An intriguing and controversial type of weapon has emerged in the 21st century.  As technology advances, they have captured the attention of law enforcement, military personnel, and gun enthusiasts alike. We are talking about ghost guns and 3D-printed firearms. These cutting-edge creations are reshaping the landscape of weapons technology, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and what is legal.

In this article, we’ll explore the world of ghost guns and 3D-printed firearms, highlighting their impact and how their emergence captivates the interest of military aficionados and gun enthusiasts.

The Rise of Ghost Guns

Ghost guns, also known as homemade firearms or “ghosties,” are manufactured without serial numbers, making them untraceable by law enforcement agencies. Individuals typically build these weapons using parts kits or 3D printing technology to create components. The accessibility of these kits and blueprints has allowed would be gunsmiths to bypass traditional regulations and produce firearms without background checks or documentation.

3D printing technology has revolutionized various industries, and firearms are no exception. With the advent of 3D-printed firearms, individuals now have the ability to create functional weapons using readily available designs and materials. These firearms can be printed using plastic, metal, or a combination of both, offering a range of possibilities for aspiring gunsmiths.

One of the key advantages of 3D-printed firearms is the versatility of materials that can be used as long one has the right equipment, skills, creativity, and knowledge.

Plastic-based 3D-printed firearms have gained significant attention due to their accessibility and ease of production. Guns printed using high-quality thermoplastics, such as nylon or ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), can exhibit impressive durability and strength, making them suitable for various applications. These plastics can withstand the forces generated during firing and offer a viable option for individuals looking to explore 3D-printed firearms.

Prototype of FGC-9 circa 2020. The name of the gun is an initialism, with “FGC” standing for F*** Gun Control and the “9” for the 9 mm round it fires.  (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Meanwhile, using metal-based 3D printing technologies, such as Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) or Selective Laser Melting (SLM), has opened up new frontiers in firearm manufacturing. These technologies allow for the precise layering of metal powders fused together using lasers, resulting in solid metal parts. The ability to print firearms using metals like stainless steel, titanium, or aluminum alloys provides enhanced strength, durability, and overall performance.

The accessibility and affordability of 3D printing technology have also democratized firearm manufacturing. With readily available designs and open-source platforms, individuals can access a vast repository of firearm blueprints, enabling them to create their own firearms at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a commercially manufactured firearm. This has empowered gun enthusiasts to exercise their creativity, customize their firearms to meet their unique preferences, and embrace the art of gunsmithing in a whole new way.