fired. Use brass, which rebounds properly.

      * Not by much, but by enough to make the action prone to jamming much more than normal.

  22. Fihart

    Given that inkjet printers are about the most unreliable element in a computer system, no great surprise that it's only a short step from Paper Jam to Gun Jammed.

  23. JimC Silver badge

    Legal/licensed firearms

    Just one thought: has anyone ever heard that criminals have problems obtaining illegal and unlicensed firearms?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not that big a deal

    First a couple of minor corrections. Bolts are usually not serialized here in the USA. There are a large number of parts kits available for all sorts of firearms. These usually include everything except the frame/lower receiver. According to Law this is the controlled part of the firearm and must have a serial number, except that there are one or two minor exceptions to this. It is legal to manufacture for your own personal use a semi-automatic firearm. Selling it is illegal. Adding a serial number without going through the BATFE (Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosive) is also illegal. Being stopped while having a non-serial numbered firearm can cause all sorts of difficulty especially since many local police departments do not follow the confusing laws. Remember the BATF and the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) used to both be part of the same department. As far as getting the CAD/CAM plans for an AR-15 lower receiver these are available online and apparently there are "open source" versions for many firearms parts (quality may vary).

    During World War II, I have heard that bicycle shops were used to make British Sten guns. Firearms manufacturing is not as difficult as many seem to think it is. Making an accurate and reliable firearm does require a bit more skill and expensive machinery. Anything that requires heat treatment of metals or making spring steel can be even more challenging.

    The real news here is that polymer plastics can be used. Not only is this lighter, cheaper, and easier to work with than metal, it also is not magnetic. All of this makes manufacturing easier and less expensive. I can see a time when revolutions will be started with 3-D printers not parachuting arms shipments.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not that big a deal

      "I can see a time when revolutions will be started with 3-D printers not parachuting arms shipments."

      Maybe not: In a world where one can just download and print all the goodies one would ever want, then it will be hard for The Revolution to motivate enough people to take the hassle and the risk to life & limb of replacing the ruling class. Because there would not be much gained, except having to watch your back all the time. Because everything you could possibly use to signal your elite-ness is just copied by the peons the day.

  25. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    If only John Brunner were still alive.

    It seems the day of the hobby terrorist has truly arrived.

    You can guess what' in my pocket.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I actually wonder if the gun companies are looking at this, surely the plastic pieces are lighter than their metal counterparts? It might make handling the gun quicker? Though I guess if your gun got shot it'd probably shatter all over the place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Plastic and ceramic guns do exist, they tend to use production methods other than 3D printing though.

      Once your volume goes over a certain amount say 10000/year, probably less.

      3D printing isn't as cost effective and say injection moulding.

  27. Dom 3

    Low-tech manufacture

    There is a whole village in Northern Pakistan devoted to arms manufacture, without the benefit of sophisticated machinery: http://www.khyber.org/places/2005/DarraAdamKhel.shtml

  28. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    The title is not true

    It is one thing to build body parts, quite another to build the works - barrel, bolt etc. that would survive the first firing.

    Also the tolerances of body parts would be wider than the barrel.

  29. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Pint

    Can't we just be impressed by the technology and ignore debates about the product?

    The guy has used home technology to produce something capable of handling high stresses. This could be applied to internal combustion engines given a few material improvements. It's one step closer to having a replicator in your house to turn out any gadget minutes after asking for it.

    1. The Mysterious Panda

      Re: Can't we just be impressed by the technology and ignore debates about the product?

      It doesn't handle "high stress", that's part of the reason why he made the lower from plastic instead of the upper. Now if he could print a plastic upper that worked, it would be more impressive...

  30. Daniel Bower

    Its ok folks

    Just remember - its people that kill people, not guns (or so says the NRA) - so long as some lone nutter doesn't try this we're perfectly safe...

  31. Andy Fletcher

    Tish and pish

    Seems most comments missed the point. Sure, right now it's more expensive and fiddly to produce an M16 this way for now and the end product is inferior. The point is, it's been done. Cost & quality will change inversely as time passes (it'll get cheaper, quality will improve).

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can the metal bits be printed using something harder?

    Fill the printer with clay and print your own ceramic parts.

    Could do ammo to (just add gunpowder)

    Result - a gun that passes metal detectors

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can the metal bits be printed using something harder?

      EBM (Electron Beam Melting) can work directly with metals.

      SLS (Selective laser sintering) can also work directly with metals.

  33. Tieger

    producing firearms has never been all that difficult - given some decent metalworking tools, and expertise, its easy enough to do. where it tends to fall down is a) people dont have decent metalworking tools and expertise and b) manufacture of firearms (or realistic imitation firearms, since they're treated basically the same in law...) is treated WAY more harshly than just buying/having/using them is (at least in the UK).

    So if someone wanted to be all illegal and have a gun, it would be far less trouble to just buy one than make one yourself. (even for legal weapons like shotguns, its hideously illegal, and very harshly punished, to manufacture them).

  34. Gordon Fecyk
    Alert

    How long before FRM (Fabrication Rights Management) becomes reality?

    The Mass Effect universe is rife with "omni-tools" that cam make anything out of anything. But said tools have "FRM tech" installed and most of the tech is heavily licensed.

    3D printers in the real world are going to need this tech apparently, to prevent mass replication of unregisterable firearms. Once again, truth becomes stranger than fiction. And then we'll have refuseniks with 'illegal' 3D printer mods to work around 'FRM' to produce licensed goods without a license.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fictional (?) future

    A couple of books by Daniel Suarez look into what's possible in the near future for this sort of tech: Daemon and Network.

    As with everything else these days - it depends what you want to use it for.

  36. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    The receiver is *legally* the gun, not *essentially*.

    One might argue that the gun won't fire without the bolt, or the firing pin or any one of a number of parts including the ammunition.

    Not sure what that gains us though other than an insight that once again legislation trails technological reality.

    But I already had that insight about two decades ago, so no real gain whatsoever.

  37. sisk Silver badge

    Legal ramifications?

    Not so much. It's just like any other hobbiest making their own gun. I know a couple guys who've been doing that the old fashioned way (with workshops full of equipment) for years now. And no, they aren't survival nuts or psychos or anything like that. I'm not sure what all they have to do for them to be legal, if anything, but I'd imagine that printing a lower reciever would be about the same thing.

  38. David Eddleman
    Headmaster

    Edit for the author:

    "AR-15 class assault rifle"

    The AR-15 is, by design, semiautomatic only. It is not an assault rifle. The introduction of a lightning link, auto sear, or any other technology to make it fully automatic or have a selectable fire mode (other than "safe" and "semiauto/fire") is completely non-standard.

    "the style of gun the US military has called an M16"

    The M16 shares the direct impingement system of the AR-15, and some of the aesthetic differences, but that's about where the similarities end. The M16 has additional parts that enable it to fire in either fully automatic or burst fire mode (depending upon the model) as well as the ability to still fire on semiautomatic (without the so-called M16 parts kit, a rifle that had the auto-sear/lightning-link/etc. would only fire on automatic).

    "The lower receiver of a factory-produced AR-15 is usually made of metal, typically stamped aluminum."

    Incorrect. Most AR-15 lower receivers are milled & machined from a solid piece of aluminum. Some are forged, although those are less desirable due to structural weaknesses.

    Fun note: most people were thinking it would blow up since lately there have been attempts at making a polymer lower receiver (rather than aluminum or steel), but most of them end in abject failure. Some rather spectacularly.

    1. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Edit for the author:

      "The AR-15 is, by design, semiautomatic only. It is not an assault rifle."

      I believe the legal definition of an assault rifle in the US is any automatic or semiautomatic rifle with an ammo capacity of 20 or more rounds. I may be mistaken about that, but I do know that the AR-15 is one of the rifles that fell under the assault rifle ban in the 90s because my dad was pondering selling his off before it became illegal to do so (he just uses it for target shooting).

      Personally I wouldn't have been suprised had it blown up, but neither am I suprised that it just jammed. What would have suprised me is if it had worked flawlessly.

      1. David Eddleman

        Re: Edit for the author:

        There's actually no legal definition of 'assault rifle' in the Federal courts, AFAIK and IANAL. I can't speak about state laws since those are just as varied and silly.

        The ban that you're thinking of is the "assault weapons ban", which is silly since before that bill came around there was never any talk of "assault weapons".

  39. Dana W
    Meh

    Silly.

    You can make an all metal Sten gun in a garage, with pretty basic tools. A lot simpler and more reliable than this semi plastic "theoretical exercise".

    Back about 15-20 years ago, they were selling de-weaponized Stens for collectors with a chunk cut out of the receiver, and another company sold a tube that could be cut to match. "Sort of a build your own program" Some of people did this as contrary to popular belief it is VERY hard to get a full auto rifle in the US.

    What stopped most people is the penalties. The feds have NO sense of humor, when it comes to automatic weapons, and doing this and getting caught meant that you could pretty much kiss legal ownership of anything more than an air rifle goodbye forever. That is after they let you out of Federal prison...............

  40. Barry 8
    Black Helicopters

    BTAF regs

    Under U.S. Federal law a firearm constructed at home with 80% of the work being done by the individual does not have to be registered with the BATF. In the case of the AR-15 series of rifles the lower receiver (the part with the serial number on it) is classified as the Firearm. Neither the Bolt nor the Bolt Carrier have a serial number. So yes this is a legal firearm. Also the reason the lower can be made of Aluminum or Plastic is that there is no stress on the lower. I own a plastic lower and like it very much.

  41. Dave 32
    Flame

    David Williams

    Do I have to trot out the example of David "Carbine" Williams, who designed and built guns....while in prison?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Marshall_Williams

    Quite an interesting story, actually.

    But, maybe we need to ban prisons, since guns can be built in there!

    Dave

  42. samlebon23
    Flame

    Wow, affordable rampage killing for everyone. That's what Americans need.

  43. Eduard Coli
    Childcatcher

    So many laws, so little time

    Technologically this is interesting but building a lower receiver like this without all of the byzantine permits and oversight by various agencies in the US it already breaks so many laws its not funny.

    1. Arthur 1

      Re: So many laws, so little time

      When something sounds like it might be illegal, but you really don't know, better to say nothing than to go with the vague 'so many laws I won't even name one' line. There's really no pressure on you to contribute anything here, and you look silly when someone points out that in the US fabbing a home firearm is totally legal. :)

  44. MickeyC
    FAIL

    Hmm

    Firstly in the US, there is no Federal firearm registration or licensing system in place for firearms that aren't covered under the 1934 National Firearms Act which covers fully automatic weapons, short barreled rifles and destructive devices. Background check records are destroyed after 90 days.

    Most states do not have a firearms register or licensing system in place and the background check is there to ensure that convicted felons or others with certain histories can not purchase a firearm from a dealer. this does not however occur on private face to face sales.

    Note too that under federal law anyone who may legally own a firearm may also make one and the only requirement for a serial number is that one be present if the weapon is ever sold.

    AR15 receivers are usually forged or machined from billet aluminum, not stamped parts like an L85.

    .223 would be an issue with a plastic receiver as it generates over 50,000 psi and considerable heat in the receiver. The AR15 taps expanding gasses and vents them back into the receiver to cycle the action, pinging a lot of high speed and hot debris and gas into the receiver body. Numerous companies make .22 versions of the AR15 in plastic. Printing the part is simply an evolution of the R&D process prior to switching to Plastic injection molding.

    A much simpler action would be to buy an 80% receiver blank and a drill press to make a part. Many folks over here do that already.

  45. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Bah

    I fabricated a gun out of a hollow log and some other bits and pieces I found lying around once. Shot a Gorn with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah

      You forgot the diamond projectiles.

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