The skinny on 3D guns

It’s time to once and for all put to bed concerns about 3D-printed guns. Other than the printer, homemade guns are nothing new. They have always been around and are not illegal if made for your own use.

But Polymer-printed pistols are almost always single-shot and virtually never undetectable. Without a metal barrel insert, they typically fail catastrophically on the first or second shot. Besides needing a metal barrel, you will also need a metal firing pin, a metal mainspring to propel the firing pin and, of course, metal bullets. If you want an effective single-shot firearm, try an online search of “homemade shotgun.” Numerous sites will show how to turn $20 worth of pipe into an effective survival shotgun.

If you want to make something actually useful, try a search for “80 percent AR15” or “80 percent Glock” or “80 percent Sig P320.” For about $100, you can get a kit to make the frame or chassis, which is the actual firearm, for several modern firearms. You will need a few hundred dollars more for the rest of the parts — available over the counter — in order to assemble a fully functional personal-use firearm without a serial number.

The 3D-printer method of making your own firearm is the least-cost efficient. After spending thousands of dollars on the 3D-printer, you will still need to hand-fit the parts together. And if you test fire it, you may not get a second shot.

So why spend thousands on the printer when you can do it for a few hundred dollars and a few hand tools?

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