It’s a well-known fact in basic psychology that as soon as you tell people not to do something, that is exactly what they will want to do; in fact, many individuals will want to push the limits as far as possible, delighting in drawing attention via clever workarounds.
When it comes to the laws and fine legalities involved in gun control–combined with the art of 3D printing–things suddenly become very, very interesting. And so it begins, as Peter Alaric DeSimone discusses the recent announcement that President Obama is behind a new decree prohibiting the sharing of drawings and schematics of weapons on the internet. Obviously, this is an incendiary topic. Combined with 3D printing, it becomes further so, lighting up a passionate conversation on all sides.
“If Mr. Obama had not attempted to stifle free speech in this way, I probably would have simply worked on another, more innocuous project. But as it is, I felt compelled to act,” says Alaric. “This gesture of protest further proves the obvious futility of attempting to regulate speech and ban simple mechanical objects; both of which are very un-American ideas.”
Indulging not only a dark and rather engaging humor, Alaric also employs his considerable creative talents, showing off craftsmanship and skill as a maker. With the 3D printed poison dart pistol, Alaric has created a completely legal ‘weapon’ in the form of a .40 caliber airgun that has the ability to evade metal detectors, should that be something you require–and he is certain that would only be for completely legal reasons you can easily explain. As Alaric points out, you can make this from the comfort of your own home–and share it online as well. For now.
“Airguns are not considered firearms under federal law,” says Alaric. “So what I did is I designed this forty-caliber poison dart gun.”
While Alaric designed the 3D printed innovation for indoor target practice, he admits that it’s also fun stirring the pot.
“In truth, this gun was designed for indoor target practice, but its ability to slip through metal detectors and fire poison darts makes the story more inflammatory, so i’m touting these virtues primarily to sensationalize it,” says Alaric. “Don’t worry – the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 doesn’t apply to airguns.”
Powered by two sets of rubberbands and shooting .40 caliber blow gun darts that could feasibly be tipped in poison–should you, say, be camping alone in the Amazon and fending off a group of murderous and cannibalistic warriors, or some other equally dramatic and purely fictional scenario–the 3D printed dart pistol is a pneumatic piston that can mount items like Alaric’s choices of add-ons such as the X300 weapon light and a red-dot sight. (Please note that you should, of course, wear safety goggles while shooting at your target.)
If you are interested in building something similar, all joking aside, Alaric does point out that tipping your darts with poison is a serious and potentially deadly business, so take that into consideration and be not only educated about what you are doing, but smart, and above board.
Bill of Materials
For 3D printing you will need to produce:
- Trigger guard
- Picatinny rails (50mm x4 + 70mm x1)
Non-3D printed parts include:
- Blowgun barrel, .40 caliber (aluminum, ~130mm length)
- Rubber bands, power (x2)
- Springs, tension (x2)
- Rubber band, trigger reset (x1)
- Paper clip (trigger pivot pin)
Alaric’s dart pistol was 3D printed on a LulzBot Taz 4, but he recommends any 3D printer than can work on a larger scale, capable of printing objects 200 millimeters tall. Printing time totaled about twelve to thirteen hours, with eight and a half hours dedicated to 3D printing the frame, and the rest of the time frame dedicated to the smaller components.
Using ABS 3D printing filament, you will be able to produce all of these parts without worrying about supports–except for the frame. Once printed, Alaric advises that the piston should slide easily into the frame, and if not you may have to work with it, manipulating it forward and backward until it begins to move easily; if that doesn’t work, he recommends sanding or even potentially, re-sizing.
When you are ready for test firing your prototype, you may want to use some sort of oil, grease, or fluid for creating an airtight seal in the compression chamber. While Alaric thinks grease might potentially be the best candidate for this job, anything similar to what he recommends above should work, including water.
“The strength of the trigger reset bands should be proportional to that of the piston’s power bands,” advises Alaric. ”If the gun fires spontaneously without the trigger being pulled, you need more trigger reset bands. Be advised that this can happen, so keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction at all times, and only cock it when ready to fire.”
For welding your Picatinny rails onto the frame of the dart gun, use ABS dissolved in acetone to achieve the desired results. You will want to print four 50mm rails and one 70mm rail, to be held in place with rubber bands as a stabilizing force until the ABS/acetone substance is hardened.
“Welding the trigger guard on might not be advisable, since doing so would restrict access to the trigger and trigger reset bands,” says Alaric. “The sear will wear over time, so the trigger may need to be replaced.”
Lastly, for a blowgun barrel insert, Alaric recommends first donning oven mitts or something to protect your hands, and then cutting a section of pipe from another .40 caliber blowgun to be pressed into the barrel channel. You will need around 130mm, and if it doesn’t fit right away, try using a heating element like a heat gun or even a blowdryer to manipulate it into the barrel channel.
Is this a design you are interested in making for indoor target practice? What are your thoughts on how Alaric enjoys pushing the limits here? Tell us your thoughts in the 3D Printed Poison Dart Pistol forum thread over at 3DPB.com.