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A shade tree gunsmith posting at LiveLeak under the nom de plume BuckOfama demonstrates a 3D printed a receiver he turned out for the popular Ruger Charger pistol. The video shows the gun in operations, which appears to work quite well. It has always been legal to make your own firearms in the United States, as long as you don’t make prohibited weapons. At the end of the video, the experimenter notes: “If you take my gun, I will just print another one” . . .

As Mr. Ofama states in the intro to his video,

The pistol version of the popular Ruger 10/22 rifle, the Ruger Charger comes standard with 10-round flush magazines and can accept high-capacity mags holding 30 rounds or more. As demonstrated, making one with a cheap small-format 3D printer and some parts purchased on the internet (with no paperwork) is trivially easy.

The video was posted on July 4th, Independence Day, from somewhere in the state of Nevada. It’s interesting that in spite of the fact that the poster did nothing illegal, he felt compelled to disguise his voice.

While firearms have been made in home workshops for hundreds of years, many people are unaware that large industrial operations aren’t required to turn out working firearms. 3D printers and CAD machines make the production of many parts easier, but the same results can be produced with drills and files.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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  1. The revolution will be televised.

    Once they get this working for AR-15 lowers we are pretty much done.

    • I would suggest that once ready to go 3D printed M16 lowers and printable DIAS start to be publicly made, the realization that gun control is dead might finally start to sink in.

        • Their has already been talk about it. Sooner or later someone will try to pass a law. Problem is there is already a 3D printer than can at least be partially built from 3D printed parts. I imagine it won’t be too long before they can fully build from printed parts.

        • The old Soviet Union kept their Xerox machines under lock and key until close to the USSR’s breakup.

        • “Back in the day”,Romania registered and licensed typewriters to their owners, and later on computer printers. Governments do NOT like to loose power or control, and I speak of every government in the world I can think of.

      • Or cause the government to either ignore the 2a or do away with it and thus tale all firearms?

        • Or start controling parts that currently aren’t controlled, things like barrels and bolts. I am always amused by Americans who say building a gun isn’t hard since you only have to build the receiver and then buy the rest of the part through mail/internet.

          My advice? Learn what a laminated bolt is and get the equipment to make them together with barrels.

    • Already done….Some of the printed composite lowers are stronger than their aluminum counterparts.

  2. Well that’s neat, but it’s not that much of an accomplishment, if he had made more than just the receiver, I’d be impressed

    • This!!!!!

      The Wright Flyer? Piece of crap, barely qualifies as controlled powered flight.

      New born baby? Depressingly helpless and useless.

      Matchlock pistols? What a joke!

      First firework rockets? Could barely get off the ground.

    • For blowback designs like the 10/22, there’s only so far you can go. You still need the mass of the bolt (discounting the bbl and legal requirements for minimum mass of “detectable” metal) for it to operate.

      • I got the feeling that the person wasn’t going for “undetectable” as much as having a firearm with no paper history traced back to him/her.

  3. Dean,
    He didn’t disguise his voice. That’s Stephen Hawking. And he transmitted the printing instructions by thought…

    Seriously though, this is really neat!

    • Whenever I get into the gun control debate with a smug anti that eventually reveals their desire to ban all guns, I throw in that Firefly line and present the creations of Cody Wilson and DD. Even if 3D printing doesn’t live up to the complete hype, it’s fun to watch an anti’s face turn red.

    • I think you mean a patent infringment, though the two are becoming harder and harder to separate. I am pretty sure that the patents on the 10-22 ran out many years ago. If not, I have not heard of a patent case that involved an individual making a single copy for their own use, and not for sale.

      I am willing to be enlightened about it if someone can point to a case.

      • (S)He/it used a mix of homemade and commercially available (bought) parts to make a “novel mechanism.” No patent infringement that I can see.

      • I don’t think you can infringe a patent/copyright if you don’t sell the product you created. That’s why you can make copies of your music (CD, digital formats, whatever) as long as you don’t start selling it to other people.

        • Incorrect. A copy for the original owner somewhat OK.

          Propagate it on the ‘net, that’s infringement.

          Google Jammie Thomas. It’s somewhat rare to bust you for downloading copyrighted media, they nail most of them for offering it to someone else.

    • Actually the primary thing is that he is not selling it. Patents only exist to prevent people from selling another person’s work. If you have the time and ability you can build a honda from raw materials and drive it around without owing anyone anything, but if you use a patented process to make money or you try to sell it directly you’re in trouble.

    • Patents and copyright apply only to commercial ventures.

      If I want to write down the script to RoboCop while watching it, I may. However, I may not sell it. If I want to make a movie from the script, I may do so for free, nonpublic exhibition.

      If I want to copy a GE steam turbine, I may do so for my own use so long as I do not sell the power generated.

    • Since the 10/22 was released in 1964, and patents only last for 20 years (or less) in the U.S., any patents Ruger had on the design of the receiver should be long dead by now.

  4. Cool. Video won’t play on my phone. Hope this puts some panties in a bunch LOL

  5. I would use JB weld between the two halves of the frame and maybe try this with something in 9MM or 380; that would be a fun little challenge.

  6. You can *currently* buy those parts with no paperwork needed.

    Legislate paperwork to buy, say, a barrel, and doing this in an untraceable way becomes much harder…

    Just saying’.

    • Barrels are trivially easy to make with modern tools. What are you going to do, serial number all the pipes at every hardware store?

        • True.

          when it comes to building repeating firearms the easiest would be an open bolt FA shotgun (smooth bore and no complicated semi auto mech). Regarding rifling; how accurate would straight rifling be? I was thinking straight rifling since that could be made much easier than regular rifling.

        • In the Philippines during WWII resistance fighters make single shot shotguns out of two pieces of pipe, a block of wood and a nail. I believe that an American who was with them tried to market a commercial version right after the war.
          The whole purpose of rifling is to impart spin on a bullet to stabilize it in flight. Straight rifling would be of no purpose whatsoever.

        • I was thinking straight rifling would be more accurate than smoothbore. I was thinking that while straight rifling doesn’t impart spin it provides some stability since it forces it not move which should prevent the bullet from keyholing.

          I see that you can buy muzzleloaders with straight rifling (instead of smoothbore).

          It should be better than smoothbore, right?

  7. I think bolt and barrel assemblies will always need to made of steel. Not too many home workshops would be able to make them, a gunsmith of course. Even if you have an amateur gunsmith setup, you will still need the programming coordinates, and you might need some CNC knowledge.
    It’s interesting that he made the receiver in two pieces, and then glued them together. I wonder how long that will hold up?
    Maybe the government will start requiring serial numbers on all major parts of a gun??
    If the administration wants to, they will find a way.
    I could be very wrong, but I just don’t see very many 3D guns coming off home printers.
    Anybody want to make a bet. If you have got a donut, I have a dollar!

    • Bolt’s, barrels and receivers aren’t anything special. Any 4130 or 4140 steel will suffice. Firing pins and hammers would need to be made of S7 or H13 tool steel and properly heat treated, or 4140 (again) with proper heat treatment.

      The big challenge in barrels is drilling a straight, “deep” hole. Deep hole drilling is one of the big challenges in machining. It can be done on a modified lathe (which is how Pope did his barrels) with a hand-stoned cutting bit. The smaller the bore hole in deep hole drilling, the more difficult the job. Making a .45 cal barrel would be easier than making a .22 cal barrel, and making a pistol barrel would be easier than making a rifle barrel.

        • Yes, that Pope, HM Pope or “Harry Pope.” He is a legend among American gunsmiths, higher in regard than PO Ackley and perhaps a bit below JM Browning.

          NB the one phrase therein people should attend: “I first made a barrel (entirely on a foot lathe) because I could not buy what I wanted”

          There was a time before ubiquitous electrical power that light/small lathes were powered by foot treadle. In the “gun belt” from CT up into MA, gunmaking shops had their equipment powered by a water wheel, which drove a “line shaft” along the ceiling of the shop. When you wanted to “turn on” a piece of equipment, you’d flip a leather belt up onto the line shaft (or onto the idler pulley down near your machine) and you were then up and running.

          Pope made his own deep hole drilling/rifling machine. It still exists to this day, in a private collection. People have re-created them, just out of curiosity. Pope barrels were widely known for their gain-twist rifling, and gain-twist rifling comes and goes in barrel research every 10 to 15 years since then. Right about now, we’re seeing people start to re-examine gain-twist barrels again.

  8. “I’ll give up my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead printer” lacks a certain panache, dontcha think?

  9. Pfffft…..unless this guy employed extraordinary sophisticated measures of identity avoidance….the NSA can find out who he is if they wanted to. Definitely if he ever goes back to the account.

    • ^ This.

      Unless the creator purchased a brand new notebook computer with cash, created a temporary e-mail account without any link to any existing e-mail account, used that untraceable e-mail account to create other necessary accounts (such as at YouTube), did everything from a public hotspot that wasn’t in view of any cameras, and did all of those steps without a cell phone on their person, Big Brother can trace them.

      • public hotspot that wasn’t in view of any cameras

        Where the heck would that be?

        purchased a brand new notebook computer with cash

        Where can you buy a new computer that you won’t be videotaped by 2 dozen cameras? Buy it used from a flea market….now the past owner gives the Gov a description of you when he gets questioned.

        It is so easy to slip up, and you only need to slip up once.

        • What about just paying with cash and using proxies?

          You guys are way too paranoid even for “paranoid” people like me.

      • Use the tails linux distro on a sandboxed virtual machine and use TOR for the upload, make sure any accounts/identities you have to use to upload the video, etc. are strictly compartmented, and you should be fine against even determined efforts to locate you.

        Of course, this is a cast iron bitch to do, especially if you had to do it routinely.

  10. “Shadetree gunsmith…” I like that a lot.

    Back when we still liked ’em, the Mujahadeen were making semiautomatic 28mm antiaircraft cannon and ammunition for same in village smithies.

    It can be done.

    • Don’t forget the world (in)famous Khyber Pass workshops churning out AKs and ammunition and such with nothing more than hand-tools

    • People should go to the Browning Museum in Orem, UT and have a peek into the collection of machines and tools they have in their shop.

      Once you see it and say “Huh? This is all it took for JM Browning to develop all those guns?” you’ll realize that the difference between “shade tree” and “professional” isn’t the capital or machinery behind him, it is the level of attention to detail(s).

  11. Some inner city gangs already have working (illegal?) gunsmiths. There is no possible way to disarm criminals without completely disarming civilians first. I wish they would stop trying.

  12. I visited colonial Williamsburg earlier this year and saw functional barrel making and rifling equipment from the 18th century. And their barrels started from raw “plate” forged over a mandrel into a barrel, reamed and then rifled.

  13. To people who think that having guns will keep them free: When the Soviets came over Eastern Europe at the end of WW2, there were lots of guns, lots of them and that did not help a bit in keeping those countries free. Even under the commies, many people had hunting rifles but they were not free.

    • All I know is that in my country when there were few guns many died…when there were many guns few died (of us). We could have finished them off and driven them completely out if USA and rest of western world didn’t force the Dayton agreement on us.

  14. Making steel receivers, bolts, trigger groups, etc. with simple, inexpensive, widely available and untraceable tools and raw materials is fairly easy. The hard part is making good (e.g. accurate) rifled barrels. A person intent on making quality rifled barrels would have to invest quite a bit of time and money to acquire that ability.

    It is also unexpectedly challenging to make quality springs and magazines with simple, inexpensive, widely available and untraceable tools.

    • I can make a gun in my basement that’s accurate enough to kill at five yards. And I can make it from plumbing pipe.

      • I agree completely. And that isn’t the type of barrel to which I was referring.

    • The real challenge, as I’ve said, is drilling a deep hole, and drilling it straight.

      There are two big problems in drilling deep, straight holes:

      1. Getting the feed rate correct for the single-lip cutter. A real master could make his own single-lip gun drill, but let’s defer that and just buy a gun drill.

      Here’s some information about gun drills:

      As the diameter of the gun drill goes down, the feedrate has to become very small – in the tenths of thousandths of an inch per turn. The RPM of the drill bit also has to go up.

      2. A high pressure cutting fluid/oil pump to push cutting oil/coolant down the drill step and flush the chips back out the driveline of the drill. As the diameter of the drill goes down, the pressure of the cutting oil has to go up. for a .22, you might be looking at pressures over 1,000 psi.

      Once you have an undersized deep hole, you send a reamer down the bore to straighten up imperfections and remove the tool marks from the drill. That’s pretty straightforward and easy.

      Then comes the rifling. A single-tooth (aka “hook”) rifling cutter is how the best rifle barrels are made, and fortunately it makes for an easy setup to rifle a barrel. You’ll need to make a sine bar setup. Look at pictures of an old Pratt & Whitney sine bar machine and you’ll see how old-tech this can be.

      • That is all good/accurate information. And it confirms my point because few people have lathes much less the ability to inject pressurized cutting fluid down the shaft of a gun drill. And making the sine machine to cut rifling is, like a said, quite involved.

        As for purchasing a gun drill, how can a person do that without it being traceable? I guess you could drive to a vendor and pay in cash … which is fine if you live within two hours.

        • If you wanted, you could make a gun drill out of tool steel that comes in a form known as “drill rod.” It isn’t rocket science, but for a newb, it would be easier to make than buy. They can also be bought used. They’re not especially rare.

          Lathes are all over the place in the populated areas of the country – eg, the midwest “rust belt,” the manufacturing centers of the northeast (PA, NJ, CT, MA). People just don’t know where to look and what to look for.

          Making a sine bar machine isn’t that involved. If more people could see a P&W sine bar rifling machine, they’d see the light bulb go on over their heads. The P&W sine bar machines are used by many custom/high-end rifle barrel makers to this day, over 100 years after they were first made.

      • Adequate barrels for pistols and submachine guns are not hard to make. There are many ways of doing it, just remember that you only need about six inches of hole, which is plenty for both pistols and submachine guns. You can start with a seamless tube or pipe and cut rifling; you can drill a hole in stock and cut rifling; you can have the barrels cast via lost wax method, with the rifleing cast in, then clean them up. Instead of cutting the rifleing, you can shape rifleing on a carbide tool with a grinder, then pull the tool through a tube to form the rifling on the inside. You could even do this on a thin walled tube to make it easier, then epoxy the thin tube with the rifleing inside a thicker tube to make the barrel.

        Heck, you can even just leave them smoothbore, and they will be adequate for 10 yards!

        Seriously, I would like your opinion on how hard it would be to make a six inch improvised pistol/submachine gun barrel. We do not need to make improvised rifle barrels.

        There are so many hundreds of millions of guns in the United States that this is simply not a real concern. It is an exercise to educate the ignorant to the fact that trying to eliminate guns from criminal hands by making retail purchase difficult is a silly endeavour.

        • For a 3 to 6″ barrel, I’d dispense with lots of the fol-de-rol that goes into rifle barrels and I’d drill it with an aircraft drill, undersized. Then I’d ream to get a finished land dimension. Use that bore to then turn the outside to true by turning it between centers on the lathe – so the possible deviation in the path of the bore doesn’t really matter.

          For the rifling, I’d make up a broach out of tool steel (like O-1 or A-2 steel). I’d taper it on a lathe, then I think I’d cut the land grooves (the rifling broach will be the negative of the barrel), and I’d cut the relief for the teeth all on a mill with a super-spacer to turn it. A little time in the oven, some quenching/drawing and then (if I wanted to get very finicky about it), I’d probably grind the teeth to final dimension and for the edge.

          Stuff this into the barrel, and use an arbor press and a driving rod (with a ball bearing ball between them) to push it through the bore.

          The big time investment here would be the broach. The rifling twist and depth of groove would all be on the broach, and it would take some time to make it. Once made, properly cared for, it could be used to make dozens of barrels before re-sharpening. It’d probably take no more than a couple minutes to broach the rifling into a 4 to 6″ barrel with an arbor press.

          The making of a broach could go faster (and with better results) if one used a tool & cutter grinder. They’re not rare machines – perhaps they’re rare-ish in a gunsmith shop, but machinists (esp. old-school machinists) could make just about any kind of cutting tool on the better T&C grinders. You can even start with hardened HSS and end up with the result you want – drill bits, reamers, broaches, rifling buttons – you name it. On a machine like a Cincinnati #2, the sky is the limit.

        • What would it cost to have such a broach created? I bet you could pay to have one made for a couple of hundred dollars… perhaps much less. There are likely plenty of hobby machinists out there who have the skills and the machines.

          Thank you, Dyspeptic, for the detailed explanation.

  15. 3D printing a Ruger (most anything Ruger) is somewhat ironic, because Ruger makes so much of their metalwork (other than barrels) by lost-wax casting (“investment casting”) them.

    There are, in fact, 3D printers that print wax of the design, then you dunk the wax into the ceramic slurry that makes the mold. You then proceed as normal for investment casting – you melt out the wax, then pour in the metal of your choice.

    With investment casting, you can cast parts very close to the finish size, and you need to only clean up the finish to size. Complicated geometries can be achieved with much less labor & expense in machining time because so much material was never there to begin with.

    Bill Ruger was pretty far ahead of his time in his ideas how to bring firearm production costs down…

    • So, in the end, how do you think this is going to play out? A printed gun in every garage? My self, I’ll just go down to BiMart and fork over $229.99, and I’ll be out shooting before the guy with the printer can say, “How can I get this thing to do rifling?
      If the government wants to confiscate the gun, I’ll just tell them I sold it to a private party. As long as it’s not to a known felon, it’s legal in this state.

      • Depends on how stupid political hacks and their fluffers in outfits like MDA want to get.

  16. At Quality Design Print, we specialise in cheap leaflet printing for businesses or organisations both large and small. We have a range of leaflet printing services and options available to you and our professional design and printing experts are ready to help.

  17. They don’t need no fancy machines in the Philippines, they do old fashion metal working.

  18. I am surprised they have not yet popularized 3D Printed 22lrs and other less stressful loads. Work your way up to the high pressure rifle rounds.

    • .22 lr has 24 500 PSI chamber pressure.

      12 gauge usually runs at less than 10 000 PSI, max is 11 500 PSI.

      What I am trying to say is that it is easier to make a shotgun tthrough printing than a .22 LR.

      • Indeed, it is. Shotgun barrels used to be forged from wire twist, damascus or other types of steel. They’d take their “billet” of twist or damascus steel, and forge it around a mandrel, then they’d “spill bore” it. Today, you should likely start with flat strips of 4140 steel, and forge-weld them in a spiral around a mandrel that leaves the bore, oh, 0.040 or so undersized. If you use 1/8th thick 4140 flat stock, you’ll have plenty of material to weld and then bore.

        Spill boring (as it is known to English gunmakers) is pretty simple. Get a hand file that is wider than the diameter of the bore you want. Choose a dull one, because there’s no point in destroying a perfectly good file. You’re just after the steel.

        Grind the sides of the file to have a cutting edge and relief, making the file as wide as the bore. Glue on two pieces of wood on the flats of the file to keep the file centered in the bore. Braze on a drive shaft of steel. Put a handle on the other end. Put the barrel in a vise, put in the file, shank/drive line up, put a handle on the driveline and start turning. Once you’ve bored out the barrel to your bore diameter up to about 3″ behind the muzzle, you can work on honing out the choke area to your satisfaction. Then you come in with a chamber reamer. Turn the barrel vertically in the vise and get after it with the chamber reamer, using lots of cutting oil and cleaning your chips regularly.

        Presto, you have a shotgun barrel. You’ll need to figure out how you’re going to attach it to the action, which I’ll leave as an exercise to the reader. If you’re really astute, you’ll have thought of this whilst you were forging the barrel, and you left a lump on the breech end of the barrel, which you can then perfect with some filing.

        How thick do the walls need to be? Meh. 0.040 will be plenty. The English guns are often down to 0.025 wall thickness. Parker Bros. did a test on their new “fluid steel” barrels over 100 years ago, and they kept whittling down the wall thickness forward of the chamber on a 12ga until it finally let loose.

        Wall thickness when it finally did? 0.012″.

        Mind you, that was back in the days before modern field loads, which have crept up in pressures over the years to 10K psi or a bit over. Nominal trap loads are in the 7 to 8Kpsi range. Shotgun proof loads are in the 16Kpsi range.

  19. Correct me if I’m wrong but wouldn’t smoothbore shotguns be a great homemade choice? Shooting a SLUG at 1800fps would take care of 90% of your home defense needs wouldn’t it????

    • An fully automatic open bolt shotgun is the easiest.

      No complicated semi auto trigger, just something to hold the bolt back and that lets it slam forward when the trigger is depressed. Smoothbore barrel means no rifling which saves money and time.

      Controling it is another matter entirely. Could make the bolt heavier so as to slow the ROF down and make everything recoil in a straight line (like an AR). I have pretty much now described the AA-12.

      • We know that magazines can easily be 3d printed. It would not surprise me to see someone put out the CAD file for printing a Saiga magazine for 12 gauge. As you said, the mechanism for a slam fire 12 guage is pretty simple, but I think a basic pump action, though more complicated, would be easier to make work right. 12 gauge loads impart so much momentum that a bolt for a simple blowback 12 gauge would weigh 2-3 lbs (judging from the need for the Auto-5 to use the barrel weight and a very heavy spring to absorb recoil forces.)

        A receiver for a pump should be pretty easy to print, and there are lots of spare barrels out there.

    • Yeah, I got a kick out of that one too.

      Probably my second favorite phrase at the moment. My favorite is very similar… : )

  20. I am excited to see that folks are out using their 3D printers. Someone above said that they were not seeing a lot of 3d guns on the internet. My thinking on that is there are thousands, maybe 10’s of thousands of guns like this one that is partially 3D and the rest easily purchased parts. And the folks that are building them are keeping it to themselves for “operational security”. Not everyone shares their life on the internet for all including the gubmint to see.

  21. Of course his voice is disguised. Since when, under this regime, has doing something perfectly legal been safe?

  22. The Ruger Charger is basically a shortened rifle, isn’t it? It shoots rifle ammo, right? I don’t see how it’s not considered a Short Barrel Rifle. Can someone explain that to me?

      • Oh, great explanation, you might as well have gone with the whole retarded “Pistol is Pistol,” or “Because pistol!” type meme.

        • There is already a picture at the top of the page. Pistol grip, no butt stock, short barrel…..pistol.

    • The SBR vs. pistol issue is a technicality of regulation.

      Basically, it comes down to this: Read the ATF reg and decide which way you want to go at manufacturing time, choose one and you go with that. A rifle pays one excise tax, a handgun pays a different excise tax.

    • It is specifically sold as a pistol, so you have to be able to legally purcase a pistol to purchase one.

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