3D Boom

As courts consider whether an Austin man can legally publish gun blueprints online for people to print their own guns at home, Michael Lynn says many plans are already out there, including a basic pistol called the Liberator, which he printed.

It took 36-hours and $10 worth of plastic to print 13 pieces that he assembled into the pistol. That convenience is what worries critics. But the quality of fully printed plastic firearms is another issue.

“People have test fired this gun as we’re about to and it blows up on the very first bullet that they put through it. A lot of people are holding this in their hand and that’s like holding an M80 [firecracker]. It’s just very dangerous,” he added.

We took him to Eagle Gun Range in Farmer’s Branch where owner David Prince wanted to see this printed plastic pistol for himself and agreed to let Michael test fire it. He added a one-inch roofing nail as the firing pin and then inserted a single .380-caliber bullet into the barrel.

On the range, we set up several cameras to see what would happen as Prince put that pistol in a vise and tied a string around the trigger to pull it from a distance.

After moving everyone back for safety, Prince pulled the string to fire the pistol and the gun blew itself apart. “First reaction? Wow. Pretty cool,” Prince said.

In slow-motion, the plastic pistol exploded in every direction. “I’m glad we used a string,” Prince said smiling.

Perhaps plastic pistols are a self-solving problem.