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.

49 thoughts on “This Maglite Is A BB Gun

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

        1. 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.

        1. 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.

      1. Original prototype made in la habra ca
        .. paintball gun was hitting a water tower 300 feet away from his shop…….what you buy now are scaled down / powered down versions…….rolf was a cool guy…this was back in 70s

  3. 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.

  4. 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…

      1. 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.’

          1. If “Air Hogs” eject bullets or missiles with sufficient force to injure a person, then yeah they’re firearms. Sure as hell aren’t toys.

    1. 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.

        1. 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?

    1. 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.

  5. 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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