Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.



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  • Doug

    Very cool. Hopefully they can produce it themselves or sell it to a company that won’t jack the price to unreasonable levels.

    • Nadnerbus

      So basically, don’t sell the rights to Bushmaster.

      • Airrider

        …or HK.

  • Nater

    That’s pretty cool, but I don’t see the need for a bullpup in general, certainly not with an SMG. The .45 ACP doesn’t need anymore than perhaps 8″ of barrel length, anything over that really isn’t going to add much it’s effectiveness. The whole point of a bullpup is to get longer barrel lengths in smaller packages, so why bother with all the down sides of a bullpup when you don’t need a long barrel?

    Lastly, I would think that the 10mm Auto is the ultimate choice for a sub machine gun. It packs more energy at 100m than the .45 ACP does at the muzzle and has a much flatter trajectory all while allowing a slightly higher capacity.

    • chengsam2000

      can you give more opinion of .45 and 10MM?

    • Nater

      10mm – 180gr projectile at 1,350fps gives you around 730ft-lbs of muzzle energy.

      .45 ACP +P – 200gr projectile at 1,080fps gives you around 520ft-lbs of muzzle energy.

      10mm gives a larger increase in muzzle energy over .45 +P than .45 +P gives you over 9mm +P.

    • subase

      Yep, and with pistol based submachine guns, which have their magazine loaded on the grip, they are halfway to bull-pup status as it is. Steyr TMP, Uzi, Heckler & Koch MP7.

      Instead what’s really needed is a quick deploy stock on a pistol. But one that folds up to keep the pistol concealable. Slide mounted optics as well as lights and lasers have extended the range of the pistol. As has more powerful pistol caliber technology. All of which have high capacity magazines available.

    • Tinkerer

      The guys at Ballistics by the Inch had made a enourmous effort on actually measuring muzzle velocity for varios barrel lenghts, calibers, and even different loadings. From what I see, .45 ACP can benefit quite a bit from longer barrels -some light (165 gr) loadings can squeeze up to 1400 fps from a 18″ barrel.
      http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/45auto.html

      As for 10 mm Auto, the optimum seems to be around 15-16″
      http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/10mm.html reaching up to 1600 with the lightest 135 gr loading. Surprisingly, with an equivalent 165 gr from the light .45 loading, the muzzle speed is about the same for similar baller lenghts. Now, with heavier loads, the scales tip in favor of the 10 mm.

      Finally, I have to say that the muzzle velocities for .40 S&W rounds out from carbine lenght barrels look quite interesting.
      http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/40sw.html

      What I do see is that the design from the prototype we see, doesn’t quite take full advantage of the bullpup design. The whole bolt/magwell/chamber portion could be positioned even further back. However, if they intend to give it a very long recoil travel for the bolt, they might be able to make it eject spent cases straight down, positioning the ejection port behind the magwell. That would also give you lower felt recoil and lower ROF, improving controlability, and making the bullpup fully ambidextrous.

      • Denny

        Very good point. With anything like this it has to be ballistics first to determine the rest. Although practical functionality points such as you mention, have their value too (e.g. why to leave so much bolt overtravel if choosing bullpup…)

      • Hrachya Hayrapetyan

        The idea with ejection port behind the magwell is great …but it also will cause low rate of fire (for full auto guns). What do you think?

      • Alex-mac

        Don’t see the point of a pistol calibre bullpup. Why would anyone choose a 13 inch barrel 10mm bullpup over a 13 inch barrel 5.56 rifle? (Micro Tavor)

        The only reason I can think of is muzzle blast and noise. A valid reason but one unlikely to shared by the majority of shooters, who want stopping power, range and penetration.

      • Tinkerer

        @Hrachya Hayrapetyan

        Actually, the ROF being lower can be a good thing for a SMG. Many SMGs out there had to be fitted with a mechanical ROF limiter in order to tone down ammo consumption and improve controlability. It’s no so much the same for a machine gun, where you actually want to send as much lead downrange as you can.

        @Alex-mac

        There can be many advantages for a SMG or pistol-caliber carbine: decreased chances of overpenetration, lighter ammo, improved reliability of bullet expansion -5.56/.223 has the tendency to not fragment reliably when shot from a short barrel due to dimished muzzle velocity. That can be improved with hollow/soft point ammo in .223, but those are forbidden in military operations -not so much in LEO-. On the other hand, a fat .45 can do a lot of tissue damage, even if it doesn’t expand. Then there’s also the possibility to attach a suppressor to the muzzle -which is a very good idea when shooting heavy, subsonic .45 ACP-. It can be done too in a short barreled .223 barrel, but the benefits would be greatly reduced in comparison to a .45 that would burn most of it’s powder load inside the barrel instead of inside of the suppressor -how it would happen with a rifle caliber in a short barrel.

    • Doug

      While the 10mm may be more impressive ballistically, to make this SMG a money-maker, either the company producing the weapon would really have to hype it up, or the 10mm would have to become much more readily available.

      Maybe it’s more common where you all are, but around my parts it’s pretty much non-existant. I’ve seen guns being made for 10mm, but is it actually regaining popularity?

      I’m also in agreement that ejecting the cases downward would truely optimize this design, no matter what caliber you choose.

  • Burst

    @nater think civilian applications.

    The legal reqs for barrel length are arbitrarily 16″, so the idea is to get that length into the shortest chassis possible.
    Similarly, I’d bet the lower noise, energy, and higher prior ownership of .45
    make this a better match for a home security arm than 10mm.

    • Nater

      The legal regulations are for 16″ barrels unless you pay a tax stamp, then you can have whatever barrel length you wish. Not that the laws aren’t stupid to begin with.

      • Doug

        Federally, yes. But state law varies greatly. Some states allow for the federal tax stamp, others do not.

  • chengsam2000

    it is very funny that they forget to repair the upper…………

    more comment needed

  • Netforce

    This looks interesting.

    • chengsam2000

      the SMG design or the model?

      • Netforce

        The design.

  • Ray

    Interesting design to say the least and it also goes to prove that attempts at arms control are useless to say the least. Sam what printer are/was you using? The resolution looks quite low end.

  • http://turpaahjul.com Harald Hansen

    Very interesting. I’ve recently wondered about what would be the 2011 equivalent of the Sten gun? I’m thinking of clandestine low-cost, quick production in small workshops. Wikipedia tells me that the Mk III Sten could be produced with five man-hours of work. Certainly we could do even better today? What could a few hours late at night in a CNC shop “behind enemy lines” accomplish?

    • http://www.arniesairsoft.co.uk/forums/index.php/blog/80-mike-wests-eastern-connection/ Mike

      Actually, it would be… a Sten gun. :D

    • Denny

      Sten gun is one of most problematic SMGs ever. No need to resurect it. In addition, those man-hours you read abot are based on existence of dedicated tools/ fixturing. In their absence it may take you 2 months to build one sample, if you are lucky.

  • SL

    Make .22 kits…make more $$$ and legal to sell and purchase!

    • http://www.arniesairsoft.co.uk/forums/index.php/blog/80-mike-wests-eastern-connection/ Mike

      Make airsoft gun… make more $$$ and kids can have one too! ;)
      (actually, I’d like an airsoft gun like that, and it’s pretty straightforward to do. V6 gearbox with P90 trigger system and M1A1 hop-up)

      • SL

        Good idea….they should make pellet gun version too! :)

  • sparky

    What design? It just looks like a plastic stock. It would be easier to lay the stock out in laminated plywood than invest in a printer. And you can’t print the trigger group, barrel, or bolt.

    • Tinkerer

      Well, the way I see it, the idea for the 3d printing is rapid prototyping straight from CAD design. And in this case, more than actually making a working firearm, it seems like the idea was to test ergonomy and other things that need to be tested IRL rather than on a computer screen.

      As for trigger group, bolt and barrel: I can understand that both bolt and barrel can’t be made on a 3D printer -yet. But the trigger group? Remember that the Steyr AUG’s firing group is made entirely out of polymers -including the hammer-. Only the springs -and maybe the pins- are steel.

    • Rev. Clint

      my plum crazy lower uses polymer for the trigger group except for the couple springs.

  • JR

    Hmmm, reminds me of the magpul PDR.

  • iroquois pliskin

    Nice magpul pdr copy !

    hope magpul see this for sue them.

    • Tinkerer

      Copy? The way I see it, there’s just a few ways that you can design a bullpup weapon that feeds from standard magazines. In the end, just like many contemporary traditional-layout weapons look similar, the same would go for bullpup-layout weapons. Right now, only the FN P90 breaks the trend on how a bullpup looks.

    • Beaumont

      Hey, Steve, how about restricting comments to those written in proper English?

      • le bon français

        Coucou tu veux voir ma vite ?

  • anon

    Pretty nice, but I might remind them that most of the successful pistol caliber carbines out there [Kel-Tec, Beretta, Ruger (NLA, I know), etc.] use readily available pistol mags. Effort spent on the mag is probably wasted. At the very least, design it to use Tommy Gun stick mags or M3 Grease Gun mags. Put those development dollars into the fire control group – bullpup triggers are notoriously hard to get right.

    • John Doe

      There are too many types of pistol magazines. Why can’t we enforce a STANAG-like standard for each caliber?

      I’d like to be able to drop a 33-round round Glock magazine into a H&K MP5.

  • Denny

    Actually, the core of every design and its potential contribution is in operating mechanism. Format/ architecture are secondary. Since I do not see description of former I cannot judge it, the later is in my opinion – rather clumsy. And caliber application? Not innovative at all; just look around.

  • SpudGun

    The beauty of rapid prototyping and 3D printing is that you can make (superficially) whatever your heart’s desire.

    For launching a new product, your sales pitch will be a lot stronger if you follow the old adage of ‘show me, don’t tell me’. By physically being able to put something in someone’s hands, you gain a great advantage over a 2D drawing.

    As for the prototype pictured, I feel the same way about it as I do the KRISS – it’s too big, too heavy, overly complicated and doesn’t really have a use. Other then that, I think it looks cool.

  • Zack

    I have noticed that alot of people think that the 3d printer objects featured here have the strenght of other plastics. This is not true, the plastics used in the printer are very brittle and you could propabley snap this thing in half with your hands. This is only a 1:1 model and just to see how it feels.

    Enough of the smart guy stuff, this thing looks pretty cool to me.

  • aeronathan

    For the people saying that the rapid prototyping (RP) plastics aren’t durable enough, that’s true in some instances. However, there are other RP methods and materials available that can produce very durable parts.

    Selective laser sintering is a method that can produce metallic parts and is almost to the point you can feasibly produce every part of a weapon aside from the magazine spring and the barrel….

  • http://www.gunbuyer.com/ Online Gun Shop

    Reminds me of something off of star wars, pretty neat!

  • Other Steve

    HK UMP meets Magpul PDR

    And I don’t know where some of you get your info from, but rapid prototyping can make everything from corn starch parts to titanium. The glass filled nylon that the ump is made from can absolutely be prototyped from the same material with SLS.

    I’m not going to shit on anyone that does anything to get me a PDW style gun developed. Do Want.

  • Lance

    Looks like Steve can print out his own SMG make the ATF scared to death. Print me a M-16 Steve.

  • West

    This would be an awesome tool for making movie prop guns.

    • Adam

      We actually have a 3d printer at my school. Many of the props that our DVA students make are designed and printed out on the printers. Our robotics majors also like them quite a bit. Great tool, and all universities should have them, even if its not a main curriculum piece, it is such a versatile tool. High schools should have them as well IMO.

      • fw226

        That’s an awesome idea. I never thought about that. Now all the made-for-TV shows or high school plays can have imaginative props!

  • Sid

    How close are we to seeing the M41A1 pulse rifle?

    Yes, I know it fired standard 10mm, caseless, explosive-tipped, light-armor piercing bullets. But when I see technological leaps like this, I begin to wonder what is in the immediate future.

  • abprosper

    Looks like a cyberpunk Street Treat and I suspect that sometime in the near future bootleg 3d printers will be able to make real firearms on demand. Governments will hate that but so long as some means of making ammo can be had, they’ll be able to do little about it.

    As William Gibson once wrote “The Street will find its own uses for things”

    This technology is the beginning of a real shift back to small scale localized manufacturing. Instead of having a big gun plant, individual communities could have a 3d metal press device and roll their own arms for police or whatever use.

    Its an interesting change as it brings a level of sophistication to backyard gun smithing and put them in competition with factories, post industrial society for many things will look more like manorial society and the cottage industry, something I think will in general be a good trend, well unless you own a factory.

    Right now though, well its a neat prototyping machine.

    • jdun

      No because plastic won’t withstand the pressure. You’re going have a KB! and at worst killed yourself for being a moron.

      • Other Steve

        Plastic won’t hold the pressure? Please explain to me how “plastic” won’t “hold the pressure”… Let’s ignore that by “plastic” you mean polymers, composites and glass filled nylons and let’s also ignore that guns don’t “hold” any pressure at all, especially not the receivers that are merely containers for the bolt and carrier and support for the chamber inside the steel barrel.

        I mean, the UMP is “plastic” with only a metal bolt and chambered barrel. It’s 45acp as well. The bolt rides on two nylon rails that will probably wear slower than the steel.

        You’re right though, that UMP and every other polymer gun out there is bullshit because they can’t hold the pressure. My MP5 is a good design because it’s metal – metal good. My TP9 must be a piece of shit because it’s plastic – plastic bad. Steel uzi’s good – Polymer Uzis bad. Am I getting this right?

        I swear, this blog does a pretty good job of new stories, enough for me to keep coming back, but it also seems to attack some real clueless commentators.

      • jdun

        Ok go make a gun that is made out of pure plastic and see how that work out for you. Go ahead do it.

      • Tinkerer

        @jdun

        Just who in the seven blazing hells has ever said anything about making a firearm completely out of polymers? It’s obvious that barrel, bolt and many springs still need to be made out of metal -yet-. But frankly, those can be made in CNC machines anyway.

      • John Doe

        By plastic, you also mean carbon composites, which are plenty strong. And like Glock, most of the internals will still be metal.

      • bbmg

        A PVC cartridge can be made to withstand several hundred psi:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ1I2hVTeWs

        Granted it will never take the thousands that a firearm will, but up the calibre to 0.5″ – 0.75″ with a heavy lead bullet and you don’t need much pressure to match the muzzle energy levels of a 22LR – a 0.5″ lead ball will do it at a mere 500 feet per second.

  • http://twitter.com/bakerator Baker

    I too am in the “looks cool but impractical” camp.

  • Colin

    Can’t decide what I like more, the concept or the 3D printer that made it! I could make the bullpup – 5.56 – 7.62 common upper – I’ve been designing :)

  • 6677

    I would estimate about 15cm between the ejection port and the rear of the stock. Seems a bit pointless to me, you could move the action way further back than that and have a much longer barrel.

  • MarkM

    The ability to come up with a working prototype essentially means nothing in the development cycle. It’s when you take 100 guns and run 120,000 rounds each thru them that the most important tweaks come about. That takes millions of dollars. Andy McNab commented recently that the SA80 cleanup cost HK over 85 million GBP. NOW it works – but he still doesn’t like it.

    While the tech is getting down to the user level, the next question is how the BATF views RP machining something that potentially could be used as a firearm? Yes, I AM raising the red flag over concern of our favorite boogyman, but if they have to write policy over using a piece of string, how much more the receiver of a full auto gun?

    RP a M4 lower with working three shot burst and get back with us on how many mags you could put through it. Ah, on second thought, don’t.

    • NikonMikon

      What are you talking about? It is 100% legal for a person to create a firearm in their home without any interaction with the ATF as long as he has no intention to sell it. Don’t spread misinformation. In short the ATF doesn’t give a flying blank. Just don’t sell them.

      • NikonMikon

        I need to clarify, they must respect NFA law. This means only Title 1 weapons. No machine guns, SBR’s, SBS’s, AOW etc…

    • tomaso

      first…it didnt take HK 150million USD to fix the SA80 that was the total production retail cost to upgrade the SA80…you make it sound like HK fronted 150million to fix a problem…thats untrue…….they made the weapon better then sold 150million worth of product…..second anyone can build a firearm unless restricted by a conviction…but no machine guns or short barrel rifles or shutguns (16″barrles and no shorter then 26″ ..shotguns 18″ barrels)unless you get a tax stamp ..as stated all NFA rules apply.

  • http://www.packingpretty.blogspot.com Gracie

    THIS is why I want a 3D printer…

  • Nick

    Looks very interesting for airsoft guns(lower pressure on the frame then paintball) I would love to print up a ump or so and build a gearbox for it. No offence but I don’t see any applications to real steel in the next 5 or so years(you can qoute me). It looks like someone could set up a nice one man airsoft factory with this.

  • William C.

    Looks like something from Deus Ex.

    Anyway, it is interesting to see how such technology could change weapons prototyping and development. Mainly by making it easier for smaller companies I would think.

    Hope to see a real product in a few years.

  • Jim

    This is going to introduce a whole new era of self inflicted injuries. I wonder if people will get out of the military in ten years by “accidentally” shooting themselves in the hand during practice fire.

  • Will

    Looks like this guy and kel-tec have been playing too much halo…and I LIKE it. Hope this one becomes real steel. I’d love to have a 16″ civilian version.

  • Mike

    What 3d printer was used? Also, how many pieces was it printed in?

  • Andy from CT

    How about printing out a “quad stack” .45 mag? Or 9mm. If it’s done maybe some actual manufacturers will give it a shot. Bridge the capacity gap between standard mags and drums. For those that want the extra capacity but don’t like the bulk of drums. I know drums will always hold more but the quad stacks still offer a significant increase.

    I, myself will be buying some of those Surefire 60 round mags (the 100 round ones are silly) for my future .300 BLK build.

  • Tom

    I wonder if they’d make a lefty version? I’d love to have a 16″ civilian version.

  • JT

    So, does anyone know how long before 3d printers (that can replicate their own parts that is), are available that can print in readily-available metals?

    • 6677

      Current home ones can print with LEADED solder, lead free jams them up abit.

      Industrial ones have been known to print aluminium and titanium.

      Home 3d printers when self replicating have the issue that the plastic being printed is molten yet the nozzle is made of the same material. If your printing molten ABS from an ABS nozzle then of course its going to melt after a few minutes.

      The rep-rap 3d printer available for home use can print all of its own mounting brackets but motors, electronics and metal guides need to be supplied externally. Some people have supplemented the metal guides with 3d printed alternative mechanisms but it is not yet possible for a full 3d printed printer.

      • JT

        Thanks ^_^

  • John Doe

    I think 3D printing would be the future for special operators. Those guys already essentially carry whatever weapon they want to whatever modification (Tier 1 units), so if a weapon custom-built to each operator is what they’re looking for, what could supply it better than this? A molded cheekrest and grips would be really nice, and you could shift the balance forward or backward to the operator’s preference. I’m surprised each base doesn’t already have their own.

  • northor

    It’s a damn mass effect omni-tool!

  • Chrontius

    What Will, William C., and abprosper said.

    When can I place an order?

    Also, do they come in “Integrally suppressed”? I’m having flashbacks to my favorite Half-Life 2 mod, NeoTokyo.