Every so often the collective IQ of the internet has a blip and there is a mass outbreak of ‘ermahgerd’. This weeks outbreak surrounds a company flogging a desktop milling machine that somehow makes it possible to do something that the ermahgerders thought was impossible but in actual fact is a pretty easy and has been done for decades.
The Ghost Gunner is a desktop CNC machine that has been sold under the single purpose of making AR15 receivers. For those who don’t know that much about guns the receiver is the bit which basically holds everything together and contains the firing mechanism. You still need to buy the trigger, barrel, recoil springs, firing pin, bolt, magazine oh and some bullets. Basically all the REALLY high precision parts.
The makers of the ghost gunner got the attention of the interwebs last year for releasing the Liberator, a ‘gun’ you can make at home with a 3D printer. So yet again we dive head first into the depths of idiocracy in a similar way to when Glock released the first hand gun with a polymer frame. Suddenly everyone will be sneaking these past airport security and we’re all going to die. Hmm… no. The ammunition is still metal in a metal casing and something like 80% of the Glock was still metal. Given that an airport scanner can pick up the staples in my passport or the foil in a pack of polo mints I’m not worried.
As for the whole revelation that suddenly you can make a gun at home… umm… hold on, you’ve been able to do it for YEARS!! Seriously people, we really do live in a world where everything has to be handed to you on a plate all fully finished. Skill and the belief you can actually make things with your own hands seems to have totally evaporated! Where has society gone wrong? Well that takes us into politics and that is banned from here 🙂
So why is the liberator and the ghost gunner not really a news worthy story? Just quickly I ain’t gonna link to any sites showing how to make your own guns, cos that is illegal in most of the civilised world.
The liberator is a neat proof of concept that you can make most of a mostly functioning gun (when the barrel doesn’t break) on a 3D printer. But 3D printing is nothing new (despite what you might read) as I’ve been using it for at least 8 years for prototypes. And 3D printing is not without its problems.
3D printing is great for prototypes or for what I call ‘touchy-feely’ parts you can hand around at meetings to get your boss man to OK a way forward on a project. The problems you have with the ‘domestic’ machines is the parts are made from layers and if you get a slightly duff bond or the temperature is not right it does not make a solid part. Put some stress on it and SNAP! Some of the parts on the liberator could be made very easily with basic hand tools from solid lumps of either metal or a better plastic. Yes, before CNC and 3D printing we made things from big lumps of material using hand saws, drills and files. Or at least we used to until all those skills somehow evaporated….
As for the ghost gunner… the starting point is not a large chunk of ally. Its what is known as an ‘80% receiver’. Basically someone else has used a much bigger CNC machine to turn the lump of ally into something that isn’t quite a receiver and it just needs a few more holes and some tweaking to finish off. Again something that has been in the realm of manual work since man first applied heat to basic elements ad forged the first metal objects. Actually given enough time you could turn a lump of ally into an AR15 receiver. Some engineers blue, a good set of callipers, sharp drills…
I’m sure there is a high degree of publicity whoring on the part of Defence Distributed. Heck they had crowdfunding going on for their new project so this is a perfect way to get some extra money. Also its a political gesture in the whole pro/anti gun thing. But it doesn’t take long to look around the internet and find what people have been making with their bare hands, from really crude to the elegantly crafted. This is no quantum leap or magic wand that makes something accessible to everyone. It just allows you to do a small percentage of the work with very little skill and somehow claim the whole job as your own.
So please interwebs, do some research and stop being so silly!