Reinforced Cartridge for 3-D Printed Guns – The .314 Atlas

Prior to now, 3-D weapons were unpractical since they had significant risk at exploding with their contained ammunition. Simply put, the plastics available to common 3-D printers was not strong enough. While some could handle a few or even multiple rounds, many fired a single shot and disintegrated.


That has now changed with the introduction of the .314 Atlas by a 25-year-old machinist. In short, the .314 atlas is a reusable cartridge that is designed to contain the gunpowder explosion without the need of a reinforced chamber. This allows the .314 to be used in “very low end 3-D printers.”


WIRED has an excellent short expose into the machinist and his creation (which was fully BATFE legal). The inventor plans on releasing the specification to the internet, not as a political statement, but as a response to a technical challenge.

Author’s Note: Photos are from WIRED’s article. You can click on any of them to be taken to the original story.

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • echelon

    Human ingenuity will find a way!

    I know the solution! Make another law! Forbid, ban and punish! Force Utopia at all costs!

  • This is sort of hybridizing ammunition. It’s a cartridge, but, in a sense, the casing is performing a duty usually performed by a barrel or revolver cylinder – containing the explosion.

    • Fred Johnson

      Yes! The cartridge casing becomes the chamber!

      Now this looks promising for those nearly total plastic guns.

    • In some ways, its is throwback to the cartridges used in the earliest Gatling models.

  • Ken

    Since we’re introducing simple machined parts, the next step is to include a metal breech face. It will prevent the primer from backing out.

  • Ken

    Also, does this legally make it a non-firearm like a cap and ball revolver? It’s fundamentally no different.

  • ColaBox

    Any chance this will fill the nitch PCP ammo failed to?

  • tirod

    Old school solution. Rounds that are their own barrel have been done before. It also goes to exactly how poor a concept printing a gun really is.

    Hey, why don’t we print the ammo, too, huh? Sure, rhetorical question – but it should make you think about it. It’s really not that well developed a technology when you have to make the cartridge case do the work, not the gun, and you can’t apply the tech to even do that. It’s got to be done with traditional machining and fabrication.

    Or, to put it in more honest terms, it’s a lame solution to an even lamer question nobody asked.

    • andrey kireev

      Someone feeling negative today…..

  • lol

    so he created…. a barrel?

    great so now my shitty plastic gun will feed custom made unobtainable ammo.

  • noguncontrol

    reminds me of the 9×23 CP/ Winchester cartridge. anyway, so the guns are cheap but the ammo is more expensive because of the casing. then again, for a gun with no serial number, hey, that is a still better than nothing.

  • Wetcoaster

    Guess you’re not only stuck with smoothbore barrels, but likely no barrel at all – if the plastic is too weak, the pressure could still tear gun apart forward of the cartridge mouth even if the bullet doesn’t physicall contact the barrel or completely seal the gas in. Partial obstruction seems like it would be more than enough to wreck a lot of weaker plastics.

    You can’t get around the need for metal until you find a printable material that has the hardness and tensile strength of metal.

  • JA$

    So what is new? I remember that in the seventies there was a teargas gun (a fourbarrelled affair with a screw at the muzzle to prevent any large parts exiting from the muzzle) that used exactly the same system. The gun itself was plastic (looked a bit like a Mossberg Brownie, see “Law enforcement handgun digest”) but the cartridges were selfcontained rimfire rounds. They had the shape of a barrel with cartridge in place.
    I think in most European laws this part would be categorized as a combination cartridge/barrel, making it an essential part of a firearm and thus be subject to registration/licensing.
    This shows that 3D printed guns are by far not yet the big threat that the police wants us to believe. It is still not possible to print a barrel, let alone a cartridge. So what is the big deal?

    Few months ago I made a shotgun (for demonstration purposes, I have a license for that) out of two pipes, a pipe-plug and a setscrew. Fired twenty rounds without problem.

    What’s the big deal?

  • tb

    Now he has to just rifle the cartridge…

    • MR

      Same thing I was thinking ( I think), he should make the case about 3″-4″ long with the projectile set 2″-3.5″ inside, rifling the inner walls of the case. Or maybe rifling the projectile, like a rifled shotgun slug.

  • damien

    Any reason this couldn’t be made from spiral wound carbon fiber tubing?

  • Diver6106

    VERY INTERESTING concept. If there are thicker shells able to handle the pressures, you can make lighter or redesigned guns. Almost to the point where the shell is the barrel and minimal gun parts – for a survival rifle, concealable hand gun, or printable/ polymer guns.

  • Nathan Means

    On a private level 3d printing is worthless…. personally I think the guys making revolvers out of scrap metal are more dangerous…. and remember there was a guy who made an AK reciever out of a shovel.