Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson wasn't kidding when he said last week their team was working diligently on developing a design for a 3D printed handgun. In an exclusive from Forbes, the design of the handgun, named "The Liberator", has been shown for the first time.
During Wilson's appearance the other week at a New York City conference, several 3D print experts expressed skepticism whether a fully 3D printable gun could actually be developed, and suggested it could be years before such a thing would be seen.
Meanwhile, it took only a few days.
The Liberator is not completely 3D printed, however. There are two metal pieces: a nail to serve as a firing pin and a six-ounce (170g) hunk of metal to ensure Defense Distributed does not run afoul of the US Undetectable Firearms Act. The metal will enable airport metal detectors to find the Liberator.
That is, only if you actually insert the metal into the Liberator. When an open source design like this goes public, it's never certain how people will make use of it. You can bet some people will print the gun without including the metal insert.
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.
The Liberator has been live-fired successfully, although it lasted only a few rounds before failing. While this may not sound impressive, the same results were found during initial tests of previously designed 3D printed weapons. Expect the reliability to increase dramatically as experiments and tinkering proceeds - this is an engineering effort.
Scary, but a wide of variety of deadly weapons can already be produced in any well-equipped workshop, 3D printer or not.