Just a week after the release of blueprints for the world's first fully 3D-printable gun, the firearm known as the Liberator is already reproducing–and evolving.
Photos floating around Twitter and sent to me by readers show the DIY weapon created by the high-tech gunsmithing group Defense Distributed beginning to fulfill its promise: To allow anyone to create a handgun at home with an Internet connection and a 3D printer, potentially circumventing all gun control laws. And the State Department's legal move late last week to remove those blueprints from Defense Distributed's website, Defcad.org, may have only made the group's fans more eager to print their own plastic gun in defiance of the government's takedown.
Travis Lerol, a 30-year-old former military software engineer in Glen Burnie, Maryland, printed his Liberator (shown at right) within days of its appearing online. Unlike the original printed gun, he says he's altered his to have a rifled barrel, a move designed to avoid the National Firearms Act, which regulates improvised and altered weapons and has a provision covering "smooth-bored" pistols. He's also built another version of the barrel for .22 ammunition that uses a metal insert for reinforcement, instead of the entirely-plastic barrel for .380 rounds used in Defense Distributed's original. And he's cast versions of the Liberator's barrel in epoxy that take .380 and .45 ammunition, a design he argues will be more durable than the pure ABS plastic Defense Distributed tested.