Airguns lend themselves well to tinkering. You can do the same with firearms, but it’s often much more expensive, and testing after our tinkering often means the cost of ammo and time to take a trip to the range. What if we could tinker and never leave our garage? And better yet, what if we could tinker on a tight budget? Guess what? We can! We’re going to take a quick peek under the hood of a brand new segment in the airgun market, and that’s 3d printed parts. Let’s get started.
3D-printed Airgun Parts
Before we even start, we’d like to say that being able to manufacture your own airgun accessories is really cool. Of course, there’s going to be a startup cost and possibly a steep learning curve, but if you are really into making things your own, you may find it completely worth it.
Fortunately for the rest of us who don’t have the time, money, or inclination to overcome the initial investment of equipment and knowledge, many new manufacturers have entered the market with customized 3D-Printed parts. One of the pioneers in this emerging segment is Buck Rail.
We visited Buck Rail in East Texas and were simply amazed at what they were producing and even more amazed at the production and sales volumes. These parts are popular.
3D-Printing Takes Practice
There are some limitations to 3D-Printing. None of these warnings are on the side of the box mind you, but if you are looking to do this on your own, you’ll want to know this going in. 3D-Printers are environmentally sensitive. Temperature and humidity can play a big role in the difference between a successful print and another chunk of junk going into the trash. The choice of material is also very important. The overall size of the part, wall thickness, etc., all matter. We won’t divulge any of Buck Rail’s trade secrets, but we can say that it was not an overnight success. Many hundreds, even thousands of hours were spent dialing in the process so that most of the parts coming off the machines were ready to go.
What Kind of Parts are We Talking About
Moderators for very low power PCP and CO2 products have been the primary focus for most small businesses entering this new market segment. Buck Rail certainly has options for that part of the market, but their most impressive mods are the parts that facilitate complete transformations of products like the Diana Storm Rider.
The Stormrider is a nice gun, but drop it into a Buck Rail set of accessories, and you have what looks like a micro Benjamin Armada. You shed all the weight of the wood stock and replace it with an AR buttstock, M LOK forearm, and AR grip assembly. It’s amazing how much better the gun feels and handles. Buck Rail has the same accessories for the new Beeman 2027 pistol, which turns it into a very cool micro-carbine.
For those who love the Crosman line of CO2, multi-pump, and pcp pistols, you’ll be pleased to find a full range of accessories and mods that help with similar transformations. And the fun does not stop there. You’ll find various mods for the Air Venturi Avenger, Beeman Underlever, and the list just goes on and on.
How Do They Hold Up
One of the questions that we had centered around was long-term durability. The bottom line is that all these parts are made from off-the-shelf 3d filament that can break if stressed beyond its limits.
Let’s draw a comparison here using the Benjamin Marauder pistol and the RAI stock conversion kit. The RAI kit is a great kit made from machined aluminum. It’s a solid piece of kit and once attached is as solid as a rock. It comes in at a reasonable $90 given the materials and build quality. It provides a mil-spec threaded connector for any 13XX Crosman airgun. To complete the build you’ll need to select an AR buffer tube and stock. UTG options start at about $63.
Now let’s look at a 3D-printed solution. The entire kit with the adaptor, buffer tube, and stock can be purchased for about $50. That’s less than one-third the cost of the RAI solution. Is it as robust? No it isn’t. But do you need it to be? That’s a question that each airgunner will need to answer. If you are shooting off a shooting table in your backyard, you probably don’t need to go the RAI route to have an AR-style Marauder Pistol. But if you are backpacking in the woods, hunting out of stands, and have your gear as a truck gun that could get bounced around, then you may want to go for the RAI route for the stronger build quality.
3D-Printed Parts Reignite the Fun of Tinkering with Airguns
We are excited to see what comes next with customized 3D-Printed airgun parts. Having the ability to change and rearrange your airgun to suit your specific taste is just really fun. It’s going to be a lot of fun watching this segment of the market take off.