With aesthetics that only a mother could love, the FGC-9 managed to bring 3D printed firearms to the home hobbyist and, more importantly, to the oppressed worldwide.
You see, the designer of the FGC-9 was on a mission to allow the common man to fabricate a means to defend themselves from a government that has become tyrannical. Interestingly enough, this individual was NOT from the United States. The designer, who went by the alias of J Stark, was actually from Germany. Throughout modern history we have seen that massive registration and subsequent confiscation by the government is the status quo prior to massive genocide by that said government. This has taken place as recently as in the country of Myanmar where the government is perpetrating an active genocide against a portion of their people based solely upon that portion's religious beliefs. Locals in the country of Myanmar are rising up and fighting against this tyranny and genocide and one of the ways they are doing it is with the FGC-9!
Starting from the beginning, we have to understand that a firearm can be a very complex device that requires a good bit of expensive machinery to produce, or at least that has always been the case. With the advent of 3D printing technology much of the ancillary items of the firearm can be made from extremely durable plastic filaments (ones such as PLA+ or Carbon Fiber Nylon blends). This allows the end user to focus on the 3 or 4 items that must be manufactured out of steel. Items such as the barrel, bolt, firing pin, and various springs and screws/bolts.
Since J Stark was not a firearms designer, or even had any 3D modeling experience when he started designing the FGC-9, his approach to the design was one of mechanical simplicity utilizing large parts that could be made adequately strong out of plastic and others that could be manufactured with off-the-shelf metal rods or other hardware. This fit the mission of anyone in the world being able to manufacture one of these to mount a defense against an oppressor. As such, most all of the parts could be printed such as the grip and fire control group (although they could both be sourced from spare AR-15 parts). Even the barrel could be made with a pressure pipe and Electro-Chemical Machining (ECM) using a 3D printed mandrel to put rifling inside the barrel. The FGC-9 is setup to utilize the ubiquitous Glock style 9mm magazines and the magazines can even be printed!
Inherently this lead to some issues with the design when compared to commercial grade firearms. The FGC-9 does not incorporate any form of extractor in the design in order to keep the bolt manufacturable via simple means. This means that the barrel's chamber needs to be adequately loose to allow the case to "self-eject" and a tight chamber can induce malfunctions that can be troublesome to correct. The barrel, as designed, is comprised of a straight barrel profile with "shaft collars" to set the headspace in the receiver and the whole assembly is sandwiched between the upper receiver and handguard (both of which are plastic) via 4x 3mm bolts.
Despite these shortcomings, the FGC-9 works quite well and with quality build components it can be accurate out to 100 yards or more. Upgrades to the platform such as a proper bolt and firing pin, lathe turned barrel, aluminum ejector, feed-ramp and magazine release all make the FGC-9 a rather enjoyable range toy and a fun build that you can do at home!
The design is built around the use of PLA+ filament and thus does not need an expensive 3D printer and many have been built on basic Ender 3 printer's which can be had from Amazon for less than $300 typically. One of the major advantages to the FGC-9 is the ability to have an in depth understanding of how a basic firearm works along with the ability to build it how you want. Many individuals from across the world have produced "remixes" of the design to include different handguards, upper receivers, grips, stocks/braces, etc. You can even build one in your favorite team's colors and show off your support for the local football team if you so choose. Not to mention you can try your hand at rattle canning a firearm without feeling like you are going to screw up a several hundred dollar firearm.
With so many people working remotely to change and enhance the current designs of the 3D printed firearms available, many firearms can go from concept, to BETA testing, to open release in a matter of months. This allows the design iterations to take place much faster and with a much broader taste of style than even the largest manufacturers could ever dream of. The fact that knowledge can transfer worldwide in a matter of hours and more and more people are venturing into their first firearm via 3D printing technology has done wonders for spreading gun culture throughout the world, especially in places where tyrannical governments seek to repress firearm ownership from otherwise law abiding individuals. Throughout history we have seen that an armed populace is able to mount a decisive resistance to an invading force (occupied France during WWII or Vietnam during the Vietnam war) while an unarmed populace is at the mercy of their oppressors (Germany during WWII or current day North Korea).
While much more could be said about the FGC-9 and it's designer I'd encourage everyone to watch the interview and documentary by Popular Front "Plastic Defence: Secret 3D Printed Guns in Europe" at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlB2QV5wVxg&t=39s
In our next installment we will go over all of the components of the FGC-9 MKII and how to assemble one with a few range upgrades so you can go from a pile of printed plastic parts to range toy in a couple of hours.
Until then, sling some lead downrange and keep the signal alive!