We’re all used to firearms being durable goods. Strong, well-made. You can reasonably expect a firearm manufactured a century ago to be entirely usable today with only routine maintenance. If you’re careful, that threshold can go out to the dawn of the smokeless powder era. Consequently, they’re rather expensive.
But, they don’t have to be. What if you only needed to get a magazine or two worth of use out of them, then pitch it? Tam’s idea of sealed, non-reloadable, disposables is a good one, to be sure – but you would still need to go to an FFL to get one (unless there’s a radical change in legalisms in this country). It gets worse in other countries.
What if instead you could “print out” your furniture and most of the rest of your hardware? If the only metal parts you needed to purchase were the barrel and chamber, and the magazine spring? Maybe a trigger group. A tube of heavy-gauge metal and some funny springs and flanges. Then download your plans from the internet, run it off on your printer, et voila.
Each individual “gun” is not very sturdy; sure. Good for a couple of magazines before the plastic melts, or cracks, or what have you. The expensive bits (barrel and FCG) are re-usable. Run off another copy and drop the barrel into it. Tinker with the shape and size – play with your semi-customized grip before you order up a race gun; decide what grip angle fits you best before taking the plunge on a “re-usable.”
And, tech marches on. Today the printer Sebastian and Jason are using is $1200 and the finished product is rather rickety. I can remember when a laser printer was twice than that and slow as molasses in January to print; and now I have what amounts to 4 separate laser printers sitting on the table behind me, and I paid a third of that for a SoHo-grade color laser printer with networking. The material science side is the hard part – but CNC machines are already getting pretty cheap, too. If you can mill your own barrel and frame from blanks, and your own furniture from sturdy plastics, and “print” the rest, you’re 90% of the way to competing with Gaston Glock. Just wait for his patents to expire, first. A very quick internet search says that a “desktop” CNC machine can be obtained for “under $10K,” and that you can build them as school projects. That’s much cheaper than I remember the last time I checked – and no reason they couldn’t get cheaper yet.
But wait, there’s more. There’s a reason I linked to Mad Mike’s Manifesto. The AK-47 is out of patent, and a design notoriously tolerant of manufacturing imperfections. Since it’s intended to be made of stamped metal, perhaps it’s not the best choice for a gun intended to be milled out by CNC, of course.
So, what are the enemies of freedom going to do when you can punch out your own personal arsenal in your basement for under a grand in capital costs and under a C-note in materials? Sure, each one may only be good for a thousand rounds or so at first. Until the design is refined…