Just a few months after the first 3-D printed gun caused plastic panic around the globe, there is now a 3-D printed rifle, revealed this week by YouTube user ThreeD Ukulele. The rifle, named “the Grizzly” after Canadian-built Sherman Tanks in WWII, successfully fired a single shot before the barrel and the central part of the gun split.
For the shot, ThreeD Ukulele chose a .22 Winchester Dynapoint, a hollow-point bullet used mostly for target shooting. It’s the same size of ammunition Boy Scouts use to earn Rifle Shooting merit badges, and generally avoided by the military in favor of faster, longer range, and deadlier bullet types. Much like the .380 bullet used in the first 3-D printed handgun, it’s likely this round was chosen more for it’s low cost than its killing power. Right now, the Grizzly is basically a one-shot squirrel gun.
That the gun split during testing not surprising. Australian police, wary of the new technology, assembled two 3-D printed pistols themselves, and recorded video of one exploding when fired. (German police are also planning to test the technology—maybe they’ll have less explosive results.) Defense Distributed, the organization behind the first 3-D printed gun, had an early 3-D printed gun part malfunction after firing six shots.
Early failures don’t rule out future success. After Defense Distributed experienced a break in their 3-D printed rifle part, they created an improved version, and then released a video of someone firing it 600 times. The first generation “Liberator” 3-D printed gun could only use a single barrel once, but another designer took the schematics and made a stronger, cheaper, reusable version.
As for ThreeD Ukulele and the Grizzly rifle? I wouldn’t be surprised if, three months from now, there’s a functioning version that can fire multiple shots out of the same barrel before breaking, made either by the same person or someone else inspired by their work. The fascinating and terrifying part of 3-D printed weapons is how seamlessly their schematics cross borders, despite the best efforts of the State Department, as well as how quickly these designs can be improved upon by others.