Tactical Tailor

Disruptive Tech – 3D Printed AR-15 Lower

Tactical Fanboy picked this up the other day. Despite assertions elsewhere, by no means is this the first 3D printed firearm. It’s starting to make its way into the Main Stream Media and of course timing couldn’t be better so the ‘plastic’ gun and ‘anyone can print a gun’ talk has already started. To be sure, 3D printing is the next big thing. Industry is way out on front of Government on this issue as they are more concerned with patent and copyright infringement than anything else. Expect to see industry propose legislation to attempt to throttle printers in order to suppress certain types of items being produced.

The big issue in this instance is that a lower was produced. As far as ATF is concerned, that is the firearm. It is legal to build your own gun. However, as this technology proliferates, what would stop someone who cannot legally possess a firearm from printing critical parts and assembling a gun from the parts he couldn’t produce in house? A heavy question that balances liberty and social responsibility.

Will LE one day be on the lookout for unlicensed printers connecting to the network? Will everything we print have to be approved by a central server? Will printing certain items become illegal? These are all issues we will face in the not-too-distant-future. The capability presented by the 3D printer makes it an absolute Disruptive Technology.

HaveBlue of AR15.com has managed to create a working polymer AR-15 lower made from a 3D printer, specifically a mid 90’s Stratasys 3D printer. So far, the lower has been combined with a .22 LR upper, with over 200 rounds fired and no issues. A 5.56 upper was also used, with some feeding and extraction issues, however according to the creator this upper has also had problems with a standard aluminum lower.

A few other articles I’ve seen on this project have instantly jumped at the chance to (incorrectly) claim people now have the ability to create fully-functional firearms using just a 3D printer, so in the name of truth and fairness, I feel it’s important to mention that only the lower was created with the printer, not the trigger assembly and other required components.

AR-15.com thread detailing the project


11 Responses to “Disruptive Tech – 3D Printed AR-15 Lower”

  1. Woody says:

    We can already buy 80% lowers and it’d be possible to make them functioning lowers with little more than a drill press. Not that the media will ever make this point, but personal manufacturing and modification of firearms is nothing new.

  2. MattF says:

    How is having a 3D printer any different from purchasing your own metal machining equipment?

    Where the will exists to circumvent the law, those who will do so will do so.

    • SSD says:

      The difference is going to be access. Machining equipment requires expertise. A printer could conceivable print anything so long as you have the pattern. Anyone could do it.

      • MattRobotHunter says:

        I’m just curious about how this will play out when someone makes an auto seer with a printer. I don’t think that the modern plastic ones will hold up, but tech only gets better with time and it will happen.

  3. 3D printing in metals is possible although I don’t think the products are its sufficiently robust for yet for working parts in fire arms or other machinery but I don’t suppose it will be long before it can be done.

    If the anti-gun lobby in the US is concerned about it just imagine the bleating that will go on in the UK.

  4. Haji says:

    It’s already illegal for a felon and a person with a DV misdemeanor to have a gun. It will still be illegal for them to print one if that becomes viable. Typical of politicians, the talk surrounds restricting the rights of the people that follow laws, while they’re ignored by people who’s career is law breaking. Until they find a way to make printing a gun illegaler than it would already be for a felon, it’s just another imposition against the rights of the law abiding citizen.

  5. Scott S. says:

    Just wait until the first moron gets a bolt-carrier through the skull. Rapid-prototyped parts can’t handle the stress.
    besides, anyone who is remotely savvy can machine/kluge together a lower.

  6. Have Blue says:

    “Despite assertions elsewhere, by no means is this the first 3D printed firearm.”

    As the person who printed the AR-15 lower in question, I never claimed that it was the first (others have 3D printed lowers and fitted them with internals). However, I have been unable to find any evidence that mine is not the first _tested_ 3D printed firearm. If you can point me in the direction of a 3D printed receiver that had actually gone ‘bang’, it would be much appreciated! Someone has to have done it, I’m sure, but proof is lacking.