Newsstand Shotgun Hack Poised to Further Ruin Air Travel


The people who go nuts over 3D printed guns are going to have a field day with this one. It’s a shotgun and ammo built entirely from items you can purchase after passing through airport security. Now look, obviously the type of folks who read Hackaday understand that security in any form is something of an illusion. House keys don’t keep people from breaking into your home. Encryption doesn’t keep the government from looking over your shoulder. And no level of security screening can eliminate every possible hazard. So let’s just enjoy this one for the fine act of hacking that it is.

[Evan Booth] put his mind to work on the items you can buy at the stores inside of an airport terminal. Above you can see the diagram of all the parts. The break action accepts a Red Bull can that acts as the cartridge for the shotgun (our calculations put this at just under 0.25 Gauge). The bottom of the can contains water separated from Lithium metal (from cellular phone accessories?) by a condom. When the nonet of 9V batteries are connected to the heating element from the hair dryer it melts a hole in the prophylactic, mixing the water with the metal causing a reaction that propels pocket change as the projectile. The video after the break shows that this does take a while… perhaps 10 seconds from the time the trigger is pulled. Oh, and you might not want to be holding the thing when it goes off. We’d say the firearm can barely contain the explosion.

If you like this (or were horrified by it) [Evan's] got a whole collection of weapons built inside the airport terminal. For those that care, here’s a link to the most recent of 3D printed gun posts which we referenced earlier.



  1. Hirudinea says:

    Just use the same materials to build a bomb, much simpler all around.

  2. zuul says:

    lol blunderbussiness class

  3. jon h says:

    Lame. He shot through drywall. Which is, what, essentially powder between two sheets of paper? You can punch through drywall bare-handed.

    This thing is not going to get through the armored cockpit door. It only has one shot. The perp would mess himself up by firing it. And if someone whipped that out on a plane he’d get beaten to a pulp. A very lucky shot, and no errors in construction, would be required to really hurt someone. And it’d likely only be one person. After which the perp would get beaten to a pulp.

    • jon h says:

      Also, these aren’t “made in a terminal”, they’re “theoretically constructible past the security checkpoint”.

      Managing to actually find a place to do the construction without interruption might be a challenge.

    • macona says:

      Drywall is tougher than you might think.

    • Eirinn says:

      …What. You think people make a home made shotgun to shoot at drywall? You could at least suggest something slightly related by suggesting a large piece of ham or something. Who cares if it can punch through drywall, brick or concrete. The important part here is if it can penetrate your skin. Which i hope it can’t :S

      • rewolff says:

        What? You people don’t believe his weapon is dangerous unless he shows it can penetrate a ham?

        The point of this excercise is to demonstrate that the security checks are not quite sufficient to prevent weapens in the “closed-off” area. This guy manages to propel coins at close to 100m/s (300ft/sec) with his contraption. There was a sizable explosion.

        As to terrorism, the world would “freak out” if someone built such a bomb and let it go off inside a plane. That’s exactly what terrorists would want to achieve.

        • Blue Footed Booby says:

          They just don’t detect bombs by looking for a metal casing or some wires. They have chemical swabs and sniffers that look for the explosives themselves. Get a big block of C4 or Semtex or a useful amount of black or smokeless powder through security and I’ll start to care about this hack.

        • “The point of this excercise is to demonstrate that the security checks are not quite sufficient to prevent weapens in the “closed-off” area.”

          The counter-point is anyone who thinks in Boolean terms is foolish.
          The question is never “does X make us totally safe” its “does X make us safeR”.

          Not all people shooting/using deadly devices are budding McGayers, and even those that do might have a hard time assembling and bring this on board unnoticed.

          Its always nice to see what people can build from random scraps – but we should neither be scared, or use it for arguments for/against security measures.

          • james says:

            But we’ve introduced the current level of security after 9/11, precisely to keep shoe-bombing “mcgayvers” away, not to stop the villiage idiots which never were a problem pre-9/11. If those security “enhancements” fail to do this, what’s the lesson here? That suddenly average joe became a grave threat to flying?

          • TheAlchemist says:

            @Thomas Robel “The counter-point is anyone who thinks in Boolean terms is foolish.
            The question is never “does X make us totally safe” its “does X make us safeR”.”

            Of course, and if you can point out where exactly in the public discourse that question is the one that is asked asked, I’ll eat your hat. Our security agencies and the media all portray the issue in boolean terms.

    • ftc says:

      It says 260 fps. Paintball guns are 300 fps. Granted if you put a steel ball in a paintball gun it could do some serious damage but I would also like to see this against something more substantial

  4. Tom Hargrave says:

    He hasn’t made a gun, he’s made a bomb!

  5. Adam says:

    This guy and his whole website is crazy, I get the idea that its good to assess posible methods of exploit but seriously?
    Stuff like this means that soon we wont be allowed lithium batteries deodorant or condoms for gods sake.

    • With the way things work currently, probably. However I hope they use this as an example of what to look for. A lot of the site is really obvious, but the grenade is actually kinda scary.

    • Trav says:

      Better yet, maybe they’ll just ban Axe

    • fajensen says:

      That’s the idea: To beat the terrorists we have to ban everything ever invented by civilisation to “stop it from falling into them super hairy & scary terrorists hands”. Eventually we will ban rocks and sticks too. To protect us from the other monkeys.

      • Rob says:

        It would be easier if we all just build cinderblock and mortar sealed “safety bunkers” for ourselves… once we’re sealed inside and the mortar is set, we’ve got nothing to worry about… and after a few hours, we’d never worry again.

        Of course, someone’s going to have to go into business to supply the cinderblocks and the mortar… anybody want to invest in my safety materials factory? You’re not going to need the money once you’re done building your safety bunker so you might as well pay my full rates!

        • draeath says:

          Why bother with that? Just encase them in concrete.

          That burning sensation? No, that’s not the water leaching out and your skin being burned by acid… that’s the sensation of safety!

    • Jim says:

      LOL! No condoms might mean the mile high club will produce more offspring.

  6. macona says:

    The lithium metal is scavenged from AA lithium primary cells that are often sold for digital devices. They they are constructed with lithium foil separated from the cathode with a electrolyte soaked paper, it is all rolled up like a jelly roll. They are pretty easy to take apart to get to the lithium foil. I have done it several times with a pair of pliers.

  7. NeilJB says:

    1. One shot only.
    2. Accurate? A blunderbuss would be far more accurate.
    3. Could easily cause more injury to the shooter than the target.
    4. Difficult to construct without being noticed.
    5. Hardly concealable once constructed.
    6. Barely recognisable as a weapon.
    7. Not likely to cause a great deal of damage.

    Why bother?

    • Dean says:

      1. Wrong, its re-loadable and could easily be reinforced better.
      2. For a shotgun that would be considered accurate.
      3. Yes but what kind of idiot would wing it?
      4. Do you live in a country that doesn’t have doors on toilet cubicles?
      5. Wrap a jacket around it or put it in carry on.
      6. If you were going for scare tactics you wouldn’t use any improvised gun you would make a bomb.
      7. Take several coins to the face at 80m/s+ an get back to us on that.
      Why bother? Why are you on hackaday if you must ask.

      Stupid inaccurate comments need to stay in the minds of the stupid.

      • Dax says:

        It takes an awful lot of time to even fire the thing, much less reload. You think you’d ask the victim to stand still while the lithium boils away at the cap of the deodorant bottle for 5 seconds before it goes boom?

        And the coins aren’t going at 80 m/s, it’s the scrap of the deodorant bottle that punches through the drywall in the video. There’s barely any explosive power in this thing, it’s all just smoke and flames.

      • NeilJB says:

        OK Dean, you have convinced me. This is obviously an accurate, easily constructable, concealable, intimidating, user-safe, effective, rapid-fire weapon that will be the end of safe air travel.

      • draeath says:

        “For a shotgun that would be considered accurate.”

        If by shotgun you’re thinking of those things they call shotguns in mainstream FPS games, sure…

    • TheAlchemist says:

      Because Terror, that’s why. You’re looking for the wrong kind of effective.

    • fajensen says:

      Triggering the Pavlovian “Unload Magazine(tm)”-reflex in the airport security staff would certainly get a few tourists capped by mistake, which is kind of the idea!

  8. Becky says:

    The main thing is this will pave the way for more advanced hacks later on. This thing does pack enough punch to fire smaller, piercing projectile(s) if modified. A variation of this could definitely cause some havoc in the terminal or on a plane.

    Expect random probings in the toilet soon enough, even if you are mid poop.

  9. fartface says:

    And of course it’s brain dead easy to make a raspberry pi act as a detonator via bluetooth, or an arduino as a timer, etc…..

    Anyone that believes they are “safe” because of “security” are simply idiots. and Sadly we have a lot of those idiots in the USA.

    • amp says:

      If you watch the other videos on terminalcornocopia, he makes great use of a generic rc plane and a zippo to make a detonator.

    • Mike Szczys says:

      The world must be ending… I’m agreeing with fartface.

      Take the sensationalism out of your post and you the concept that I agree with. Safety is what society makes of it. I you provide a fair and equitable society with known and reasonable rules and laws people won’t try to break into your house because there are other more reasonable methods of providing their living. Now extrapolate that concept to air travel.

  10. David Littell says:

    Lovely. Now the libtards will start frothing in some prophylactic fit about banning hair bands…

    • kb says:

      Really now, name calling is not in order. I have very conservative in-laws who are in favor of ANYTHING that that think will make us safer, including whatever humiliation the TSA want to put us through. They would likely be in favor of just prohibiting stores at all past the security check-in if I showed them this video.

  11. Tron9000 says:

    he’s gonna shoot!………….erm………shouldn’t we overpower him now…….guess so!

  12. germanGuy says:

    On the airport at Kreta, Greece you can actually buy a full metal replica of an ancient axe in the duty free shop. Its blunt but with an 40cm head still impressive. Who needs a gun if you can buy an axe…

  13. Blah says:

    Great, will I be added to yet another FBI watch list for reading this…? :-P

  14. Guys, you are missing the point. This isn’t meant to actually be practical, or to be used. The guy just wanted to see if it was possible to build something roughly in the idea of a shotgun, within the limits of materials just from airports. It’s just for fun.

  15. Jeff says:

    While this is a sensational topic, I would genuinely like to see more “make [a thing] from the limited materials aviailable in [a place]” posts!

  16. KillerBug says:

    LoL…so much argument over something that makes a potato gun look like a tomahawk missile. I’m sure that you could make something far more deadly inside an airport…but preventing that isn’t the point of the checkpoints. They are there to remind you that you need the government to protect you, even though they have often failed even to catch a loaded handgun in a carry-on bag.

    They sell toothbrushes and products in plastic wrap at the airport and you can bring in multiple cigarette lighters. Any prison inmate could tell you how to make an effective weapon using just those three things…something that wouldn’t have a 10-second delay and would cut deep. As for the reinforced door, I doubt the terrorists care…it is all about attacking our liberty, and any attack inside a plane while it is flying guarantees that the government will curtail liberties. The guy who tried to blow up his dick (and failed) was a success in his ultimate goal.

    Still, cool build in the “look what I did with just stuff I bought here” sense…maybe next he could make a gun using only things from Ikea…or if he really wants attention/to piss people off, make a sex doll using only things from Toys-R-Us.

  17. CAhrens says:

    I’ve just been waiting for the day that the TSA requires you to completely strip off all your clothes and change into hospital gowns or just get it over with and put us all into a chemically-induced coma the second you step into the airport. Or they could dump a bunch of money into cryogenics and just freeze us for the flight.

    But, maybe, just maybe, they could realize that Bad People will always be able to do Bad Things and use the billions of dollars to do something useful, like getting from failing whenever someone looks at it funny.

  18. Midnight says:

    There’s more potential weapons “after” security checks it’s not even funny. But I thought us hackers would keep these ideas outside of the realm of the average (terrorist) joe…

    Bit stupid to give people ideas, you can bring a whole plane down at any given time probably with a few tools… we should publish those hacks in great detail too ?

    I like the creativity but it can be applied in a far more useful area… everyone that can think knows there are plenty of gaps in security. It’s really not brilliant to show how to cheat the system.

    • Drew says:

      Yup, that’s what hackers are all about! Hackers don’t spend their time uh, hacking. No they are all about maintaining security and secrets. Especially at the expense of individual liberty and fee exchange of ideas. Iirc that’s all in the hackers creed, can’t be sure though as they keep secrets so well.

  19. mathwizard says:

    9*9 = 81
    9*8 = 72

  20. Joeyville says:

    This pretty much makes me want to stay away from anywhere you can get water and condoms.

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