Gun builders have been legally crafting their own firearms at home for personal use since the birth of our nation. The advancement of technology (Polymer80 aka “P80” or “80%” AR-15 frames and 3D-printed gun frames) has not only made it easier; it’s also recently brought it to the forefront of the media’s, government’s, and public’s attention. That can be good and bad.
But building your own guns is nothing new.
Why do you need to build guns?
The anti-2A crowd has glommed onto the so-called “ghost gun” narrative, just as they did with so-called “assault weapons” and more recently, “military grade.” Rather than use actual firearms nomenclature, these terms are political and fictitious fabrications designed to incite fear in the public. The media and progressive political machine gin up righteous indignation with their fury directed at lawful firearms-owning citizens instead of criminals.
Never mind that the same anti-liberty factions have intentionally conflated privately made firearms (PMFs) with illegally defaced factory guns (serial numbers removed) – which are used by criminals in FAR higher numbers. It’s a lot easier to grind a serial number off a stolen or illegally purchased gun than it is to build one that actually works.
But, I digress.
Contrary to popular belief, not all publicity is good. With the advent of social media and a 1-second news cycle that is on 24 / 7, information spreads quickly. Both good and bad. Some of the bad being misinformation and disinformation. Like all other topics, firearms are subject to the challenge of distilling truth from fiction – and there is PLENTY of fiction.
So, why do we build? I could end this article by simply saying: Because it’s legal and a constitutionally-protected Right. Because we can. Because it’s fun. It’s rewarding just like building your own hot rod or your own tree house. The end. But I can’t just end this article there, now can I?!?
Are 80% frames considered guns or not?
Years ago, in the pursuit of regulating the firearms industry, the Ay-Tee-Eff had to define a gun. Fair enough, eh? At what point does a block of steel, aluminum, or even plastic become a “gun?” The Ay-Tee-Eff determined it to be a frame or “receiver” that is 80% or more completed (to the point of being able to install the rest of the firearm components). 80% was the line. Not 25%. Not 50%. Not 99%. Eighty percent was the line. Why 80%? You’ll have to ask them. But, that’s how the Ay-Tee-Eff defined it. As long as we’re all on the same page (and definition), there should be no problems, right?
But, in the end, it doesn’t matter how long it takes to build a gun. It shouldn’t matter if it only takes 30 seconds! Debating the amount of time it takes is a DISTRACTION in reality. It simply doesn’t matter. Next question!
You’re just trying to avoid buying a traceable gun!
Why build a gun when you can just buy one? And probably cheaper!
On some gun forums, Glock owners get snarky with their advice, “Just buy a Glock!” They can’t understand why anyone would spend time and possibly more money to build a Glock-clone that can be a bit problematic in the early stages of the build and when testing for function. Many new builders have issues. There is a learning curve. “Just buy a Glock!” the fanbois mindlessly repeat. The assumption is that we’re building a Polymer80 INSTEAD of buying a factory Glock pistol. Nay. ‘Tis false.
If you work hard to keep costs down, it’s possible to be slightly cheaper than a factory gun. But, if we’re going to build a personalized gun, it’s likely to be more expensive than a factory store-bought gun. Possibly a LOT more expensive. Ask me how I know!
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
As I mentioned, the attention to the hobby can be good and bad. The good is that it has drawn many more to the hobby. It’s growing. The bad is the same as what happens with most media attention to firearms. They deflect the blame for crime away from the criminals and point the finger at law-abiding firearms owners and enthusiasts.
PS… There is an organization that hosts an annual competition for gun builders of all types. It’s held in March in St. Augustine, Florida. How cool is that?? It’s called the “Gun Maker’s Match.” <— Click on the link for more info!