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Bullets join the 3-D printed arsenal

YouTube user taofledermaus posted a video featuring shots fired using the new bullets, as well as homemade alternatives like gummy bears, bubble gum, and more.


Fidel Martinez

Internet Culture

Posted on May 24, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 3:02 pm CDT

It’s been a big week for 3-D printed weaponry. On Monday, a Wisconsin man announced that he had built a largely plastic gun for just $25. Now, a Tennessee man has designed and printed bullets using the same technology.

In a video posted to YouTube on Sunday, Jeff Heeszel—he goes by taofledermaus on the site and his clips have more than 43 million views—announces that a friend of his sent him several 3-D printed bullets. A shooter then loads one into a Mossberg 590 shotgun and fires at a dartboard.

Amazingly, the plastic slug does some serious damage. But then, the same goes for some of the subsequent bullets fired: Silly Putty, bubblegum, frozen Vienna sausages…

Heeszel obtained the plastic buckshot from a fan named Tony Griffy, a 3-D printing enthusiast who made them because he liked the idea of a traditional weapon firing off a plastic bullet instead of a 3-D printed gun shooting a real bullet. Griffy differs politically from Cody Wilson, whose organization Defense Distributed made news earlier this month when they successfully manufactured and fired the world’s first plastic handgun. Wilson has repeatedly self-identified as a cryptoanarchist. In contrast, Griffy isn’t motivated by ideology.

“It’s really, honestly, just for fun,” he told Wired’s Danger Room blog

“I like Jeff, I love his videos, he’s the one who got me into slow-motion stuff. It’s all about the hobby of producing neat videos with some character. And of course I love the high-tech stuff.”

Griffy also noted that he preferred toying with bullets over guns because of how long the latter takes to manufacture.

“You have to spend six hours printing a barrel that you’re going to use one time, and it’s not as much fun,” he admits. “It’s more about the enjoyment and the sport. And if you’re having to labor that much, then the enjoyment goes away.”

Even if Griffy is just doing this for fun, his bullets are yet another milestone in the movement spearheaded by Wilson and Defense Distributed. It is now possible to not only manufacture your own weapon from a 3-D printer, but now you can make your own ammunition, too. 

Photo via Jeff Heeszel/YouTube

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*First Published: May 24, 2013, 8:01 am CDT