On building yourself a cannon - DIY

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by dragonfly, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Not something you'd do most days....
    But you might do so IF you feel like playing around a bit!

    1st thing is it MUST be a NON BREECH LOADING type.
    That is a real no no!

    I and a Boeing engineer played with making just a breech one week, where we designed the breech almost as they were in the recoiless rifles ( 75mm and larger...and someone called those rifles? Sheesh!) Anyway, we used the same breech design and we had it set up so you could use blank loaded 12 gauge rounds. Now making a metal device is NOT illegal, as long as there is no barrel for it to fit to! Any cartridge loading weapon (even though it may be only a party favor to some of us) must be cleared through the BATFE, ESPECIALLY IF it is above .50 caliber.

    It gets confusing when you really think about that.ANY caliber over .50?
    Where did they get that from?

    Since most shotguns except .410, exceed that measurement by quite a bit!
    What about black powder in .54 caliber?

    Anyway....As I came to understand the "LAW"....you can make a lot of things, including weapons, IF they are NOT sold, but remain in your posession.
    Ok, I give up now!

    But we made this beautifully crafted design that would easily allow for a 12 gauge shell to be loaded into a"barrel" (if we'd had one) and the opening would only allow that size to be used, as the barrel would open up considerably to around 3 or maybe even 4 inches!

    Now that would have made a sweet cannon! You could launch a lot of things from that baby!
    We made 4 different types and designs of firing pins, where you could pull and release, or have a lanyard release, a lever-lock type of release and a type that you simply hit with a small hammer! The breech was formidable and weighed about 18-20 lbs when it was all said and done. The breech "block" was machined from solid aluminum,and the rest of the springs and firing pins, hardware, etc., were all made of stainless steel.
    We called the BATFE ( was ATF) and were told simply: NO you can't!

    Well that is UNLESS, you have a destructive device license!

    We did however discover that we could make black powder weapons and even cannons ( as long as the cannons did NOT fire a projectile) all day long! If we wanted to make a firing unit in a cannon size, then we had to have the very expensive license. We opted out. The breech plug was disassembled and destroyed...much to our chagrin. Seems black powder guns ( rifles anyway for the time being) is exempt from the law as it is a "Muzzleloaded" device. No so for those old Damascus and twist steel barreled BP shotguns. They were exempted too ( can't reason this out!), as well as those BP revolvers that use percussion caps.
    Too complicated or me to research!

    I was aksed repeatedky when we asked about a black powder cannon, if it were legal or not....IF it used a "wick"...?No it'sNOT a candle it's a black powder cannon! Well, according to those wonderous souls we all know and love, that work in the BATFE offices, a "wick" is a pyrotechnic device.

    Huh? If you say so! Funny, but I have been using "fuse" for many many years and I beg to "differ" the point, but the company that makes "safety fuse" is known to me as: "Ensign and Bickford" and they call their productcall it fuse, not WICK! Same same in the US Army!

    Go figure. So I was told in NO uncertain terms that ANY use of fuse is strictly prohibited unless you have the DD license in your posession. According to the BATFE people, the term "fuse" represents a mechanical device, used ONLY to set off an explosive charge!

    Maybe they watched too many movies on the History and Military channels? Yes, they are corect in that those are also called "fuses", that are used in munitions all over the world for all kinds of things.
    It gets stooopid is what it gets!
    But, be that as it may be......

    You can build a cannon that uses Black powders, or Pyrodex propellants for your toy's! You can do that, as long as you understand it cannot in any way shape or form, shoot any type of projectile. It can use wadding.
    Now as for firng them ( Oh No!)...Here we go again...You cannot shoot one inside the city limits, UNLESS you have the written permission of NOT only the Police department's Chief or Commissioner, but also that of the Fire department.Now IF I choose to I can take my new toy out to one of the local lakes, BUT I have to get permission form the Sheriff's office and then I must also notify the Deputies at that lake, prior to any use or ignition of said device!

    So, I fired mine in a mobile home park! (With management's permission of course!) I promised, "NO earth shattering KABOOM"!

    No big bang, but a rather strange sound much like a dinosaur burping ( or passing gas?) It was a bit weird I'll admit, as it had a very small charge and only that, not even any sort of wadding at all....The flame was pretty and the smoke rings it produced were really awesome! I figured it was due to the length of the barrel/pipe, and the low amount of black powder I'd used. It was hilarousyl funny and everyone got a big kick out of the show!
    With the extra long barrel ( 4 1/2 feet) it was more of a weird sounding Shaolin device, that made a very LOOONG winded "BOOOOOONNNGGG"!

    Almost like a guy hitting a very long piece of pipe with a heavy rubber mallet! What an echo!
    You can make some interesting things like that, also those wonderfully LOUD little tubes that are used for signalling around ships!
    Man are those things LOUD!

    (PS) we NEVER got a response or any sort of answer or clarification to OUR question to the BATFE, "what if"....The cannon had a breech loading system, but could ONLY be used with black powder blanks such as are sold commercially?

    That was years back. I am not expecting an answer any time soon....
    (So I guess they mean NO when they say NO to a breech loading cannon!)
    Dang it!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2015
    chelloveck likes this.
  2. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    They fire them annually here, as well as build and sell ??? Just saying.
    Black Powder Cannons
    oldman11 and dragonfly like this.
  3. Legion489

    Legion489 Rev. 2:19 Banned

    Well all of this and the law is actually very easy to explain! You see...er...well you...um...that is...ah...seems I have a headache and need to lie down.
    oldman11 and dragonfly like this.
  4. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    Just Po-Boy it...with several of these...
    Mounted horizonal...aim down your firing lanes...

    Fireworks - YouTube
    oldman11 likes this.
  5. goinpostal

    goinpostal Monkey+++

    I use to know a guy that had an 8'long bowling ball cannon.It was propane powered,with a pezio ignighter.It would shoot a 14lb ball well over a mile,and His paint can case shot would blast a hole through the under brush like something out of a cartoon.It's an awesome toy to play with,and would be a devastating weapon even on the modern day battlefield.
    tacmotusn and oldman11 like this.
  6. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    12lb Napolens will fire a oil can full of concrete a long way....
    oldman11 and crowdaddy like this.
  7. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Being "trapped"as it were here in the "city" for the time being, little can be done even to experiment! I'd love to build a few mortars ( fireworks types) in 3 and 4 inch sizes! ( we have the technology!)
    oldman11 likes this.
  8. jim2

    jim2 Monkey+++

    If I may humbly stop some confusion here. Being the ignoramases they are, even though they read their material they failed to notice that there is a difference between a fuse and a fuze.

    Fuse; Literally a burning string, cord or what have you. Perfecly legal.

    Fuze; A mechanical detonator used to set off an explosive charge, Usually mounted inside a projectile of some sort. IE artillary shell/round. Not so legal, and it usually also contains some sort of explosive in addition to BP or the like.

    So, the first is used to fire the gun, and the second is used to detonate the projectile. Solid inert projectiles don't use a fuze.

    damoc and dragonfly like this.
  9. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    DF, you got me thinking beyond tannerite, smoke bombs, and large bangers (firecrackers on steroids). Great post!
    oldman11 and dragonfly like this.
  10. Robryan

    Robryan Monkey+

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  11. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    WOWZERS!! Makes me bump up the priority on replacing the electric tank with a propane-powered "Hot Water On Demand" system!
    oldman11 likes this.
  12. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    steam aint nothing to play with
    i check my pressure release valve a lot
    oldman11 likes this.
  13. vegasrandall

    vegasrandall Monkey+++


    If we could combine that with the coffee creamer explosion we could rule the planet.
    oldman11 and dragonfly like this.
  14. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    I want to build a BIG one of those potato guns...uses hair spary and a piezo type lighter for igniton...I saw one a guy built that fired tennis balls, filled ( partially?) with gasoline!...Now that was awesome!
    I'd love to be able to LOB a flaming mass into an area, just for giggles mind you! Or a beer can or a soda can filled with say sand, to watch that puppy THUMP on impact. Not into pumpkin chuckin though...seems a good waste of a squash! But funny when they smack down! ( messy too) Now that could be a good thing?
    "INCOMING" takes on a whole NEW meaning!
    Know whut I mean there Vern?
    oldman11 likes this.
  15. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Looks like a spud gun might be more fun.
    oldman11 likes this.
  16. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Gator 45/70 and oldman11 like this.
  17. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    It can be breach loaded.
    It just can't fire fixed ammo.

    For example you could make a cannon that uses some type of removable breach that holds a super powerful 12ga blank, then you hand load the projectile preferably much larger than the 0.68 inches diameter of a 12 gauge shell in to the bore.

    Or just register the thing as a large bore destructive device and do what ever you want.
    Gator 45/70 and oldman11 like this.
  18. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    I miss Dragonfly...most of the dramas here at SM seem quite trivial compared to his, back in the day. He sure had that knack of posting interesting and entertaining threads and posts. (y)(y)(y)
    Gator 45/70 likes this.
  19. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    The fuse vs fuze comments were fascinating. It just shows that words matter to the BATFE. Facts, engineering details, integrity in firearm testing... not so much, but words do seem to matter to them.

    Are muzzleloading cannons classified as destructive devices? | Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

    Much projectile and bore diameter confusion in the original posts too. Unless there are local/state restrictions where you live, you can shoot solid (concrete, ceramic, iron) shot of whatever diameter you like in the U.S., as long as it has no more than a quarter ounce bursting (marking) charge. There's also local considerations when firing cannons, like calling the Sheriff and the gas company so they don't have to waste time investigating calls reporting explosions. We always do this as a courtesy when firing cannons and MG's. Saves them a trip.

    I like the Lyle Gun. Launches a BIG hunk of steel with a rope attached. :) It's a coastal rescue device that you wouldn't want to be in the line of fire of.

    STANGF150, oldman11 and Gator 45/70 like this.
  20. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    It's the lifesaving device that saves one from dying from drowning by dying from impact injury....either way it's a winning entry in the Darwin Awards.

    Here's a bonus video for BP cannoneers....

    Gator 45/70 likes this.
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