How rebel fighters use 3D-printed arms to fight Myanmar’s military junta

Nearly a year after the military junta took power in Myanmar, the country’s rebels have a new tool in their hands. Pictures posted on social media in early December show them armed with 3D-printed rifles, a cheaper way to boost their arsenals and train new fighters.

Resistance is growing in the forests of Myanmar. Since the military junta took over the country in a coup on February 1, 2021, rebel groups have been engaged in guerrilla warfare against soldiers in pockets across the country.

The People’s Defense Forces (PDF), the military branch of the Resistance Party, the Government of National Unity, is using every weapon at its disposal to fight the military regime of their country.

Some fighters have posted pictures of themselves holding weapons made using 3D printers. A photo posted on Twitter on December 9, 2021 by Jake Hanrahan, a British independent journalist and founder of the independent media outlet People’s Front, shows a Myanmar rebel armed with a 9mm pistol made with an FGC-9 3D printer.

First photo of an FGC-9 in the hands of a rebel, posted by @Jake_Hanrahan.

A screenshot from the post was also shared on Reddit, on a forum dedicated to 3D-printed weapons. If you scroll through the comments, a social media user who goes by the name DaddyUMCD says he was the first to post the photo, using an account that has since been deleted. He openly describes himself as a Burmese rebel fighter.

The man’s new Reddit profile features two more images of 3D-printed weapons. These are also FCG-9s, modified with an extended barrel.

“We are mass-producing FGC9 to fight the dictator,” the user explained in a post showing an image of several 3D-printed weapons on December 13.

One of the main advantages that 3D printed weapons offer is their relative cost-effectiveness – if you have a 3D printer. The printer can cost around €220, plus €88 for other tools and to create a barrel, plus €88 more to make each pistol afterward, according to Slate.

Freelance journalist Jake Hanrahan presented a 2020 documentary about the person who invented the FGC-9, a liberal known by the pseudonym JStark, whom he interviewed on the film. The man did not reveal his identity, but, nevertheless, explains why the FGC-9 pattern was created and then put online:

The government, or the entity that governs you, has executive power. Police and military – they have firearms. To be able to escape this injustice, they [citizens] Need the same strength on the individual level.

Thanks to an active and united community of supporters, patterns for this 3D weapon are now widely available online. So with just three clicks on Google, you can get the FGC-9 style (which stands for “Fuck Gun Control 9mm”) for free.

FGC-9 3D handling diagram. © Observers

Our team contacted Jake Hanrahan, who told us about seeing the FGC-9 in the hands of the Burmese rebels:

I think it’s the most credible, real-world implementation of what JStark wanted the FGC-9 to be. He wanted tyrannical people – who are undoubtedly subject to the rebels in Myanmar to the deep tyranny of the military junta there – he wanted people like that to be able to fight in a small way.

Currently, our team has not seen any photos posted online showing Myanmar rebels using FGM in combat.

Leon Hadavi, a weapons expert with the collective Myanmar Watch, which documents human rights abuses in the ongoing civil war, told France 24 Observers: “We see a lot of weapons, but not a lot of 3D-printed pistols and nothing in combat action.” .”

DaddyUMCD, the supposed Burmese rebel on Reddit, said the same thing, in response to a comment: “Honestly, we haven’t done much with him yet. They’re supposed to use them for hit-and-run missions and get better weapons than the enemy. For the training ground, these work really well. Fabulous “.

According to Myawaddy, a person was arrested by Myanmar authorities in 2020 on charges of “terrorist acts”. Weapons belonging to this person were also seized, including 3D-printed rifles. The images show six 3D-printed FGC-9 rifles with their chargers.

The security forces confiscated these weapons.  The photo shows six FGC-9s and their chargers.
The security forces confiscated these weapons. The photo shows six FGC-9s and their chargers. © Myawaddy

‘Popular Defense Forces cooperate to respond to regime violence’

In combat videos posted by PDF rebels, Hadavi explained that the men were using military-grade assault rifles of superior caliber (5.56 mm or 7.62 mm). These are the same type of weapons seen when rebels share pictures of loot they got from an attack or raid.

Weapons captured during a PDF raid, posted in a Facebook photo on December 11, 2021.

To counter the organized military junta, Hadvi said, various groups of rebel fighters are developing and mastering guerrilla techniques, moving under cover and carrying out lightning attacks and small skirmishes.

Outside the cities, PDFs were gradually formed to respond to SAC attacks and harassment. In the second stage of their transformation, they cooperated with different ethnic armed organizations depending on the region in which they were formed and operating. These well-established local groups have weapons, supplies, and know the area, and are in fact heavily involved in training and unit formations for these urban youths and in planning their operations, which are usually conducted jointly.

With better organization and equipment, PDF items can also return to cities.

>> Read on for Observers: Myanmar and Witish verifies citizens’ photos and videos to document human rights concerns

Rebels not only manufacture small-caliber pistols, but also strive to diversify their weapons. Some social media users have also noticed images of homemade explosives, such as IEDs.

This video shows another example of the group’s move to diversify its weapons. This video, posted on Twitter by an account that tracks rebel groups, shows people in military uniform attaching a modified grenade to a DJI civilian drone.

On December 25, 2021, more than 30 charred bodies were discovered in burnt cars in El Kayah in the eastern part of the country. Soldiers from the junta are accused of attacking this convoy in response to the rebel attacks.

Local observers said more than 1,400 have been killed since the coup in February 2021.


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