The first Gun Maker’s Match was held Saturday at the Ancient City Shooting Range in St. Augustine, Florida. The DIY gun competition was the brainchild of Rob Pincus, well known shooting instructor and (sometimes controversial) gun rights advocate. Rob has become a staunch advocate of individual gun making and organized the event along with Guns For Everyone National (GFEN) and the AWCY? support community.
The match was sold out at 50 competitors who came from all over the country to participate. Attendees were present from over a dozen states, including Washington, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Arizona, Missouri, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas, Minnesota, New York, Tennessee, Michigan, Georgia, West Virginia and Alabama.
The Gun Maker’s Match was sponsored by several industry companies and organizations, including:
Gun Owners of America
Firearms Policy Coalition
National Assoc. of Sporting Goods Wholesalers
Many companies tied directly to DIY gun making also supported the event, including:
2A 3D Print
Print Your 2A
Competitors could participate in up to seven live fire competition categories, four in the Printed Firearm Division and three in the Kit Build Division. One of the print categories was “Fully Printed Gun,” in which the only production gun parts allowed to be used were the barrel and springs. Everything else needed to be printed or otherwise home built.
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There was also an eighth competition that gave the crowd of about 100 spectators the opportunity to cheer for their favorite builds. JSD Supply awarded the People’s Choice Championship Belt to “Derwood,” a legendary gun designer in the printing community, for his Cobra braced pistol build.
In all, there were over 120 competition scores recorded in the live fire events.
Gun community media leader Michael Bane attended the event and said that he thought the Gun Maker’s Match was “profoundly important.” Bane wasn’t alone in that observation.
Cody Wilson, the man who kicked off a 3D printed firearm wildfire in 2013, attended the event and spoke to the crowd just before the awards ceremony, reminding everyone that there could come a time when the only option people have is making their own guns.
“This event is focused on fun and camaraderie,” said Pincus, “but we can’t ignore the political importance of normalizing the hobby of gun making. With all the fear mongering and political grandstanding around ‘ghost guns’, events like this prove that gun making isn’t something people do to circumvent existing laws or hide their gun ownership.”
“Every individual has the right to make a firearm for personal use, and they’ve been doing so for centuries, so this is the biggest reason we support gun makers,” said Kenyon Gleason, NASGW president. “And of course, many of the products used by gun makers are sold through the manufacturers, distributors and retailers who make up the shooting sports distribution channel. We want to make sure those products are available when they need them.”
Competition took place in Pistol, Braced-Pistol/PCC and Rifle categories. The majority of the focus of many hobbyist gun makers are pistol caliber carbines and braced-pistols. Designs focused on the CZ Skorpion and variations of the Cobray MAC guns were very popular. The “fully printed” category included a 12 gauge shotgun as well as pistols and rifles.
3D printed trophies, made by Matt Holmes of 2A3D Print, were awarded to the best shooters at the end of the event and all competitors had a chance to select something from the prize table. The prizes awarded included a $3500 tabletop CNC from Ghost Gunner and a Serbu Firearms .50 BMG, in addition to Polymer80 frame kits and many other parts/tools for gun makers.
It’s worth noting that there were no injuries, negligent discharges or “exploding guns” during the competition, practice sessions or AWCY Fun Shoot, all of which took place over three days and expended thousands of rounds of ammunition. Many people in the gun community at large have concerns about such things with guns made by “amateurs” or, especially, with major components that are 3D printed. This actually kept some potential sponsor companies and organizations away.
Currently, the major firearms competition disciplines forbid the use of kit-built or 3D printed guns. Will they re-consider those policies now that there’s been a successful event focused exclusively on individual gun makers? Time will tell.
In the short term, GFEN has committed to putting on more Gun Maker’s Matches around the country and several sponsors have already committed to supporting future events. Keep an eye on their website and social media posts from them and @AWCY.arms.
“Even a year ago we would have never dreamed of having that many builders in one place to enjoy the hobby in a competitive space, but we did it and now we’re looking forward to the next,” said Xander Guetzlo, AWCY project engineer.