Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed was previously mentioned here for 3D-printing a key component of an AR-15 rifle and then making the first 3D-printed AR receiver which fired over 600 rounds without breaking. Now Andy Greenberg of Forbes has watched him test a “fully” 3D-printed gun with mixed results.
We put fully in quotes because Wilson used a standard metal nail as a firing pin, and he also had to insert an unnecessary six ounce piece of steel in the gun’s body to make the gun set off metal detectors in compliance with the Undetectable Firearms Act. This doesn’t mean, of course, that anyone who downloads the free CAD files will also insert useless metal, and the nail used as a firing pin isn’t a sufficient quantity to set off the alarm.
Wilson calls this 3D-printed gun The Liberator after the one-shot pistols the Allies air-dropped into France during the WWII Nazi occupation. (He just up and Godwin‘d this whole thing before a commenter could do it.)
When tested remotely, The Liberator could fire .380 caliber bullets without breaking (although it did misfire once). When he swapped out the interchangeable barrel for a 5.7×28 rifle cartridge, the 3D-printed gun exploded on the first shot. Here’s a close-up of the gun pre-explosion: