NSW Police issues warning on 3D printed guns

Commissioner said Liberator pistol suffered "catastrophic misfire" during testing

A 'Liberator' pistol 3D printed by the police. Image credit: Police NSW.

A 'Liberator' pistol 3D printed by the police. Image credit: Police NSW.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione today issued a warning on the potential for 3D printed guns to be used in serious crimes in the state.

The NSW Police revealed that the force has created and tested two 3D-printed firearms. The police used the Liberator pistol blueprints produced by US-firm Defense Distributed. The original plans for the gun were downloaded more than 100,000 times before the company pulled them from its site under pressure from the US State Department.

Police believe that despite this, the files are still circulating.

The commissioner said that a Liberator pistol had experienced a catastrophic misfire during testing. The failure would have been capable of seriously injuring the person using the firearm, the police chief said.

One of the motivations for holding today's press conference was to warn of danger to the user if someone attempts to print, assemble and fire a Liberator out of curiosity.

As with other firearms, possession of a Liberator is prohibited unless the owner has an appropriate licence. It's an "offence to make one, possess one, use one," Scipione said.

"Not only are they illegal, they are enormously dangerous," Scipione said.

When the pistol successfully fired, it propelled a bullet with sufficient force to kill a target, the police revealed. When tested using a block of so-called ballistic soap – a block of gelatine used for firearms testing – the shot penetrated 17cm, which could be a fatal wound, the police said.

The passage of a bullet fired from the pistol through a block of 'ballistic soap'. Image credit: Police NSW.
The passage of a bullet fired from the pistol through a block of 'ballistic soap'. Image credit: Police NSW.

"This is now becoming a problem the world over," Scipione said.

The police spent $35 on materials to create a Liberator and used a $1700 desktop 3D printer. The only metal parts used in the pistol's construction where the firing pin, created with a nail, and a .380 ACP calibre pistol cartridge. The all-plastic body means that the pistol is hard for security forces to detect.

Inspector Wayne Hoffman said the creation of a pistol took the police around 27 hours. Assembling the pistol's 17 parts took around a minute. Hoffman said that the police had exactly followed the original instructions for creating the Liberator, with a number of modified versions of the file currently in circulation.

"We think it's only a matter of time before we see one of these weapons used in a serious crime in NSW," Scipione said. The commissioner said that it is "incredibly difficult" to stop distribution of the files, drawing an analogy with the illegal downloading of software, movies and music.

The Liberator is "truly undetectable, untraceable, cheap and easy to make".

Results of the 'catastrophic' failure experienced during firing. Image credit: Police NSW.
Results of the 'catastrophic' failure experienced during firing. Image credit: Police NSW.

The government will have to consider whether regulating CAD files used to create 3D-printed firearms needs to be regulated, the commissioner said, but added he is "not sure that we're well placed globally to deal with he transfer and downloading of thee files" and that he doubts that regulations would be able to stop the files being shared and downloaded.

File sharing service Mega last week removed plans for the one-bullet plastic gun because of confusion over the legality of distributing the blueprints.

Read more: QLD scientists play role in 3D printed kidneys

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More about Andrew Corporation (Australia)NSW Police




The story comes from Australia. The Liberator in the USA appears to be very legal to make, own and use.

Uncle Mike


"... The Liberator in the USA appears to be very legal to make, own, and use,"

Maybe not so much, depending on where you live. In New York and New Jersey (among other states in the US), you're liable for for Possession of an Unregistered Firearm, and they'll throw away the key on you... Even in states where it's not prohibited, you can get tripped up by municipal ordinances if you're not careful. Real nice crazy-quilt patchwork of laws we have here, isn't it?

Bob Marley


It is called the Liberator for a reason. Hooah!



Have fun trying to ban an idea.

Free people don't need permission to exercise their rights.




The funny thing is you believe you are free.



Yes, in Australia only blue-shirted fuckwads who didn't do well enough to get into Uni, are allowed to go around with firearms.

When you consider that almost all kiddies in Oz are forced to stay at school until Yr 12, and that 30% of kids who finish high-school get a place at Uni, the dregs who fill police uniforms and suck at the tax tit for their careers must really be almost retarded.

It's abundantly clear that having the 'middle (and lower) quintiles being the only folks with guns, is a recipe for disaster... the only thing worse than having academic non-starters as pigs, is permitting them and their ilk to VOTE.




It's worse than that. Given the entire island is the product of criminals so vile that even Britain wouldn't house them, the police are the layer of scum below the scum that is Australia.



The authoritys is,ofcourse, very busy, ceeping us obtained within a certain limit of liberty, to avvoid true "anarchy," but our imagination is, so to speak; litterary limitless. How to stop that? by telling us, from kindergarden to college, whats possible, and whats not. And TV is used to fill up our mind with nonsence... (Bachelor, paradise hotel, scary muslims, shooting AK`s in the air, football, commmersials andd other mindless dirt. I dear you, tol do your own research. Be curiious, but not in whats in your neighbours basement/bedroom.. Do no harm, to anyone. disagree- but ddo not FIGHT eachother. Listen, ask, knock on doors, read and shear information. I promisee, iif you do that, your private life will get much more interresting!!



These idiots used the wrong plastic, Thats why it exploded.



Here is one made with proper ABS plastic



Of course it is going to have a catastrophic failure. Do you honestly believe the police department is ever going to test a firearm and come back with "Yep, it's good to go, functioned flawlessly." Of course not, it is in their best interest to keep the rest of society unarmed, and if they put the fear into everyone that the liberator is "unsafe" they hope nobody will ever build one. Which round was it that caused it to fail? The 50th? It was never meant to be a long term use firearm, it was designed to be disposable, and by the $35 cost it is indeed disposable.

H. Nelson


NSW Police- get over it. Quit acting like you're trying to keep people safe when reality says you are ensuring that you have the population under your boot.

Go oink somewhere else.

Karen R


"Police believe that despite this, the files are still circulating."

Uh... Really? Duuuuhhhh....



Hay Liz (poster #7)

Fuck you !!!!



On the behalf of all us vile crimial scum
have a nice day ;)



The Defense Distributed Project to me is the feel good story of the year. Tyrannous governments all over the world should be afraid.



Yea and the new world order man Scipione is NOT a lover of the freedom to defend oneself, the jack booted thugs that have his authority will happily prosceute any poor souls who do defend themslves ! by the way , someone should ask the NSW Police about the 2,000 Glocks that went missing from a shipping container in the 1990's that had NSW POLICE stamped on them .....interestingly they were never found.

as Ned Kelly said......" it takes a thief to catch a thief "

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