The selling point, IMO, is the open source hardware and open source software behind this. It claims to take the expertise out of the process and make it a turnkey operation.
Ghost Gunner is a miniature CNC machine designed to automatically manufacture publicly created designs with nearly zero user interaction. No prior CNC knowledge or experience is required to manufacture from design files. Defense Distributed's first design is the venerable AR-15 lower receiver. Ghost Gunner automatically finds and aligns your 80% lower receiver to the machine, with simple installation instructions, point and click software and all required tools. Just follow a few simple instructions to mount your 80% lower receiver, tighten a couple screws (with simple tools we provide), and on day one, Ghost Gunner can help you legally manufacture unserialized firearms in the comfort of your own home.Finding and aligning to your part automagically is fantastic! Further down the webpage it says that auto alignment only works on metal, but that manual alignment, for plastics, is designed to be easy, too. But, again, it's more. They've developed a file format, their "open source Physibles Development SDK (pDev)" files in a new '.dd' file format. The new format contains all installation and assembly instructions, any required jig files to hold the part in place (that users can print with a 3D printer), and all machine definitions and code to physically manufacture a particular design. Slick!
A single file can contain specific code and installation instructions for any number of machines. A user with both a Ghost Gunner and a Tormach P1100 could manufacture a particular .dd file on either machine and manufacture the same physible with zero additional user knowledge, as only the instructions required for a particular machine are revealed to the end user. The .dd file format is a CNC response to 3D printing's universal .stl file format.So don't think of this as a device for making only guns. Think of it as a new universal 3-axis CNC machine capable of making anything in its envelope. DD promises AR-10s and 1911s will follow, but beyond that, expect users to start making files for anything useful that fits in its work envelope (~6.75 x 2.95 x 2.35"). The world of CNC opens for the non-specialist. Plop it on the desk, and within a few minutes, it's milling a lower receiver for you.
Bob Owens at Bearing Arms says that making guns isn't really the point and the machine is expensive for that. Using nothing more than a $70-100 drill press or even a hand drill with jigs, people have been completing perfectly functional AR-15 lower receivers since at least the 1990s. Likewise, you can buy all the equipment necessary to build a small factory churning out AKMs (the correct name for AK-series rifles that the media continues to call AK-47s, even though the original Ak-47 series hasn’t been made since 1960) from parts kits and receiver flats for less than $700.
Bob rhetorically asks, "Is the “Ghost Gunner” worth it?" and concludes with:
If your goal is to terrify and infuriate the agents of an ever-more-intrusive government, however, the Ghost Gunner serves its purpose well, and that is precisely the role of everything produced by Defense Distributed, which exists for the explicit purpose of ticking off all the right people.If I knew buying this would personally tick off all the right people, I'd sign up for two! The feeling must be widespread: Wired reports DD sold out the first level in 36 hours. The first 10 sold for $99, the next 200 for $1199, and according to their webpage right now, they're at 97 left of the third group that sell for $1299.