Monday, July 01, 2019

First Arrest for 3D Printed Gun in London, England, 2019

A young man from Zimbabwe has been convicted in London of making and possessing two guns with a 3D printer. The gun parts were discovered during a raid searching for marijuana. From
A second raid of his home in February 2018 led to the discovery of further components of another 3D printed gun.

Acting Detective Sergeant Jonathan Roberts, who led the investigation, said: “We know that Muswere was planning to line the printed firearms with steel tubes in order to make a barrel capable of firing.

“This conviction, which I believe is the first of its kind relating to the use of a 3D printer to produce a firearm, has prevented a viable gun from getting into the hand of criminals."
The design at the top appears to be  a six shot version of the reprringer 3x pepperbox. The reprringer is a manually indexed, single action pepperbox. The cylinder has to be turned and indexed manually, and the hammer cocked, for each shot.  

People have been convicted in Australia of making 3D printed guns. The laws are more restrictive in Australia, where it is illegal to posses a replica without a license, or to possess the computer instructions on how to print out gun parts with a 3D printer. This is the first time a person has been convicted of making and having a 3D printed gun in England.

Both of these designs  are composite designs. They use easily obtainable metal shapes to contain the pressure of firearm cartridges, primarily for the barrel. The 3D printer makes it easier to create the fire control mechanism for multiple shots.

Both of the firearms designs showed by the Metropolitan Police fall under the classification of pepperboxes. Pepperboxes are some of the simplest revolvers. They use multiple barrels, rotating about a central axis. They were produced as flintlock, become more reliable with percussion caps, and most reliable with self contained cartridges.

Washbear PM522 picture by London Police

The  Washbear PM522 is an eightshot, double action pepperbox revolver. Pulling the trigger rotates and indexes the cylinder, cocks and releases the striker to fire the pistol. It is a bit more complex and bulkier pistol than the Reprringer. Both designs have been fired on youtube videos.

The videos appear to be censored as they appear.

The simplicity of the design lends itself well to a composite 3D printed, multishot pistol.

In London, the designs did not have steel tubes inserted as barrel liners. The Police claim Mr. Muswere was planning to obtain and insert the steel barrel liners.

Where ammunition is tightly regulated, the designs are easily adapted to what ammunition is available, or to simple ammunition substitutes that are commercially available over the counter.

Common .22 rimfire ammunition is the usual caliber used. One advantage is very low powered loads are available.  As .22 rimfire is almost never reloaded, controls are less rigorous than for other cartridges.  .22 rimfire is ubiquitous and commonly used for hunting and pest control in .22 rifles. It may be the most easily available ammunition in most underground, unregulated, or "black" markets.

The other substitute, commonly available and used in China, is the powered bolt driver rounds, such as Ramset copies.  Manufacturers of such items caution they should not be used in firearms.

The powder charges are different, but the priming system and machines used to make them are the same as for .22 rimfire. A projectile needs to be added to make them into useful ammunition. It need not be attached to the cartridge.  Examples are commonly found where the projectile is glued to the bolt or nail driver round.  Projectiles may be loaded separately.  I have been told the nail gun type cartridges use an extremely fast powder, which can create high chamber pressures.

A feature which would make the 3D printed composite pepperbox designs more durable and reliable would be a metal base plate at the rear of the barrels. It would need holes or slots for the firing pin, a threaded hole for the cylinder pin, or a simple hole for the cylinder pin with a threaded nut on the other side. This would strengthen the design considerably.

Add another, smaller metal plate at the front, with a hole for the cylinder pin, that overlaps the steel barrels without obstructing them, and you have created a system that uses metal to contain the forces of the cartridge firing.

The entire cylinder assembly, with cylinder pin and plates, could be made as an easily replaceable unit. People who desired quick reloads with the Colt percussion revolvers often carried extra cylinders.
 The 3D printed components would be used to align the barrels properly for firing and to create the fire control system of hammer and trigger and other parts used to rotate and index the cylinder.

Guns are a 14th-15th century technology. Homemade guns and small shop guns are found all around the world. In the United States, it has been the right of the people to make their own guns for the entire history of the Republic. Only in the last few years has the right been challenged.

There are so many unregistered and untraceable guns in the United States that the right to make your own has little effect.

Its primary utility is to convince the uneducated of the futility of gun control schemes.

3D printed guns seem to do that more effectively than most other homemade guns.

©2019 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch 

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