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Old May 31, 2013, 09:45 AM   #1
TXAZ
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Old school Machining vs. "Printing" your own Liberator

There has been a lot of talk about printing your own gun. Before these machines became available, most Western world / first world country citizens need a machine shop to make a handgun (and we're excluding "zip guns" here).

If you know your way around a machine shop, this question is for you.

To make a simple more-than-single-shot gun, how much time and effort would it take you to make an old-school version? Semi-auto or revolver counts and assume you have time constraints, such as family, full time job, etc.
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Old May 31, 2013, 10:37 AM   #2
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[you needed a machine shop to make a handgun (and we're excluding "zip guns" here). ]

That's simply untrue - witness "Chinese milling machines" (hand files), long used by remote gunmakers in the various 'Stan's ( Paki, Afghani, etc) to manufacture copies of just about anything someone wanted; not to mention many early American frontier gunmakers of flintlock riflles, etc.

What's needed is material, knowledge & determination - and (of course) time, especially when/where time doesn't = $$$.



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Old May 31, 2013, 01:30 PM   #3
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Thanks PetahW. Question refined.
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Old May 31, 2013, 02:10 PM   #4
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About any gun can be manufactured by a good machinist, providing he has the equipment, tooling, material, and design to make it. There has been copies made of complicated guns, using general blacksmithing tools, in the middle east, as mentioned above.

A good machinist, in the US, using a lathe and a mill, along with the proper jigs, fixtures, and tooling, can make every part, except a rifled barrel, but rifling and gun boring machines such as the old Pratt & Whitney ones come up for sale. The problem is the design, and selecting the proper steel or aluminum to use in the construction. For this, a thorough understanding of chamber pressures, steel or aluminum tensile strength, and safety factors are a must. Also, knowing what twist, for what ammo, is another subject when designing a good barrel. Then, this is all brought together in a proper breech locking system, that is designed to safely work, and last. Last, it must fit a shooter, and be designed so they can sight and use it.
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Old May 31, 2013, 04:16 PM   #5
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And in addition to all that,heat treating,polishing and finish coating.
They put gun parts in between their toes and file them (no kidding)
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Old May 31, 2013, 10:47 PM   #6
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I am not sure what the OP means by "zip gun." The original "Liberator" has been described as a "factory made zip gun." A simple single shot pistol can probably be made pretty much from scratch in about an hour if a rifled barrel is not needed. (Most machine shops do not have rifling equipment.)

Now, making a revolver with a hand turned cylinder will take longer, and a simple auto pistol a lot more time. (The hardest part to make would be the magazine.)

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Old May 31, 2013, 11:29 PM   #7
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Zip gun = common sized pipe acting as barrel and chamber+single shot+crude (ala nail/hammer firing pin)
May or may not fire and/or explode when activated.
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Old May 31, 2013, 11:42 PM   #8
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You could really cut some corners if you welded sections together. I used to gas weld receivers and bolts if I knew what material they were. Used a rod of the same material and then re-heat treated.
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Old June 1, 2013, 12:40 AM   #9
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Another cheap way would be to use flat metal plates and bolt them together to make a frame. In theory, even an AR receiver may be made this way. It won't be pretty, but it will work.
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Old June 1, 2013, 01:50 PM   #10
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If you want cheap, go with plastic or wood. The main point of bolting,welding or glueing sections together is the ability to machine internal areas with out expensive machinery. Speaking of AR's, we were screwing around with junk parts one day and and made an ugly functional pump .223 with junk parts and part of a screen door for the lower. We put a heavy spring(81 MM mortar) on the barrel between the nut and F/sight assy. with a grenade launcher attachment (M-14)in front of the spring for a pump handle. We took the gas tube and drilled and pinned one end in the gas key and the other in to the pump handle. The aluminum (Screendoor) lower we bent around a magazine and used a hacksaw, shims and rivets to hammer and get it to attach to the upper. Drilled holes for lower parts and worked it into part of a glass M-14 stock.
If you use pre-made parts, you could really whip something up quick.

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Old June 1, 2013, 02:23 PM   #11
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Old school Machining vs. "Printing" your own Liberator

To answer question
11/2 hours
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Old June 1, 2013, 07:46 PM   #12
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Speaking of welded guns, the 37 Winchester's frame was a welded assembly. They actually made it two different ways, if I remember, and had patents for each. I was polishing one, back in the late 80's, and found what looked to be weld porosity along the side of the frame, where the water table stops, and back toward the hammer slot. I had to re-weld and heat treat that in order to save it. Finally, I looked into it, and their steel-built motto meant welded steel pieces.
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Old June 1, 2013, 10:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Old school Machining vs. "Printing" your own Liberator
Well, first off, Liberators were not machined, they were/are stamped sheet metal with a 7/16" ID seamless tube for a barrel. And they were smoothbore. And the two halves will pinch the crap out of the web of your hand when fired. There is a company making Liberators again as curios (with a rifled barrel, of course), but they cost about $700.

Besides, 3-D printing, in spite of all the hype, cannot produce high-strength metal parts. But a CNC mill can and will, and you can buy one for about the cost of a 3-D printer.
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Old June 2, 2013, 09:15 AM   #14
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Thanks for the detail Scorch. The Liberator referenced is a recent plastic printed .380, borrowing the name from the WWII original.
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Old June 2, 2013, 09:22 AM   #15
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Scorch is right on the money. Actually, I would say with the correct broach, that a CNC lathe or machining center could rifle a barrel, and I think something similar has been done commercially, but I can't remember who it is that used it. It should be able to cut any twist you want, simply by programming it.

The old stamped steel Liberator was designed to be mass produced, very cheaply, and dropped behind enemy lines for defectors to use in an escape, during WWII. The Liberator 3D printable gun, though, really costs way more to make, over the 3D printer. Plus, there's no plastic, that I know of, yet, that can withstand high pressure, like steel, to use in a barrel or breech block. Fiberglass over a steel sleeve, yes, (Winchester), but not a resin or plastic. I would be afraid to fire an all plastic gun, I value my hand and life way more.
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Old June 2, 2013, 07:37 PM   #16
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I confess to not knowing how those "printers" work, but if it is as easy to make a gun as the press and the State Department claim, why would anyone make a Liberator? Why not turn out M9s or AK47's or M240's? No one would want a cheap single shot pistol when you just dial "M4 Carbine", set the "number of copies" to 50,000 and form your own army. After you download the ap to turn out the soldiers.

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Old June 3, 2013, 04:36 PM   #17
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Download a copy of TM 31-210 (the US Army Improvised Munitions Handbook), read chapter 3, then go down to your local Home Depot or hardware store and build you a 9mm for about $5.

http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/june2007/imhv3.pdf

Quote:
A 9 mm pistol can be made from 1/4 inch steel gas or water pipe and fittings.
Materials Required
1/4 inch nominal size steel pipe 4 to 6 inches long with threaded ends
1/4 inch solid pipe plug
Two (2) steel pipe couplings
Metal strap – roughly 1/8 inch x 1/4 inch x 5 inch
Two (2) elastic bands
Flat head nail – 6D or 8D (approximately 1/16 inch diameter)
Two (2) wood screws #8
Wood 8 inch x 5 inch x 1 inch
Drill
1/4 inch wood or metal rod, (approximately 8 inches long)
Approved by the US Army, and much cheaper than a 3D printer.
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Old June 3, 2013, 07:21 PM   #18
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IIRC, the police once "persuaded" auto makers to reduce the size of radio antenna tubing so a .22 cartridge wouldn't fit. And that was before computers.

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Old June 24, 2013, 12:40 AM   #19
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I agree with the poster who said 1.5hrs. If you have access to a junkyard, especially an automotive junkyard and the basic tools any shop would/should have you could be turning out single shots in under an hour. Rotating breech models in about two hours and full auto grease guns in a day allowing time for making the high capacity magazines.
Don't ask me how I know and +1 for the guy who said get the Armys "Improvised munitions handbook" for some nifty ideas and usefull reference tables.
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Old June 24, 2013, 01:50 PM   #20
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I once saw a newspaper article on a fellow in the Philippines making revolvers illegally way back in the jungle somewhere. No power, but he did have an old foot pedal driven lathe. It said he turned out one a week, working full time.

Rifling may seem like a sticking point, but the old muzzle loader gunsmiths did it with wooden riflling rigs that traced a wood rifling pattern. Somewhere I have Guy Lautard's video on how to make a barrel boring machine and a rifling machine from retired lathes. It's extra work and skill, but not rocket science.

The printing may seem to be out to lunch, as a plastic gun results. But I suspect, with the right nozzles and temperatures, you could print a receiver from wax, then do a lost wax casting of aluminum, brass or bronwhite (bronze alloy with the the strength of mild steel) or even of cheap steel to case harden later, if you have the equipment to reach the required temperature. Back yard foundries for aluminum and bronze casting used to be a hobby there were a number of books about. You'd still need some tools to clean the casting up, but it might come close.
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Old June 24, 2013, 06:52 PM   #21
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The idea behind the Liberator was that it would supplied to insurgents/resistance fighters who would use it mainly to relieve an enemy soldier of his weapon and equipment. In the ETO the Sten Gun usually filled that role.
I recall articles in the gun magazines over the years, one said a Colonial gunsmith proved his guns by lashing them to a tree, firing them with a long rope, nowadays a tire does nicely as a proving stand.
Drawing on my 45+ years of shooting experience-and rudimentary knowledge
of gun engineering-it seems to me that if the barrel and chamber are sufficient to contain reasonable pressures-say 22LR, 32ACP, 38 S&W or low end 38 Specials-not .357 or 44 Magnum and the breechface is rigid enough, then a "zip" gun would be safe enough, I would worry more about it firing when it was supposed to. I recall reading that most of the metal in the chamber of a rifle or pistol barrel is there for rigidity rather than to contain pressure.
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Old June 25, 2013, 12:43 PM   #22
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A lot of the metal in a rifle barrel is to give weight to the rifle. With today's materials, I suspect a 3 pound .30-'06 would be feasible, but who would want to shoot it, at least a second time?

Jim
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Old June 27, 2013, 10:05 AM   #23
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How hard would it be to make a crude rifling device?
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Old June 27, 2013, 01:12 PM   #24
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Probably not hard, but why? I doubt any emergency weapon would be intended for long range accuracy, and a reasonably tight bore would be good enough at short ranges. There will always be better guns around for the taking, and the emergency weapon is intended to allow the taking.

P.S. There is no evidence that any Liberator pistol was ever used against an enemy soldier anywhere. None were even supplied to guerilla forces in Europe (revolvers, STEN guns, BREN guns, and No.4 rifles were the common weapons air dropped in Western Europe, while the Russians dropped M-N rifles, Dek machineguns and PPSh or PPS sub guns to their friends in occupied Eastern Europe.

Jim
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Old June 27, 2013, 01:58 PM   #25
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Even snub-nosed pistols have rifling. I always figured it had more to do with stabilizing the bullet, even over short distances, rather than just long distance accuracy.
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