A CNC Machine That Can Print Unserialized Rifle Parts? It’s a Reality, and It’s Legal
Through the use of a miniature CNC machine, one company promises to help consumers create their own AR-15 lowers in the comfort of their own homes.
Cody Wilson, the man who created the first 3D printed gun, unveiled the Ghost Gunner machine, a desktop-sized 3D printer made by his company, Defense Distributed. The Ghost Gunner will allow users with no prior manufacturing experience to produce a durable, working AR-15 80% lower receiver from any receiver blank. In other words, the Ghost Gunner creates the part that connects the stock, barrel, magazine and other parts.
The product information on Defense Distributed’s website explains that the Ghost Gunner will automatically find and align the 80% lower to the machine. The CNC milling machine connects to a PC and uses point-and-click software to make the process simple for users.
The mostly automated machine is currently Windows-compatible only, with a Mac version in development, and it is ready to use out of the box with plug-and-play software. It weighs about 45 pounds and is around the size of a personal inkjet printer. And, the site says, “Ghost Gunner can help you legally manufacture unserialized firearms in the comfort of your own home” in about one hour.
Is it legal? Apparently yes: even “unregistered” and “unserialized” 80% lowers are considered non-guns. On their own, they are not a firearm until a home-builder adds the upper and internal parts through complicated machining techniques.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives states that as long as a person can legally possess a modern firearm and does not make the gun into a Title II weapon (e.g. a machine gun or short-barreled rifle), it is legal to make one of these guns at home.
The original run for the Ghost Gunner ranged in price from $999 to $1299. The original 175 units sold out in just one day, with a 100-unit preorder selling out the very next. In total, producing an AR-15 costs about $2,000; the price to purchase the same firearm at a gun shop is about half that amount.