Mini-cannon Built From A BBQ Lighter Fires Airsoft Pellets

[Nighthawkinlight] has made his own palm cannon to shoot Airsoft pellets. His process, which he guides us through step-by-step in the video after the break, definitely invokes MacGyver buy using commonly available parts in a way they were not intended.

He starts with a barbecue lighter, removing the screws and plastic housing to get at the clear plastic butane reservoir which serves as the body of the cannon. The butane is carefully released from the tank, and the output valve is modified to receive the barrel. In this case the barrel from an old Airsoft gun was used, but a metal pen housing could do the trick as well. The spark igniter from the lighter is also reused, but two bolts have been screwed into the reservoir and are used as probes for the igniter wires. In order to fire this one-shot-wonder, a cotton swab soaked in 90% alcohol is inserted through the bolt on the left side. After inserting an Airsoft pellet the trigger is pulled to ignite the vapors.


24 thoughts on “Mini-cannon Built From A BBQ Lighter Fires Airsoft Pellets

  1. It seems like it would be possible to make a butane gun like this. If you got one of those lighters with piezoignition, then just fitted a barrel to the end, but with a wider combustion chamber near the lighter, totally sealed to it, and added something like wire wool to slightly the mix the butane/air. If you lit the lighter at the right speed, enough butane/air would mix in the chamber to propel the bb pellet, and the spark would light it. If only I had my tools here I’d try now… :(

  2. I’d be more impressed if it ran on butane, which is what i’ve been trying to build for the past while. Not easy to build a semi-auto compressed butane gun.

  3. I remember building one of these with a pen and pill bottle when I was younger. Got give this guy credit though, his looks much nicer. The cotton swab thing’s also a great trick, spraying in butane almost always floods the chamber.

  4. bleh… i was going to make a video and post this
    was lazy and didnt get around to iut yet
    i’ve been making these since i was 11 or 12, heres a cool trick…
    fire it into the water with no pellet, it will fill itself with water due to the oxygen being consumed inside it

    my design…
    heat a metal pin and put through a pen roughly a inch from the end
    drill hole in bottom of air tight pill bottle
    insert pen with pin(it acts as a backstop for ammo and provides strength)
    add a ton of hot glue
    add 2 screws as a spark gap
    attach a piezo sparker to the screws, glue to the side with hot glue
    spray lysol in end, blow in lightly, cap and fire
    lysol and oust not only clean the gun
    they are VERY hard to flood it and prevent ignition, if they do then blowing in the end provides enough oxygen to work fine

  5. oh also
    butane works fine, as does propane and even vaporized alcohol
    its just way harder to get it to “explode”
    btw, the brighter the “spark” the richer the fuel air mixture
    too bright = not enough oxygen

  6. Heads-up everyone in the USA: this may be a firearm, and more specifically a zip gun. Building and possession of a zip gun is illegal in many jurisdictions and by specific individuals.

    How can it be a gun? Because it propels a shot by way of a controlled explosion and is concealable.

    But wait, you say, what about propane potato cannons? The BATFE treats them as muzzle loading cannons (i.e. firearms), but many states and localities do define them as firearms and/or illegal.

  7. Aquanet, wrap the chamber and condenser if you have one, with twine and make sure its tight. If you start getting serious about it probably rig a remote ignite.

  8. you can make your own guns legally. there is quite a lot of laws that i dont want to spend an hour pulling up before i go to bed, but its pretty cool what you can get away with,
    basically no transfers, you are allowed near guns, not an illegal type of gun. list goes on

  9. As long as this thing isn’t an NFA gun, and is either made entirely from US-made parts, or passes the sporting test, it’s likely legal.

    As for it being an NFA gun, the issue would be the barrel – if it’s smoothbore, then it’s an Any Other Weapon, which is NFA. If it’s rifled, then IANAL, but I’d think it wouldn’t be NFA.

  10. Spud guns are not federally regulated, although the ATF offers a classification.[1] Legislation varies widely by state, county, and township. One would have to check with local authorities to determine local spud gun legality.

    * Spud guns are illegal to possess by persons under the age of 16 in New York.
    * In Glendale, Arizona and Phoenix, Arizona combustion spud guns are not considered firearms.
    * In Madison, Wisconsin and in Illinois spud guns are not considered firearms.
    * Combustion spud guns are considered firearms in the state of Texas.
    * Spud guns are considered firearms in Winter Springs, FL.
    * Spud guns are not considered firearms in the state of Maryland.
    * Combustion spud guns are not to be manufactured or possessed in the state of California pursuant to Penal Code section 12303.
    * Owning or using spud guns in Florida is illegal pursuant to Florida Statute 790.161 Making, possessing, throwing, projecting, placing, or discharging any destructive device or attempt so to do, felony; penalties.[2]
    o Fla. Stat. § 790.001 (4) states that: a “Destructive device” does not include: (a) A device which is not designed, redesigned, used, or intended for use as a weapon … ” [3]
    * It has been claimed that the sale of spud guns in the state of Georgia[citation needed] and Wisconsin[citation needed] can be punished with felony charge resulting in a $20,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.[citation needed] However, reviews of state laws in Georgia have so far indicated no such restrictions. Further review and/or confirmation is pending.

  11. After seeing the quality of some of these crappy Chinese-made lighters (who KNOWS what grade butane is in them, notice they dont smell the same?), there is no WAY I am making this, no matter how awesome it is.

    I’ll just build the DIY CNC machine first and then make one out of aluminum :D

  12. @Pilotgeek, if that’s the criteria for whether or not to do something illegal you’ll have to let us know about your meth cooking and kiddie porn businesses. ;^)

    In all seriousness, you’re absolutely right that there are tons of stupid things on the internet most people shouldn’t do. But here I can see a 16 year old building one and having it in his backpack when an over zealous cop “smells pot” and searches him. Or how about the college student who lives in the dorm and the RA spots him pegging folks with it.

    My post was to make sure folks knew it wasn’t an innocent airsoft toy before they built it.

  13. I believe shooting random people in a dorm qualifies as “something stupid”

    And really, any weapon can be concealed. I bring a weapon to school everyday. It goes by the name of a pencil and I hide it in my pocket and pretend to take notes with it when I think a teacher gets suspicious.

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