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Let’s us 3D print a gun – Part 4- It’s alive!

Fun stuff first.

I took the 3D printed lower to the range and tested it out. Ran fine.

When I first was thinking about doing this project, I expected to 3D print a gun, then shoot it until it broke. After I printed the Gluty lower, I realized if I tried to do that I would end up shooting all my ammo, that would be kinda hard to replace right now.

I fired 190 rounds, I stopped because the handguards got very hot. I did have a couple of minor issues. The first mag I tried was a Lancer mag (I think they have a new generation, if so, this is a first gen mag). I over inserted it and had a hard time removing it from the gun. So I didn’t use the Lancer mags, and instead used a USGI mag and four Magpul 40 round mags. One of the Pmags did not have the follower come up completely causing the bolt to fail to lock to the rear upon firing the last shot. I would call this a mag problem, not a gun problem. I’ve previously reported about having these issues with my Magpul 40 round Pmags.

I have no doubt, that with quality magazines, I wouldn’t have had a single issue.

Now let us back track.

I was printing the Gluty 9mm pistol. It would use a Glock barrel and mags, and the bulk of the chassis would be printed. While the bolt is in a printed shell, it is mainly a big hunk of steel rod with a notch cut out of it and holes drilled though it. The work can be done with a Dremel and drill press, but most of my tools are packed away in my horder’s nest, so I decided to pivot to a simpler project. An AR15 lower.

There are a number of good options. I had a hard time picking which one to print, finally picked the “Aliamano Phobos AR-15 lower”, made by ArmaDelite, which is “based on the JT-Vangard and Phobos models”.

This one was picked because it looked like it would be easier to print than some of the other options. I don’t know if that is truly the case, but it is why I picked it.

I was able to print it in a single piece, out of PLA+ filament.

Online, you can find many a person who says that ABS would be the better choice for printing a firearm. But when you read reports of people who are printing firearms using FDM printers like mine, they talk about ABS been weak along the layers and needed acetone or MEK welding, or other reinforcements. I’ve never worked with ABS in printing, so I decided to try PLA. That is also what I had on hand and I wasn’t about to spend money on this project.

I don’t so much printing with supports, so I tried settings the support material to be printed at a 45 degree angle to the main part. I hoped that would make it easier to remove. That was a mistake. Instead of peeling off in large chunks, the support material came off in very small pieces and I spent about 8 hours taking this print from the state it was off the printer, into being an assembled lower.

Pretty much all the holes had to be drilled out to size. With the exception of the firing pin holes, those came out perfectly in spec.

After 6 hours of scraping and peeling away support material bit by bit, the lower was still covered with it.

The worst part ending up being the threading where the receiver extension (buffer tube) goes. Some of the support material at the top would not come out at all. I finally had to take a sanding drum for the Dremel, melt away much of the plastic, and use a receiver extension to tap all those threads. That was miserable work, and I was afraid I was going to scrap the lower. I even got ready to print another one with different settings right before I finally got the receiver extension to screw in all the way.

I ran into a few other problems as well. The slot for the magazine catch printed undersize and I had to spend a while with a file to clean it out. Then I found the cheap old parts I had laying around were screw up.

I don’t know what brand that is, but it is a plastic mag release catch button I pulled out of an old AR15. It screws onto the match catch crooked.

So the mag release on this gun binds slightly. It works, but not as smoothly as it should. I could spent more time filing away plastic to account for this out of spec button and the tight slot in the lower, but it works. I’m not looking for perfection here, just functionality. “Anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly.”

The other issue I ran into was that when I went to tap the grip screw hole in the receiver, the tap I used just ripped the plastic out of that hole. Reaming it out over sized. I started to try a couple different solutions, finally decided to go an easy route and printed up an AR15 grip and glued it to the lower. I left out the spring and detent for the safety and I didn’t want to permanently leave them in this lower, and the safety is already quite stiff as it is.

A crummy fix, but it works, and that is the goal here.

Aliamano Phobos AR-15 lower

If I were to complain about this lower, I would have two main gripes. It is not compatible with an upper that has a forward assist, and the trigger guard is a little thin for something 3D printed, and I believe it would break under abuse. I feel like I could break it by hand. It wouldn’t stop the lower from functioning, but it could be much beefier.

A smaller issue is that the reinforcement make it a little harder to access the safety. I was able to quickly access the safety for rapid shooting drills, but it is no where near as easy as on a standard lower.

The massive reinforcement where the receiver extension screws into makes installing the receiver extension a major pain. I placed the receiver extension in a vise and use a wrench on the lower to turn it. Took a lot of effort. I was worried the lower would break. Turned out fine.

But the receiver is really wide in the back. You will want to use a larger, satellite dish sized, charging handle latch. I read that other people who have printed AR lowers tend to be fond of using side charging handles on them

“That just sounds like an AK with extra steps.”

This lower has a very cut away magwell. Over the years I have seen several ARs with cut away magwells and they have all functioned fine. This one is even more cut away. Inserting a magazine I found I could move it a fair bit side to side or tilt it forwards and backwards. So when shooting the gun, I tried tilting the mag back, forwards, left, right, and to the extreme diagonals, but I was unable to induce a malfunction during rapid fire.

I have no doubt this lower could withstand short term heavy use. But PLA degrades with time. Some like to push that PLA is better for the environment because it is biodegradable. Time, humidity, and high temperatures will all make PLA degrade faster. But it still is a plastic, and it won’t completely biodegrade any time soon under normal conditions.

I looked into the longevity of PLA printed parts, and I couldn’t find any hard numbers. I do know that stuff I have printed in PLA seems to get more brittle over time. So I am going to stash this lower away for a while and see how to holds up a few months from now.

It is likely that a PLA lower would hold up for several years.

Still for the time and effort involved, I think 3D printing firearms is more an exercise in novelty than a practical production. It does help show the futility of anti-gun laws.

Let’s 3D print a gun, Part 3

So you got a 3D Printer, and you went online and downloaded a 3D model of a gun. You upload it to the printer and hit print and a few hours later you have a gun, right?

No, there are a few more steps.

When you get a 3D printer, even if it is assembled, it needs to be calibrated. At a minimum the print surface (the bed) needs to be leveled to the print head.

The printer needs to be set to extrude the correct amount of material at a time, and the accuracy and precision can be adjusted.

I usually use my 3D printer to make decorate objects or toys, which are not precision parts. So I didn’t worry about much about those tweaks on my Tevo Tornado. Back when I had a Tevo Tarantula I spent countless time trying to improve performance and never really got it where I wanted it.

PLA filament goes bad when exposed to humidity. I live in Florida. You might realize what the problem is. While spools of filament are vacuum sealed, once opened they have a limited useful life span.

Various brands of printer filament may use different formulas, so you will likely need different print settings for different brands of filament. Even worse, you might need different settings for different color filament.

Running the printer at different temperatures also drastically affects the print quality. Ideally, when ever you switch filaments you would print a “temperature tower” which is a single print that is done at various temperatures so you can see what temperature provided the best qualities, usually focusing on layer adhesion.

Ugh, that is a whole lotta work. Screw it, I’m gonna skip all those steps.

One more important/boring bit of how 3D Printers work:

People use 3D modeling or Computer Aided Drafting & Design software to make 3D models of parts. Popular options for mechanical design include Solidworks, SolidEdge, Alibre, Fusion360, ProE, Creo, etc.

This software is used to make a 3D model which is then usually saved/exported into the .STL format, which is most commonly used in 3D printing.

A STL file has the data of what the model is, but omit details like scale or tolerances.

Then we have “Slicer” software. In CNC machining, we tell a machine to move along the various axis and make cuts, drill holes, etc. The code to do this is called “G Code”. Simple programs can be written by hand, more complex projects may use Computer Aided Machining (CAM) software to generate the G Code necessary to machine the part.

Slicer software takes that 3D model from the STL file and slices it into thin horizontal slices, then generates G Code to tell the 3D printer what movements it needs to make to print out that part.

When I ran a FADAL CNC Mill, our programs often had a few hundred lines of G Code. When I run my 3D printer, a print might require a few hundred thousand lines of G Code. No one would be writing a program like that by hand.

A render of the 3D printable “Liberator” pistol design.

I had initially planned to print a single shot .22 that would be mostly plastic. Figured it might survive a round or two.


BUT, and a bit one at that, there is this law on the books about “untraceable firearms”.

The United States Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 (18 U.S.C. § 922(p)) makes it illegal to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive any firearm that is not as detectable by walk-through metal detection as a security exemplar containing 3.7 oz (105 g) of steel, or any firearm with major components that do not generate an accurate image before standard airport imaging technology.[1]


This law, like most of our stupid laws, came about because of stupid reasons. Idiots out there thought that these new and ultra evil Glock pistols could slip right though metal detectors.

Thus, while we COULD print an almost entirely plastic pistol, it would be illegal.

I’ve learned that some people have modified the “Liberator” design to accept a steel block epoxied (permanently) into the frame.

When I started this project I intended to print the “Gluty V0.2A” 9mm pistol. It is similar to a 9mm AR15, but uses a heavily reinforced printer upper and a Glock barrel.

The “Shuty” was the first 3D printed firearm I found interesting.

Picture of the Shuty pistol, found online.

The Shuty was designed somewhat like a 9mm AR15, but used a 3d printed mag and a Glock barrel. The Gluty was an upgraded Shuty that used Glock magazines.

There is a newer version of the design called the “FCG-9” which is designed to use as many 3D printed parts as possible so that people who do not have firearm parts available to them could build it. It still uses an AR15 fire control group, but it no longer uses a Glock barrel.

FCG-9 Picture from the internet.

I hadn’t used my 3D printer in some months. The better part of a year it just sat around getting dusty. I had a new sealed package of cheap PLA+ filament. So I decided I would throw that in the printer, dust off the print bed (I use an Ikea mirror for a smooth flat surface), and start printing.

Smart thing would have been to calibrate and tweak the printer for the filament. But what fun would that have been.

The Gluty lower took about 27 hours to print, if I recall correctly. As I said in a previous post, 3D printing can not print a cantilevered structure. If you would to try and print a T shaped object, the top of the T would collapse during the print and it would fail. So you would either print the T shaped object upside down, or use supporting material to provide a scaffolding to the part.

There are many different ways to set up the support material. As I have previously done very little printing with support material, I used the default settings. This was probably a mistake.

Hours and hours later of using a scraper, plyers, side cutters, I was left with lots of support material still in the lower.

While working on the lower, I went ahead and printed the upper.

It came off the printer looking like this:

I spent many more hours removing support material.

Finally, it was starting to look like something that might actually work.

So I went and read the instructions on how to make the Gluty pistol.

Turns out it requires a little more metalworking than I am set up to do in my little hovel of a home.

I could have continued with the Gluty project, but I was starting to run low on filament, and the monitor on my laptop (Surface Pro 2017), which I use to run my 3D printer, started to fail. I decided it was time to shelve this project and go in a different route.

I looked at a variety of AR15 lower designs that are printable. Picked one that seemed decent to me and printed it out. Since then, I have assembled it, and am about to take it to the range for test firing. We will go over that next time. I’ll also go into more detail about the Gluty design.

Let’s 3D Print a gun Part 2

Alright, where do I start?

I’m a Machinist. I’ve read several times that Machining is the slowest and most expensive way to manufacture a part. In my opinion, hand tools are slower, but I suppose that is beside the point.

3D Printing is a new, “additive”, manufacturing process that can be very cheap. But, it is very slow. Much slower than cutting a part out of a block of material.

There are a number of different types of 3D Printers. Some use vats of resin, other lasers to sinter together materials, and many other designs, but usually when people talk about 3D printing they are talking about FDM printers. A “Fused Deposition Modeling” printer lays down layer upon layer of melted plastic to build up the part.

Your average over the counter 3D printer feeds from a spool of plastic that looks like weed eater trimmer cable. It is a robot controlled hot glue gun. There are a large number of various plastics that can be printed by these types of printers including, ABS, PLA, PVS, Nylon, etc. PLA plastic is the most popular, but some people use ABS for increased strength, or PETG for food safe items, TPU for flexible parts, etc. The various plastics have different benefits and downsides.

FDM printing can be cheap, fast (compared to other forms of 3D Printing), and the wide variety of materials allow you to pick one best suited for what you are doing. But FDM printing tends to be less precise than other forms of printing or manufacturing. Printing parts in layers leave the potential for delamination and makes the parts less durable when under tension. These layer lines prevent smooth vertical surfaces and may require additional work (sanding, smoothing, filler, etc) to creature a smooth finish, when a smooth finish is required.

One of the best things about 3D printing is that you can produce complicated geometry that would be very hard or impossible to make other ways, and you can print parts like springs, hinges, gears, and similar movable components as part of a single print. An early example was printing a adjustable wrench in a single print.

Blah blah blah. You can find the history, and minutia, and more details on 3D printing all over the place online.

I get asked, “What 3D printer should I buy?”
First you should ask your self if you really should be buying one?

There seems to be this impression that 3D printing is push a button and get a part. If everything is set up well it is not too far away from that. But lots of work has to be done to get there. Unless you only plan to print up stuff that other people have already designed, or you have your own 3D modeling experience and plan to design your own parts for 3D printing, it is probably not worth getting a printer.

Now if you only planned on printing stuff you found on thingiverse or already know how to do 3D modeling, then it might be worth getting a 3D Printer.

Personally, I tell people to buy a Prusa brand printer. Sure they 3-4 times the cost of many other perfectly good printers, but they are far easier to get running well and have far better support and a community to help you. Every time I run into problems with my printer I kinda regret I didn’t buy a Prusa i3. That said, the size the various Prusa printers can print is much smaller than my Tevo Tornado, so I do like having the larger print capability.

So what were we talking about again? Oh yea, Ghost Guns.


Fuck you, I would if I could.

If we were going to make a gun from scratch found at the hardware store, a single shot would be the easiest and fastest to make.

Something that functioned like a bang-stick or a pop-gun could be made rather fast.

I learned about this kit last year, HERE. Single shot firearms are the easiest to make.

After that, an open bolt submachine gun is the easiest to make. Weird how that is. It is easier to make a full automatic only gun than a semi-automatic.

The “Improvised Special Purpose SMG” is suppose to be makeable in 2 hours with 20 dollars worth of supplies.

Open bolt guns can have a fixed firing pin and all the fire control mechanism has to to is release or hold the bolt. Semi-guns are a little more complex.

Humpth, I appear to have wandered off topic.

It is perfectly legal to build your own firearms. What could be more American than making your own guns?

There are some limits to what you can legally build. I’m no lawyer and I can not provide you with legal advise on the matter.

Generally, you can build your own gun for your own use with out a serial number or makers markings. The proverbial “Ghost Gun”.

A home built Glock 19 style gun with no serial number.

Big media would have you believe that terrorists and felons are clamoring to make untraceable firearms in their homes. In reality, these guns tend to cost more than a standard firearm, and have plenty of a paper trail. Unless you bought kit somewhere for cash, it can be traced back to you.

IMHO, it makes more sense cost, time, and reliability wise to just pick up a used gun locally for cash in a face to face sale.

But hey, this isn’t about what makes sense, this is about making our own guns.

Cause we are Americans, and we do what we want.

To be continued.

Let’s 3D Print a gun – Part 1

Let us skip with the intro and get to the printing. Plenty of time to chat about details later in other parts.

After about 27 hours on the 3D printer, this block was pulled off the print bed:

I spent two hours today removing support material with some side cutters, a couple of pliers, and a scraper. It is starting to look more like the finished product, but there is still a long ways to go.

3D Printers add material in layers to build up an item. So you could print something shaped like the letter V with no problems because the layers support each other and you can have some amount of overhang of a previous layer. But a shape like the letter T would fail because it would be trying to print the top line of it in the air and the print would fail. To solve this problem we can add supports, additional material to provide a base for the final product to print on. Unfortunately, like in this case, those supports can be a pain in the ass to remove.

There is a still a large amount of support material in the mag well, and in the various holes in this trigger housing. It is going to take me a good while longer to get it cleaned up.

I’m not sure if I am going to try and finish this part first, or start working on the next. I’ll give you all some proper details and explanations later. But for now, I am really impressed with how rigid this part feels. The additional material along the top sides makes it feel far more rugged that some of the old cheap plastic AR15 lowers I have handled.

Military Long Guns of the British Empire

From Rock Island Auction Blog

The British Empire has a long and storied history full of triumphs and atrocities, a history that is indelibly linked with that of the United States. Throughout this history, British troops have flexed their muscle around the globe using numerous iconic firearms, many of which will be discussed below. For the purposes of this quick crash course, we will be covering the standard infantry long guns carried by British troops from the early 18th century until the end of the Second World War and the downward slide of the empire.

The Land Pattern Musket or “Brown Bess”

Lot 1175: British India Pattern Brown Bess Flintlock Musket. Estimate $1,800 – $2,750.

The true origin of the term “Brown Bess” sadly may be lost to history, but one of the leading theories seems fairly logical, and the nomenclature appears to have been widely used in contemporary sources. Said theory states that “Bess,” was a slang term adopted during the 18th century for women of ill-repute such as mistresses or prostitutes. Combining this with “brown,” to mean plain, led to one of the most recognizable names in firearms history. The Brown Bess was a muzzle loading flintlock smoothbore musket that fired a round .75 caliber ball with a fire rate of 3-5 shots per minute, dependent upon the user. There were three main patterns of the musket carried by infantry on land, these being the Long Land, Short Land, and India Pattern. There are multiple small variations within these three types, but the most easily recognizable difference is their length. With a clear trend towards a shorter overall weapon, the Long Land measured a hefty 62.5-inches overall and the India Pattern was 55.25-inches in length. There were also less common patterns, such as the New Light Infantry Pattern and the Sea Service Pattern, whose names are fairly self explanatory. Muskets of these various patterns were in service for over 100 years, from 1722 until they began to be phased out in the early 1830s. However, with a total of approximately 4.3 million of these old workhorses manufactured, they continued in use by rear echelon troops (and countries throughout the world that couldn’t acquire more advanced weapons) until the late 1800s. Many of the India Pattern muskets were updated to the percussion Pattern 1839 musket, which was in service for a short time before the introduction of the Pattern 1853.

Lot 1176: T. Ketland & Co. Marked British India Pattern Brown Bess Flintlock Musket. Estimate $1,600-$2,500.

The Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle-Musket

Fine 1856 Dated British Tower Pattern 1853 Percussion Rifle with 1861 Dated Pimlico Export Stamped Stock. Sold for $2,588 in June 2020.

Even the mighty Brown Bess could not conquer the slow advance of technology, and after being phased out by the Pattern 1839 for a short time, it was replaced by another iconic arm more familiar to our American readers. The Pattern 1853 Enfield was developed by William Pritchett in the early 1850s, and in its most widespread form was 55 inches overall and fired a .577 caliber minié-ball. Like the Brown Bess, the P1853 was manufactured in multiple patterns, but what came to be known as the “three-band” was by far the most widespread. The approximately 1.5 million P1853 rifle-muskets were carried by British troops in numerous conflicts throughout the empire between 1853 to 1867, and as alluded to earlier, is probably well-known to those in the U.S. for their widespread use during the American Civil War (1861-1865). During the deadliest war in American history, the P1853 was the second most widely carried infantry weapon, with only the Springfield Model 1861 being issued in larger numbers. The largest conflict in which British troops carried it was the Crimean War (1853-1856), where it was present for iconic moments such as the “thin red line” of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders repelling a Russian cavalry charge at the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. During both of these wars the P1853 gained a widespread reputation for its accuracy and reliability. Though the service life of this rifle was about 80 years shorter than that of the Brown Bess, its impact on history cannot be overlooked as rifled infantry weapons had irreversibly changed the trajectory of warfare. Much like the Brown Bess, many of these rifles were destined to be converted into their replacements, in this case the breech loading Snider-Enfield.

The Snider-Enfield Breechloading Rifle

British Snider-Enfield Mk. II★★ Rifle. Sold for $1,610 in April 2018.

Though mainly a stopgap measure, the Snider-Enfield is certainly worth mentioning when discussing the evolution of infantry longarms of the British Empire. The Snider-Enfield was developed in 1866 as a conversion of the previously discussed Pattern 1853 from a muzzle loading percussion configuration to a breech loading conversion using a self-contained cartridge. In trials the benefits of this system were initially evident as it took the average infantryman’s rate of fire from 3-5 rounds per minute to approximately 10 rounds per minute. Just like its predecessors, the Snider-Enfield saw use in various conflicts throughout the empire including the Anglo-Ashanti Wars and the New Zealand Wars. The Snider-Enfield also introduced the brass-cased .577 Snider cartridge that would continue in service in various forms until near the end of the 19th century when it was finally supplanted by the well-known .303 cartridge. Approximately 870,000 Pattern 1853 rifles were converted to the Snider-Enfield pattern by the time they began to be widely phased out in 1874. After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the British preferred to keep the Indian troops armed with weapons a generation behind, so these conversions would continue in the service of the British Indian Army until the mid-1890s.

Top view of the Snider-Enfield. Sold for $3,163 in April 2012.

The Martini-Henry Breech Loading Lever-Actuated Rifle

Rare Enfield Martini-Henry Mk I Third Pattern Single Shot Service Rifle with Bayonet and Accessories. Sold for $2,588 in May 2019.

The Martini-Henry rifle was a combination of a Peabody developed, lever-actuated, dropping block action, its subsequent improvements by Friedrich von Martini, and polygonal rifling developed by Scotsman, Alexander Henry. It began to be issued to British troops in 1871 and by 1874 was widespread. The rifle continued to be chambered in .577, however it was slightly different than that of the Snider. The Martini-Henry fired the .577/450 Boxer-Henry cartridge which initially had a brass foil casing that proved to cause issues in the field. This casing was later replaced by a stronger drawn brass cartridge that proved more reliable. This innovative rifle saw service in various colonial wars including the Second Anglo-Afghan War, the Second Boer War, and most famously, the Anglo-Zulu War. Martini-Henry rifles can be seen carried by the troops defending Rorke’s Drift in the Hollywood film “Zulu,” a favorite of many a military historian. The standard infantry Martini-Henry was produced in four major patterns, the Mk I, Mk II, Mk III, and Mk IV, which is usually marked on the side of the action. Production was ended in 1889 to be replaced by the Lee-Metford bolt action but they continued to be carried by second line troops until after World War I.

Magazine Lee-Metford Bolt Action Rifle

Lot 3472: Antique British Military Lee-Metford Mark I★ Bolt Action Rifle with Bayonet. Estimate: $2,250 – $3,250

After roughly nine years of development the Lee-Metford, Britain’s first widely issued bolt action rifle, first entered service in 1888. Like its predecessor, this rifle was a combination of innovations from two different inventors, those being James Paris Lee’s action and detachable magazine and William Ellis Metford’s seven groove barrel. Besides being the first British military bolt action, the Lee-Metford was also the first rifle chambered in the new .303 British cartridge that would be their standard cartridge until well into the post-World War II era. Like the Snider-Enfield, this rifle was only in service for a short time, but brought forth irreversible changes to the way the British military conducted warfare. Even with its short career, the Lee-Metford managed to take part in a number of different conflicts including the Second Boer War and the Boxer Rebellion.

Historic Documented Boer War Lee-Speed Patent Magazine Lee-Metford Mk I★ Bolt Action with Inscribed Stock. Sold for $5,463 in September 2019

Lee-Enfield Bolt Action Rifle

Outstanding Magazine Lee-Enfield Mk I★ Bolt Action Rifle with Bayonet. Sold for $3,450 in September 2019

This military mainstay was initially introduced in 1895 as the “Magazine Lee-Enfield” or MLE, an early variation that wouldn’t last long. This rifle, and those to follow, continued the use of the .303 British cartridge until the adoption of the 7.62×51 NATO cartridge in the Cold War era. In 1904, the more commonly known “Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Mk I” or SMLE Mk I was introduced. By 1907, the Mk III took the stage and was the most widely carried rifle by British/Commonwealth troops during World War I. Early in the war the Mk III was found to be too complicated to mass produce and was replaced by the slightly simplified variant called the Mk III*. Between the First and Second World Wars development continued and by the early 1930s the British military settled on the Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk I, which would be again simplified for mass production in 1942 and called the No. 4 Mk I*. These rifles were carried throughout World War II and into the post-war era by frontline troops of the British Empire.

Exceptional World War II British Enfield No. 4 Mk I (T) Bolt Action Sniper Rifle with Matching Scope, Mount, Scope Bag and Transit Case. Estimate: $4,750-$6,500

Empires Fade, Rifles Live On

At the height of its power the British empire included 23% of the world’s population and 24% of the world’s land area. With the end of World War II however, the British empire began to decline. Successive decolonisation and independence movements throughout their colonies would lead to only a few British overseas territories by the 1980s. These were the long arms that allowed a small island nation to enforce their will upon a large part of the globe, and create an empire upon which “the sun never set.”