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The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine 651

An anonymous reader writes: You may recall Cody Wilson as the man behind the world's first 3D-printed gun. He built a company behind the ideals of DIY gun-making, and now he's come back with another device: the "Ghost Gunner," a CNC mill designed to create the lower receiver of an AR-15 rifle. "That simple chunk of metal has become the epicenter of a gun control firestorm. A lower receiver is the body of the gun that connects its stock, barrel, magazine and other parts. As such, it's also the rifle's most regulated element. Mill your own lower receiver at home, however, and you can order the rest of the parts from online gun shops, creating a semi-automatic weapon with no serial number, obtained with no background check, no waiting period or other regulatory hurdles. Some gun control advocates call it a "ghost gun." Selling that untraceable gun body is illegal, but no law prevents you from making one." Wilson's goal is still to render government gun regulation useless, even as debate rages on banning this kind of manufacturing.
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The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

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  • by therealkevinkretz ( 1585825 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @11:46AM (#48037597)

    Ban "Assault Lathes"!

    • Re:the solution: (Score:5, Informative)

      by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @11:58AM (#48037757)
      That's exactly what California is proposing to do, and why he made this. It's in TFA, not that anyone here reads them.
      • Any references to this? Searching for 'California Assault Lathes' gave me some giggles but no real info. I certainly would not put it past the California legislature to try to ban or regulate mills or lathes (the former being more 'dangerous'), but it wouldn't ever work and would piss a lot of people off.

      • California was proposing to ban lathes? Where do you get that from TFA?

        I read that they wanted to ban the act using a CNC to finish off an "80% Lower" without assigning it a serial number, but that the governor thought that this requirement wouldn't deter any criminals so he vetoed it.

        • Re:the solution: (Score:5, Informative)

          by jythie ( 914043 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @01:57PM (#48039263)
          California was debating requiring a serial number on home made guns independent of how they were made.

          Since homemade guns are not transferable it was mostly a symbolic idea which at most would add another charge onto an existing arrest and that is about it.
          • California was debating requiring a serial number on home made guns independent of how they were made.

            Actually, the legislature passed that. But, in a fit of sanity, governor Jerry Brown vetoed it.

            Anyone familiar with California politics will realize how extrordinary that is. B-)

  • BZZT. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Selling an un-serialized lower is not illegal. It's just illegal to make it with the intention of selling it.

    It's a good idea to serialize it before you sell it though, and record the transaction.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @11:52AM (#48037649)

    I have a small CNC and with a few tool changes and some time i've been making 1911s and ar15s for years...

    this isn't new or exciting this is the way ar-15's and 1911s are made

    cast rough shape machine to precise specs...

    I'm not sure why this is a big deal, its still REALLY hard to build a barrel and chamber so you still need to buy them, honestly making the receiver the registered part is silly most people could build a receiver with time and effort few people could make a decent barrel or precise chamber.

    is the only thing he did to make this special is provide the right tooling in the box? and a pre-installed set of gcode big fucking deal it takes 2 seconds to get the gcode for an ar of the net

    • and if you don't want to buy any expensive machining equipment you can make an ak47 with some sheet metal and a large format printer

    • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @12:00PM (#48037789) Homepage Journal
      I think the barrel and chamber aren't tracked because they are wear items that might be replaced on a gun. The receiver is like the frame on the car. You could build one a lot easier than you could build your own engine from scratch, but it's also the part that you're least likely to replace on the vehicle.

      If this takes off (which I kind of doubt outside of the fringe), you could expect the government to start regulating replacement chambers and barrels as well. I would expect it to have the opposite effect that Cody Wilson is intending.

      However, this just delays the inevitable. As home manufacturing improves over time, it will eventually be cheap and easy to make your own gun at home, at which point the Genie is out of the bottle. About the only thing left would be strict regulation of primers and maybe gunpowder itself.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @12:31PM (#48038171)

        The Genie is already out of the bottle. In fact it has been for centuries. Manufacturing firearms has been been possible for your average person for about as long as blacksmithing has been a vocation. There are parts of modern weapons which require tooling and equipment that is generally beyond the average garage hobbyist, but none of this technology is all that hard or expensive to obtain or duplicate. All the steps are decidedly low tech.

        What keeps most from doing all this is that you have to have an uncommon level of understanding of the processes required as well as how to run the equipment needed to produce the necessary parts and it takes a LONG time to run though them all. There are a lot of steps needed to produce properly tempered parts of the correct shapes and sizes. None of the steps are beyond the guy in the garage, there are just a lot of steps. So many that it's a whole lot easier to just buy a ready made weapon, especially when you consider how much your time is worth.

        • I don't even think it'd require all that many steps if you designed a weapon meant to be built and assembled by amateurs. During WW2 some clever people actually designed what became known as the STEN, which could be easily produced in significant numbers by resistance fighters and used the ammunition stolen or looted from the Germans. Sure if you want to replicate something as complicated as an M-4 you are looking at a lot of work, but something like a STEN could be done much more easily.

    • I'm not sure why this is a big deal, its still REALLY hard to build a barrel and chamber

      The answer, of course, is that you print them.

    • The receiver is the only part of the gun controlled by the federal government. It's considered "The gun" for all intense and purposes.

      All other parts can be ordered online and are exempt from firearms laws. So for those that think the federal government over-regulates firearms (myself included) making a tool that can cheaply produce a receiver is a big win. For years you could cast a receiver and then mill it out. But that required a lot of skill. With this, you can buy this CNC mill, order the cast block o

  • Hope He Continues (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @11:52AM (#48037651)
    Really government over reach is a huge problem and I like the idea of people being able to make their own guns. I know a lot of people want to blame guns for many problems but that is a rather cheap excuse and avoidance of the fact that the public needs improved living conditions so that there are less violent people who act out irrationally. Without much hope of a decent future we do have far too many people who act out. We also have prisons that make only token gestures at rehabilitation of inmates and a mental health system that is a national disgrace.
    • Next step: abolish all laws.

    • by itzly ( 3699663 )
      The government will react to this by making the regulations even tighter. The other way is simply not an option.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      know a lot of people want to blame guns for many problems but that is a rather cheap excuse and avoidance of the fact that the public needs improved living conditions so that there are less violent people who act out irrationally. Without much hope of a decent future we do have far too many people who act out. We also have prisons that make only token gestures at rehabilitation of inmates and a mental health system that is a national disgrace.

      But that's just an excuse as well because other countries have th

      • Your comment about Canada fails to note that Canada not only has fewer guns per capita, but also fewer capita per square mile. People kill other people either because they are crazy and just want to kill people, or because they are pissed at them. It's a lot harder for crazy people to kill other people when their aren't any other people around. And it's a lot harder to get pissed at people if fewer people are around. I also wonder what their drug/crime rates are, removing gun incidents that occur around oth

  • Alarmist BS (Score:5, Informative)

    by shbazjinkens ( 776313 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @12:06PM (#48037847)

    But precisely finishing the last 20 percent of a lower receiver has still required access to a milling machine that typically costs tens of thousands of dollars.

    Whatever. I made mine with a $350 micro milling machine from Harbor Freight. The template kit to mill & drill the other 20% of the incomplete lower receiver was about the same cost as the 80% complete lower receiver. So all of the parts & tooling in sum total less than $550. Plus I use the mill for other things and the template has resale value. Also FTA:

    Defense Distributedâ(TM)s machine canâ(TM)t carve pieces as large as its competitors, but its small size makes it more rigid and precise, allowing it to cut an aluminum lower receiver from an 80 percent lower in around an hour. Thatâ(TM)s a task Wilson says would still be impossible with todayâ(TM)s cheapest hobbyist mills but doesnâ(TM)t require five-figure professional tools. âoeWeâ(TM)re making this easier by an order of magnitude,â he says.

    I think that they meant to quote him as saying it is POSSIBLE. An order of magnitude is a gross overstatement, given that this was the 3d milling version of trace paper.

    Subversive ambitions aside, Wilson doesnâ(TM)t hide the fact that the Ghost Gunner is also a money-making project.


  • Wilson's goal is still to render government gun regulation useless, even as debate rages on banning this kind of manufacturing

    Or he will wake the sleeping giant and increased regulation will proliferate!

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @12:18PM (#48038025) Homepage
    I am liberal and in favor of gun control. But long guns are not the problem. They

    1) Are too big to easily hide, attracting the attention of cops. So crooks don't like to carry them.

    2) Are too big to easily commit suicide with.

    3) Are too big for young children to easily play with.

    As a direct result of this, long guns kill less than 500 people a year.

    Pistols, however, are used by criminals, by people committing suicide, and by kids playing around with them. As a direct result, over 30,000 people die every year after being shot with a pistol.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Pistols are also the best self-defence weapon, and are used countless times around the world to protect the life and dignity of innocents.

      People who want to commit suicide will still commit suicide.
      Criminals will still get an illegal pistol, or use another equally deadly weapon (knife, machete, baseball bat)
      Kids, well, are more likely to drown in a pool or get run over in traffic. Parents are responsible for their well-being and education anyway.

      Yet innocent citizens will only have bare hands and harsh lang

      • by chrysrobyn ( 106763 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @12:57PM (#48038467)

        Pistols are also the best self-defence weapon

        Dogs are the best self-defence weapon. Their barking scares away countless intruders. They're armed even when you're not home. THEY GO AROUND CORNERS. They can be recalled, do not kill instantly, and can quickly recognize friends by smell.

        20 years ago, my dad and I came home from a camping trip a day early, but late at night. If my mom had been armed, she would have shot at both of us. Instead, the dog woofed to wake her up and then went to go greet us.

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          The best thing about dogs is their uncanny friend-or-foe instinct.

          The other afternoon we had the main front door open but the storm door closed and our dog, a 95 lb. pit bull/dane mix went nuts at the door. I looked outside, expecting to see a squirrel, chipmunk or rabbit close by in the front yard but saw nothing. The field of view is narrow and two seconds later a religious pamphleteer crossed into my view and started heading up the walk and the dog went REALLY nuts.

          He doesn't react like this to neighbo

      • by Flammon ( 4726 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @12:58PM (#48038479) Homepage Journal
        Yes, yes and yes! Once I realized that "anti-gun" meant no guns for the good guys and guns for the bad guys, I became pro-gun. The debate isn't about less guns for bad guys, they already have guns and always will. It's about letting the good guys can have guns.
  • by McGregorMortis ( 536146 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @12:30PM (#48038161)

    An AK-47 receiver made out of a rusty shovel: []

    Perhaps the problem is that the receiver is the legally-controlled part of the gun. Everything else is spare parts. Making receivers is easy now.

    I'm no expert, but it seems to me that making a barrel is the hardest part. Why isn't the barrel the controlled part?

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @12:41PM (#48038303) Homepage

    Wilsons goal of enabling anyone to privately fabricate an untraceable gun is part of a larger anarchist mission: To show how technology can render the entire notion of government obsolete. Hes spent the last two years developing firearms designed to be printed as easily as ink on a page, neutering attempts at gun control. 'This is a way to jab at the bleeding hearts of these total statists' Wilson says. 'Its about humiliating the power that wants to humiliate you,' he says.

    I'm all on board the maker train (I own a makerbot at home) but Jesus tap-dancing Christ...Anarchy? You dont need to make "ghost" guns to skirt gun control. After 4 major shootings in the US in 2 years, lawmakers themselves refuse to enact any sort of gun control. Hell, getting a gun in america is as easy as filling out a form. the biggest hurtle is the waiting period and even that is only a sometimes kind of thing. We cant even use serialized guns to independently track homicide rates in our country unless we get a FoIA from the ATF, which incidentally hasnt had a full time director in years. News reports routinely redact the make and model of firearms used in shootings out of fearfulness they'll incur a defamation lawsuit from the NRA. if you really want to "humiliate the power" and "jab at hearts" you leak confidential information. Hell, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are national treasures and they did it without a gun.

    my prediction is the homemade printable gun will be outlawed not from some evil 'obama gunna take muh gunz" scheme but by lobbying pressure from the NRA, who represent weapons manufacturers profit margins (not you.)

    • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      from the NRA, who represent weapons manufacturers profit margins (not you.)

      As an NRA member I can assure you they are representing me. I pay them to do so and I observe that they do indeed pursue the agenda I expect of them. Membership fees constitute almost half of NRA revenue. In my case that does not include additional voluntary donations to ILA, which amount to about 300% of my membership fee, annually.

      To the extent that the NRA also represents the interests of weapon manufacturers they represent me indirectly, as I am a patron of those manufacturers, and it pleases me when

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <[imipak] [at] []> on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @01:10PM (#48038673) Homepage Journal

    First, guns don't protect, never have, never will. That is not the function of a gun. So anyone on their high horse should look to see if they're suffering altitude sickness.

    Second, the design of these specific rifles is a non-issue. The gun market is inherently grey, which means regulation is minimal to non-existent. There's no white hats in weaponry of any kind. And, yes, that includes the re-enactment stuff I work with. I know that, recognize that and accept it*. No shades, just a thick, pea-soup foggy grey.

    *That is why I despise "goody two shoes" arguments from both extreme camps. This isn't black, this isn't white, this is murky grey. I own it for my part, I hold nobody to a higher standard than I hold myself, but I refuse to hold them to a lower one either. Own it.

    Third, the design of any regular weapon is a non-issue, but nothing stops you from designing an irregular weapon. With modern cheap hardware, a 3D printer and suitable low-cost materials, a person is quite capable of designing a 3-5 mile range sniper rifle that can be controlled via telerobotics from the home. We already know that low-cost cruise missiles with ranges in excess of 100 miles can also be built at home. With 3D printing, the costs become lower. With advances in technology (remember, the $5000 100-mile cruise missile was designed over a decade ago and it wasn't even close to what budget efforts could do), you can expect far greater ranges, far greater precision and far greater payloads today.

    This, again, goes back to this being grey hat technology. If a black hat wanted to use such devices, we'd know about. Or, rather, the survivors would. America still exists, so black hats either don't have the courage of their convictions or they don't have the skill. Either way, they're not worthy of consideration. Worthy of being dumped into a deep oceanic trench, bu not worthy of consideration.

    White hats? If white hats were building actively guided systems capable of that sort of range, you'd be seeing miniature computer boards running Linux, Squid and Tor relays launched into stable orbits that crossed nations with restricted network access. We don't. We see "peace corps" infiltrators attempting to install such devices directly, along with who knows what malware, causing international incidents and seriously destabilizing international relations, as part of neocon stupidity. White hats putting in a passive alternative with no hostile software and no damage to other nations -- that's an OBVIOUS way to do good for everyone and to minimize harm. But, no, they either don't have the skill or the courage of their convictions.

    So it's all grey. That's all there is. Thick, pea-soup fog.

    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @01:25AM (#48044453) Journal

      First, guns don't protect, never have, never will.

      The first eight of your 457 word wall of text shows you're so out of touch with reality that there's no point in reading the rest.

      The primary function of guns in private hands is to protect those who carry them. They do that exceptionally well. In criminal attacks, resistance with gun is the most effective way to avoid injury or death. It's substantially more effective than the second best - knuckling under completely - and beats the pants off everything else, from running away, to trying to talk your way out, to resisting with bare hands or other tools. (Resisting with knife is about the worst.)

      Research on self-defense is hard, because faiures leave tracks in crime stats while successes usually don't (and often leave the self-defended victim with an incentive to keep quiet about it). Nevertheless, even the first well-run projects were able to put a lower bound of guns preventing or aborting more than six times as many crimes as they aid in committing.

      In private hands they're safer than police, too. A defense-with-gun is usually effected by no more than brandishing or occasionally getting off a round in the general direction of the perp. But of those instances where a victim or a policeman shoots someone believed to be a perpetrator, the cop is over 5 1/2 times as likely to erroneously shoot an innocent than an armed private citizen.

      My family has substantial personal experience with armed self defense. For just a few examples on my wife's side: In college she was accosted by the rapist in the window, who was dressed in just running shoes and a dirty knife. Fortunately there was a hunting rifle behind the bed: She actually had to go as far as cocking it before he stopped trying to get her to drop it and jumped back out the window - apparently to take it out on another girl a few blocks away, with over 130 cuts while raping her. Her mother defended self and family against a Klan attack with a pistol. (Her granddad was caught away from his gun, though, and had to do his anti-Klan defense with a hammer.) Then there was the aunt, the uncle, ...

      At the larger scale it's hard to argue with the fact that the US, founded in a revolution (by religious nut with guns) against their self-admitted "legitimate government" and with over half the adult civilian population armed, has now gone over two centuries without a substantial attack from abroad and only one major internal war, while Europe continues to suffer from genocidal wars, often with multi-million body counts. (With the exception of Switzerland, of course: Every adult citizen there is armed and has had military training. Even World Wars go around them.)

      It's also hard to argue with the fact that the US is multi-ethnic, and the common denominator of each of its ethnic groups is that their members' murder victimization rate is substantially less than that of contemporary members of the same ethnic group still residing in their land of origin.

      As for resisting an oppressive regime if push comes to shove: We have experiences like "The Battle of Athens" just after WWII, and the documented question from Nixon to a thnk-tank about what would happen if he suspended the presidential election. (Answer: That would precipitate an armed rebellion, and the population was well enough armed that it would succeed.) Uprisings aren't always successful and small or UNarmed uprisings are often put down, sometimes with lots of deaths. (Witness the Bonus Marchers' Massacre.) But recent decades of world politics have shown how effective a popular uprising can be, against even a coalition of world powers and superpowers.

      If it came to that in the US, you can expect a substantial amount of the military (especially retirees) to be on the side of the people, along with lots of military equipment raided from armories. (You can see that now in the Middle East. The big difference between Al Queda and ISIS/ISIL is that the latter has bunch of col

  • Big Deal.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @01:46PM (#48039135) Homepage

    Both of my AR's were obtained without a background check. I bought both from a private seller. 100% legal.
    Honestly this is all mental masterbation. You can easily build an AK47 lower without a milling machine and just some hand tools and a old shovel.

    In fact.... here you go....

    http://www.northeastshooters.c... []

    The AR15 is not the best platform in the world, it's just popular. if you really want a gun that can take insane abuse and easily built with hand tools.... AK47 is the gun to build to be subversive..

  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @03:04PM (#48040029)

    Of all the politicians bleating about the dangers of home-made untraceable weapons, and (probably) exhorting us to 'think of the children', how many of them are motivated primarily by concern for their fellow man? I'm betting it's at least a minority, and perhaps a vanishingly small one. No, I think most of them are reacting primarily out of fear - fear of losing their power over the citizenry; fear of primal, animalistic human urges that they want to see only on football fields and battlefields; and fear for their own skins.

    I'm very much anti-gun and am strongly in favour of gun control. As a Canadian I contrast the level of gun violence here with that in the US and am thankful my country's traditions are so different. I really don't want to live in a crazy, bullet-riddled land. But in the face of rapidly-growing government power, and rampant governmental abuses of citizens, I'm starting to see the wisdom of people having access to guns. I'd like to think we can find a better way though.

  • by NetNed ( 955141 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @03:19PM (#48040217)
    80% unregistered AR lowers have been around for AWHILE. The 80% lower runs around 90 bucks, around $150 for the jigs to machine it, and another $800 or so for the rest of the parts of the gun. Then you need the tools to put it together, which could get pretty costly, in to the $500 or more range if you want the right stuff, and know how to put it all together correctly so that it doesn't blow you hand off after 100 rounds. Add in trouble shooting it correctly if it doesn't eject shells right, doesn't cycle right or a multitude of other issues with certain tools to need in certain issues, all that cost more money. If you were looking to do this on a big scale, like the FUD article seems to suggest is going to happen, then you would need something a little better then a hobbyist "CNC" from Harbor (junk) Freight.

    At $1200 for a lower that has no finish on it and doesn't have the upper with it? This is just another PR stunt by some anti-gun group that cooked up this terrible idea. Shocking how stupidly long it took them to come up with it considering the amount of time the 80% lowers have been around. And for what that's worth, what criminal is going to spend that type of cash and time for weapons he can obtain illegally and cheaper then the one this D-bag is selling?

    FUD, a term coined on slashdot that now is apparently the stories they strive to put on the site. Sad common sense is no longer used on this site.

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