This Maglite is a BB Gun

Maglite BB Gun

This innocent looking Maglite houses a piston and barrel, making it into a functional pneumatic BB gun. A Maglite was chosen due to its high durability, and easy access to the internals. A schrader valve sticks out of the battery cap, which allows the gun to be charged using a standard fitting. A brass tube is used as the barrel, and a piston controls firing.

Firing the gun is simple. First, the whole thing is charged up to the desired pressure. Then the ammunition is inserted into the barrel. At this point, the rubber piston is held against the end of the barrel by the pressure in the gun. By pushing the pin of the valve in, the piston is able to move back slightly. This acts as the trigger, and causes air to rush into the barrel, firing the BB.

The results are fairly impressive. Using a chronograph, the speed of the BB was measured at 850 feet per second. Using the Gas Gun Design Tool simulator, it was estimated that the gun could fire at over 1000 feet per second, and maybe even break the sound barrier.


  1. waruwaru says:

    You are gonna shoot your eyes out!

  2. Pulsa Denura says:

    Because it is a hack and it is cool.

  3. vonskippy says:

    Ya know what would be really cool, a flashlight that was a bb gun AND a weed bong, yeah, that would be cool, wouldn’t it, mmmmm, bb gun dope bong, cool, ya, really cool.

  4. slowJim says:

    Seems cool but where’s the video?

  5. macegr says:

    Oh wow, charging a 1000fps-capable system with an unreliable and touchy trigger system, then muzzle-loading it. We have a winner here.

  6. smee says:

    So its a mini piston exhaustive valve. Neat.

    Essentially it uses the schrader as a pilot. When it triggers air behind the piston (which has a rubber gasket against the barrel) gets sucked back. The pressure chamber is the entire space around the barrel. It is usually a single axial design but with a tee the pressure chamber can be expanded.

    Sorry for the deposition, it is just a really elegant pneumatic design that keeps coming in handy in the most unlikely of ways. Oh, and if you want to make a big’un- don’t use the rubber valves, they leak and after even marginal air cannon pressures they can become a projectile themselves. Head down to an autoparts store like NAPA and grab an all metal one complete with fittings. They are far superior.

    • smee says:

      Another thing…for the last time-you cannot use a medium as a compression propellent to exceed the speed of sound in that medium. Unless, of course, the speed of sound in the compressed medium is increased by applying heat.

      • cyberjon says:

        a pump-action bb gun shoots faster than the speed of sound

      • fartface says:

        News flash: Compressing air creates heat.

        • Leithoa says:

          The amount of heat generated when venting(from the bike pump/air compressor) and then recompressing air in the maglite body probably doesn’t occur fast enough to raise the temperature of the air or the maglite body enough to appreciably change the speed of sound.

      • Speed of Bob says:

        That’s funny…we do it in the lab all the time. I guess I’ll have to throw away all our research.

        • Leithoa says:

          Do you use light gases or convergent-divergent nozzles in your research designs?
          If not could you post links to some of your research? Not doubting, just curious how you do it since I’d always heard you can’t use a compressed gas to accelerate projectiles faster than that gases speed of sound. Assuming exterior and chamber gases are at the same temperature.

  7. Hack Man says:

    Better than PVC but those walls are thin… aluminum – any idea what the burst would be?

  8. nexusmagmus says:

    This is a really nicely done hack and the speeds are impressive but i feel compelled to mention you might be committing a felony by not having a class 3 SOT permit.

  9. Alan says:

    OK Mythbusters – mix up some ballistic jell, load this baby with a Stainless Steel Ball Bearing, and let’s find out just how deep this can penetrate flesh. Lethal, semi-lethal or just OW MY EYE…

  10. I’ve actually seen a Maglight Mini modified into a .22 zipgun a few years back. I think this hack is okay, but when there’s already a few conventional firearms made from the same thing out there, it just isn’t as cool.

    • Hirudinea says:

      In Canada anything above about 500 fps, even a BB gun legally IS a firearm, so if you live in a country laws just make sure building this won’t break them.

      • Hirudinea says:

        “a country with crazy laws”

      • Ren says:

        I thought Canada was metric… 500fps?

      • cplamb says:

        In New Jersey also. ‘”Firearm” means any handgun, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, automatic or semi-automatic rifle, or any gun, device or instrument in the nature of a weapon from which may be fired or ejected any solid projectable ball, slug, pellet, missile or bullet, or any gas, vapor or other noxious thing, by means of a cartridge or shell or by the action of an explosive or the igniting of flammable or explosive substances. It shall also include, without limitation, any firearm which is in the nature of an air gun, spring gun or pistol or other weapon of a similar nature in which the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, compressed or other gas or vapor, air or compressed air, or is ignited by compressed air, and ejecting a bullet or missile smaller than three-eighths of an inch in diameter, with sufficient force to injure a person.’

  11. fartface says:

    I have a .22 caliber air rifle that shoots pellets at 1780fps so if they used a larger mag light they could make an actual weapon instead of a tormenter.

  12. Blodgar says:

    Didn’t the Bulgarian espionage corps have something like this in the 80s? Schrader valve and all?

  13. foo says:

    OK… someone fill in the gap for me: Why can’t this be loaded before it’s pressurised?

  14. foo says:

    OK, someone explain what I’m missing: why can’t this be loaded before it’s pressurised?

    • Hack says:

      For this to work the piston has to seal against the barrel. I think the concern is that the BB could impare that seal during the initial pressure stage. But I could be wrong.

      • Nick says:

        no you’re right

        • foo says:

          Thanks! That makes sense. It’s an interesting design, I’d not seen it before.

          So I guess if the barrel had something to prevent the BB going all the way to the piston, it could be loaded more safely before pressuring.

          Presumably the barrel isn’t a great seal on the BB either, to allow muzzle loading, so energy is being wasted as air leaks round the BB?

  15. kitsune361 says:

    When I first saw this, why did I immediately think of the KGB and a polonium pellet?

    • Nova says:

      Same here, and whenever i see a full sized umbrella.

    • Whatnot says:

      Polonium is such a vindictive weapon, meant to slowly kill without recourse, and only once used after the KGB didn’t exist anymore in russia (they still have them in one of the old spin-off states though.)
      For an assassination poison was used back in the commie times, since that eliminates the target and neutralizes him/her so the person can’t spill secrets or do harm to the cause anymore.

  16. Mike says:

    Sugar in No Country for Old Men comes to my mind.

  17. Ren says:

    I can imagine someone not wanting to ruin a good Maglite, and instead use some cheap Chinese knock-off and later wonder why it shattered as they tried to pressurize it…

  18. Whatnot says:

    Nothing good can come from this. the only use is unpleasant use, possibly against small animals.

    Now if it was a paintball gun, then at least you can attack all the damn cameras everywhere.

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