Massachusetts – -(AmmoLand.com)- When people were looking to arm themselves in the early days of firearms, they might be seeking particular parts, or the full gambit of lock, stock, and barrel. The tradition of individuals building their own firearms in the United States goes back to before our founding. Running down to the sporting goods store or gun shop was not what it’s like today.
Getting a firearm could have been a real ordeal and depending on one’s economic status, also depended on what level of home manufacture one would engage in. There was, and still is, nothing nefarious about an individual getting just the lock for a prospective firearm and then building the rest.
Due to technological advances, the realm of homemade firearms has expanded in exciting and interesting ways. Once veiled in smoky mystery, perhaps even looked upon in a negative manner, the 3D printing of firearm frames or completion of 80% kits is now coming to mainstream and has surfaced. Home manufacturing of firearms has a nuevo noir feel to it. Politically speaking, the talking heads and anti-freedom caucus members have named this normal practice as the building of so-called “ghost guns”. I personally remember reading about “ghost guns” a number of years ago and knew it’d proliferate into the next cause celeb for the gun grabbers to hang onto. We’ll get back to those “ghost guns” again here shortly.
Rob Pincus, firearms instructor, author, and now near expert in the home manufacturing of firearms is normalizing this process. Watching Rob’s social media posts over the last year, year plus, people could follow his progress in creating firearm frames with a 3D printer. Eventually, Pincus was bringing his followers to the range by sharing videos and pictures of his sessions firing the fully functional pistols he printed. The plans that Pincus uses to manufacture the firearms, whether they’re 3D printed, or from an 80% kit do require the procurement of commercially available components to complete the builds. While not all the parts are made (yet) by Pincus, he still ends up with a unique, personalized, and custom firearm of his own imagination.
The world of homemade firearms is like an East meets West zone. A place where creativity and engineering clash, then come together. Enthusiasts are left with not just fully functional firearms, but pieces of art.
In an interview with colleague and friend Jared Yanis, of the celebrated Guns & Gadgets YouTube channel, Pincus had this to say about the genesis of his new “hobby”:
…Actually, just about a year ago, is actually a Black Friday sale last year to 2020 you know, had some downtime, obviously, with the COVID response and then not as much traveling and that I saw a 3d printer on sale for a price. I was like, no way really. And I looked at it, like for a couple few hundred dollars I can have like the same printer that I’ve been watching some of the other guys print gun frames. Yeah, I mean, you know, I jumped in the hobby really hard.
In the same interview, Pincus also touched on the idea that the 3D printing of firearms or homebuilding of guns was taboo.
And one of the things I found was that there was this this sort of like, like you said, like this dark cloud like we don’t take our guns to the range or some ranges won’t let us shoot kit guns or 3d printed guns…now I’m all about coming out from the shadows. Right, you know, that I’m I’m not afraid of controversy, is no…no. And I want people to talk about this. I mean, I get it like back in the old days, 300 baud modems, we all had code names and CB handles, you know, on the internet, but I think it’s time to use our real names like you and I do to talk about we do to celebrate the freedom hobby of private gun making.
After taking what he learned, Pincus embarked on a new journey. This was not something that seemed to take a lot of time. Work? Yes. But time? Nah. It seemed like Rob Pincus just went balls to the walls and has since seen the completion of three successful gunmaker’s matches to date. That’s rather impressive considering it was only 2020’s Black Friday that flung him into this world.
From an event announcement on the Gun Maker’s Match homepage, the website Pincus is using to put out information on the events, we have the following:
The first Gun Maker’s Match event was conducted last June in Florida and was a great success. The next National event is schedule for March 19th, 2022, at the Ancient City Shooting Range in St. Augustine.
Gun Maker’s Matches are intended to give private gun makers an opportunity to connect with other like minded firearms enthusiasts, compete in a fun and safe environment with their creations and share their hobby with others. Spectators and media are welcome to attend the events, as Guns For Everyone National intends for these events to educate people outside of the gun community about the true nature of private gun making: It is a fun and responsible hobby!
Another match was also held in Denver in August, and the most recent in Massachusetts on November 21, 2021.
I asked Pincus about bringing the homemade firearm event to the Bay State. Massachusetts is not known for its awesome gun laws favoring freedom-minded policies. Perhaps that’s the beauty of bringing his message and event to Hyannis, Massachusetts – once the headquarters and stomping grounds of the Kennedys. The idea grew from a conversation he had with Toby Leary. Leary, the co-owner of Cape Gun Works, was attending a class Pincus was teaching, which was hosted by Gun Owners Action League (GOAL). During that conversation, Leary was noting how many people thought it was illegal to build their own firearms in Massachusetts. Pincus suggested that Leary host an event at the gun store/range he’s part-owner of and pull some support from GOAL to help educate people on the legalities. That’s exactly what transpired.
I had a chance to chat a bit with Leary about the whole event. From all indications, he seemed very pleased with the outcome. Leary had this to say to me in a statement:
We just finished our first ever, Gun Makers Match here at Cape Gun Works. This was the second Regional Gun Makers Match sponsored by Firearms Policy Coalition, Guns For Everyone National, Are We Cool Yet? (AWCY?), Gun Owners Action League, and 2AO. There has been one National event in St. Augustine FL with a second one set for March 19th 2022.
Leary gave me a full rundown of how the weekend progressed.
We kicked it off on Saturday November 20th with the educational day where we saw a bunch of first time freedom lovers finish off their P80 frame and finish off the slide. A really interesting smattering of color combinations and configurations (thanks to 2A3DPRINT). I for one was a first timer, who thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie and pro tips from the seasoned veteran gun builders. Bobby from AWCY? Matt from 2A3DPRINT, and special thanks to Rob Pincus (one of the collaborators of the matches) were all on hand to help out.
Once all the 80 Percent frames were milled out, drilled, and parts installed (in whatever fashion made the most sense to the builder), we headed out on to the range to test fire. I think all of the builds had some sort of hiccup that was remedied by shooting, lube or a little more removal of material in some key spots and we were ready to go for the match.
The next day we saw the competitors arrive and start to place friendly wagers, compare builds, and see some other really cool guns that were previously built. Tom, one of the competitors, had a whole array of guns he had built in the past, uncased and on full display for us to touch and feel. The prospect of shooting his Sten, or MP5 and hearing amazing stories behind each one, was a huge bonus for those of us who attended. He had one of the more creative guns for the match; a Sig 320 frame that he milled out of steel, blued and checkered it to a thing of beauty.
The match was a creative 3 stage course of fire that had its own nuances and challenges; no shoot targets, mandatory mag changes, and some long shots just to name a few. Timers and points, speed and precision, misses and malfunctions all played a factor to make it a really fun day on the range. We tallied up the scores, presented the prizes and then talked about how we need to do this as an annual event.
Remember that the impetus of the event being held in Massachusetts had to do with a conversation about the number of people thinking the act of manufacturing one’s own firearm was forbidden by law. That’s where the gun law topic experts from Gun Owners Action League came into play. Jon Green, the head of the educational division at GOAL was in attendance. Green brings with him an expertise like none other in Massachusetts and pretty much is the go-to resource on the rules and regulations there. In Green’s interview with Jared Yanis, he had the following to say:
[This] is absolutely 100 legal, 100% legal to do in Massachusetts. Once we build it, we must report it on the gun transaction portal. It’s easy enough to do option number two, they call it registration. It’s actually reporting the gun information license information. Currently, that is what we must do behind the Iron Curtain, as you say, to be compliant with our regs and our statutes…
Listen, you need to be an advocate. There are there are several bills in the house now House and Senate and Massachusetts. We just we just testified this past week, Jim Wallace did a great job testifying to some of the gun legislation. And once again, the Massachusetts legislature they’re trying to punish all the good people by the by the terrible deeds of a few so Gold penned some legislation that would make it illegal, with…with very severe penalties for somebody that is prohibited both statutorily speaking and federally prohibited from doing this. As long as you have a Massachusetts license. You can currently do this, but please be an advocate. Reach out to your State Rep and Senator and tell them ‘hey, no bad bills, no laws against a nonprohibited person’s ability to make their own firearm.’
I reached out to Green to get his after-action commentary about the event and he answered a few of my questions. I asked about GOAL’s involvement as an organization. I also wanted to know if in his opinion it’s time we start discussing this topic in our classes as instructors:
Yes GOAL was a co-sponsor and provided advertising, prizes, swag, GOAL gun Law Booklet and information on the legalities of private gun making and potential legislation regarding the personal building of guns.
I do think the subject should be discussed in basic courses. It’s another offshoot available to Americans because of the 2A.
Green left me with his final thoughts:
The right to make your own gun is every bit as important as the right to possess guns. The Gun Maker’s Match brought some of the most knowledgeable and talented people from the community together. They shared their K,S,A with those of us that have the desire. That my Friend, is a win, win.
Yanis covered some of the themes of the semi-clandestine feel to the practice of building one’s own firearms in his video on the event. Yanis being more liberty-minded never outright admonished the practice. He did discuss how the event did change his view though. To use his words, he’s “hooked!”
So there comes a time in your life where you reevaluate things. And some things that meant a lot to you at one point might have faded as far as the importance and there are other things that maybe you weren’t as interested as others in. But as you grow and learn more about it, you become more interested in it. And that’s what’s happened to me recently. It’s been about…it’s been a long, long process, but I’m talking about home builds or building your own firearm as a hobby. So listen, I was never against it, as all of you know, because I’ve always talked about how to defeat the laws and I’ve always pushed it where I could or fought for it in local area where I couldn’t. We’re doing that now as well in Massachusetts, with a new bill that came out. But I have finally broken down to the point where I wanted to learn as much as I could about building my own firearm.
Yanis’s full episode of Guns & Gadgets about the Massachusetts Gun Maker’s Match: “I Finally Made A Polymer Pew At The Gun Maker’s Match – I’m Hooked!” can be viewed in the embed below.
I reached out to Yanis to get his full perspective on the event. I wanted to know his thoughts after a little time passed by.
Building homemade firearms has been legal since the colonial days. It is a rabid hobby that is comparable to how car or motorcycle owners customize their rides to their wants and needs. Gun making is the same. Customizing a tool to the owner, only this tool is used to ensure freedom and safety. Once you get past the stigma, it is a great hobby and one that I am now a part of.
Getting a chance to peer into this world was really great. After talking to a few of the participants and taking in the interview segments, I can really see these kinds of events just taking off into the mainstream. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t. Pincus seems to have found a new niche and I look forward to his continued success in growing this community. I asked Pincus how he felt everything went. I wanted to know his thoughts on the event.
The event went really well… I think people had a good time and learned a lot. Especially those who built their first guns… I think it is cool to have the “safety net” of knowledgeable people there making sure you don’t ruin your first build.
This was the second weekend of this kind that we’ve run under the Guns For Everyone National banner. The first was in Denver.
We have an event planned for Philadelphia later this month and another one in MA in Jan. We’ll do one in CO in Feb and then the 2nd annual Gun Maker’s Match will be held in St. Augustine on March 19th, 2022.
While the competitions are sanction by [Guns for Everyone National] GFEN, the Educational Days are co-sponsored with Firearms Policy Coalition. Both AWCY? And 2AO.org put in significant efforts as well.
In parting, one of the things I thought was important to bring up was the matter of “ghost guns”. Is this a pejorative? Is this a dirty term? The anti-freedom caucus is using it in their rhetoric. So what gives Pincus? What do you think about the term? Is this ours?
One thing that has always been true is that if you want people to understand you, you have to speak their language. In today’s world, when you consider how online searches work, if we want to educate people who are hearing about how bad “ghost guns” are, we’re idiots if we don’t use the term in our articles and video titles. We’re stuck with the term “ghost gun”… we need to educate people about what they are, as well as what they aren’t. So, yes, I guess we’re taking the term back…
For more footage on the Massachusetts Gun Maker’s Match, check out the interview Charlie Cook from Riding Shotgun With Charlie conducted. Cook was present to do a post-event report with several of the participants. Take a look and a listen to the freeform interview in the embed below.
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on Twitter at @johnpetrolino and on Instagram @jpetrolinoiii .