Defense Distributed MD Cody Wilson sent us an email this AM, with a link to the above video. Most of you know Mr. Wilson as the man who launched the 3D-printed Liberator single-shot plastic pistol onto the world. That he is. But Cody’s also a bit of a polemicist; a man who spits out out obscure literary references like some NASCAR fans expectorate used chewing tobacco. Anyway, his latest screed [after the jump] is more of a political statement than a product description. So what we have here is a machine that turns 80 percent modern sporting rifle lowers into finished receivers – at the touch of a button. It’s perfectly legal and less than a grand. The result is an unregistered gun that you can’t sell, trade or give away. But it’s “off-the-books.” Expect pearl-clutching and political blowback STAT. As planned . . .

It began when I saw the reactions to the introduction of California’s SB-808. The petitions to Governor Brown and the same old negation. While Governor Brown vetoed the bill yesterday, it’s clear that California’s political machinery is invested in disarming state residents. The State GOP as well. They unanimously voted to ban private homemade guns.

What use is telling them “no” over and over again? This class of people hate you, truly and sincerely hate you, to the bone. They enjoy hurting you. Your despair is a strong signal to them – one of the few reactions that preserves the principle that their power is real. In this respect gun rights advocates and anti0gun politicians reinforce each other, extend in to one another as the faces of a curved mirror.

Whence comes this moral and economic Terror? From totalstate reality fundamentalists, clamoring to preserve the old principle of the political, which has dissolved in its classical institutions. They admit this fear of ghosts. At every new height of optimization seeing the multiplied hauntings within their broken systems. Every new proposal, an integrative program based solely upon powers of prevention and deterrence, “with no political will but the will to dispel ghosts.”

It is this principle of power that humiliates, And so the principle must itself be humiliated. This is a power that itself can only become ghostly and vulnerable.

On paper, SB-808 contemplated the total solution, another step toward the perfect system. And then we can finally and truly be safe. But could it have ever overcome its own weight? Couldn’t it only be fated to fracture of its own internal flaws into a stupendous failure? Kicking the cycle into the next gear.

Like every modern project, an attempt to hide the complete evacuation of traditional power in the face of a technological, situational transfer. California puffs itself up and can now only lose face.

It seems there is a duty to dispel the illusion and mystery of the unrealized world. Is this not what we see with our domestic espionage and “homegrown” extremist campaigns? Already the DARPA program ADAMS is well publicized. An effort to detect the next Edward Snowden (Paul Revere, take your pick) from predictively analyzing data at massive scale. To produce and exorcise the hidden. To totally and finally “realize” the world.

Well it’s too late for all that.

California was bluffing, simulating. But are we? In accord with the absolute rule, I offer a gift for the great state of California. A ghost engine. Do not tell them “No.” Give them this world they would they claim to police.

Bonne chance.


Cody R. Wilson
Managing Director

Defense Distributed
1101 W 34th St. #340
Austin, TX 78705
p:  501.743.9680

www.defdist.org

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86 Responses to Cody Wilson’s October Surprise Revealed: Sub-$1000 “Ghost Gun Engine”

    • The video says it’s programmable. If Cody Wilson knows what he’s doing, and I have no reason to believe he doesn’t, then there will be a preprogrammed setting for milspec forged receivers, not just that one specific milled 80% he was using. The real question is, will he make a model that can make a useable receiver out of a 0% lower, i.e. an untouched block of raw aluminum?

      • My understanding is that folks will be able to upload their own files, for you to download and use. So I bet it’ll be a matter of just a few days before one is available for a 0%. Dang kids and their interwebs.

      • If it is fully programmable as stated, then it should also be easy to reprogram it to make other parts. Anything that can fit in the box and be clamped in place firmly should be possible. Even steel parts, so long as they aren’t hardened. And even that should be possible, if one knows how to heat, quench, and temper steel.
        Its only a small CNC machine, that runs off a PC instead of its own built in hard- and soft-ware.

    • Ok, but for those of us without $1,000 to drop on a mini-CNC, you can still get the job done with a hand router (i.e. Rigid/Bosch etc.), a drill (you don’t actually need a drill press) and the appropriate jig.

      https://www.youtube.com/embed/JVyS5Cnbfj0?autoplay=1&hd=1&rel=0

      So, I don’t see the state banning or making the CNC mills illegal, they’ll take the route that CA tried to take and require you to register the weapon. CA’s law was going to require getting the serial number issued by the CA DoJ prior to manufacturing the weapon.

    • As I posted above, you can do this with hand held power tools. The drill needs to be one you plug into the wall vice battery operated, or you’ll need a lot of batteries or several re-chargings.

  1. I don’t have any friends nearly as interesting as this fellow. With people like this existing within our society the future looks a little brighter .

  2. I would say it doesn’t have a ghost of a chance of staying legal, although I wouldn’t mind being the receiver of one of those fine products. Quite engine-ius

    • They can try to ban it, but it’s just a desktop CNC machine for under $1000. Obviously, the grabbers are going to have a fit, but it’s just a cheaper, open source version of small CNC’s already on the market.

    • How do you propose they will regulate this? Every machine shop in the US has to have an FFL even if they dont make firearms? Regulate blocks of aluminum?

      This is just a box with a computer controlled drill head in it.

      Ok fine, ban the distribution of the program that tells it how and where to machine the lower you say… then go take a 6 hour class at the local tech school/ community college or just buy book online and learn how to write elementary programs in CAD or Solid and use that to run this thing. Or be old school and buy a drill press at Home Depot, a few jigs online, a set of good calipers and find the blueprints for a mil-spec lower on the internet.

      Wont stop the fine public servants in California from trying to save us from ourselves though.

      • Well they can’t ban the program. We have the first amendment to protect those. Code is protected free speech. I’m also glad that it’s open source. Really anyone can make this, yes, even in countries that ban firearms outright.

    • And if they ban this, they’d also need to ban bench drill presses and routers, and hand held power tools like router’s and drills. The CNC machine is an easier way, but it isn’t the only way to finish an 80% lower.

      • …and ban the machines and tools that *make* drill presses, routers and drills.
        …and then ban those tools too!

    • Right? Cody needs to bounce these things off a few people before releasing them to the public, at least maybe re-read it once before hitting “Send”.

      Neat idea, though. Still, it’d be a lot cheaper to just learn to use a couple basic tools and a jig and mill ’em yourself, so this seems like less of a practical product and more like a huge middle finger to government gun controllers – something I wholeheartedly applaud.

      • Ha ha this is him being contained. This guy is deep into his own thing. I’d like to meet him in person.

        It’s raw and parts of it are brilliant. I like it.

  3. Great idea for people that have more tech-savvy than machine-savvy. I know alot of people that can program like champions but don’t know how to work a drill press. As someone with the neccesary skills already, I’ll continue to do it the old fashioned way. Unless they release a really nice design for a new firearm. Then I’m all in.

    • Considering that, as of 12:45pm EST when I ordered mine, he has already sold 10 at $999 and 88 at @1199, I feel it’s safe to say that he absolutely will.

  4. Now they under $1200, as there were only 10 at the $999 price and after that they will be somewhere around $1500. Still, not a bad price for a CNC mill.

  5. This thing can easily mill out an 80% to complete a lower receiver? Expect the ATF, with no oversight or legislative authority, to declare anything more than a 60% lower to be a firearm.

    • Then someone will make a program to have it mill out a 60%. It’s open source- That means it will have alot on programs for various applications very quickly. Hopefully most of them will work.

  6. Makes me want to start passing the hat amongst my friends to see if I can put the funding together. Share the cost among five or six people and it isn’t unreasonable.

    Or wait two years for the next generation to come out which will cost a little less and machine other designs

  7. I saw a special that VICE did on this guy. He isn’t using machinery in the traditional sense. He has a 3D printer, that is how he is manufacturing these lowers.They are all polymer lowers. Look up VICE on YouTube, they do a lot of stories on controversial issues both here and abroad. This guy is definitely on to something here.

  8. Yes, give the gun-grabbers something to ban. Then explain to them that millions of Americans have the knowledge to use an endmill and a lathe. How hard is it to replicate 60 year-old AR technology, or 100+ year-old 1911 tech? Easier and simpler than Walter White-ing up a batch of meth. Can you train a dog to sniff out the difference between an aluminum engine head, and an aluminum lower?
    You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Anti-gun hysteria can only lead to unarmed victims. Right now I can walk into a gun show and walk out with a gun. All I need is cash. Ban guns, and all I’d need is cash and a willingness to break the law. Do these people REALLY want to restrict gun ownership to criminals?

      • No, they don’t want anyone to have guns. They just go for the low-hanging fruit “first” not caring much about the implications.

      • They don’t much care whether criminals have guns. They just want the populace in general, who actually attempt to obey the laws and live within them disarmed, because they’re the ones who will get frustrated with diminishing freedoms and restrictions. They may get so upset they’re tempted to do something about it. They must be disarmed before they reach that point where the laws are so onerous that the general public is driven to action.

    • MIllions??? They why aren’t they doing so now?

      There aren’t millions that can program their VCR/TIVO with also an interest in machining a firearms.

      • They aren’t doing so now because you can go into any gun shop in America with a few hundred bucks and walk back out with a reliable, high-quality firearm. There’s no compelling reason to make your own guns now, unless you just want to for the fun of it.

        Pass an outright ban on guns, and watch those home machinists go to work. Not millions of them, sure, but enough will see the profit potential in putting their skills to work to make any blanket gun ban an exercise in futility.

  9. I would buy one if i had $1500 lying around. As it is, it would be cool to make your own lowers because you could add a nice cerakote finish to them after they are milled.

  10. He’s the hero America deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.

  11. So what does a desktop-sized CNC machine typically go for? I’m guessing they run more than a thousand bucks.

    • Cost me around 1600$ to get one up and running that will mill lowers about 8 years ago. prices have not changed a whole lot since then.

        • It has done so. I ended up redesigning the lower to make the mag well and buffer tube hole easier to fit within the mill, but another fellow figured out a machine adjustment that gets the buffer tube hole within the machine limits. Worked great. Mag well is really the hardest part (well that and the itty bitty little hole for the spring detents and bolt catch). Some folk trust long spindly bits more than I do, if I was doing it again I would just plan on filing out the corners of the magwell by hand, rather than trying to drill such long holes needed to enable one to mill the rest.

    • Depends on what results you want, in what type of material.

      A CNC machine that will do OK on aluminum might choke on steel, for example. A common complaint by machinists about lighter CNC machines (eg, Haas) vs. a beefier machine (DMG, Makino, KItamura, Okuma, etc) is that the Haas can’t take a “real” 20HP cut in steel or other harder materials. But if what you’re doing is mostly aluminum, a Haas CNC mill does just fine.

      Most real machinists (and gunsmiths who are familiar with CNC production of gun parts, like receivers, etc) look at the small, hobby-level CNC machines as hobby toys. They’re OK if you have lots of time to lavish upon the machine, the setup, programming, etc. And that’s perfectly fine if you’re a hobby machinist in your basement, puttering along making interesting one-offs. If you want to crank out multiple examples once you get the system perfected, you’ll find that the hobby-level machines require constant fussing and tweaking.

  12. Can’t pretty much any mill that you can pick up used on craigslist do this already?

    Other than UI -plug it in and press a button… this doesn’t really do much that hasn’t been available100 years now.

    It does very effectively troll the anti side of the gun debate.

    • Short answer, Yes. But the point of this machine is to give access to machining an 80% lower into a firearm to those not so mechanically inclined. Its and Easy-bake oven for 80% lowers. Stick in the 80% lower, press button, wait, and DING!…..a finished lower receiver. It democratizes the process of making an unserialized firearm, by removing the machining know-how and experience out of the equation.

  13. I just bought one. I can’t wait. Soooo many uses besides finishing 80% lowers. With the open source files that people will upload, it’ll only be a matter of days before there will be a file for a 0% lower from a block of aluminum. And so many other firearms as well. I’m hoping for an aluminum framed glock that’ll take 1911 grips. Then you have the possibility of small tools, parts, and pretty much anything you can think of really. Firearms related or not.

    • Also nice would be an aluminum frame that would fit in an airsoft glock lower, and take a glock upper… Ooh. Seems I’ll have to learn CAD…

  14. What is the legality of purchasing this machine and then loaning or “renting” to friends / family for their private use?

    • Is it legal for a friend to borrow a CNC machine? Or come use somebody elses? Yes, perfectly legal. Only problem you might run into is if you complete if for them. They would have to do it themselves I’d say. But there’s nothing that says you can’t give really detailed directions while you’re standing there.

      • Form their FAQ: (relevant part is in last paragraph)

        Is manufacturing a firearm legal?

        In general, yes. Semi-automatic firearms, including the AR-15 lower receivers, are generally legal to manufacture for private individuals per US federal law Title 18 do not require serialization or other maker’s marks. However, some states/municipalities restrict either the manufacture of certain firearms, or, more recently, the personal manufacture of a firearm with a 3D printer and/or CNC machine. DD makes no claim regarding local manufacturing legality; lower receiver files provided by Defense Distributed might require special licensing to manufacture and/or possess.

        Under federal law, manufacturing a firearm for contemplation of future sale without an FFL is prohibited. Without a manufacturing FFL, you should manufacture firearms for personal use only. There are methods to legally transfer ownership of personally manufactured firearms, but they do not apply when the original manufacturing intent is to build a firearm for commercial or non-personal use. Recent ATF determinations have signaled that allowing others use of your CNC equipment may itself constitute manufacturing, therefore Defense Distributed advises GhostGunner owners to neither print firearms for other individuals, nor allow other individuals to use their GhostGunner to manufacture firearms.

        • I’m interested in when the ATF plans to enforce this ruling against leasing companies that lease equipment to FFLs.

        • I believe that refers to a particular incident with “pre-programmed” CNC machines. If I remember the story correctly, it was related to a shop which had industrial CNC machines programmed for you, they put the 80% into the machine and the user hit go. The argument was that programming the CNC was doing work for the user IIRC.

          In this case the scenario would be different, you can reset any programming stored in memory on the CNC machine, hand off the CNC and having the next person use his/her own laptop to program the CNC. The only question is related to the CAD files and what state they should be in when being transferred.

          They have developed a file format (.dd) which ” contains all installation and assembly instructions, any required jig files to hold the part in place (that users can print with a 3D printer), and all machine definitions and code to physically manufacture a particular design.”

          The question is does the transfer of this .dd file qualify as manufacturing. I would think if the ATF believes they can make that case, they will stop DD from selling/distributing the .dd file with the CNC machine.

    • From what build parties have taught me you can lend them the tools, show them how to use the tools and even look over their shoulder and guide them in using those tools. You can’t build it for them.

      So I guess it’s all good as long as they are the one who actually presses “start.”

    • My thought exactly.

      I can see along the lines of a group buying one for their own use.

      Gun clubs buying one. Folks with a maker space buying one…

    • Provided you don’t do any of the manufacturing? Should be OK. It’s no different than a company that leases CNC mills to machine shops. The leasing company does not need an FFL, the machine shop does. (If they plan to sell them.)

  15. HA! I love it when can-doers prove that all the right anyone really needs to have something is the ability to MAKE it.

  16. “The result is an unregistered gun that you can’t sell, trade or give away” Actually that is partially true, you can do those things IF you put the appropriate markings on the firearm. “Individuals manufacturing sporting-type firearms for their own use need not hold Federal Firearms Licenses (FFLs). However, we suggest that the manufacturer at least identify the firearm with a serial number as a safeguard in the event that the firearm is lost or stolen. Also, the firearm should be identified as required in 27 CFR 478.92 if it is sold or otherwise lawfully transferred in the future.” per http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/firearms-technology.html#commercial-parts-assembly

    If this can do more than mill out the 20% (ie can be programmed to do other things and even fully mill a receiver) it is a bargain. I would be very interested in it. This would be a good starting point for a home workshop.

  17. The ghost gunner can do
    “Machinable dimensions: 175 x 75 x 60mm (~6.75 x 2.95 x 2.35″)
    Maximum part dimensions: 230 x 90 x 100mm (~9.05 x 3.50 x 3.90″) ”

    The $1200 taig mini mill (with cnc upgrade) http://www.taigtools.com/mmill.html
    Travel in X axis 12 in. (Model 2019)
    Travel in Y axis 5.5 in
    Travel in Z axis 6.0 in
    Table dimensions 3 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches (Model 2018)
    Table dimensions 3 1/2 x 18.4 inches (Model 2019)
    Maximum Z-distance to table 9.0 in
    Z-Axis swivel 90 degrees

    Now if Cody’s cnc had plans and could be built for little $$ that would be something.

    • Seriously looking at what taig says of their machine:

      “This is the machine you don’t have to baby. The Micro Mill is a rugged precision instrument that has plenty of rigidity. It has a life-time ball bearing spindle, coupled with a six speed positive vee belt drive. Spindle speeds in geometric progression from 525-5200 RPM (CR version 1000 – 10000 rpm) provide the power to “HOG” 1/8 inch cuts in mild steel or the speed and precision to “dust” a few tenths (compare that to other mills of similar size on the market, you can’t!). ”

      1/8 cuts through steel?

      Hey RF can you get taig to send me one? I’l write a nice review…

  18. The background music is absolutely beautiful. I’m going to guess Chopin piano sonata. It’s been 30 years since I took Music Appreciation 100 so I could be way off. Can any classical music mavens out there clue me in?

  19. So it is essentially a CNC mill programmed to finish 80% lowers?

    Cool. I would like to get one to make machined AK receivers (who contrary to popular belief aren’t much heavier).

  20. I’ve maintained from the get-go that what got the politicians silk panties into a square knot wasn’t that the results Cody was getting were not possible before, it was that the thumb-suckers in government, most of whom have the technical IQ of a squirrel, could see how they, themselves could make a gun. Since Cody is in law school, he knows the lingo and what makes his cohort tick, so he knows how to yank the chains of lawyers-turned-politicians nice and hard.

    Suddenly it becomes less theoretical that lots of people can make guns when the clueless idiots in the employ of the government can make guns.

    You don’t need one of these CNC micro-mills to mill out the trigger area on a 80% lower. You can buy some fixtures, get a good set of drills, a drill press, some files and rifflers and get the job done with some more effort on your part.

    You don’t even need a power drill to finish a 0% lower from a casting or forging. You could finish the lower old-school style, with some chisels, hammers, files, rifflers and so on. It’s only aluminum, for cryin’ out loud, it isn’t hardened steel.

  21. This is really cool. Too bad I’ve already dropped a lot of money on a drill press, hand router, and a plethora of other tools to facilitate my “hobby.” There are several mills that run under $1000 that would work, but require a bit more skill (as opposed to loading a CAD program and plugging your laptop into a CNC). Still…awesome that he’s offering this in response to SB-808 and to preempt any future attempts at restricting or regulating home-made weapons. Bravo Zulu!

  22. IMPORTANT POINT TO NOTE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE:

    “The Ghost Gunner – Pending DoD approval for public release”

    If DoD say “nein” then the entire idea gets nixed. And what did the DoD say about the Liberator?

    They said, “Nein!”. So there you have it. This is a “boo boo” to the poles with no net benefit to the proles. My guess is we get a ton of press about it, the DoD says,”NEIN!”, and then the parts and plans get leaked to the net so that people can just build their own at cost.

    My guess, anyway.

  23. “This wouldn’t be worth doing if Kevin de Leόn didn’t know about it,” Wilson says. “What excites me is giving this world to the politicians. Our strategy is to literalize and reify their nightmare, to give them the world they’re talking about.”

    Gotta love Cody. He is like a vastly more intelligent Adam Kokesh giving politicians and freedom hating statists the proverbial FU.

    Almost makes me want to buy one of his CNC boxes and start milling out lowers and passing them out to everyone. It would make an awesome “anonymous” Christmas gift. Open a box mailed to you from who knows where only to find a completed ghostly de-leon lower ready to be assembled. Sounds awesome. Somebody give me de-leon’s mailing address. I can send him one.

    • Capitol Office:
      State Capitol, Room 5108
      Sacramento, CA 95814

      District Office:
      1808 W. Sunset Blvd.
      Los Angeles, CA 90026

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