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Earlier this week I had the pleasure of taking Cody Wilson, mastermind behind Defense Distributed and the Liberator firearm, out to dinner. Well, technically Robert took him out to dinner and I tagged along. But since Robert is otherwise occupied and can’t post at the moment, I get to write the story the way I want. Anyway, while we’ve already interviewed Cody Wilson about the nature of his work and his beliefs (we liked him before he was cool) it was nice to get an update on how he’s doing since he became one of the most feared and hated people to gun control advocates. And let me say that anyone who can make Chuck Schumer brown his pants is a friend in my book . . .

The first thing we wanted to know is if he’s worried about a possible stretch as a guest of the the federal government in one of their high security greybar hotels. Cody’s response: “I’m looking forward to it. It’ll give me time to catch up on my reading.”

As far as he’s concerned, the government might get him on any number of technicalities. Cody started listing the ways that Uncle Sam could justify putting him away, almost as if they were badges of honor — thumbing his nose at their attempts to control the proliferation of firearms. It fits well with the “crypto-anarchist” persona that he’s developed as his efforts with 3D printing have progressed.

Robert was concerned that Cody didn’t have a lawyer already on speed dial in the event of his arrest. We started spit-balling lawyers that might be interested in taking his case, and Cody wasn’t too impressed with any of them. Alan Gottleib was definitely a no-go. “Didn’t he support that Toomey-Manchin background check bill? No, f*** him.”

As the appetizers were being served we started talking about the gun itself, the Liberator, and its technical specifications. At the moment, the only working model is a smoothbore .380 caliber version that technically falls under the “Any Other Weapon” category of U.S. firearms law. Cody says there’s an alternate version available with rifling, but that the rifling would either not survive the first shot or the added pressure would split the barrel. He says he hasn’t tried yet, but based on his experience it won’t be effective. Translation: it won’t work with rifling.

We asked about shotgun shells, and apparently they’ve already tried — and failed. “There’s something about the rapidly expanding cartridge” that Cody says splits the barrel whenever they fire it. Either that, or the plastic wadding gets caught on the side of the barrel and obstructs it.

But the gun isn’t what the members of the mainstream media he’s talked to are most interested in discussing. They want to hear about the implications of the technology, and Cody says that’s exactly the way he wants it. “They all accept the premise,” he says, “that now that the gun is out there nothing can take it back. And that’s the way he wants it portrayed, as if it’s an unstoppable force that governments can’t control. That it has happened, and all there is to do now is watch the aftermath. Can’t stop the signal . . .

“I’ve talked to people who have walked into hacker spaces and seen a row of printers all printing Liberator parts,” Cody said as his roasted chicken dish was being placed in front of him. Hacker spaces are collaborative locations where exceedingly nerdy people get together, pool their money to buy equipment and space and experiment with technology, usually including 3D printers. Hacker spaces have popped up in cities across the world, including New York, Washington, D.C., London, Helsinki and Lisbon.

Cody says that there are even Liberators being printed in China right now, which is the reason that there’s a Simplified Chinese version of the “readme” (instruction) file in the download package. “I’m actually meeting a girl later tonight to translate it better.”

“The next big thing is getting a picture of one of these things printed out in another country,” Cody says. He says that he isn’t actively enticing people to break the law in other countries, but according to him a picture of a fully assembled Liberator in the middle of London isn’t far off. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if such a picture leaks out after he finishes his final exams this weekend.

As for his own future, Cody says that he’ll keep refining the design, but doesn’t want to stay in the limelight. Robert kept offering suggestions as to how to increase his profile and get more publicity for the project, but Cody says that he’s happy to melt back into the background once the furor dies down. But while the spotlight is still on him and his plastic fantastic, he seems to be having tons of fun debating the talking heads. Well, most of them. “I still have to decide if I want to go on Colbert,” he mentioned with some trepidation.

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  1. Love it. And I would love to see pictures of the Liberator in London and China and other places as well.

  2. If he keeps on the same path, I’d be less concerned about an extended stay at ClubFed than an acute case of suicidal tendency.

    Glad there are people like him out there, but he is playing with fire (not that he doesn’t know that already.)

  3. Whats that? Thats the sound of hair obama’s dicktatorial control being whittled away, Randy

    • Thinking there is a difference between the two parties in a thread about an anarchist. Hey everyone, point and laugh.

  4. “Didn’t he support that Toomey-Manchin background check bill? No, f*** him.”
    I think I like this guy.

    • I was going to say the same thing. I’ll be willing to give Alan a second chance if he shows that he learned from his mistake, but I’ll definitely keep a watchful eye on him.

      • Totenglocke says:
        “I was going to say the same thing. I’ll be willing to give Alan a second chance if he shows that he learned from his mistake, but I’ll definitely keep a watchful eye on him.”

        Naw, Gottleib really screwed the pooch on this one. Think about it, a guy that’s been in the forefront of the 2nd Amendment defense movement for the past 30 plus years, and he suddenly throws his “support” behind a legislative POS like Schumer-Manchin-Toomey? He sold out. For what, I don’t know, but political capital of some denomination changed hands….

  5. Quote: “Cody says there’s an alternate version available with rifling, but that the rifling would either not survive the first shot or the added pressure would split the barrel. He says he hasn’t tried yet, but based on his experience it won’t be effective. Translation: it won’t work with rifling.”

    Then why did he include it in his download?????

    • so that when some one has an idea on how to make it work they have the information handy to see if they are right

      • The next few years in this pursuit should be very interesting. New printable materials are being introduced all the time. At some point, it will be possible to use a more durable material for the barrel and harder materials for the rifling, and probably custom-suited bullets to work with it.

        • As noted below (note to self: read the whole post before I comment) some screw-in shotgun chokes contain a very short stretch of rifling that adds spin to slug loads. Wonder if this could be applied to the last half-inch of some hypothetical barrel. The pressure might be lower because the projectile does not engage the rifling right out of the chamber. This is, of course, a purely hypothetical scientific theory. There is also the possibility of a “progressive” twist, as used in the 1863 Springfield rifled musket.

        • Rambeast, by then we’ll have deathrays and this 3d printed gun thingy will be just a historical footnote.

        • Apparently they can already “print” metals using metallic powders and high-powered lasers. The printers are just huge and expensive for the moment.

    • Also, so that people with Direct Laser Metal Sintering machines can print one? 3D printing is about more than plastic….

  6. Something always strikes me about the anti’s chorus that this could be used by a terrorist to take over a plane. Now, I’m no hero, but this thing is a single shot .380. My strategy is this – Go ahead and touch off your single round. Then you stand there with your now-empty hunk of plastic, and your @$$ is mine!

    • How accurate can one be with a smoothbore, couple inch long barrel? Not very right? They may not even be able to hit you…

      • Revolutionary-era muskets would be able to hit a man out to 50 yards, pretty reliably.

        The smoothbore pistols of the day could hit a man out to seven yards with a patched ball, pretty reliably.

        • Which raises an interesting point – this think might be more effective with a custom load that’s more “musket like”. Big bore – high mass, low velocity.

        • DJ,
          The legality of a blackpowder pistol would be much less questionable. I think that’s part of Wilson’s goal.

    • See that greasy looking spot on the carpet right there…. that *was* the terrorist. I think the lady sitting in 12A got a good video on her phone if you need a picture of the the guys face for anything.

  7. I like his pragmatism. My thoughts have long been this – the more the haters turn the screws (e.g., the so-called universal background check) the EASIER they potentially make it to produce, purchase or possess firearms as a general rule. Easier, not harder. Where there is a demand, someone will satisfy it – period. Even with the ammo situation as it is, sooner or later it will stabilize. Word of mouth is still the best way to sell a product, always has been, always will be. That can’t be controlled, although the haters will surely try.

    • “The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” – Star Wars

      • That’s my line! Well, technically it’s Leia’s line. Regardless, keep using it! It illustrates the situation to a T.

  8. Two rifling ideas:

    1) Polygonal rifling, but with a very high order polygon, like 15 or more sides. The geometry of the polygon will become more like a circle as you increase the number of sides, so it will likely mechanically behave more like a circle as you increase the number of sides.

    2) Rifle a small portion at the end of the barrel rather than the whole thing.

    Either of these should be very easy to implement using 3d printing.

    • my brain was going the same direction, only different. Say 3 for the first inch, free bore the rest…

      • I was thinking about that but consider that the back of the barrel will be subjected to pressure over a longer duration of time than the front, and also the initial fast impulse of pressure.

        The design constraint necessitating the rifling is that “it has to be there so it isn’t an AOW” rather than “it has to be effective at stabilizing a bullet”.

        • Yes, I kinda got into a trance and watching pressure wave arcs in my head. Barrel harmonics, etc…
          I’m thinking design experiments from both directions are in order. This is where stuff gets really neat.

      • This is a good idea that would work toward the end of creating a stable bullet, but the main problem is a legal one, since the barrel is smoothbore the gun is classed as a AOW, if it had a few grooves of rifling in it then it would be a handgun.


        • Does its classification really matter? There really isnt a lawful purpose for this specific gun, just like the Liberator of old. It doesnt really matter if you’re breaking the NFA.

        • The classification matters in that it could make it harder for Cody to fall victim to entrapment.

      • That could certainly work. For people unfamiliar with the concept, look at rifled shotgun slugs.

    • Polygonal rifling with a gain twist, like those goofy Italian Carcano had, say nine sided or higher. That might work.

    • What about a single, or a couple, very shallow groove that doesn’t affect the pressure on the barrel or put spin on the bullet (same place we’re at now) but makes the gun legal?

  9. “But since Robert is otherwise occupied and can’t post at the moment”
    — is that a hint that Robert has hooked-up with a booth babe?

    Considering the gun legally can’t be sold and I believed transfered over state lines according to the federal government I wondered if the request from that supposed FFL acting on behalf of the USG to buy Cody’s gun wouldn’t itself be a technical breaking of the law even if the USG supposedly originally requested it.

    • Didn’t all of Cody’s manufacturing licenses come in recently? I think he can legally manufacture firearms for sale if he wants. I think he also got or is getting the appropriate license for AOW.

  10. One thing the anti-gunners need to learn and accept is that this was imminent. Technology will always move forward and innovative people will find new ways to use it, to fill needs. Technology, like firearms, is a tool. It will be used for many purposes, good and evil. You can’t eliminate evil in the world and you have no right to restrict the use of technology by good people.

  11. I’m not seeing the big deal. You can do the same, but better, by renting a CNC machine and make a gun from metal. So there’s nothing ideologically new. The plastic angle is the only new part, and that just makes a very poor quality gun.

    Liberator is a good name because you probably couldn’t use it for more than a few shots.

    • LOL I was just getting ready to post something similar. Why all the butthurt from the libs and the media? For the price of a 3-D printer you can buy a small lathe and build guns out of metal. If you only want a single shot, you can go to home depot and buy plumbing parts to make a zip gun.

      • What’s cool about it is not that it’s a good way to make a gun. It’s the fact that you can do it with dirt cheap material on dirt cheap hardware, and that hardware you can even make yourself, it requires no experience or knowledge to do, and the files are open source. CNC machines are more expensive, more specialized, require more knowledge (fixtures, tools, etc), and the material is more expensive.

      • Lathes are mills are at least a order of magnitude more expensive especially when you factor in the other tooling you need to use one. Give them a couple more months and it’ll be printable on a RepRap. Lathes and mills also have much higher learning curves. You could pay a small membership fee, walk in to any hacker space and print one of these out for under $50.

    • To run a CNC machine, you have to actually know what you’re doing. Downloading a design for a 3D printer only requires money and when the designs and materials improve, it becomes a threat to the control freaks.

    • You are correct in theory, but in practical application there is a world of difference.

      These printers are much less expensive than CNC machines. Also, if they’re not now, they will eventually be much easier to use than CNC machines.

      Just like virtually every home has a PC now, at some point every home will have a printer. But CNC machines will never be that widely adopted.

    • Because, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, it isn’t as simple as “renting a CNC machine and making a gun from metal.”

      Even CNC machining isn’t as easy as 3D printing.

      Let’s have a little quiz, why don’t we:

      1. a) Which type of end mill would you prefer in aluminum: two flute or four flute?

      b) In steel?

      c) why?

      2. If you’re going to use four flute end mills, will you need center cutting mills or not?

      3. Carbide or HSS? If you’re going with carbide, are you using insertable tooling, or solid carbide?

      4. Are you going to use flood coolant? Which coolant are you going to use?

      Right there, I’ve eliminated 99% of the people who like to talk a big game about CNC machines.

      • Oh, and one other thing: The entire idea of “renting” CNC machine time to noobs who know nothing about machining is a non-starter.

        CNC machines cost money. Lots of it. It is entirely possible to wreck the machines by commanding a bone-headed move. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen the aftermath of CNC lathes that have launched workpieces clear out of the machine and into the ceiling… good and hard, too.

    • Remember the Palm Pilot? Awful little (at the time) hand held computers from the 90’s?… The usefulness of that technology was questionable, but led to the smart phones of today… The usefulness of the Liberator is questionable, but in 5-20 years… mmm… evolution.

  12. Maybe i should not say this but a man with a sword that knows what he is doing , Well let us say is a very dangerous fighter… the plastic gun is only a toy for now…

  13. My god, it’s a f*n zip gun. A one shot .380.
    True, its use would be to penetrate a security zone.
    Maybe thats why politicians are freaking out because they are used to living behind a security team. They might claim it would be an airline hijackers gun but a hijacker would know after his one shot he is “Todd Beamer Let’s roll” DONE.
    It maybe time to point out to them that IF, this one shot plastic gun in the hands of an assassin is so much of a threat to them, THEN what is a “10” or “7” shot reliable steel gun in the hands of criminal to us. The incredible hypocrisy of wanting to immediately pass a law that protects themselves from the assassin scenario, while attempting to pass laws that disarm my security team of one.
    Has Schumer et al stated exactly what they see the threat of this gun actually is and to whom?

    • Politicians are freaking out because this is not in their control. They want control more than life itself. What’s the point of having power if you can’t exercise control? This technology has just taken it’s first step down a road called “A Gun for Everyman”, and they hate it because it bypasses them.

    • Don’t forget the NY reload. Although the pistol is bulky, it is relatively light and multiple pistols could still be carried.

  14. He does need a lawyer on speed dial, but a good federal criminal defense lawyer, not a second-amendment lawyer. Preferably one very familiar with federal firearms laws. But the “good criminal lawyer” part is more important – that person can always contact someone else who is a gun law expert later as needed.

    I don’t who who that would be in Austin, but I would strongly encourage Mr. Wilson to find out now.

  15. The functioning plastic gun was the product of a contest: I know cuz I submitted a couple of ideas for it: one of which was “the liberator”. Even when I submitted the idea I mentioned using the original name of “liberator” for symbolic purposes.

    Keeping things real – I am pretty sure I was not the only person to submit that idea. Heck the original idea was from WWII and TTAG did an article on it. With that stated I hope someone gets recognized/compensated for winning the contest even if it is not me 🙂

  16. These things should pop up in Mexico. I’m not entirely sure how popular 3D printing is here, but we need guns in civilian hands. Even if it is a smoothbore .380.

  17. When all my gun hating liberal office mates are talking about this without so much as a mention from me, you know you’ve done good…hats off to Cody and his burgeoning group of hackers/designers/revolutionaries.

    • I’m looking at the amount of gas-baggery from brain-dead liberal-arts scribblers up and down the east coast. The sort of people I ridicule all the time, because they’re so mechanically inept they can’t even change a faucet washer on their kitchen sink.

      Their tears of mental and emotional distress are absolutely delicious.

  18. As of right now, it’s a one-shot .380 zip gun. Next year or the year after or the year after that, it won’t be. It will be a fully functional repeating firearm. Zip guns were and are a technological dead-end. This technology changes the entire nature of home-made firearms. That’s the point. That’s what has the G sh1tting its collective trousies.

    The genie has exited the bottle.

  19. FWIW, you can print in metal. Our machine does it here at work and we also use outside vendors for direct metal printing for prototypes.

    I don’t see the point of the whole “lookit I printed a firearm”, expect as a political statement and to show how stupid and gun fearing our politicians are.

    To me lowers and magazines make a little more sense, because they can be as functional as the real item.

    I’d be more impressed if he cobbled together a single shot, easily re-loadable, smooth bore rifle, from common home store items and simple tools, that shot decent, and spread that about the internet.

    To get all high on oneself for pushing the ability to “freely arm the people” doesn’t make sense when the people would have to have a 10-15K machine to do it. Maybe its the idea that one could have a total lack of skill (but not really those machines don’t set themselves up and maintain themselves) and “print” a gun?

    Now if you’re printing the bits and using them to cast more functional pieces, well then that’s something different.

    • From reading interviews with Mr. Wilson in other venues, it is all about the politics of the issue. He’s not only poking the tiger through the bars of the cage, he’s grabbing hold of the tiger’s tail and pulling… good and hard.

  20. A self proclaimed amarchist who’s looking forward to prison? I hope they send him to the young and tender white boy only prison, else he’s in for a real dose of reality.

  21. I can’t really agree with this kid 100%.

    I was behind him right up until he went full plastic with no metal parts. I’m sorry, but there’s just too many security issues with that and it’s going to come back to to bite the US in a big way.

    I agree that you can’t stop an idea, and someone might eventually do it. But being that guy just because you can when the repercussions can be severe for some innocent down the line, is just stupid and selfish in my opinion.

    He can make the point that anyone can be their own gun manufacturer without making it easier for some guy just waiting to meet allah to download his plans, print one out, and carry an undetectable weapon somewhere to hazard a bunch of people.

    • Maybe we just need to count on other ways to prevent from being killed by religion motivated terrorists.

      I think if we would just saturate their countries with internet access, fast food, booze, and pornography, they’d mellow out quite a bit.


      • True that. I always figured they were pissed because we have bacon, beer, and titties. I mean, if my world didn’t have those things, I’d be thinking about blowing things up too.

        Perhaps we should “bomb” them with bacon -n- beer packing prostitutes?

    • Ah yes, the typical “we need to limit freedom to increase the security of government oppressors” argument. Sorry, not buying it.

  22. If any one has not seen it yet if you get HBO watch episode 1 of VICE( granted a liberal slanted show produced by Bill Maher but do not let that deter you). They follow a Phillipino candidate on his campaign and basicly show the degree of violence surrounding the political process there. BUT what you need to see is the esential home grown gun building industry that is there, there kids are machining real full metal copies of semi auto pistols rifles etc. NOT in large scale factories but garages and jungle camps. If you want to see how the general population can supply themselves with real guns watch this and then come back and comment onCody’s gun. I love what he is doing but I think there are other ways to mass produce at the grass root level effective firearms- of course it would be completely illegal- but I feel so will 3d printing. It will be done but it won’t stay legal to do so for long.

  23. “…the rifling would either not survive the first shot or the added pressure would split the barrel. He says he hasn’t tried yet, but based on his experience it won’t be effective. Translation: it won’t work with rifling.”

    Not that I am recommending anything that might be used to produce a firearm, but I will note that some screw-in shotgun chokes contain a very short stretch of rifling that adds spin to slug loads. Wonder if this could be applied to the last half-inch of some hypothetical barrel. The pressure might be lower because the projectile does not engage the rifling right out of the chamber. This is, of course, a purely hypothetical scientific theory.

  24. Mr. Wilson and I attended the same college a few years apart. My Facebook feed last weekend had a lot of my anti gun alumni putting on their brown pants. Good work, Cody.

  25. “I’m Looking Forward to Jail”

    Ah yes. Said by a numbnuts 20 something year old. If he does get the bleacher seats behind the bars he will quickly realize how it is a not a joke.

    • It’s almost like the TTAG commentariat doesn’t understand sarcasm.

      Pretty sure what he said was a movie quote and meant to be tongue-in-cheek.

  26. In the late sixties/early seventies a bunch of guys figured out how to hack into the telephone system. They were having a good time with it among themselves (calling the pope and making free party lines where they could all talk to each other). Then some of them went to prison where mobsters and other hardened criminals forced them to show how they made the devices they used to hack the phone system. Then it became a hardcore black-market business.

    I guess the internet makes this situation very different but I feel like locking Cody Wilson up with criminals could be a mistake.

  27. DefDist Liberator Pistol: This file has been removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls.
    Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.

  28. Holy buckets! This really is the home of the Armed Intelligentsia. I read through some of this until my head started to spin. Lets talk quantum physics or something just to dumb it down a bit.

    There’s a lot of gun people out there who know a hell of a lot about a hell of a lot. Hardly the picture the left paints. I can’t imagine the typical leftist getting past the first couple of posts without complete brain shutdown.

  29. Let ’em remove it- I haven’t looked, but I’m betting it’s only a slightly more involved search to find it now.
    It’s actually a really poor move on the part of the DoD. You had the already invested, and the firearms inclined folks checking it out. But ordering the cease? Now every curious onlooker on the planet will have to find it for download.

    I hope to acquire one years down the road, in a commemorative box with custom 3d printed engraving, commemorating the Liberator pistol’s role in turning gun control from elitist fantasy to completely irrelevant.
    I bet CDNN will have a glut of them for download in a coupla years. 🙂

    • Good that smuggling actual firearms is Islamists/Terrorists in the Middleeast (Libya,Syria) don’t alarm the progressives in the Obuma admin. Otherwise they might have to STOP.

      Did you know that Sec State Kerry was in Vietnam?

  30. Be advised, I’m hearing it is still available at a bay for pirates. *hint, hint* *wink, wink*

  31. WTF? DoD and State are demanding the take down of these files? Since when do they have legal jurisdiction over stuff like this?

  32. so how long before Obama figures out he cant win?? its not a matter of if he stops trying or not, i just wanna know if he ever figures it out…..

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