Meet "The Liberator": The World’s First Fully 3D-Printed Firearm

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

3D-printing, like decentralized crypto currencies, have the potential to change the world in which we live in extraordinary ways. Ways that are almost inconceivable at this point given we are so early in the game.  More than anything else, these technologies can empower the individual like never before, and I think that is generally a very good thing.

I first covered the impact of 3D-printing on the firearms industry in January in my post 3D-Printing Meets the 2nd Amendment, where I discussed Defense Distributed’s success in printing magazines for semi-automatic weapons.  At the time, their next major goal was to print a fully functioning firearm. They have now done just that.



From Forbes:

Eight months ago, Cody Wilson set out to create the world’s first entirely 3D-printable handgun.


Now he has.


Early next week, Wilson, a 25-year University of Texas law student and founder of the non-profit group Defense Distributed, plans to release the 3D-printable CAD files for a gun he calls “the Liberator,” pictured in its initial form above. He’s agreed to let me document the process of the gun’s creation, so long as I don’t publish details of its mechanics or its testing until it’s been proven to work reliably and the file has been uploaded to Defense Distributed’s online collection of printable gun blueprints at


All sixteen pieces of the Liberator prototype were printed in ABS plastic with a Dimension SST printer from 3D printing company Stratasys, with the exception of a single nail that’s used as a firing pin. The gun is designed to fire standard handgun rounds, using interchangeable barrels for different calibers of ammunition.


Technically, Defense Distributed’s gun has one other non-printed component: the group added a six ounce chunk of steel into the body to make it detectable by metal detectors in order to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act. In March, the group also obtained a federal firearms license, making it a legal gun manufacturer.


Of course, Defcad’s users may not adhere to so many rules. Once the file is online, anyone will be able to download and print the gun in the privacy of their garage, legally or not, with no serial number, background check, or other regulatory hurdles. “You can print a lethal device,” Wilson told me last summer. “It’s kind of scary, but that’s what we’re aiming to show.”

Oh, and you can now purchase 3D-printers at Staples for $1,299.  

Full article here.

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Mon, 05/06/2013 - 12:14 | 3534358 Precious
Precious's picture

Just enough bullets to shoot yourself in the head one time, or in someone's recent euphamism, "fully automatic".

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 12:27 | 3534413 malikai
malikai's picture

Don't knock it. This is a very powerful thing.

One of those things in the hands of a dedicated french or polish resistance fighter could get you a mauser or two and a bunch of clips next.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 12:29 | 3534422 Fukushima Sam
Fukushima Sam's picture

If they can't stop you from downloading pirated media, how will they stop this?

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 12:38 | 3534460 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture



Inside of 15 feet, give me a carbon-fiber knife.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 12:39 | 3534466 Precious
Precious's picture

I'll be waiting for Version 2.0 of the CAM files which will supposedly print ammo.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 12:40 | 3534471 iDealMeat
iDealMeat's picture


Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:11 | 3534498 Precious
Precious's picture

In reponse to the new printed-gun technology, Representative Steve Israel (D - Huntington) will be introducing legislation to ban anything that can be pointed at people.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:11 | 3534559 ratso
ratso's picture

Can you say "ZIP GUN"!

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:23 | 3534599 Stackers
Stackers's picture

You can also carve a spear out of tree branch and make knives arrows out of rocks.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:31 | 3534626 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

The liberator is a funny historical footnote, more useful was their ar magazine:

Anyway, a lot of obsession over the 3-d printed guns in the press but there are lots of relatively easy ways to make guns (not an advanced technology).

Far more interesting is the promise of 3-d printing for more sophisticated devices through crowd-sourcing, the inevitable innovation breakthroughs will be incredible & will force a rethink of many things, including economy (so long as .gov doesn't manage to slam the boot down). 

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:15 | 3534782 fonestar
fonestar's picture

This is sweet... gonna download me a Liberator along with the Iraqi War redacted documents from Wikileaks and maybe some Mossad agents too...

Satoshi + Cody Wilson + Wikileaks........  Liberation Day!

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:37 | 3534887 jbvtme
jbvtme's picture

can you make a box cutter or a pressure cooker?

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 15:01 | 3534960 Precious
Precious's picture

Bloomberg approves so long as it holds less than 32 ounces of lead.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 18:20 | 3535661 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

The early adopters will of course be sex toy companies.

I am Chumbawamba.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:26 | 3534606 Triggernometry
Triggernometry's picture

Keep your pants on, this is just a prototype.  I work with 3D printing and CAD on a regular basis, there are limitations to what can be printed, furthermore 3D print material is notoriously brittle.  Yes, the compounds have come a long way since inception, but we're still talking about plastics which break down when consistently subjected to heat, sunlight, or high mechanical loads.  Plastics are so named due to their plasticity, not exactly a property you want in a firearm you depend on to save your life.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:30 | 3534621 CH1
CH1's picture

3D printing UTTERLY ROCKS all the same.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:44 | 3534660 Mad Mohel
Mad Mohel's picture

It's a nice technology, but it's really only suitable for tinkering and prototyping. Lately I have seen many " firearm hobbyists" inquiring about getting set up to learn 3D printing. The funny thing is the learning curve is about the same as using a lathe and a mill. And with the "old tech" you can actually make stuff that won't blow your fingers off or put your eye out.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:00 | 3534719 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

 I have a mini lathe, could make a barrel and reciever (in any caliber) in steel for that thing in 30 minutes, with practice or a little automation could get that down to 10 minutes each. With a little tinkering could make a jig to rifle it too, an operation that takes about 15 seconds.

It's really primitive technology folks.

Keep in mind they used to make "Damascus" shotgun barrels by wrapping iron wire around a metal rod, hammering it and then pulling out the rod. You can laugh now but in a pinch that fucker would still blow your head off. In some ways it was the precursor to 3D printing.

Anyone can make a handgun or shotgun. You don't need a 3D printer either. Everything you need is at the hardware store, you can buy a lathe online for $500, and you can make all the handguns you want in your garage, probably make three day if you got into a production run.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:31 | 3534856 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

an old radio antenna will make a fine one round barrel for a .22

nail, rubber band, duct tape

of course we will need to ban all of this for the sake of the children

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 15:44 | 3535173 Headbanger
Headbanger's picture

Ban all radio stations immediatewly!

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 15:47 | 3535183 Headbanger
Headbanger's picture

That's IMMEIATELY damnit!

God dang cheap scotch again..

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 17:16 | 3535473 Overfed
Overfed's picture

The beauty is that you can prototype it out in plastic, make sure it'swhat you want, then copy it in steel. Also great to prototype bucking blocks for forming mags out of sheetmetal.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 18:48 | 3535755 Paul Bogdanich
Paul Bogdanich's picture

You can't draw a barrel on a mini lathe.  You can't even properly machine hardened steel. 

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:44 | 3534661 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

Looks like the trigger is broken to me...

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:34 | 3534871 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Yup, and that thing last for 6 firings.  Truly overwhelming.  Not!

I smell "guerilla marketing" in this story.  Clever marketing execs of 3D printers leveraging the G & A saga for juicing their sales.  If it helps the VOM (velocity of money), even Krugman the Fed will like it.  In spite of official objections.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 20:17 | 3536007 Mr. Magniloquent
Mr. Magniloquent's picture

You don't understand. It's obviously named "Liberator" after the French FP-45, aka "Liberator". I was a simplistic, easily concealed and manufactured single shot pistol to be used on a properly armed enemy at point-blank range. You strike them unaware, and then steal their weapon. Learn some history.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:34 | 3534639 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

Keep your pants on, this is just a prototype.  I work with 3D printing and CAD on a regular basis, there are limitations to what can be printed, furthermore 3D print material is notoriously brittle.  Yes, the compounds have come a long way since inception

Limitations (I assume you mean for the average Joe) are being removed very quickly.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:58 | 3534710 The Big Ching-aso
The Big Ching-aso's picture

That is one royal-looking POS.    I wouldn't fire that phucking thing even if I was gonna commit suicide with it.  It's just too dangerous.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:57 | 3534941 Precious
Precious's picture

I know.  That's the last problem anyone needs.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:21 | 3534804 resurger
resurger's picture

but there printers that uses metal, you can load any type of metal in it and the laser will cut. i use Zbrush, btw can you print the mechanical parts, i think the problem is there.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 16:59 | 3535412 rosiescenario
rosiescenario's picture

....right you are....the shooter might be at higher risk than the shootee...

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 18:46 | 3535748 Paul Bogdanich
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Also notice how the guy in the demo fired one shot.  That's probably because if you fire two either the breach or the barrel or both fail.  Plastics simply cannot support the chamber pressures generated by a properly functioning firearm and i bet the round at issue was loaded down to about 300 fps.  Fundamentally to print rather than machine means the material you are printing with has to be able to flow or else you can't print with it.  It's just a headline grabbing piece tailored to the gun nuts of which there are many.  If one was serious about doing something like that one would probably use machined phenolic or some similar material like that for the breach and the barrel.  Furthmore if they get to the point where they can print a material what would withstand even nominal chamber and breach loads it would have to be dense so all the scanners would see it just not the "metal detectors."  In sum just a scare story.  A lot of those lately as well.    

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:32 | 3534616 AlaricBalth
AlaricBalth's picture

Can you say melted gun?

There are a few variables which determine the temperature of a fire arm barrel. Rate of fire, caliber of ammo, longitudinal location of barrel, radial location of barrel and mode of fire. Each type of firearm has its own barrel temperature range.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic has a melt temperature of 221 degrees F. Even a small caliber firearm has barrel temperature variation from 260-600 degrees F or more depending upon the above determinants.

I would imagine that this 3-D gun would be rendered useless after a few shots at best.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:43 | 3534658 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

And accurate at a range of, oh about 6 inches?

Why not use an ice pick?

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:46 | 3534666 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

Now when I hear a story about somebody 'suiciding' themselves by TWO shots to the back of the head I'm gonna believe the story...

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 16:43 | 3535348 JuliaS
JuliaS's picture

A gun that destroys itself after dischagre does have certain appeal. All that's needed is plastic shell-casing and a bio-degradable bullet to complement it. Give it another week.


Mon, 05/06/2013 - 20:28 | 3536028 Mr. Magniloquent
Mr. Magniloquent's picture

It's not intended to be a primary firearm. Wikipedia FP-45 or see above.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:22 | 3534594 mick_richfield
mick_richfield's picture

If pointed remarks are outlawed,

only outlaws will have pointed remarks.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:59 | 3534982 Precious
Precious's picture

My kid got suspended from school for whispering the word "p-l-a-s-t-i-c".

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:06 | 3534737 pierco1
pierco1's picture

Great now 2 years are going to be locked up for pointing... gives a whole new meaning to it's not polite to point

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:08 | 3534745 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"In reponse to the new printed-gun technology, Representative Steve Israel (D - Huntington) will be introducing legislation to ban anything that can be pointed at people."

Is that a (printed) gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me? - Mae West

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:26 | 3534833 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

They already have a law on the books that bans guns on planes, which are not metallic -- and thus avoid metal detectors at airports. 

p.s. Altough there are a number of ways of achieving some very nasty results on planes, thankfully all of the people with those skills & brains are too smart to take themselves out of the gene pool. 

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 16:08 | 3535247 Colonel Klink
Colonel Klink's picture

Just another nice Christian boy from the tribe.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 16:33 | 3535322 Freddie
Freddie's picture

Steve Israel should go to Israel and stay there.  F him!

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 18:41 | 3535724 Henry Chinaski
Henry Chinaski's picture

In reponse to the new printed-gun technology, Representative Steve Israel (D - Huntington) will be introducing legislation to ban anything that can be pointed at people.


Hah!  Half the population would be illegal. Just sayin.

(Cock blocking, bitchez!)

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 12:42 | 3534469 Manthong
Manthong's picture

well, only one logical solution..

time for the government to ban printers

has that been tried anywhere before?

oh, and HH.. I would favor a 1911.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 12:58 | 3534500 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture



 I would favor a 1911

I was talking about undetectable and non-metal weapons. 

Nonetheless, inside of 15 feet, with your 1911 in a holster, and my Benchmade clipped in my pocket, I still like my odds.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:10 | 3534557 malikai
malikai's picture

This doesn't sound like approved DHS self-defence protocol to me, fellas.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 13:18 | 3534577 Saint Tibb
Saint Tibb's picture

Exactly.  You're supposed to call 911 and wait for the police to come and tag your corpse before you do anything.

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 17:54 | 3535586 jimmytorpedo
jimmytorpedo's picture

I have my DHS approved scissors handy.

Unfortunately they're the plastic kindergarten variety, not carbon fibre.

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