3-D Printed .22LR Form 1 Suppressor

I am willing to bet that when the National Firearms Act of 1934 was enacted, no one in the the government, firearms industry or the general public envisioned technologies like 3-D printers being used to create gun parts. Let alone being used to make silencers. Eighty years later, a machine simple enough to be run by almost anyone with a bit of skill and common sense can make plastic parts in a matter of hours.

First off, let’s be crystal clear: maker, Jordan Bowles followed all US laws and regulations for the creation of a legal firearm suppressor. This includes filing all the necessary paperwork, noteably the ATF Form 1 application to make and register an NFA controlled device, pay a $200 tax, undergo a background check and wait nine months. Insane for something that is essentially a glorified slurpy straw. But what do I know.

Of course, building a rimfire suppressor out of ABS plastic does have some downsides. For one, cleaning lead and powder residue from the enclosed baffle stack will be next to impossible. And the lifespan and durability won’t compare to to a steel or aluminum build.

However, in a world where silencers aren’t regulated to the max, a simple, cost effective 3-D printed silencer makes the possibility of a ‘three-pack impulse buy’ at the gun shop couster a reality.

I’ll let Bowles explain his build in detail:

I waited 9 months and payed a $200 tax to print a $2 piece of plastic in my basement, please take the time to support the Hearing Protection Act of 2017, H.R.367 and S.59, so that all law abiding people in the USA can enjoy the comfort and safety of suppressed firearms without having to needlessly wait months and pay exorbitant and unjust taxes.

 

First off this was not my first 3D printed silencer, I had experimented with using 3D printers to make silencers when I was a designer at a firearms manufacturer, having a Class 02 SOT made it easy to handle the paperwork and legality of it, anyways that few years ago. Fast forward to June of 2016, 41P was about to go into effect and I wanted a .22LR silencer, nothing was in stock to do a Form 4 on, so I eFiled a Form1 under my trust. It wasn’t until recently I started to think about how I was going to build my silencer. I had considered doing a full from-scratch build, buying some “solvent trap” as a short cut, or using my 3D printer to print one. In the end combination of wanting to do something interesting and a bit of laziness lead me to decide to the print one.



As I started to get a solid idea of when I could expect my Form 1 to be approved I started thinking about the design. I dusted off my now years old designs and started making notes as to what I wanted to accomplish. The biggest departure was switching to a totally monolithic design verses a more typical baffle stack in a tube, wanted to leverage the unique abilities of FDM(fused deposition modeling) 3D printing. After playing around in Solidworks a bit I settled on a simple 6” long stack of 8 cone baffles, this type of designed allowed me to print the silencer without the use of any additional support material, and it keeps everything reasonably concentric. The true monolithic construction also minimized the amount of the “silencer parts” involved I wanted the design to be as simple as possible for a potential ATF agent to understand.


I printed this out of ABS filament, it’s basically just 8 stacked cones, it allowed me to print it as one solid piece of plastic. I turned and knurled a barbed thread insert that I heated and pressed/melted in, using a 16″ barrel kept an eye looking down the bore checking alignment as I spun the barrel and my tweaks to the still pliable base of the silencer as it cooled, I marked the front cap by heating letter punches with a torch and basically branded the plastic to a nice depth.



The bore was a little oversized and tapered to insure against baffle strikes. The only other component was a brass heat-set thread insert, I went with this for few reasons. Number one being I didn’t really trust the plastic to have enough hold on the ½”-28 x .400” muzzle threads of the host Ruger Mk4 22/45 Lite, next I wanted the base to have some heat capacity to slow down the heating of the plastic a good size hunk of brass accomplished this nicely, finally I wanted to steer clear of the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 it doesn’t seem to apply to silencers but I figured making it metal-detectable wasn’t a bad idea.

3-D

NOTE: The specifics of the “Undetectable Firearms Act” referenced by Bowles above is ounlined in 18 U.S.C. 922(p):

(1)It shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive any firearm —

(A)that, after removal of grips, stocks, and magazines, is not as detectable as the Security Exemplar, by walk-through metal detectors calibrated and operated to detect the Security Exemplar; or

(B)any major component of which, when subjected to inspection by the types of x-ray machines commonly used at airports, does not generate an image that accurately depicts the shape of the component. Barium sulfate or other compounds may be used in the fabrication of the component.

(2)For purposes of this subsection —

(A)the term “firearm” does not include the frame or receiver of any such weapon;

(B)the term “major component” means, with respect to a firearm, the barrel, the slide or cylinder, or the frame or receiver of the firearm; and

(C)the term “Security Exemplar” means an object, to be fabricated at the direction of the Attorney General, that is—

(i)constructed of, during the 12-month period beginning on the date of the enactment of this subsection, 3.7 ounces of material type 17–4 PH stainless steel in a shape resembling a handgun; and

(ii)suitable for testing and calibrating metal detectors:

Provided, however, That at the close of such 12-month period, and at appropriate times thereafter the Attorney General shall promulgate regulations to permit the manufacture, importation, sale, shipment, delivery, possession, transfer, or receipt of firearms previously prohibited under this subparagraph that are as detectable as a “Security Exemplar” which contains 3.7 ounces of material type 17–4 PH stainless steel, in a shape resembling a handgun, or such lesser amount as is detectable in view of advances in state-of-the-art developments in weapons detection technology.


The next morning I made it to the range just as the sun was coming up to find it empty enough to occasionally slip-off my ear muffs and get a good feel for the performance. While I didn’t have a conventional commercially produced silencer with me to compare it to, I did have some experience with similar suppressed .22lr pistol setups. The silencer performed admirably, it didn’t explode, no baffle strikes, and didn’t stand out as any louder or quieter than my memory of other setups. Truth be told this was the first time shooting the host pistol as well so I can’t really speak to the accuracy or point of impact change. I fired about 100 rounds of PMC 40 gr. Moderator Sub-Sonic .22LR, aside from the fouling on the inside it looked as good as new. I suspect fouling will be the death of this silencer before some sort of material failure will be, as there is nothing to take apart to clean.


VersionS of 3-D priniting will be the future of the firearms industry. Of course, there are companies currently using somewhat more complex additive manufacturing that allows for the building high-pressure rifle suppressors. But there is plenty of room for innovators.





Pete

LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Pete.M@staff.thefirearmblog.com
Twitter: @gunboxready
Instagram: @tfb_pete
https://www.instagram.com/tfb_pete/


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  • b0x3r0ck

    And they called me mad in another article saying 3d ceramic resin suppressor would be a cool ideal.

  • Texas-Roll-Over

    Great job!

    For increased strength, hardness, and abrasion resistance you can actually plate it in nickel. You can then also PVD over it for lubricity and further hardness. Call Richter Precision or RePliForm.

    • Jared Vynn

      How do you plate abs in nickel?

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        With electro plating. It work just the same (in concept) as plating metal. Next time you see a Ford truck with a shiny grill, you are looking at chrome plated ABS. Ford has done it on their truck grills for over a decade at this point.

        • Jared Vynn

          Interesting, I thought you needed a conductive material for electroplating to work.

          • gregge

            It’s not electroplating, it’s vacuum sputtering. Put the clean parts in a vacuum chamber. Wrap some aluminum wire around heating elements. Heat just high enough that some of the aluminum vaporizes. It condenses on anything cooler.

            If what it condenses on is shiny smooth, the aluminum will be shiny smooth. Same process for “chrome” plastic model car parts, telescope mirrors and full size car “chrome” parts. Car parts just get a thicker coating.

            You can electroplate plastics by applying a thin coating of something conductive. One way is with a special lacquer that has silver in it. It only takes a very thin coating. Then other metals get plated over that.

            Another that works is tin chloride. That’s used for silvering some mirrors. Apply tin chloride to *clean* glass then pour on the silver solution. The valence difference between the two causes silver to plate onto the glass without applying any electricity. Once the silver has built up enough, the mirror is dried and a protective paint coating is applied so the silver doesn’t oxidize.

        • marathag

          Chrome vacuum plated plastic goes back a long ways, with that ‘Chrome’ being aluminum, but other metals are possible, just as with real plating.

  • You gotta figure this guy is thinking “when this thing dies, I’ll just print a new one”. Not legal, but how is the BATFE ever going to know?

    • Jared Vynn

      Well if the brass insert were to be serialized or if a metal shroud utilized around the monocore and was serialized you could print off replacement baffles legally I believe.

      • lawbob

        Actually, I believe a SOT07/02 has to “repair” the Form 1 can.

        • Jared Vynn

          I don’t think that applies if the form 1 holder does the repairs themselves and destroys the old parts.

          • Sianmink

            As said above, if you properly destroyed the old silencer and printed a new one with the same serial number, who would know?

          • Just say’n

            “foul”, I see what you did there.

          • CountryBoy

            Or “fowl” as in “ducking the issue”! 😉

          • Lew Siffer

            You could take a blowtorch to the first one and then print a brand new one with the same serial number, and essentially have disposable silencers. No cleaning needed. Would that be illegal? If a test case ever went to court, the Federal court might say what you did was OK. This is how the Supreme Court changes the law — a citizen takes an action that law enforcement says is illegal, but the court sides with the citizen, and the law is changed. The problem is, it could never go to court, because no one would ever know what you did, because the first silencer would no longer exist and you would possess exactly what you were authorized to possess, one properly serial numbered tax-stamped silencer. Poor law enforcement! Whatever shall they do?

          • frankspeak

            depends on who’s in power at the time..things are already beginning to loosen….

        • lawbob

          DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
          BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO AND FIREARMS
          WASHINGTON, DC 20226

          AUG 23 1999

          901040:GS

          5320/99-0115

          Dear Mr. Bardwell:

          This is in response to your letter of June 28, 1999, regarding the repair of a silencer by an individual owner. You ask “whether it
          is lawful for the owner of a lawfully possessed silencer … to
          repair that silencer himself, by replacing unserialized internal
          components with new components of his own making.” You cited the replacement of a worn out plastic “wipe” or damaged baffle as an example.

          As you are aware, the terms “firearm silencer” and “firearm
          muffler” mean any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing
          the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of
          parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling
          or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, and any part
          intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication. Thus,
          certain internal components, intended only for use in a silencer,
          are silencers as defined.

          If an individual made one of these parts, even for use as a
          replacement part, the individual would be making a silencer. Under
          the provisions of the National Firearms Act, any person must apply
          for and receive permission to make a silencer and pay the making
          tax for each silencer made. This would require the individual
          owner to file an ATF Form 1 application for each silencer part to
          be made with the payment of $200.00 for each application prior to
          making any replacement part.

          In regard to the two parts in your cited example, we consider a
          baffle to be a silencer, but a wipe, which is usually nothing more
          than a rubber or plastic disc with a hole in it, is generally not
          considered to be a silencer. Thus an individual owner could
          replace a wipe.

          – 2 –

          Mr. Bardwell

          –> For the replacement of a part or parts that meet the definition of
          a silencer, the individual owner would need to arrange for the
          transfer of the silencer to a Federal firearms licensee who is
          qualified to manufacture silencers.

          If you have questions about the classification of other silencer
          components, please provide us with a description of them or should
          any additional information be needed, please contact Gary Schiable
          at (202) 927-8330.

          Sincerely yours,

          [signed]
          Kent M. Cousins
          Chief, National Firearms Act Branch

          • Jared Vynn

            Interesting, feels like that contradicts with the fact you can build your own. Wouldn’t be the first time the ATF contradicts itself.

          • LGonDISQUS

            *sigh* F The ATF.

          • frankspeak

            they have to keep justifying their existence…..

          • frankspeak

            in other words,..utilization of a form 5…for everything but the wipes

    • m-dasher

      ….i mean, you could say the same thing about ANY homemade suppressor….

      keep a couple maglites around the the house…..whos gonna know

      • frankspeak

        can actually make an effective one out of a shampoo bottle and some steel wool..good for about 50rds…then pitch it….

    • CountryBoy

      I would think that if he thoroughly destroyed the other he could re-serialize the new one without a problem, but even this article may put him on the BATFE’s “watch list” kind of thing.

      • nicholsda

        Mark the brass insert and the problem is solved.

  • mrpotatocat

    But is it full auto rated??

    • koolhed

      And does it take Glock magazines?

      • iksnilol

        is it in 10mm?

        • Konflict7993

          Does it 80s style hip fire?

          • Marc

            Anybody have a guess as to round count with this thing? 1000? Couple thou? Hundreds?

        • Flounder

          Shoot it once and it will be!

  • L. Roger Rich

    Preay the bill passes. then i have the last thing on my bucket list and can die a happy old man.

  • iksnilol

    Jacketet ammo should keep it going for a while longer.

    • CountryBoy

      I think most of the fouling I’ve cleaned over the years is from the powder itself. The powder gets everywhere with the blowback operation while the bullets themselves don’t touch the baffles so there’s no gunk from them. Any gunk in the barrel is from the bullets, but that is still cleanable.

      Someone else mentioned cleaning the ABS suppressor, and it made me wonder if the residue would be easier to get out due to the ABS, instead of metal.

  • nova3930

    Only a matter of time before laser sintered metal 3D printing is viable for home use, and then you can 3D print them out of aluminum or whatever else you want. I can remember when those were million dollar + machines and now they’re in the 5 figure range….

    • Lee M Attinger

      Or you could just buy a CNC mill in the low 4 figure range.

      • nova3930

        Point is I expect at some point we’ll see metal 3D printing in the few hundred dollar range….

        • Lee M Attinger

          I’m not disagreeing that the price will continue to come down. I just don’t see any advantage to using additive fabrication over deductive fabrication in this particular application.

          • Ben Pottinger

            Ease. A cnc machine requires setup, specific tooling and all kinds of other specialized skills. A 3d printer isn’t exactly as easy as a normal 2d printer but it’s quite a bit easier then a cnc machine.

  • Bradley

    If they were unregulated and cheap enough I could actually see some market for a “disposable” supressor.

    • Just say’n

      You mean “recyclable”, gotta’ be green.

  • Theodore Kennedy

    You could just fill it with plastic-friendly solvent and set it in front of a speaker; use the right frequency and you “should” be able to shake the fouling loose, pouring it out with the solvent!

  • gunsandrockets

    they can’t stop the Future…

  • Blake

    All 3D printing technologies fall under the umbrella of additive manufacturing. It just means the opposite of subtractive manufacturing, which is using a CNC machine or similar method.

  • gregge

    What happens when it gets too fouled to use, or it breaks? Can he print a replacement, re-using the brass insert and marking the replacement with the same number?

    Does he have to prove destruction of one and/or file paperwork about its destruction and replacement?

  • gregge

    “How It’s Made” needs to show this process.

    • LGonDISQUS

      There’s one where they make emergency space blankets from mylar. Spent like t min looking for it wwith no avail. At work. In meeting. *cough*

  • jerry young

    Nice now if they would do away with all the BS to own a suppressor all you’ll have to do is buy the program then just print a new one every time you wear the old one out, I think a little better design would be a metal housing and print the baffles when ever they get too dirty or worn but that’s just cause I just don’t like plastic when it comes to guns even though I do own some polymer framed handguns I still like all metal better

  • iksnilol

    Metal 3d printed suppressors are already here. Brevis in the US makes them. While Tronrud Engineering makes them in Norway (outta titanium at that).

  • Core

    Unjust taxes? I hate to break it to ya boys n girls, but everything is taxed in the land of the free. And they have taxes that haven’t even been invented yet.. I think Americans should not merely question tax but how our labors and taxes are wasted. Due to the current division in America, we have to ask ourselves who benefits from our taxes and who is sacrificing their children for these benefits? The poor tired masses sacrifice their children and our taxes are squandered into the visions of the rich.

  • Mark Are Reynolds Ⓥ

    Gee, anyone who would have one of those that hasn’t been taxed and stamped by the ATF deserves 10 years in a cage…NOT! No victim, NO CRIME. No CRIME…NOT GUILTY “YOUR HONOR”!

    • frankspeak

      ATF “white paper” gives strong indications all these restrictions will soon be history…they’re growing weary of having to deal with all of this…

      • Wow!

        Its not so much they are tired of it, they want the restrictions as it validates their bureau. The issue is that Trumpo is coming down the hall and is “draining the swamp”. Everyone is struggling to tighten their belts and look good lest he says “you’re fired”.

  • frankspeak

    the “danger to the public” rationale is largely a figment of hollywood’s imagination…always have to laugh when they depict someone attaching a “silencer” to a revolver!

    • nicholsda

      If it was a Nagant Revolver, it does work. As long as you use the 7.62Nagant round and not a reshaped .32-20WCF cartridge.

      • frankspeak

        doubt if hollywood is that particular..always gonna’ have that problem of explosive gases escaping from the gap between the cylinder and the barrel…now if they had just covered the entire gun with a pillow…..

        • Tierlieb

          …which is exactly what the Nagant does with the original cartridge. You could, however, cover the gap from the outside and if you want to spend some time on image searches, you’ll actually find a silenced revolver made in Germany for some SEK or other built that way.
          No point to it, however.

          • frankspeak

            yeah, really…besides hollywood always likes to go with colt or the good ol’ smith&wesson…..

  • Tierlieb

    Can and has been done for a while. The interesting questions are
    a) when will the related patents fall so we can start building cheap printers?
    b) how will we build these cheaply?

    The current (well, an old hat by now) wave of plastic 3d printing started when (a) happened and it turned out that (b) was really cheap to do, because ABS can be melted easily. Even aluminum is comparatively hard to do.

    As someone who has been doing 3d printing for a long time, I do not see a home-made metal printed silencer coming in the next 10 years.

    But since CNC routers and lathes are becoming cheaper (to the level where 15 years ago, you’d only get a manual system for the same price) and we’ve established a few platforms to exchange design files, why worry?

  • Skyler Sampson

    You just wanted to show off that you have found a 22/45 lite Mk IV ;). Awesome job, I’ve been contemplating this. I like your approach, I have been testing building nuts and bolts with the threading. I hope the HPA goes through so this isn’t such a pita.

  • Professor Hale

    I see 3d printers getting a lot of hype because they can make gun parts. But the fact is, making guns is 14th century technology. Anyone with a 7th grade machine shop can make one. Anyone who can follow a pattern can make a really good one. Anyone who can assemble parts can make a top of the line high tech one. You can make a suppressor from all sorts of tubular parts that are common. Making one on a 3d printer is no more complex than making any other plastic toys.

  • Art Wood

    yet no one looks up there definition of firearm or to who any of these policies apply its not you and i

  • Wes Bielinski

    I don’t suppose Jordan would be willing to share the .stl file?