3D Printed Revolver

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3D printed firearms have faced much stigma since designers and engineers have began dabbling with different design concepts, and halfway 3D firearms in the case of 3D printed AR15 lowers. However from various conversations with law enforcement, it seems that the general professional consensus is that they are not up to the standard that they would have to be, in order to be a threat to Law Enforcement, and a benefit to criminals worldwide (criminals already have a long history of improvised firearms). Most of the 3D printed firearms out there cannot last a significant number of rounds, and are certainly not semiautomatic by themselves (users must add parts that cannot be 3D printed). In addition, they all need various pieces of metal or other material to effectively function.

However, a fellow by the name of James Patrick has tackled the problem of a semiautomatic 3D firearm in a different fashion, by making a revolver action. His design appears to be function quite well with .22LR ammunition, but my question would be for how many total rounds. He uses a nail for a firing pin, and elastic bands to provide tension for the hammer, trigger and cylinder. The design of the pistol grip/trigger guard/ trigger looks to have some inspiration from the Kimber Pepperblaster while the actual cylinder holds 8 or 6 (different versions) rounds of .22LR. The cylinder is removable, there doesn’t appear to be much of a barrel as it takes on a pepperbox design, and the reset looks insane!

The revolver version is called the “Washbear”

He also has a single shot version, called the “Songbear”.

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The internals almost look similar to the inside of an airsoft replica.

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Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • SP mclaughlin

    It’s either Nerf or nuffin’.

  • FP

    The red abs cylinder seen at the end of the design video was tested to failure, it fired 58 rounds before cracking harmlessly. That was with abs and a 30mm metal tube, a nylon cylinder with pipe or one with full length rifled inserts would last much longer.

  • MrEllis

    You guys seem fascinated with 3D printed guns. For the price of this you can actually buy a gun.

    • Vitsaus

      I suspect that you misunderstand why this technology is gaining popularity.

      • MrEllis

        That’s my point, it’s silly. You’re not sticking it to The Man with a Nerf gun, that may or may not injure people in front or behind it. Seriously, guns are so common and easy to purchase the only people this would benefit are criminals or felons with no criminal connections of merit.

        • mcameron

          yeah, the hell with those 80% ar lowers too…..only criminals buy those things!…….oh wait, no they dont…..

          • MrEllis

            We’re speaking of the production of a whole gun, it’s okay, I get you’re upset and it’s not about being rational but winning the internets. You could still get a much better lower at a much better price than it would cost to print one. I stand by what was said prior.

          • Mcameron

            part of a gun, a whole gun…. whats the difference?

            legally the receiver is the firearm……if you can buy a finished lower you can buy a handgun. the argument is the same.

            if you are smart enough to 3D print an entire firearm……and have the $300-500 for a low end printer…..chances are you are smart enough to be able to source a firearm for yourself…..and for cheaper than youd spend on printing materials.

            people like printing firearms because 1, its fun……and 2, because it could serve as a way to make firearms if our country ever does illegally ban ownership.

            they are not the tools of assassins and thugs or whatever you are claiming.

          • MrEllis

            If people wanted to print things to blow up and make noise, fine, but let’s not pretend this is a revolution in the making. Maybe for the actual gun industry, but it’s ludicrously easy to own a gun in America. An actual gun that is made to a much higher standard and has a better chance of doing the job it was intended. This isn’t a game changer unless you are a felon and can’t buy a gun legally. We have hundreds of millions of weapons here. Even if Obama becomes dictator forces you to get a FEMA chip and starts whacking people there literally isn’t enough government employees to take all the guns.

            You will be either dead or wearing a suit made entirely of guns before you have to 3D print one. How many people here have a printed gun but no other firearms?

          • Dracon1201

            They are cheaper RIGHT NOW. But that is missing the whole point. We don’t start developing when things get banned, we start before that. It’s called preparation, and it’s half the war. It’s Nerf today, full armaments tomorrow. Look at how far we have come in a couple years from the first single shots. A 3d printer is becoming cheaper for better results. In fact, you can get one today that is capable of printing these firearms for not a horrible price, or build one. We will get to a point where it is as cheap to print one if not cheaper.
            Hopefully via technology, and not via government rule.

          • Badwolf

            In general all new tech starts out expensive. Then as it becomes more common it gets cheaper and becomes the new standard. If everyone discounted the value of new tech because of its “silly” price, then nothing new will ever come out.

        • Don Ward

          Exactly. And it’s not like these things are “untraceable”. The second that polymer fragments from 3D printed guns start turning up at crime scenes/RedDawn-like civilian insurrections is the second that “The Man” will simply start doing a sweep of individuals who have purchased these mind-boggling expensive 3D printers and tracking the crime down to its last purchaser.

          It’s like kids can’t even be asked to watch CSI.

          • junyo

            Yes, because CSI is a documentary.

            These things are being printed on “mind-boggling expensive” Reprap consumer printers that cost less than a grand… you can literally buy a kit to build one bigger than required from China on eBay for under $400. 3D printers are so mainstream that you can buy printers and filament at Staples.

            So this idea that the government can crack down on the decentralized means of production by “doing a sweep” is just adorable.

          • Edeco

            I was going to say, 3D printers are available in the low thousands that I know of, which is similar to mills and welding equipment. And 3D printing is still in it’s childhood, prolly get better, cheaper still.

          • junyo

            Yeah, I was honestly surprised by the prices I’m seeing.

            James Patrick’s blog says one of his design goals was something printable on a Rostock MAX printer and that’s in the RepRap family. Comment moderation ate my link to an eBay search, but you could actually get cheaper than $400 if you bought a kit from America and risked one of those dreaded ‘3D printer sweeps’.

            And the thing is, you could legitimately have a low end CNC mill and a decent 3D printer for under $3k, and you can do a LOT of stuff with that.

          • Don Ward

            No. Because CSI is an analogy.

            And yes, the type of 3D printers needed to print guns are still mind-boggling expensive. Not to mention the digital footprint that you leave ordering one. The digital footprint of downloading or file-sharing blue prints. The digital footprint of constantly updating your printer’s drivers and whatnot. Oh, and the fact that there is a digital record of you printing off that gun which is forever on your computer and printer. So yeah, if folks start dying in shooting events with suspicious polymer fragments embedded in the victim’s body, it doesn’t take too much legwork to backtrack the the dozen or so folks in a general area who own 3D printers capable of producing guns.

          • junyo

            And yes, the type of 3D printers needed to print guns are still mind-boggling expensive.

            That is simply demonstrably false. The exact type of printer needed to produce the type of firearm described in the post (As I’ve already mentioned, the maker’s blog names the exact device that he designed for – a Rostock MAX printer – so it take all of 3 seconds of googling to get a price) can be widely purchased for under a grand. That is not mind-boggling expensive unless your only income is a paper route. And since I can buy a similar printer off the shelf cash from a national office supply store, or build one from kits/plans with open source software, there is no “digital footprint” unless you want there to be one. And even if you left a “digital footprint” of the printer purchase, what forces you to purchase it/have it shipped to the same geographic area where you live? Or stops you from reselling one to someone else (or proves that you didn’t). So unless the “general area” that they’re going to backtrack all of the 3D printer owners in is “all the states that are within convenient driving distance” how would that work? And I’m sure there’s a government agency that monitors every Open Source code repository/mirror on the planet and can burn through a couple of levels of onion router, just on the off chance. And that I can’t download software/files/plans anyplace except for a computer I own, on a network connection that can be localized to me. Also, there’s the slight problem of these “suspicious polymer fragments”. Since the gun, if operated correctly, is not the projectile, why would there be bits of the gun embedded in anything? It would be a bullet, same as any other shooting. Or just educate yourself on the practical limits of forensic science in the real world.

            There are so many obvious flaws in this tortured hand wringing that it’s kind of hilarious.

        • mosinman

          you’re missing the point. 3D printing is becoming more prevalent everywhere and are getting cheaper every day. in places that have gun bans this technology can make a firearm , kinda rendering the gun ban irrelevant. certainly a “real” gun is better but as the technology matures designs will become more functional and effective. even now they offer advantages in producing weapon parts , combining 3D printing with traditional pipe gun construction can make it easier to make those home built SMGs

        • junyo

          Firearms are not common, available, or easy to purchase everywhere, only in places where the human right of self defence is recognized by the state. So the point of these guns isn’t to produce the bestest gun ever, it’s to invalidate the gun control regimes in places where people have or are trying to deny that right.

        • Edeco

          I don’t want to stick it to The Man. I just don’t want The Man to stick it to me 😀

          • Precious Roy

            “But you look like a nail my friend. I am but a hammer in a world full of nails.” – The Man

          • Edeco

            Ha, good turn of phrase. Speaks to a key benefit of 3D: We enthusiasts, and many others already knew better, but some think guns are made by gun factories and that’s it. So they have a mistaken idea the supply can be controlled effectively and without cracking down on individuals directly. It’s the illusion of a hammer and naturally aspects of private gun use start to look like nails. 3D printing cures people who don’t know what an end mill is of naivete about the gun supply. Which might otherwise lead them to like regulations that would be a cruel waste of resources.

        • Cal S.

          Look up the reason Luty wrote his work. This is for the same reason.

          Otherwise, I would like to print a lower just for kicks.

        • Dracon1201

          Let me fix this…

          You’re not sticking it to The Man with a Flintlock, that may or may not injure people in front or behind it.

          You’re not sticking it to The Man with a Hand and a half bastard sword, that may or may not injure people in front or behind it.

          You’re not sticking it to The Man with a printing press, that may or may not hurt people in front or behind it.

          There are many ways to “Stick it to the man” That have been used. This technology is revolutionary. It’s literally the printing press for guns. You are working towards the most innovative and important technology for the 2A. How can guns be banned when the average person with average skills can print whatever gun he wants with plans taken from the infinite expanse of the internet. This really puts a huge kink in disarmament panties.

          • MrEllis

            You live in a very scary world where everything is very frightening I see.

          • Dracon1201

            Not at all! 🙂 I just don’t have my head in the sand. It’s amazing how far you can see when it’s not buried like yours, pretending tech like this should be ignored because it’s not relevant to your particular interests. I doubt that tune will be changing when the law to obtain full function weapons in Cali, NY,etc can’t stand tall when the average gun owner simply prints what they want.

            But you won’t care, and that is okay because I will still respect your right to not care, even though it’s not helpful to be a naysayer.

          • MrEllis

            No, seriously you must be scared of every single thing around you. It’s an amazing world you live in when fear and guns are the only things that matter.

          • Precious Roy

            It’s the printing press for everything and the future of revolutionary advances in many different fields. Cellular printing will change medicine. But yeah they will have to outlaw the idea of guns.

    • Squirreltakular

      Kinda just seems that freedom makes you butthurt. It’s alright, though. Free country.

    • I’d look at it with the Liberator perspective, the cheap sheet metal resistance drop pistol of World War Two lore. Now it certainly compares and is better than certain firearms on the market today (ie, Hi-Point) but at the time, compared to steel and wood the thing was complete trash. However, that wasn’t the point of it. The point was to sneak up behind a sentry with a Real firearm (Mauser, Luger, MP40, etc…), shot him in the back of the head, and Now, you have yourself a legitimate, lethal weapon for the price of a piece of sheet metal, and a .45 ACP cartridge. Same concept applies with this 3D stuff. Heck, there’s a 3D printer at my universities library that anyone can use. If a criminal went there once a week for three weeks, printed out different parts so people couldn’t figure out the whole picture of what the criminal was printing, then used that thing to kill a cop and steal his working firearm, then the criminal would have the exact same thing as the Liberator deal.

      • Don Ward

        And he’d be traced down via the expensive 3D printer that he purchased. Or do you think that the corporations that manufacture these devices won’t gladly turn over their customer records to a government subpoena?

        • Dracon1201

          Honestly, why do you think I’d buy factory direct with a printer I was using for this? I’d build one or buy one second hand on Craigslist for “models.” In cash. No record. It’s harder to track people than you think on that sort of thing. You are also assuming that they even know where to start. For example what printer company would you even go for? What area do you start breaking doors down in? How do even get a warrant for that? It’s harder than you make it out to be.

          You keep going on that they would know a 3D gun wound from a regular firearm. It doesn’t work that way. You don’t find slagged ABS in the wound, and if you were worried, use metal inserts. Forensics doesn’t work like you think it does. Trust me, I know how that works. Hell, in this revolver they wouldn’t even have the casing to work with. Probably just a bullet, wound, and possible burn/fried hair depending on how someone killed.

          As one who attended a university with these 3D printers, noone knows what you are doing. People can’t recognize you printing when you carry an actual gun, let alone printing parts for an “Airplane model.” People are so much more ignorant than you believe. Heck, as an engineer, I could have cobbled together parts for a M134 across the hall, and no one would have batted an eye at it, especially because we are known for hands on projects. And honestly, no one would have a clue what you were printing. I could print them all day for free.

          Sorry, this doesn’t work like you think.

          • Don Ward

            There would be polymer fragments everywhere. Particularly since you’re going to have to get in close. Real close for you to know that this gun will do its job since it is just a .22LR. Any larger caliber will make the thing go melty and explody even faster.

            And it’s not going to take too long for the flat-foots to notice something is up. That’s how forensics work.

            Oh, and of COURSE you’ll do all the secret squirrel back tracking to make sure your mythical footprints are covered since you aren’t and 99.99999 percent of gun owners aren’t printing 3D guns. So it’s easy to handwave away the thing that “you’d do”.

            Again, the ;myth of 3D printing up guns to lead La Resistance is a fantasy. Learn proper metal working and gunsmithing techniques. The end result is easier and better.

        • iksnilol

          3D printing doesn’t work like you think.

          You use VPNs to hide your downloads (and browsing). You build a 3D printer (so called RepRaps which can be built for about 200 USD). And there is no special wounds (only trace would be if you’re stupid enough to drop the gun). Lastly, those “witnesses”, do you really think they are analyzing your every move? Because they don’t. Hiding in plain sight works best from my experience.

          The advantage of it is the fact that people without access to really expensive stuff like lathes and mills can make stuff. Also people without the skills to use those tools can still make stuff.

          + If you have a dremel (a decent set is like 100 bucks) you can make “combined” designs, that is printing the small complicated parts like triggers, sights and safeties while using tube metal receivers and barrels. Which cuts the time required to make the gun allowing you to make more guns.

        • MrEllis

          Find a university without a billion cameras in public spaces and no ID requirements to use printers. Hell they probably have some freaky anti-gun software that won’t even let you print a pop-tart.

          • Filipe Amaral

            Software can’t detect what is gun and what isn’t. It would only target specific files (and every update of the file would throw off the scent) or some kind of heuristic approach like anti-viruses do. Problem being, the vast majority of gun parts aren’t exclusive to guns.

            The Polish manufactured the Błyskawica right under the noses of Nazi occupiers, at a time machine shops were under scrunity, cutting tools rationed and the proper steel required permits to acquire. The designs for the buttplate were labeled “electric oven handles”. If a person can’t tell it’s for a gun, it can’t teach a machine to know it is one.

            Besides, the more data gathered by the powers the less they are able to process it. They don’t narrow down the search to needles, they put a haystack on top of them.

          • MrEllis

            Pop-tart gun reference is pretty obvious. I suppose literalists are the majority here…

          • Filipe Amaral

            I know what the pop tart gun situation is, that doesn’t change the fact you still made an argument. The absurdity of the argument doesn’t change the fact that you still exposed your views. That’s why I challenged your beliefs, not the poptart.

            Virtually everything you have said was blow away by facts and logic so you resort to insulting half the people on this thread. Have you considered that maybe the problem is you?

          • MrEllis

            You failed, on two fronts then.

    • MrEllis

      Again, contrived fantasy is scary. You’ll all be long dead and dust before we run out of guns in America. Seriously, this website has become some sort of shelter for people who only know of one right and think it’s the only one of merit. If the American military really focused just 1% of it’s power upon you you’d be dead even if you had fifteen ARs taped together with multi-color printed lowers with custom Punisher SkullZ.

      It’s complete and utter fantasy to think you could make any difference with a 3D printer and any weapon you could manage to contrive and use. You’d be better off buying one of the micro-milling machines they are making now days than this. Regardless this constant fantasy of having to kill other Americans in an imaginary war is terrifyingly insane. I don’t come here for this spiel.

      But my major point is we have so many weapons in America now there is no way to remove them all from circulation. And if you’re in some states where you are making something you can’t own you’re better off buying it from a criminal anyways. At least learn to criminal right.

  • Don Ward

    For the time and effort trying to microwave up 3D printed guns, you can buy tooling and machinery and learn gunsmithing. Sure, there are uses for 3D printing such as prototype production. But just learn how to work with the real stuff.

    • Big Burd

      the core concept behind “printing” a guns is two fold.

      1. it’s the “idea” of the word, despite having to trial and error a 3d printer it instills the notion that anyone (even someone who’s never picked up a hammer) can print a gun and with the added benefit of it also helping advance 3d printing technology

      2. It renders futile any type of “common sense” gun laws as it’s hard to regulate plastic just like its hard to regulate steel piping, just like its hard to regulate away Criminal activity.

      • Don Ward

        This blog has the guy who posts Improvised weapons made in Brazil and elsewhere used by criminals or folks who “need” a gun for protection. I’d trust my life to one of those 100 times out of 100 before anything 3D printed. And unlike a 3D printer, those are made from low tech tools and materials that don’t leave a digital footprint.

        As for your first point, yes, that’s the mystique of 3D printing, that you can microwave dinner up a device like a Star Trek replicator. I agree.

        • Dracon1201

          You are correct right now. I emphasize RIGHT NOW. But the technology is catching up, and will surpass other forms of machining, and that won’t be far off. It’s in its infancy, and I’m sure you would have said “Stamping will never catch on for guns” back in the 1890s, too.

        • Bill

          +1 to this

          You really need a consumer level metal printer to make this “weapons for the masses” idea a reality. It will happen someday but probably not for another 8-10 years. Until then books like Lutty’s or the Scrap Metal Arms are a better bet to show guns can’t be controlled.

          Even then ammo is always going to be the hardest part for people in highly regulated places. Just look at some of the photos on the Impro Guns blog. They get people in Brazil with a machine pistol but only 5 rounds of 9mm.

    • Joshua

      Eventually we won’t need CNC machines to make guns, it will be 3D printed. Give it another 30 years and you’ll see.

      • Don Ward

        I’m doubtful. Again, there are plenty of 3D gun related stuff that is viable with certain lowers or hard-to-find items like -say- a Swiss K-31 stripper clip.
        But metallurgy and chemistry are hard facts and I don’t see someone printing up a hammer-forged AR barrel anytime soon. And not in an affordable manner.

        • Joshua

          Never know. We may move beyond projectile fired rifles in the next 30 years and the majority of the parts may be printed.

          Technology advances fast in this field. Look at computers, 30 years ago and computers featured a whopping 4.77mhz CPU and 640KB of memory…Now computers are pushing 8-core 4ghz CPUs and 32GB of memory.

          Lot can happen in 30 years so don’t right it off just because right now we only know one method of making weapons. I’m sure the soldiers in the Civil War never imagined what modern firearms would be like either and probably would have said a self loading, magazine fed rifle capable of lasting 10,000+ rounds would be impossible and a thing of science fiction.

        • Dracon1201

          Of course you can’t print hammer forging, lol. The process is in the very name. However, different techniques will be pioneered to get around that. The tech will take over. Chemistry and metallurgy are hard facts, but we use them to discover different processes today. It’s gonna continue. I’m sorry you don’t believe it, but we haven’t invented a damn thing yet that hasn’t been improved far and beyond the original invention(Or did you think the telephone would always be corded?), and I don’t see humans losing all ingenuity, creativity, or motivation. Especially when it applies to something as revolutionary as this.

    • iksnilol

      Not really, a RepRap is like 200-300 bucks, fits on my desk, and can be delivered to me through the mail.

      A mill and lathe and welding equipment takes way more upkeep, money and space. Can you fit your workshop on your desk?

  • Blake

    Now if someone could only 3D print some 22LR ammo…

  • hydepark

    The offer is still open for proof-reading. Just seems silly to publish articles with so many errors. Otherwise cool topic. And screw what the jackboots think about this stuff. It’s our right dagnabit!

    • Can you point out some? I know I could always be a better writer in alot of ways.

      • At Werk Jerk

        Alot = a lot

        • iksnilol

          Alot is nonstandard but correct.

  • Edeco

    Viva la signal!

  • INFI

    Poor Yoshi.

  • iksnilol

    You could scale it up to a shotgun, bullpup it and use a long barrel (made from plumbing pipe), the cylinder would have plumbing pipe chambers.

    Would make a nice and handy blaster. I’ll probably draw up a mockup of what it could look like later (I promise it won’t have too long length of pull like the last time, Alex or was it Nathaniel F.).

  • nobody

    Has anyone ever chronographed one of these 3d printed guns? I wonder how powerful they actually are and how much pressure is lost from the bullet more than likely being a bit smaller than the barrel, plus the possibility of the barrel expanding slightly on the ones with entirely plastic barrels.