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In the wake of the release of Defense Distributed’s “Liberator” firearm many news organizations around the world have responded in a typical manner, namely by claiming that it sucks and that it doesn’t work, so therefore it should be ignored. “Continue about your lives, gun control is still effective.” Let’s take El Reg for an illustrative example . . .

Seriously. That’s all a Liberator is: a particularly crappy pipe, because it is made of lots of laminated layers in a 3D printer. Attached to the back of the pipe is a needlessly bulky and complicated mechanism allowing you to bang a lump of plastic with a nail in it against the end of the pipe.


When the nail hits the cap in the cartridge base in a Liberator, the expanding gas likewise pushes the lead bullet off the end of the cartridge and down the “barrel” pipe. Much of the gas leaks past due to the loose fit and soft material of the “barrel”. The lump of plastic with the nail (probably) stops the cartridge case spitting out of the back, which is pretty easy as the bullet pops out of the extremely short, basically smooth* “barrel” almost immediately with very little push from the gas required. Most of the cartridge’s hot gas spills out of the muzzle without getting a chance to do any work on the bullet, which is the main reason the cruddy “barrel” doesn’t (always) come to bits on the first shot and the cartridge case (probably) doesn’t just spit backward into the user’s face.

Their argument is that since the very first version of such a firearm is the modern equivalent of a Saturday Night Special, it should be completely ignored and PROVES that 3D printing CANNOT POSSIBLY be used to print guns. Forgetting that whole open source movement thing, where crowd-sourcing of operating systems and other software components have led to amazingly fast and stable platforms which work fantastically well. It’s like proclaiming Linux a dead and useless OS because the very first kernel was barely able to function as a calculator, not seeing beyond the object to the possibility of what lies beyond.

And that’s the main issue with the mainstream media. They see the “Liberator” as a finished product, and the only possible iteration of what can be made. Instead it is merely a proof of concept, a blueprint for what could be done in the future as more people work on the problem of printable firearms and contribute their own ideas.

The cat is out of the bag in terms of firearms production. And the “establishment” wants to cover their eyes and ignore what’s going on, because that makes them feel safer.

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    • Especially airport security. Given the current materials available for use in a 3D printer, you’d be better off with a computer-controlled lathe – at least you could use metal parts.

      However, the Liberator is definitely a game-changer for terrorists, hijackers, and anyone else seeking difficult-to-detect weapons, especially if they make a muzzle-loaded flintlock or percussion cap version to eliminate the need for a (detectible) brass casing. Gee, I feel safer already.

      • one problem with you wet-the-pants piss and moan fest: LEAD. The projectile will always be made of a dense enough material to be picked up by detectors, otherwise, it aint gonna do jack to the targe. Carry on.

        • Absolutely agree with Bill, lead, and the ammunition will be easily detectable. It should be self evident that saving us from “undetectable guns” is not the point for people like Schumer, it is all about creating fear and keeping the fires burning. The printed gun right now is a novelty and to suggest it is a game changer to terrorists is criminals is hyperbole. The future printed gun will be a gun that might be as good as a production gun in that it is as safe and durable, but extremely customisable. Undetectable, as a system, not really. Keeping it realistic, you need all the parts, ammo included and anti gun legislators know that and we have seen the ammo ban attemps . (Sen. Blumenthal from CT has some really absurd legislation in this regard). The antis probably don’t know this but the greatest threat 3D printers pose to them is global freedom to customize and innovate, already 3D printers have contributed to a groundswell of innovation and jobs creation, and not because of them!

      • You should put a diaper on before you read the rest of this.

        None of this plastic crap or 3d printers is actually necessary to build a device that will fire a dense projectile at sufficient velocity to kill someone.

        Take a (hard) wooden cylinder, and drill a hole down the center to function as a bore about 3/4’s the length of the cylinder. Drill a tiny hole to function as a touch-hole. Wrap it with paracord to give it some added tensile strength, load it with blackpowder and a small stone for a projectile, using wadding as you would a traditional muzzleloader. A tiny (undetectable) amount of steel wool is pressed down the touch-hole, you ignite it using wire and a battery from the cell phone you carry everywhere.

        It’s undetectable, and you don’t need a 3d printer. You could have built it 20 years ago, or 800 years ago with hemp rope and a traditional fuse.

        Your argument is invalid.

        • Can also use gun cotton instead of steel wool, which can be made with commonly available acid and linen, and the spark wheel/flint from a lighter.

    • Yeah, it’s not so great for Americans, maybe, who can buy from the LGS. Today.

      If your country makes buying a gun an epic journey of red tape or near impossibility, this is useful now.

      Hypothetical CNC material developments allowing a rifled or partially rifled barrel later on? New designs? There’s lots of potential.

  1. I think he just described why all firearms are so simple, even modern manufactured ones.

    Yes, you have a pipe that pushes a projectile out of the end with the help of rapidly expanding gases. That’s all guns ever were. No room for magic when you explain the simple physics behind it.

    I’m waiting to see what happens when someone takes a picture of a Liberator in the middle of London or Tiananmen Square.

    • Honestly if we had a president who believed in America and wanted America to succeed, then liberators hot off the presses would be showing up within hours of upload in China and Iran. Sadly we have one who just thinks America is broken and wants it to fail.

      • If these had been available in Iran during the protests a while back, they may have turned out differently.

        • What silliness. There are plenty of weapons in Iran. This plastic zip gun couldn’t help them in the least, even if there were 3d printers there.

        • Hate to burst your bubble, but I know for a fact that *someone* in Iran wanted the design. I happened to see that country of origin pop up in the peer list of an active torrent. (Y’know, not that I’m saying it was *my* torrent, per se.)

      • Neither Iran nor China are any business of the US. It is high time we started minding our own freaking business. Then America would not be broken.

        • Both Iran and China, for their own internal reasons, keep making *us* their business.

        • Sure, downloading a file is easy. Using the file is not. And it was probably the Iranian government downloading it.

        • Since neither one of those countries poses any threat to us militarily or economically, I’m inclined to agree. Just minding the business of America and America alone sounds good, but it would fuck us HARD real quick. Open your eyes. People hate us. They don’t play fair, neither should we. We should be spying our asses off, especially right now.

        • Got moderated on for the first time replying to this one! Back to work:

          They are our business. In one or several ways, like it or not. Keep your enemies closer…

          (Is that better guys?)

    • I’m waiting on the London one, but I hadn’t thought of one in Tiananmen. The government conniption fit would be legendary for that picture.

    • I thought that as well, it felt almost like an explanation of firearms to those who arent aware of their mechanical workings. But it IS an english paper, just sayin.

  2. Are you guys trying to give 16v a stroke? Hopefully the msm view will prevail and we can back off printer control laws. We might have to start a brother org to the NRA to protect printer rights.

    • 16V is having a stroke because there is a chance, as technology advances, that these products could become as good as super skilled hide in your garage chicken scratch made ones…and become a competitor. Plastics technology is always changing, its only a matter of time before a true high strength composite material can be used for 3d printing…then you can make Glocks in your own basement…;)

    • Do you mean a “brother org” as in the printer company Brother?

      That’s silly, the mainstream media doesn’t just see everything as a finished product, they only see what they’re told to see.

    • jwm, my thought exactly. Let the media say there is nothing there, until there is. Mister government man “these are not the guns you are looking for”.

  3. It is a zip gun. A large zip gun. Unless they make 3d printers that construct metAl parts, this liberator will never be useful as a weapon or even as a proof of concept. All it is, is a thumb in the eye of gun grabbers who didn’t realize that the law allows you to make your own fire arms. What this does is draw attention to self made weapons where there was none before and the grabbers will now focus on this “new” and scary capability to make a useless zip gun and they will try to take away your right to build your own gun. Say goodbye to uncontrolled uppers.

    • NASA is using 3d printers to make parts for rockets out of metal. It’s already here. In a few years we might be able to print an M4 with the ability of the printer to switch between steel, aluminum, plastic or whatever like a tri color printer now.

    • Darn, did mean old Cody Wilson make you feel unimportant just a few…years…before you were set to unveil your own home-built gun utopia as a fait accompli? The reaction he’s generated, and the discussions that have launched from it, are exactly what we need.

      As to the “it’s just a zip gun” idea. Yeah, so was the original FP-45 Liberator that it’s named after. The idea with the original Liberator was that you’d walk up behind a German or Japanese soldier, plug him in the back of the head, take his weapons to fight with, and then pass the Liberator on to someone else. That’s all it needed to do, that’s all the new Liberator needs to be able to do, and it’s actually quite effective in that role.

      • If you’ll recall, there is no evidence that the original Liberator was ever used, let alone have any impact on the war.

        • There’s lots of “evidence” of zip guns being used in the ’70s, and lots of police were terrified of kids using them.

          But to turn your argument back around to the topic at hand, there’s no evidence of a 3D Liberator being used against a living target. Yet its mere existence is eroding the arguments of our political opponents.

        • So the lack of any verified evidence that the liberator was used makes it worthless? Huh.

    • It is more than “just” a zip gun. Yes. It is a first attempt. There are already working home 3D printed recievers for common firearms. There is constant improvement in materials. Will this be a practical duty gun tomorrow? No. Will it be next month? No. Will it be next year? Who knows.

  4. “Pro-gun people are seizing on it as proof that guns can’t ever be taken away from people by the government, which is even barmier. Even if you have a whole bunch of actual proper guns, if the feds or the cops decide to take them away, they will do so. The only thing that will slow them down at all is their desire to avoid killing or hurting you in the process: your firepower is not a problem for them, and it really won’t be a problem if all you have is a Liberator or similar.”

    Translation: “Hail to the all-powerful “Feds” and their benevolent mercy. The only reason they don’t take our guns away right now is because they don’t want to risk hurting us.”

    I really wonder what kind of worldview these people have. Do they enjoy being controlled? This author sounds like such a tool.

    • “Translation: “Hail to the all-powerful “Feds” and their malevolent oppression.”

      Fixed it…. 🙂

    • Yes, McVie’s firepower was no problem at all for the feds, course they did have to replace that broken front window, yep, no problem at all, little wax & it will buff right out, Randy

  5. If comparing the Liberator to Linux. I have been using Linux for at least 10 years. When I first starting using it, it was clunky but usable in many ways. Now, (and after a few distros later) it is very usable and customizable. 10 years ago, you had mostly the major distros, Red Hat, Mandrake, Suse, etc (not counting the smaller distros). Now, you have more distros and many of them have become more user friendly. 10 years ago you didn’t have a decent end user distro. Now days you still have Red Hat and Suse, but you also have many end user distros, namely Ubuntu.

    Many new users to Linux are encouraged to use Ubuntu. You can also add whatever window dressing you want. Gnome, KDE, XFCE, fluxbox, and more.

    If you really want down to get nuts and bolts and customize even down to the compile options, there are many distros that you can do this with. Gentoo (probably the most common at this level). Think of this being able to built every part of a firearm to your specification and have it work.

    The Liberator might not work well right now, but give it time.

    Lets take a quote from Ken Olsen, founder of DEC: “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”

    Now we have multiple computers in everyones home, cell phones are small computers now, your pad devices, watches and even Google Glass. 50 years ago, these might be unimaginable.

    Keep in mind though the quote from Alan Kay:

    “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

  6. The sociopaths in charge and their pathological minions are Driven to destroy their sheeple’s rights as a path towards slavery. Their greatest obstacle is slaves are not slaves until they are Totally disarmed without hope of fighting to regain their liberty

  7. The namesake is a gigantic clue to what the gun is about as well. Even in unimproved form, it’s a weapon that would allow someone living in an oppressive regime to acquire a better weapon by ambushing a lone soldier or something like that.

    • Not to take away from the importance of this, but the hypothetical freedom fighter we’re speaking of would still have to acquire ammo for his Liberator. It’s worth noting that the original Liberator came with 10 rounds of .45 ACP in the grip.

      Another issue…how likely are people who are in a position to afford a 3-D printer going to want to participate in a violent revolution in the first place?

      • .380 ammunition is common in Western Europe, North America, and (dodging laws that prohibit civilian ownership of police or military calibers) South America. The Liberator design should be easily modifiable to accept the similarly-specced/pressured 9mm Makarov, which means you can find ammunition almost literally anywhere in the world; including China.

      • You have a valid point with the ammo issue. It’s definitely a barrier. As for whether someone with money would want to participate in a revolution, the Founding Fathers were all pretty well off and it’s not at all uncommon for revolutionary movements to have some well-to-do supporters.

  8. All products started like this. POC..proof of concept. In today’s society of fast moving thinkers, advanced manufacturing technologies, and the relative freedoms of American entrepreneurs, this was bound to happen. You can’t stop this Blue Train now….

  9. Good.

    The more the mainstream media decries the Liberator as a dead-end waste of effort, the fewer grabbers will take up their pens against printers.

    We hackers and shooters know better, but why wish such knowledge on the MSM? Widespread knowledge of this will help our cause neither among fence-sitters and antis among the general citizenry, nor among politicos.

    Let the media bray in the dark – as usual.

  10. Shh, let the grabbers continue thinking 3D printing is harmless. Maybe they’ll STFU about it. /naive hope

  11. 3D printers can be had for under $1,000. The materials cost to print this gun was about $5. 3D printers that can work with metal are in existence. The is a 3D printer for sale that includes a CAD file to create another printer, just like itself. This is all within a couple of years of existence in the consumer market.

    Everyone seems to miss what I consider the most important download and that is a 30 round AR magazine. It was tested to 600 rounds and they only quit because they could not afford anymore ammo. This has an impact in states that limit the capacity of magazines. It costs about .78 cents to print one.

    BTW, Cody said they fired 5 rounds through the Liberator without failure.

    This IS an important event. It requires no mechanical skills and is doable by anyone with even an old clunky computer. The CAD software can be open source to simply read and print the files. Now that this is in the hands of 100’s of thousands of people, expect improvements. That is what Cody Wilson wanted to start with. This is more than a gadget that fires a bullet, it is a paradigm shift in thinking, which is more important than the device itself.

  12. “Even if you have a whole bunch of actual proper guns, if the feds or the cops decide to take them away, they will do so. The only thing that will slow them down at all is their desire to avoid killing or hurting you in the process: your firepower is not a problem for them…”

    Well, at least you know the ultimate agenda in clear language from the Brit media, unlike ours, which likes to pretend it wants to “protect” hunters’ rights while simultaneously quashing everyone’s right.

  13. I like how in the linked article the authors entire spiel on how a firearm functions seems like he just copy and pasted and made a few verbal tweaks here and there.

    To me, the entire thing screams “I know nothing about guns! But here is a bunch of text showing that I do!”

  14. I was thinking about rifling. Any reason this wouldn’t work in .410, and then use rifled slugs?

    • I believe the author stated that they could not get it to work with shotgun shells, do perhaps to their relative flexibility v.s. brass cartridges. I would love to see some files for barrels for the liberator in other calibers, however.

  15. All that is needed is to improve the design then.
    Thanks for trying to poo poo the idea of downloading designs for a firearm on the net, this will just embolden people to try harder.
    Liberals always like to brag about how smart and educated they are but in the end they lack real common sense, tack and street smarts.

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