3D Printed Revolver Caught By TSA In Reno

At the beginning of the summer I had considered putting together a brief reminder on how to properly travel with firearms on commercial airlines. Although I think a refresher is still needed, the majority of guns that turn up in carry-on baggage appear to be the result of avoidable carelessness. However, a recent find by airport screeners was a little out of the ordinary. According to the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Blog, a 3D printed revolver was detected at a security checkpoint for the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

One of the 68 firearms discovered in carry-on bags this week was a printed firearm. It was assembled with parts made from a 3D printer. This was a good catch from the TSA team at Reno (RNO)! While firearms are permitted in checked baggage, we strongly suggest making yourself familiar with local laws prior to flying with a printed firearm.

Obviously, with an ongoing investigation, details are slim, but it will be interesting to see if this is a case of negligence or something else altogether. The rest of the firearms identified in carry-on luggage this past week are as follows:


The list contains a few .44 Magnums; even if they aren’t Desert Eagles, that’s still a lot of gun to forget you are carrying around.

As for firearm travel the refresher, here you go:

From the TSA.gov FAQ (https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition):

You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted. Be aware that the container the firearm was in when purchased may not adequately secure the firearm when it is transported in checked baggage.

  • When traveling, comply with the laws concerning posession of firearms as they vary by local, state and international governments.
  • Declare each firearm each time you present it for transport as checked baggage. Ask your airline about limitations or fees that may apply.
  • Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only. Only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock.
  • Firearm parts, including magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins, are prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage.
  • Replica firearms, including firearm replicas that are toys, may be transported in checked baggage only.
  • Rifle scopes are permitted in carry-on and checked baggage.

It is also a good idea to do a “bag dump” prior to flying. You never know where a loose round, magazine or  spare 1911 may be hiding.


LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Twitter: @gunboxready
Instagram: @tfb_pete


  • Drew Coleman

    I wonder if it was properly weighted with steel to make it detectable.

    • ozzallos .

      No, it was because it had rounds in it.

    • Ken

      Plastic will show up on x-rays (just like your organs will). They block more x-rays than air does, but less than bone or metal will, creating that contrast that can be viewed. Without cartridges, it would have showed up as a gun shaped object, which may have got further scrutiny. If the cartridges were loaded, a mostly transparent gun looking object with very opaque cartridge shaped objects where cartridges normally go would be a dead giveaway.

  • Pod

    Is it a GLOCK 7?

    Did it cost more than what I make in a month?

    • Harry’s Holsters

      I hear it has a ceramic slide!

      • A bearded being from beyond ti

        Plastic guns from germany whoho!

  • bluecheesedressing

    Passenger was just prepared for the ‘terries.’
    “Hell yeah. 3-D printer, baby! 100% polyurethane. They can’t detect these mammajammas!”

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    TSA photo of the passenger being detained.

    • A bearded being from beyond ti

      “I 3D printed a gun just to get caught”

  • iksnilol

    Problem with plastic guns is that the ammo isn’t plastic. I believe even one round of 9×19 has enough metal to be detected by a detector.

    • That’s why you hide the bullets in your lucky rabbits foot keychain.

      • Pete – TFB Writer

        I get that reference. 😉

        • MarkVShaney

          Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich,

    • Ken

      Glass bullet in a plastic smoothbore barrel with a pellet of priming compound against a plastic anvil and a long plastic rod as the “firing pin” powered by a rubber band. I could see a single shot or pepperbox made that way, to be loaded like a muzzleloader. I have no idea if it would even withstand firing though, since it would not have a brass case to help contain any of the shock of powder going off. At minimum, it would have to be very bulky to be strong enough, especially to keep the plastic primer or firing pin from getting blown out.

  • Gabe

    I doubt this is even functional. The chamber walls appear to be made with the dimensions for a steel gun. I would assume this was done to see if it would get detected. I see no other reason for that to have been made since it most certainly isn’t safe to fire.

    • lots of idiots and criminals use guns that are not safe to fire.

      • Gabe

        I cannot argue with that, dumb people tend to do dumb things.

  • Swarf

    This is more of a 3D printed ABS shrapnel grenade.

  • lawbob

    my guess is that it was a cerakoted NAA Revolver…not 3d printed.

    • Areyoufreakinserious?

      Yeah, the people who found it couldn’t possibly have noticed that it was made from 3D printed plastic.

      • Greg Anderson

        I trust them to make a wrong call in the heat of the moment. We’ll know more in the coming days.

        • Stinkeye

          I’m 100% certain we will never know more about this than we do now. The blog post from TSA is already four days old, and they have no incentive to provide more information. They get a little positive press because the normally-useless TSA found a hard-to-detect “gun”, with a little bonus of further demonizing 3D printers, too. That gun-shaped object has probably already been destroyed or misplaced, and no further details will be forthcoming.

    • AD

      Look at the cylinder and even the barrel: the inside is white. I doubt someone would uniformly cerakote an entire handgun, including the bore and chambers.

  • Gregory

    Anyone caught with any type of weapon or ammunition in carry-on luggage is an idiot and deserving of whatever he or she gets. How much time does it take to verify you do not have the items, two minutes?

    • Justin Roney

      While I agree no one should ever be careless with weapons or ammunition, this is exactly what is wrong with the security theater called the TSA. For each weapon that is detected, at least 10 get through undetected. The problem is not inanimate objects, it’s someone’s intent. People shouldn’t be charged with a felony for accidentally carrying a legally owned item. Even the most careful people make mistakes. Making criminals out of people that have no criminal intent is a horrible way to pursue law and order in a society. Ticket/fine them if it’s found they don’t have intent, and have them take it back home.

      • Pete – TFB Writer

        Well said.

    • Jim_Macklin

      Thousands of women carry a small pocket knife in their purses, both men and women carry nail clippers, TSA sells pocket knives by the pound [ton].
      If you carry a gun, buy or rent your own airplane, you can carry anything, just like it was your car.
      Pilot training and certification available at most airports, look in the Yellow Pages. Aircraft charter follows the same rules as scheduled airlines, except TSA doesn’t inspect.
      BTW, if the passengers on Flight 93 had been armed [if all the 9/11 airplanes] the highjackers would not have been able to bring down any airplanes. Gun control makes defending against highjackers very difficult. TSA should stick to looking for bombs. TSA also needs to develop a means to detect “plastic explosive surgery.”

      • Chelios

        So you want a bunch of civilians shooting around in an airplane? Great idea there, sport.

        • Jim_Macklin

          I am an Airline Transport Rated [ATR] and an aircraft mechanic [A&P]. I won’t quote the aircraft certification rules in FAA FAR Part 25 as they relate to pressurization and failure modes, but handguns won’t harm the airplane, certainly mot as much as being flown at 400+ mph into a building.

    • David Harmon

      Okay Mr. Perfect.

  • Swarf

    Were I prone to conspiracy theories, I might say that the TSA slipped this on in the mix to scare up media hype about a non-existent kind of 3D printed gun.

    That’s a pretty low res picture, but there is certainly no trigger, the hammer appears to be part of the frame, there doesn’t seem to be any lockwork, there doesn’t appear to be a way for the forward end of the cylinder to lock in, and to top it off, it does appear to be a plastic mock up of a NAA revolver.


    • NA3006

      I’m kinda with you on this…furthermore, I frequently go through this airport and it is well known to have one of the most incompetent TSA teams on the planet. I find it hard to believe Reno is capable of catching such an item. A more interesting article would be about all the stuff folks have accidently got a plane with that went through Reno security.

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      That is how the NAA revolvers’ triggers look. They are very close to the frame until the hammer is cocked, at which point they protrude about 1/8th inch forward. The cylinder lock is a little tab that would be unseeable on the printed gun due to the angle the pics are taken from. I’ve included a pic of an NAA for reference.

      • Joby

        The TSA site itself says that it was a realistic replica loaded with live rounds.
        Meaning whoever had this on either just 3d printed up the shape of a NAA revolver thinking it would work, or really wanted to test what could pass as a firearm through TSA

    • Phillip Cooper

      I would not at all put this beyond the scope of the present administration.

  • Gary Hansen

    The chart proves .45 owners are the most responsible.

    • Giolli Joker

      .357 as well.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      That made me laugh.

      However, it could also mean that .45 is becoming extinct.

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        I’m assuming the general public carries .45 way more often than .44, yet the .44 is over-represented. Possible theories include: .45 owners being more careful, .44 owners being more careless, .45s being less detectable (unlikely), or my understanding of the CCW public is skewed. I’m really interested in this now.

      • MarkVShaney

        The geezers with their 1911s are afraid to fly since the planes stopped using propellers.

        I kid – I kid…

    • Nashvone

      Any bets on the ONE that got caught was a brand new Shield?

  • Major Tom

    I may have a spare 1911 in the bag I use for carry on? Why wasn’t I told of this?!?!? I’d love a 1911 pistol!

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Santa decided you’ve been good this year. Check your pockets.

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        Mine are full of coal. Can I reload this?

  • Don Ward

    Considering that the .44 Magnum was in Fairbanks, there could be a “logical” reason for it getting flagged as a lot of times people in Alaska transition from airports in the Bush to regional hubs in Fairbanks and Alaska.

    • AK

      But if it was San Fransisco – Dirty Harry for sure.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Good point.

    • wouldn’t 454 casull make more sense for bear country?

      • disqus_sgMcKYCZZ3

        44 mag is way easier to find and shoot than 454.

  • DIR911911 .

    I can’t believe no one is commenting on the fact there is no metal in that revolver. if it actually tried to fire that ammo (looks like 22 mag) it would blow that thing apart on the first shot. looks like a set up.

    • actually the other known design of a 3d printed gun didn’t have metal either. it was only good for a few rounds.

      • J.T.

        But it was much thicker around the chamber than this one. This looks like it would blow up on the first shot.

        • When has the prospect of that stopped a criminal or an idiot?
          I have seen guns made out of plumbing parts consifcated from prisoners. I know a guy who works in a gunshop that had a customer bring in a gun for repair that had been previously been multiple times customer repaired with bondo. Each time the guy fired the gun the gun would develop a crack or two which was then sealed with bondo. After a while the bondo was no longer able to work the guy brought it in. The gun shop employees were shocked this guy was still alive after the first time he did it. My friend admitted he should have bought it after thinking about how staggeringly unbelievable it was.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      There is a small black rod in the picture that looks like it secures the cylinder to the frame. It could be metal.

  • Jim_Macklin

    Spyderco made a small knife called the Co-Pilot. I used mine as a money clip and would just put it in the tray with my coins, bills on top.
    This was before TSA, but there was FAA screening and it was never seen.

    • J.T.

      That doesn’t surprise me at all. Back in the early 90’s, my Dad was friends with the head of security for an airport and would occasionally help with their security audits by trying to take prohibited items through the checkpoint. He got through with a grenade once.

      • MarkVShaney

        I walked through the San Diego Lindbergh Field metal detectors with 2 !!! push daggers in belt holsters in around 1986. Realized I had them about 5 steps from the metal detectors. Slightly panicked- but not a beep was heard.

  • Giolli Joker

    “The list contains a few .44 Magnums; even if they aren’t Desert Eagles,
    that’s still a lot of gun to forget you are carrying around.”

    Some of them could actually be snub nose revolvers in .44Spl, but still that is what caught my eyes as well.

    Damn, you can forget a nail trimmer or maybe even a small pocket knife in your carry-on, but a handgun, really?

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      And a .44 at that!

  • datimes

    The TSA issues a report every month touting all the firearms they intercept and confiscate. Congratulations on capturing careless CC permit holders and others for assorted circumstances. How many hijackers have they stopped? Likely none.

  • Bill

    “(B)ut it will be interesting to see if this is a case of negligence or something else altogether.”

    Something else altogether. Someone with the wherewithal to put this together isn’t going to forget that it’s in their carryon. Even if it doesn’t actually work, it could certainly be perceived by a flight crew or passengers as a real weapon.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      I’m still leaning towards negligence. If it was a test of some sort, it was a big risk to their “operation”.

  • Evil13RT

    ABS plastic is relatively brittle, to compensate the barrels tend to be extremely thick.

    I’m curious if that firearm was just made for looks or was actually functional.

  • USMC03Vet

    With the absurd non sense this current adminstration does in seemingly all levels of federal law enforcement I’ll believe it when it’s verified legit.

  • valorius

    If they caught 68, my guess is they didn’t catch about 680 that slipped through.

  • Elvis

    Not surprised if the person carrying the 3D printed gun turned out to be a reporter.

    • AD

      That’s the most reasonable explanation I’ve heard yet for someone to carry a plastic replica of a metal gun, loaded with live metal ammo, through airport security.

  • Cottersay

    There is no way such a pistol would not explode upon firing. It is an almost exact duplicate of an all metal NAA .22 Magnum pistol, with the same thin cylinder walls. (Why the passenger was carrying ammunition for it is a mystery though, unless they are snapcaps.)

  • spencer60

    I hate to think that anyone would actually try and shoot that thing. A plastic 22 magnum sounds like a good way to lose a thumb or a couple of fingers.

  • AD

    Could this thing even set off a primer? Does it have metal springs, and even if it does, does it have a metal firing pin or just a plastic one, and would a printed plastic firing pin actually set off a primer?

    • Gosquidgo

      I was wondering the same thing. If it did work, I don’t think either the hammer or firing pin would last very long.