Zig-Zag, Not Just For Rolling One Any More…

When I saw the name, I thought of the rolling papers with the iconic Dude on the package. But no…

This Zig Zag isn’t for “rolling one”.

Zig Zag Revolver from Japan

Zig Zag Revolver from Japan

Image from original site: http://www.japantrends.com/japanese-man-arrested-for-using-home-3d-printer-to-make-plastic-gun/

Yoshitomo Imura was arrested by police recently for taking his interest in firearms too far. He made a 3D-printed six shooter called the Zig Zag with his own 3D printer.
Imura has taken it as a sign of success that the police regarded his creations as real enough to take him into custody. However, in fact the plastic revolver may have been as much a danger to Imura as to others, since plastic guns can misfire, backfire and cause injuries to the user. On the other side, they can be brought onto planes and past metal detectors much more easily.

We expect this latest development will mean it is only be a short time until the authorities lock in legislation controlling 3D printers and 3D-printing services, as some lawmakers are indeed already threatening.

So what’s next, legislation restricting access to files and drills? I think it is worth pointing out that guns are a 1500’s era technological base and even “modern” guns need nothing more than a bicycle repair shop level of tooling to make. (The “grease gun” STEN submachine gun was designed to be made by anyone in England making bicycles or doing auto repair… it is not “new” to be able to make a gun…)

(Warning: This site gave me a giant pop up ad when I downloaded their PDF of a ‘how to’ for making a STEN with limited tools. I’ve not vetted the site and I have no idea if it is safe. That’s why I use disposable systems… this is a ‘random link’ chosen by web search…)



The DIY STEN Gun is a simplified 1:1 copy of the British STEN MKIII submachine gun. The main differences however include the number of components having been greatly reduced and it’s overall construction made even cruder. Using the simple techniques described, the need for a milling machine or lathe is eliminated making it ideal for production in the home environment with very limited tools.

For obvious legal reasons, the demonstration example pictured was built as a non-firing display replica. It’s dummy barrel consists of a hardened steel spike welded and pinned in place at the chamber end and […]

It goes on about ways to use cheap angle grinders and such to make parts and not needing any expensive machine tools.

My point isn’t to show how you can DIY to make a submachine gun, but to point out how easy it is with much cheaper tools than a 3D printer. In many ways the plastic gun is more like a “zip gun” that are easily made from stock plumbing supplies with little skill. Any cop can tell you about how fast cons can whip up a zip gun from not much in the way of materials.

BTW, if you really want to hurt folks, it is far easier to do it with chemistry. “Poison gas” is as close as every single cleaning supply section of every grocery store and the classic “Molotov cocktail” is just an empty beer or wine bottle, flammable liquid, and a scrap of cloth. Chuck a large chunk of wood or metal in a tank tread and shower it with enough of those and you can take out a tank, so this is not a ‘light-weight’ weapon. I watched film of this being done during the fall of the USSR. It is very real.

That is why it is just sooo stupid to pass laws about 3D printers and making things. And just as stupid to pass laws about weapons. Anything and everything can be a weapon, when, where, and as needed. Give me a home repair kit and I’m lethal. Give me a bit of fishing line and I’m lethal. Put me naked in a field of bare dirt and I’m an embarrassment to look at, but lethal. (Thanks to several years of martial arts training). It is the person and what they know that makes something a weapon. Not some machine tool or other.

BTW, if you have access to a body shop you can do sheet metal stamped guns too. Here’s one from W.W.II:


The KP m/44 (Konepistooli malli 1944, English: Submachine gun, model 1944), nicknamed “Peltiheikki” or “Pelti-kp”, which could be translated as “sheet-metal Henrik” and “sheet-metal machine pistol”/”sheet-metal submachine gun” respectively, was a Finnish 9mm copy and modification of the Soviet mass-produced 7.62 mm submachine gun PPS-43.

It doesn’t matter much if you are using 1500s tech, 1800s, the 1940’s W.W.II, or 2000s plastics. Making a gun is just not very hard. (Making a really good one is, though…)

But back at the Zig Zag gun…

It does look like there is a wiki on it, even if way too short:


The Zig Zag revolver is a 3D printed .38-caliber pepperbox type revolver made public in May 2014. It was created using a $500 plastic 3D-printer, however the name of the printer was not revealed by the creator. It was created by a Japanese citizen from Kawasaki named Yoshitomo Imura He was arrested in May 2014 after he had posted a video online of himself firing a 3D printed Zig Zag revolver. It is the first known 3D printed gun design from Japan.

It holds a capacity of 6 bullets and can fire .38 caliber bullets. The grip of the weapon is based on the Mauser C96 and the fact that the weapon fires from the bottom of the barrel is based on the Mateba Autorevolver.

After Imura’s arrest a gun called the Imura Revolver was designed and printed by FOSSCAD members and was named in honor of Yoshitomo Imura.

These folks have a nice picture of the Imura in black plastic with a blue cylinder:


Imura Model V2

Imura Model V2

The gun itself uses .22 long rifle ammunition, and a .225″ ID 316 or 308 stainless tubing from McMaster. As for its appearance, just take a look at some of the images above and below. It’s a masterpiece in our opinion, and the only question left to be answered is whether or not it will actually fire a bullet without exploding in one’s hand.

The reality is that our soft bodied “bags of mostly water” are very fragile and easy to break. It doesn’t take much to make a ‘lethal weapon’, and no amount of legislation will change that. Prior to handguns being common, the use of poison was much more frequent. Effectively ban guns, you will just get a lot more “sugar of lead” in the common coffee pot and “special mushroom sauce” on the pasta. A hand sprayer of the “right stuff” will kill more people faster and more effectively than a “combat handgun”. The Nazi used Zyklon B in their death camps not from a shortage of guns but because it was cheaper, easier, and more effective.

Looks like even Wired beat me to it on this one:


Andy Greenberg Security
Date of Publication: 05.15.14. 05.15.14
Time of Publication: 6:30 am. 6:30 am

How 3-D Printed Guns Evolved Into Serious Weapons in Just One Year

A burgeoning subculture of 3-D printed gun enthusiasts dreams of the day when a lethal firearm can be downloaded or copied by anyone, anywhere, as easily as a pirated episode of Game of Thrones. But the 27-year-old Japanese man arrested last week for allegedly owning illegal 3-D printed firearms did more than simply download and print other enthusiasts’ designs. He appears to have created some of his own.

Among the half-dozen plastic guns seized from Yoshitomo Imura’s home in Kawasaki was a revolver designed to fire six .38-caliber bullets–five more than the Liberator printed pistol that inspired Imura’s experiments. He called it the ZigZag, after its ratcheted barrel modeled on the German Mauser Zig-Zag. In a video he posted online six months ago, Imura assembles the handgun from plastic 3-D printed pieces, a few metal pins, screws and rubber bands, then test fires it with blanks.

Though they seem to not “get it” that not only is that day already here, and has been for a while, but “lethal firearm”s have been “copied by anyone, anywhere” and easily pirated since their inception. Maybe I have a warped POV on this, since I am from a family of historical “working smiths”, but making things out of metal is just not hard, and has been going on for a few thousand years. In some ways plastics are more of a mess to work with. Frankly, I’d be more inclined to make cast bronze gun parts than 3D printed plastic ones. Any decent art shop or school can teach you how. (The psi tensile strength of bronze is about the same as mild steel. What it lacks is high heat strength and low cost. But it is very easy to cast and machine…)

Then that article goes on:

Despite that legal ambiguity, it took only weeks for digital gunsmiths to improve upon the first fully 3-D printed gun. Defense Distributed printed the first Liberator in May, 2013, using a second-hand refrigerator-sized Stratasys 3-D printer it bought for $8,000. Later that month, a gun enthusiast in Wisconsin riffed on the Liberator to produce a working firearm for far less, using a $1,725 Lulzbot printer with less than $25 in plastic. It fired eight .38-caliber bullets without damage.

Which sounds like a fun toy. But further down is a more interesting approach. Just print the “regulated” part:

Aside from the Reprringer, the anonymous FOSSCAD member noted another new, proven design that may be far more practical–and have far more serious implications–than fully-printed guns: a key part of a semi-automatic weapon called the lower receiver. That part, which comprises most of the body of a gun, is the most regulated element of a firearm. Print a lower receiver, and you can buy the rest of a gun’s components off the shelf without an ID or waiting period.

FOSSCAD members have printed and test fired AR-15 lower receivers, including one designed to be the lightest available, another that includes a printed stock and grip, one designed for a Czechoslovakian semi-automatic pistol called the Skorpion, and another designed for the SKS, a semi-automatic rifle that fires the same ammunition as an AK-47. The last two of those designs are test fired in the videos below.

Which makes for a very interesting brave new world. I’d not mind at all having an AR-15. That the lower receiver can be 3D printed is a very interesting development. As they say, all the rest is just OTC and mail order… Then again, so is chlorine bleach and ammonia…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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11 Responses to Zig-Zag, Not Just For Rolling One Any More…

  1. Another Ian says:


    Dad used to make his 12 ga trap guns out of 3/4 waterpipe. for wild dog activities

    Front gate sign said

    “Guns. Traps. Stay on the road or stay out”.

  2. Another Ian says:

    And there is that Kipling quote around about “Ten thousand pounds of education taken by a five rupee jezail” – a bit rough as I haven’t checked the book.

    And the Khyber Pass repros of .303’s etc.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    I’ve got a book titled something like “Improvised firearms” that has examples for the 3/4 inch pipe shotgun. Pipe. End cap. Drill hole and add nail. Big Rubber Band and block of somthing for the “trigger – hammer”… Looks like about a 10 minute job to make… Slow to reload, though ;-)

    “Hand me that pipe wrench, will ya? I need to reload…”

    Had to look up Jezail:

    The jezail (Sometimes Jezzail from the Pashto language) was a simple, cost-efficient and often handmade muzzle-loading long arm commonly used in British India, Central Asia and parts of the Middle East in the past.

    Jezails were generally handmade weapons, and consequently they widely varied in their construction. Jezails were seen as very personal weapons, and unlike the typical military weapons of the time which were very plain and utilitarian, jezails tended to be well crafted and were usually intricately decorated.

    Jezails tended to have very long barrels. These long weapons were never common in Europe (with the exception of the Spanish “espingarda” circa 15th century), and were otherwise seen in American rifles like the Kentucky Rifle. The American rifles were used for hunting, and tended to be of a smaller caliber (.35 to .45 or so being typical). Jezails were usually designed for warfare, and therefore tended to be of larger calibers than the American rifles, with .50 to .75 caliber and larger being common. Larger calibers were possible because the long length of the typical jezail meant that it was heavier than typical muskets of the time. Jezails typically weighed around 12 to 14 pounds, compared to 9 to 10 pounds for a typical musket. The heavy weight of the jezail allowed the rifle itself to absorb more energy from the round, imparting less recoil to the weapon’s user.

    Personally, in an end of the world Ah Shit situation, and were I somehow deprived of my present means, I think the ‘fastest decent gun’ to make would be that 3/4 inch pipe as a muzzle loader musket. Instead of the whole nail and all, just put a touch hole on it and then glue on or braze on a bit of a ‘pan’. Add fuze holder (could even be a brazed on hinge and cotton punk with handle attached) and you are pretty much “good to go”. When time permits, carve a nice stock for it and attach with rope or such.

    I’d also be thinking that maybe a nice cloth wrapping of the barrel and then soaking that with epoxy would be a nice added strength feature. Fiber Reinforced Plastic over metal… Ought to hold up OK to black powder, and if it did ‘give’ the fiber ought to catch any fragments and make the mode of failure more forgiving… Do it right, the FRP becomes ‘bedding’ and stock too.

    I’d guess one evening of work and one of ‘trim and polish’ to having a decent 1600’s ish musket.

    Then you can spend a week or two getting a “lock” and flint together to bring it up the the 1700s early 1800s.

    Somehow the notion of a .75 caliber or 3/4 inch musket just sounds scary ;-)

    Of course if you have time to prepare, getting nice smooth high pressure stainless pipe would make it all a lot nicer ;-)

    Oh, and IIRC, one of the standard sizes of bronze / brass pipe fits a .22 LR nicely and has plenty of strength while looking pretty too ;-) Making a “falling block” for that size isn’t hard…

    IIRC, one of the ‘zip guns’ used a square metal block dropped into a wooden grip behind the pipe and held in place with rubber bands over the top. Something like that. You can use a side mounted firing pin and avoid drilling that way…rim fire and all… Though I’d likely go for an electrical ignition. Nice sized cap in the grip. Switch to spark to the rim. Ground on the other side of the rim. Might need a big battery to recharge the cap while you were reloading ;-)

    But all just fantasy for me. Having a 12 gauge means never needing to improvise a gun ;-) In a pinch you can hand load the cases very easily and reuse them a long time. Even the primers are big enough to be remanufactured with hand tools and matchhead scrapings. (Though a box of a few hundred is very small…)

    IIRC in the Philippines the insurgents (during Japanese occupation) loved the sawed off double bbl 12 gauge as it was very lethal and you could remanufacture the shells indefinitely with little in the way of tools and materials. Would work on all sorts of ersatz gunpowder too. There are lots of old cheap double bbls for sale from before the Steel Shot era, due to their bbls not doing well with steel shot. A “mostly wall hanger” that is ready parts and materials “for that day”…

    Though I’m rather more fond of my 12 ga. pump with 8 round extended and rifle bbl with sights… With shot it is a ‘spreader’ for up close, and just shove a slug in for ‘up to 100 yards’… And a big box of “dove loads” is darned cheap during preseason practice sales… Though mine has only ever shot paper and clay… It’s an interesting set up. Ordered the “security” model with short smooth bore, and the “added deer bbl” and then the very special ‘end cap’ that lets the long magazine of the extended “security” gun work with the short mount ring of the “deer bbl”. You end up with a 24 inch rifle of .75 caliber shooting 1 ounce slugs… and holding 8 of them.

    If that doesn’t “do it”, you need an army…

    By spreading the ‘dove loads’ it is far less likely to put an ounce of small tight shot through a couple of walls and into an innocent. Anything close enough inside gets taken out, but anything outside is at less risk. IFF you ever end up needing it, just grab the box of slugs and you have minor artillery out to 100 yards… few folks would want to hang around after a couple of ounce slugs hit the hood and windshield… Now if only I had the remote farm to justify it ;-)

  4. wyoskeptic says:

    I was always taught that the most dangerous weapon anyone possesses is the gray matter between the ears. All the rest is incidental.

    Where I am from, there used to be a very popular bumper sticker: “When D-9s are outlawed, only outlaws will have a D-9.”

    (It is a reference to a time when a man took a D-9 Cat dozer on a local rampage.)

  5. John Robertson says:

    The Stupid Evil Bastards who need to rule all,live everyones lives for them, constantly obsess over disarming everyone else and project their own disfunction/fear upon all they meet.
    Their belief that the weapon or tool is “the problem” is a window into their POV.
    Probably why they deny responsibility for the results of their own actions.
    Somehow they are unmovable from their belief that the tool causes the damage.
    The other point is when I listen to them and occasional question them, they have almost no hands on experience of these “Deadly weapons”.
    Yet they are also the first people who suggest violence as a solution to persons who doubt their beliefs.
    Fantasies of exerting their authority.
    The concept that farmers,hunters and outdoors people see these “Terror weapons” as simple basic tools stuns them.

    As for the homemade weapons, Australia stripped their citizens of weapons.
    Now they have a noticeable industry in home manufactured machine guns.
    The police there had a spectacular bust in 2013 when they seized some beautifully manufactured 600 round /minute machine pistols.
    A Jeweller was later charged with manufacturing these guns.
    Sadly for those who desire the monopoly on deadly force, people are born with hands,feet,teeth and a brain, hard to say which is the most deadly weapon.
    Now as Britain has show, once you start banning and restricting tools, because someone once used them as a weapon, there is no end.. what size blade on your pocket knife sir?
    And the final irony, if the power hungry ever succeeded in achieving their dreams, they likely would wind up strangled by their own hired help.
    Once might is right, which right might?

  6. Clay Marley says:

    I made gunpowder and small pipe bombs in high school. I had read in the World Book Encyclopedia what gunpowder was made of and in what proportion, so a friend and I tried it. Eventually we were fairly accomplished in making high quality black powers, fuses, and delay timers of up to 10 minutes in case one wanted to be quite a long way away.

    Course we never wanted to hurt anyone or destroy anything (except an old filing cabinet). This was mainly an intellectual exercise to see what we could do.

    We also experimented with chemical ignition. Two chemicals that would ignite on contact. I thought of this when you mentioned Molotov cocktails. We learned how to do this from a bit of history on these devices you might find interesting. During WWII the French Resistance were assisted in manufacturing Molotov Cocktails by the Nobel Prize winning chemist Frédéric Joliot-Curie, husband of Irène Curie, who was the daughter of Marie Curie. To safely manufacture and store these Cocktails, one would pour one chemical in with the petrol, then seal the bottle, then another powder in a pouch is attached to the outside. When the bottle broke, the two chemicals come into contact and it instantly ignites.

    Point of all this is, that if one wants to be highly destructive, there really isn’t any practical way to prevent it. And as technology improves, no doubt more destructive techniques get pushed down to lower levels of society. A culture that increasingly rejects God and becomes more postmodern, more narcissistic and nihilist, would I expect increasingly see these destructive events.

  7. John Silver says:

    How do you print ammo? And gun powder?

    “Warning: This site gave me a giant pop up ad”
    No it didn’t: Firefox (or Pale Moon) with Noscript, Adblock and Flashblock takes care of that.

  8. Larry Ledwick says:

    Philippines the insurgents (during Japanese occupation) loved the sawed off double bbl 12 gauge

    They started off with a slam fire 12Ga made of 3/4 pipe for the barrel (just the right size to chamber the 12ga shell) and a shorter piece of 1″ pipe with a pipe cap and a screw through the pipe cap as a firing pin. To fire you just forcefully slammed the short piece over the 3/4 pipe. It was a single shot device, but if you are taking weapons from sentries or small patrols you only needed a couple people with these to instantly take out the entire patrol strip them of weapons and ammunition and run. Now you had several bolt action rifles, ammo and you still had the low tech shotguns which you passed on to some one else.
    Rise repeat as necessary.

    The Japanese stretched ammunition supplies by pulling the bullets from cartridges and pouring out half the powder, into a once fired brass with an expedient primer and a bamboo bullet. Good enough for a close range ambush.

    A little research by any historian would quickly pull up info on how in the 1950’s street punks in New York were making zip guns out of broken off car radio antennas for a barrel, wrapped with lots of strong tape, a hand whittled wood handle and a strong rubber band to drive the firing pin, to ignite a .22 LR round. Inaccurate and crude, it would still get the job done at across the alley ranges.

    The problem with the evil bastards, is they have no mechanical skills they are technologically illiterate, and have essentially no imagination. They can regurgitate the ideas of others, but have no ability to analyze an idea and see if it makes any sense. As a result they are surprised when enterprising practical people find loop holes in their new laws before they even take effect, or anticipate their true intent. They really appear to think if you make xyz illegal it will go away, when at the same time they routinely ignore laws that apply to them and see no conflict between the two. All this while complaining about every type of prohibition ever tried (alcohol, drugs, cheating on taxes etc.) has failed to stop the behavior it was intended to stop.

    Mostly I suspect because they are so darn sure that they are the intellectual superiors of the “common folk” they assume plumbers, carpenters, mechanics and street wise punks are dumb as rocks.

    I laugh at Hillary when she has the audacity to say she is completely transparent — Yeah you are completely transparent — everyone with a brain can see right through your lies and understands you are a con artist, a manipulative political animal with the ethics of Machiavelli and a habitual liar and have been for 40+ years. The thing that astonishes me, is the willful blindness of their supporters.

    I was having a gun debate with someone a while ago and the conversation ended when he said “it appears you believe your rights are more important than saving lives.”

    Uhhhhh yeah if given a choice between giving up my constitutional rights or taking an ineffectual action which is billed to save lives when I know it will do nothing of the kind, my rights sort of take top priority.

  9. John Robertson says:

    The other side of those who want to strip of of our rights,to save our lives.
    Their chosen “protectors” are only minutes away when seconds count.
    And as events follow their course in the USA, these same know it all, are front and centre in attacking the police services.
    A massive loss of civility is coming.As we come to doubt every government run institute.
    My fathers generation, especially the war veterans were very careful to respect each others right to argue their opinions.Accepted their responsibilities to uphold civil society.
    We now have a public space in which shrieking and verbally abusing those who differ, is an acceptable method of “consulting the public”.
    Government believes the minions with in are above the law.
    Public Oaths are negotiable with your ideology.

    There will always be fools and bandits, no 3rd party can protect any individual 24/7.
    The blatant failure of government is ignored by the statists, they feel that if only we spent more resources we could change human nature.
    I do not believe there will ever be enough wealth in the world to do that.

  10. David Jinkomschmitt says:

    Also check out the ‘9mm Bullet Hose’ compact DIY machine pistol design. Only 9 main parts. Use a 5/8″ 9mm barrel blank or use 15.88 x 3.25 seamless steel tube for a smooth bore improvised barrel. It’s so concealable that you can slip it into a handbag.


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