“Brother, let me tell you what.”
Many names in this community command respect, but very few rise to become beloved. When he’s not being the living embodiment of “killing with kindness,” SwarmTech has been known to design some of the coolest stuff out there. I recently got the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about being a developer and share his vision for the community’s future:
Who are you and what do you do?
“My internet name is SwarmTech, and I am autist supreme, which is to say that I like to design and build 3D printed guns. I like a lot of different DIY things, but I primarily stick to the 3D printed gun world.”
How did you get into GunCAD?
“I got into GunCAD during the “Summer of Love” in 2020. I was absolutely hammered at the family lakehouse, and saw that Sheila Jackson Lee (D, TX-18) did her yearly “assault weapons” ban. I had not followed gun politics in years, so I thought this was novel and had a chance of going through. I panicked, and while hammered at said lakehouse, saw the video of Cody Wilson shooting the 3D printed AR-15 he had with the 3D printed mag, and I was thinking to myself, “Okay, if you wanted to be effective and also had to source your things in a non-permissive environment, this is gonna be the way to do it. You’re gonna need to do some kind of 3D printing.” So I at the time just had a shitposting/memes account, but was friends with a soft goods manufacturer. I reached out to that dude, and I was like “Hey, do you know anyone who does 3D printing?”
He said, “Yes I do, I have some friends that will do custom Ender setups.” I was like “Okay, I don’t know what any of that means but sweet. What’s their info?” I got in contact with them, and got my first Ender 3 through them.
I started just doing a bunch of prints and things I could find, either on Thingiverse or Deterrence Dispensed. I got into one of the Keybase, because at that point it was all on Keybase for DD, got really involved with Logsleeve and the SVTR, and from there just kind of grew. Ended up getting into AWCY?, had some friends who were also in AWCY?, back when the interview process was basically a wink and a nod—if you had even a modicum of CAD ability you were immediately in, and I could stipple Glocks so I was totally in. I had some friends through there who I would regularly chat with. They’ve since left the hobby but I’ve stuck around.
I don’t really interact a ton with the DD guys, I don’t have a ton against them except that I wish their models looked better. At this point I’ve moved into a space where I’m a developer of things I think are fun or I think my friends would look cool flexing on Instagram—that was what the Scarab was, my most recent release. Made for the sole purpose of having ManyEnemies and BitPlumb flex on the ‘gram. I’ve also started hosting the Midwest Meetup, a get-together for the community, by the community, with the intention of just hanging out and nothing else.”
What kind of builds do you have the most fun working on?
“Probably MAC builds. I have done, at this point, probably printed and assembled no less than 30 Glock frames, and they’re kind of boring. I have done the extreme DIY, where you’re doing basically everything—I have a .22lr lever gun that does not use firearm parts except for an AR hammer spring and a barrel liner. I really do like the MAC niche, something that’s kind of in-between that but still has enough real estate that you can get creative, you can get fancy with it, and are still fairly easy to put together.”
What sort of builds challenge you?
“The 100% DIY builds definitely challenge me, like my lever gun. I did, back in the day, attempt a MOD-9. The extreme, “much work required” type builds were definitely more challenging, but as I’ve grown in GunCAD my ability to work with my hands has also improved. So even now, I’ve done the Bobcat from 3DArms, his beta with that, which has a fair number of manual steps, and even that was pretty much easy-peasy now that I have the tools and the know-how.“
What inspires your designs?
“I think the thing that inspires my designs the most are a combination of the Halo series, Heckler and Koch, and an extreme caffeine and nicotine addiction.”
How would you describe GunCAD as a community?
“GunCAD as a community is where all of the reject artists who couldn’t find somewhere to fit in ended up finding each other, made a bunch of cool shit, and started attracting a bunch of regular, normal people. A lot of the core, original people were very much the outcast artists who figured something out but didn’t fit in with society and now a lot of the later additions as we’re becoming mainstream are regular, perfectly respectable people. Dentists, lawyers, tax attorneys, we have all kinds of people in the GunCAD community. The general vibe that I get is that we probably all have a form of ADHD, most of us have some kind of Autism. We’re perfectly social in small circles, but tend to not like crowds and tend not to like things that are ‘mainstream.'”
Is there anything in the community that drives you up the wall?
“The infighting definitely drives me up a wall. My inner gossip girl loves when people bicker back and forth and post memes about each other, but I think memetic warfare is completely and totally different than brigading other team’s designs and releases. The infighting, in my opinion, detracts from what we’re really looking for, which is customizable, personal defense that anyone can make in the comfort of their own home.”
Is there anyone you look up to in the community?
“ManyEnemies is one of the most talented builders that I’ve ever come across. He can build literally anything and make it look amazing. Derwood’s engineering mind is something that I will never have and I am insanely jealous of. He is extremely talented at coming up with the core concepts and mechanics that are required to make amazing, functional things. And also Logsleeve. He’s not really in the community much anymore, a lot of things in his personal life have taken away from the community more or less, but if you want to talk about someone with incredible CAD ability, just incredible, innate aesthetic talent, Logsleeve is your guy. Can’t say enough good things about him.
I have tremendous respect for what V8 and Ivan have done. They’re both design powerhouses. I’m, of course, partial to V8’s designs because they don’t look like they’re sponsored by the pipefitter’s union. Ivan’s getting better about that, so you gotta give him some credit.
Tim Hoffman has done some really incredible things with the Super Safety. He’s got some incredible talent, looking at his documentation and having met him, he definitely has an incredible mind for this. I think that as we move forward he’s gonna continue to be someone who has a big impact on the community.”
Is there anything you see coming in the near future that you’re excited about?
“Anything that I am excited about the near future that I can talk about is the kicker. This one, unfortunately, has to be kept close to the chest.
There’s some really exciting things being done by some incredible people in the community that, and I don’t say this lightly, are going to be game-changers for what your Average Joe is able to do in terms of self-defense and deterrence, but we’ll leave it at that.
Middleton Made’s Mac & Cheese 3, which is essentially a universal modular chassis system that is being adapted for the DB Alloy, my Scarab, for Durban’s carbon fiber MAC receiver, and I think it’s very exciting.
What sort of advice would you give to a new developer, or someone trying to get in the community?
“Just do not stop. Do not get out of CAD until you’re sick of dreaming in your CAD software. Even if you’re not making things that you ever give to anyone, the more that you’re able to challenge your brain into thinking fluently in 3D the better you will be.
A lot of people, when they’re first starting out, have a tendency to create things they never really finish. Give yourself plenty of time on your designs and releases to really really consider if that’s what you really want it to be versus where you can get it by a certain date. Nobody really cares how long it took to get to whatever point, they care about how it feels and functions.
Take your time, don’t just shit stuff out for the purpose of s****** stuff out.”
What would you like to see more of in the community?
“An understanding and acceptance that PLA+’s place is prototyping. PLA+ is not a forever material. If you live anywhere south of the Canadian border, you probably will have your guns melt in the sun at some point during the year, and that is not conducive to effective self-defense. Embrace things like Nylon, ASA, and other high-temp materials. At the end of the day, while it’s really fun to make these cool designs, it really sucks to have to rebuild them because they got too hot. Get yourself into the high-temp filaments and you won’t be unhappy about having done so.”
How would you describe the impact of the GunCAD community on the legal landscape in the country?
“GunCAD’s ability to innovate where traditional manufacturers have failed—things like the out-of-battery safety that AWCY? released and how that was actually incorporated into CZ’s designs. Our ability to innovate in the corporate world has translated into an interesting place in the legal world. Sort of how research chemicals have been able to skirt any law that Congress and the DEA have ever been able to make, we will be able to skirt any law that the powers that be could ever create. Though currently we’re not seeing a lot of printed guns ending up on evidence tables or at crime scenes, eventually it will start to happen because they are viable pieces of self-defense equipment. I hope that when that time comes, we as a community can react appropriately and do what we need to do to ensure we can continue releasing and making these designs public, because as you get one or two things that make people panic, the law tends to clamp down. If we can maneuver that appropriately, we’ll be able to continue doing this hobby for a long time.”
What do you believe the guiding principle or cause is for GunCAD?
“Affordable, reliable, and effective self-defense for every man, woman, and child who wants it, at their home and convenience without having to ask for permission from Daddy Government.”
In your opinion, what’s the most impactful thing one can do to forward this cause?
“Local outreach. Every time I go shooting I bring a printed gun. If I encounter other people I always offer to let them shoot it and provide ammo so they can try it. Show that it’s not a novelty and it’s something you can use if you had to, spreading that in a grassroots manner is the big way to go. We will never receive favorable press; we will always be the fringe domestic terrorist, nazi, leftist, whatever label the media wants to slap onto it. Affect change in the interpersonal and local level, that’s where we have control over the narrative.”
In your opinion, what are the biggest obstacles to this effort?
“We are, when it comes to the gun community, easily in the top 5 villains that the media will ever have. The whole “ghost gun” propaganda that they started and have been pushing since 2019 has been extremely effective, and we will always be fighting that.
Also, on the whole, unless you’re really good at printing guns, our shit does tend to malfunction, and it seems like we always have bad luck. Big, influential people end up getting things that will malfunction in their hands. These aren’t dangerous malfunctions that hurt someone, but more that the gun just doesn’t work. Until we can start getting reliable guns in the hands of influential people, we’re gonna struggle to gain mainstream traction.”
That’s All, Folks
I want to thank SwarmTech once again for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk to us and for letting us share his thoughts with all of you.
See y’all on the next one!