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The inaugural post for this blog was about the impracticality of the 3D printed firearms.

Well, it seems someone is out to change that. The Lulz Liberator looks pretty similar to the first 3D printed handgun, but features a rifled barrel, stronger plastic and can be produced on a printer that costs less than $2,000 as opposed to the $10-15 beast the first one used to print out a gun.

The maker added a chunk of metal as well as metal screws, but there’s a video of it firing 9 .380 rounds from a single printed barrel, which is much better than it’s predecessor did in many tests.

See below:

A lot of the things from the previous article still stand, however. For instance, for the cost of the printer, you can pick up 4 Bersa Thunders , not to mention that 9 shots on a barrel that you have to replace manually for every shot is hardly a game changer. But the upshot of this development is that the technology involved in home produced armaments is already improving after days, not years.

I’m still not going to worry until we start seeing the iGat or the Google Gun, personally.

I know I’m a week or so behind the curve on this one, but I wanted to start off this blog with a few words about the 3D Printable handgun.

For those who are reading this, but are unaware of the Liberator (the recent one, not the one from WWII), basically I’m talking about a large, single shot pistol that can be produced on a 3D printer. The 3D printer is a machine costing about as much as a subcompact that uses computer models to produce actual artifacts out of plastic (though some metal versions exist, I am told). It also can only produce parts, but a handgun assembled from parts is still a handgun.

A company in the state of Texas, Defense Distributed, has been working towards the goal of producing a firearm that one could produce on a 3D printer for some time. They’d already produced gun parts, a sound suppressor and generally made a lot of people nervous. Politicians began to seek to pass legislation to make the production of printable firearms illegal. Headlines were grabbed like water at the end of a marathon.

In general, this freaked some people out, as if now one could run down to Kinko’s and print out a Glock.

But the problem is this: this is not a great handgun. It’s got a plastic barrel that has, in one test, failed after the first shot. To reload it, you have to remove that barrel. It is chambered in .380, which is at the debatable bottom end of defensive handgun calibers. It is the size of two smaller semi-automatics. The firing pin still must be metal. And on top of that, there’s the detail that bears repeating, that it is produced on a machine that costs enough that you can, even at today’s prices, go buy around 10 AR-15’s instead and have cash left over for ammunition.

And yet, the U.S. Government had Defense Distributed pull down the plans.

The message there is less about the ability of people today to acquire a inadequate firearm for an exorbitant price, but as a warning to the inevitable successors of Defense Distributed who will produce more durable firearms. But that will not stop people from distributing the Liberator plans or the intellectual children of the gun.

What I find interesting is how much the actual firearm’s capabilities are misunderstood, how much the importance of the achievement is downplayed, and how much this is a 2nd Amendment issue that has become a 1St Amendment one. I’m not trying to downplay the achievement, but it’s important to remember that firearms are simple machines and have been cobbled together from much less hi-tech sources.

A reasonable firearm of the same capabilities can be made with some duct tape, a couple of pieces of pipe, a nail and a rubber band. The Sten sub-machine gun is made essentially from bicycle parts and is a fully automatic weapon. In wartime, people have produced pistols, rifles and light artillery by hand.

This is nothing new.

One day, sooner than we think, people will have a device in their house that can spit out simple things. You could print a figurine, a cup, a flute or many other artifacts. It will be awesome.

But you’re not going to be able to download a Glock anytime soon.

Perhaps we should stop acting like it.