A YouTube video posted yesterday shows what is likely the world's first 3D-printed rifle in action.
The gun, shown in the video above, looks less than menacing -- its white, plastic construction seems more akin to a toy than a deadly firearm. The gun's Canadian maker wrote in the video's YouTube description that he named his weapon "The Grizzly" to pay homage to Canadian-built Sherman tanks used in WWII.
The Grizzly's first shot, recorded for posterity, did not go entirely smoothly. Though the gun was capable of firing a single round, the barrel and receiver both fractured in the firing.
The Grizzly's maker wrote in the forum Defcad that the inspiration for the 3D rifle came from the first-ever 3D-printed firearm, the "Liberator," which was built in Texas. As a rifle, what makes the Grizzly different is special grooves cut into its barrel to make shooting more accurate.
3D-printed guns have been a source of excitement -- and a security concern -- since Texan Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed recorded himself firing the 3D-printed Liberator in May 2013. Wilson subsequently put the blueprints for his 3D-printed gun on his website, where they were downloaded more than 100,000 times before the U.S. State Department forced Wilson to take down the plans.
Despite the State Department's efforts, the blueprints eventually made their way to the Pirate Bay -- and have apparently inspired another gunmaker to make another 3D-printed gun.
Like the Liberator, the Grizzly contains only one piece of metal -- a one-inch roofing nail repurposed as a firing pin, the gun's maker wrote in the Defcad forum. The Grizzly also incorporates the 3D-printed coiled mainsprings first used in the Liberator.
The plastic Grizzly is clearly fracture-prone and required an expensive 3D printer to build, so it may not yet be time to panic. However, Mother Jones pointed out in May that a cheaper and deadlier option exists -- building a traditional AK-47 by purchasing a parts kit and assembling the gun. Firearms created this way are untraceable, and the practice is legal, Mother Jones reported.