We’ve had a few interesting developments in home and small office firearms prototyping lately.
The 3D Printing Revolution is Over, Part I
In a way, the 3DP revolution is over. The revolutionaries won. Every firm in the industry that we have personal knowledge of, from the great (exchange-listed Ruger) to the small (single-digit prototype shops) is using 3D printing in prototype development or even in manufacturing. For example, Ruger’s investment-casting shop, which also casts for competitors and other third parties, Pine Tree Castings, is directly printing lost-wax patterns on two industrial printers; time, energy, and recycling effort are all signally reduced.
The firms that are not using this technology are very small, practically one-man shops, and even they are often using 3D computer design tools and CNC. For the same reason that even the starving writer in his garret is hammering on computer keys and not his granddad’s Underwood: new tools have produced an explosion in individual productivity.
Productivity and Computer Technology
Computers directly enable productivity. For example, imagine this blog in the pre-computer (or even, pre-Internet) era. The “posts” or items would be typed on paper, then reproduced into a newsletter, and mailed to subscribers. It would lose immediacy and volume for sure; it would take us much more work to produce much less.
Computers also indirectly enable productivity by increasing information flow, both in terms of volume and rate. (An ironic by-product of that is that a whole new application for computers became necessary: tools to search, sort and amplify what is to any particular user his desired signal amidst all the noise (some of which is pure noise, but most of which is someone else’s desired signal). Economists have had great success in recent decades by describing economic activity in terms of flows, not of 18th-Century concepts like capital and labor, but of information. Freeing the flow of information from unnatural restrictions generally benefits the society and the individual. It usually scares the pants of some people, especially the ones who used to be able to control the flows.
Computers moved much more slowly into actual production of tangible products, but they’re there now, and making a similarly revolutionary change on the factory floor that Steve Jobs promised to “knowledge workers” in 1983-5 when he introduced the Apple Lisa and, later, the Macintosh Office. Some of those ideas misfired in their first implementation (early Lisas and Macs are collectors’ items today), but the marketplace iterated rapidly and effectively and still does.
Today’s computer manufacturing technology is still relatively primitive, when compared to its potential; we’re about where Steve’s “Macintosh Office” was 30 years ago.
Meanwhile, in Washington DC & Around the World
Just as manufacturing of products becomes disintermediated and dissociated from large integrating manufacturing/marketing/distribution organizations, we have our version of a Luddite spectacle. A bunch of politicians, most of them captive of the economic and political concepts of prior centuries, are making a childish display of themselves, and demanding restrictions on production and ownership of a product, firearms. But they are asking the impossible: guns can be produced under the most precarious of conditions by the most primitive of shops. They do this because they want to redirect anger and retribution away from the actual generator of the recent outrage, Wahhabi/Salafi Islam, and towards targets whose destruction they would find more personally gratifying.
The guy who last changed your brake pads and wiper blades probably has everything in his shop necessary to produce automatic weapons. In fact, another terrorist outrage you may not have heard about recently occurred in Israel where two assclowns inspired by Islam attacked a restaurant with submachine guns.
Back in February, more homebrew SMGs were used in attacks on Israeli cops.
The SMGs, made under embargo conditions in clandestine workshops in the lawless Palestinian territories, were improvised weapons. (One of which did fail during the attack. Testing is an aspect of manufacturing that technology can’t replace).
You certainly heard about the murder of left-leaning British politician Jo Cox, in the land of no handguns, Great Britain. Cox was killed with a crude improvised pistol based on an ancient US Army improvised guns manual.
Non-factory guns can be very sophisticated
Don’t take our word for it, just peruse the Impro Guns blog. Here’s a Thai pepperbox in .22LR.
This next picture is not a TEC-9. Take a good look! It’s a clandestine-shop knock-off open-bolt SMG, seized by cops in Canada last year. Restrict all guns and “prohibit” the scary ones, as Canadian laws do, and this is what anyone who wants a gun might as well build. He’s as well hung for a sheep as a lamb, eh?
Here’s a shot of Browning-style pistols produced in a one-house clandestine factory in Talcher, Odisha, India that was seized by police in the summer of 2015.
And here’s video of a (US, legal) home-built .25 pistol.
Here’s the build of the same (18 minutes). Tools used include a drill press, welding equipment and circular and saber saws. He does use some well-chosen cutting tools, like end mills and reamers, and uses a rifling machine of his own manufacture. ses At one point he improvises an end mill from a drill bit (per the plans he is using). He uses the name “Clinton Westwood” which we’re sure is what his mother named him; his YouTube Channel, Clinton’s Cheap Workshop, is full of must-watch TV.
Clinton’s new adventure is making a larger, 1911-styled .380 blowback pistol. He just started in April and has made good progress, so go to the YouTube channel, click Videos, and enjoy.
You might want to archive the videos, in case YouTube (which is owned by Google, which is either owned by or owns the Clinton — Hillary, not Westwood — campaign) disappears them and unpersons Westwood in the future.
The 3D Printing Revolution is Over, Part II
In another way, the 3DP revolution is over. Many of the revolutionaries of the first wave have gone much more quiet, perhaps because they’re involved in other things, or perhaps for some other reason. Maybe they’re under pressure from a lawless DOJ determined to find terrorists everywhere except among Islamic terrorists!
Cody Wilson? Tied up in a lawsuit, his new book, and the GhostGunner project. Now, the project isn’t idle. Here’s a new video posted this week on the GG2:
And the company released a new manual for the GG1 and GG2, and new software, on 1 June, including the first MacOS version of DDCut.
James R. Patrick? Website gone, although his .STLs have made it into the distribution. Have Blue? Hasn’t tweeted since December. Is he a Norwegian Have Blue, pining for the fjords? ArmaDelite? Not since April 7. Ma Deuce? Showing a heartbeat, at least. He posted a YouTube video in his channel about two months ago, for the first time in a year.
But RollaTroll is still with us (even if his last tweet was a Weaponsman link a couple weeks ago).
And the thing is, it doesn’t matter if some of the original founders of the 3D printed arms movement 3+ years ago have gone silent, gone Hollywood, gone to ground, or gone underground: a new generation is supplementing, and where necessary, replacing them. And the new generation is larger, and the generation they energize will be exponentially larger still.
The genie’s out, and anybody waving a bottle and muttering get-back-in incantations at this point just looks ridiculous.