How to build a potato gun

Potato Gun Instructions

The Potato Gun is a classic destructive toy built by teenagers and adults who never wanted to grow up and to some of us just out of sheer destructive curiosity. This will be an instructional as to how to construct a combustion type potato cannon (aka "Spud Gun").

(Flaming, explosive, black powder, or living projectiles can often make a legal spud gun illegal in many jurisdictions. Many heavily populated areas have ordinances on projectiles and loud noise.)

The real trick on a combustion based potato gun is finding the right ignition source. Some will tell you that a stun gun is the best ignition source, but stun guns aren't legal everywhere. So we have came up with a few alternatives. Try finding a twist-type ignitor for a coleman stove or lamp. You can also buy a Weber or other barbecue manufacturer push-button ignitor switch which is usually sold at hardware stores or anywhere that sells barbecues.

Buy a solid thick length of a high schedule PVC 2-3" pipe and a solid 1" pipe with a threaded cap on the end. (We highly recommend using pink teflon tape and threaded ends as opposed to flammable glues). The 2-3" barrel should be cut at around 18-24" keeping the end of the barrel ar enough away from the body and allowing a straighter flight path for the potato. The skinnier 1" pipe will serve as your "Packer" and should be measured in length and capped on one end to allow at least 6" of space between the combustion chamber and the tip of your packer inside the barrel (see diagram below but note that packer is not to scale) Use the packer to force a potato down the 2" barrel to your measured distance so as not to push it all the way into the combustion chamber. The combustion chamber can be constructed from a short length of 4" high schedule PVC with a threaded removable cap at the end (you can use a "clean-out drain" if you can find the right size). The ignitor must be mounted into the combustion chamber by drilling a hole large enough to accommodate the ignitor, and epoxy glue/putty must be applied to seal the ignitor in (give the epoxy a minimum of 72hours or the manufacturers written specifications to reach full cure) and never fire the cannon with the ignitor pointed anywhere but at the ground to avoid injury should it ever come loose. Remove the large cap at the end of your chamber and spray your hairspray up into the chamber while it is facing the ground to allow any moisture to fall out before recapping and trapping the fumes (avoid spraying directly at your ignitor as it may cause the spark to fail from moisture). This gives someone a way to touch a spark to air mixed with a fuel source causing a near instant expansion of gases and force the lodged potato to launch out the barrel (very similar to a cylinder in a car engine). The effect is usually quite loud and should be very carefully tested on its first few rounds for amount of fuel needed and for impact. This can cause bodily harm and is NOT a toy.

The fuel sources that I have used in the past have been mainly Aqua-Net Hairspray or any other flammable inexpensive hairspray . I would not recommend anything more powerful as we did have a cannon explode on us after using carburetor cleaner. Experimenting with fuel sources can be highly dangerous and result in harm or death to the individual if proper precautions aren't taken. A rule of thumb to follow in testing this would be to always start with small amounts of whatever fuel you are using as a weaker explosion would merely send the potato out at a slow rate. Be warned about the distance that this thing will go, the one we built to this spec while I was up in Oregon didn't make it long enough to get the photos of it (my friend overfueled the gun and 'boom'.... he was extremely lucky to not have gotten hurt) sent potatoes flying well over a hundred yards when angled up into the air. Make sure you have the space to fire this without harming anything and treat it like a rifle, not a toy.  Also remember to obey the law and check with your city's local laws and codes before constructing.

Please note the diagram below for an image of what your finished potato gun should resemble.

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32 comments

Kd 6568 9 years ago

Aqau-net works good, but I have found that it eventually builds up on the contacts. Try right guard. Not only does it keep contacts clear it lubes the barrel.


noackian 9 years ago

thx aye dude. my dad is buying parts as i speak


gooadam profile image

gooadam 9 years ago from san mateo Author

JBWeld works good to glue the ignitor into the ignition hole and it is heat proof. I prefer using a coleman lantern's turning sparker, but you can use an electric sparker from a cigarette lighter or better from a BarBQ assembly. Just make sure that the chamber is sealed well or the explosion may take out your ignitor or barrel before the potato gets to be dislodged.


tom 9 years ago

does having a really long chamber affect it?


9 years ago

Do you have to start the igniter with your hand or do u have to start it with string from a certain distance.


i don't no 9 years ago

um will axe work also for the gass


Anonymous 9 years ago

My bro and I just made a potato gun. It is not powered by hairspray and an ignition source. We used compressed air, the compression chamber is about 4 feet long, using a shrader valve you pump air into the chamber with a bicylce pump. then release it with a regular PVC ball valve, it is really good. Haven't shot it yet, but I know someone who did the same thing as us and shoots spuds 1/2 mile with 85 psi pumped with a BICYCLE PUMP! Really cheap. You could make it for about $35, and it's pretty safe too, as long as you glue the parts and all. I'm sure you could find tutorials on the inernet elswhere.


8 years ago

When spraying the aerosol try water disperent and spray the can upside down into the combustion chamber. This way you can get a good mixture.


John 8 years ago

If you want a good bang use ether based starting fluid


8 years ago

Or u could just use accetalene from an oxy and blow the whole thing up in yur arms.

Although on the bright side its one hell of an explosion.


Dudek 8 years ago

make sure to check on your ignitor if using a BBQ assembly type apparatus because its know to erode and rust(wires) and hairspray work really well especialy if you want loud bang and a further distance for beginners i recommend axe you know the body spray of other types of arosoles


Andrew 8 years ago

ether works really good but wach you're hands if theres any small holes it shoots out a flame like a propane torch and it hurts


mike 7 years ago

use a spark plug for your igniter cause it can get wet


CBLOKAYA 7 years ago

I read a lot of info on the combustion chamber BUT nobody says how much hairspray to use. My comb. chamber is 4" X 28" and will start wuth air spray. How many seconds of a burst of spray do I use? (one second, 2 or 3 or 4?)

What about quick start? Same questions.

I have usually a dozen bears around going & coming to the dump. This should deter them.


hippy 6 years ago

that was good


kyle 6 years ago

can u use any aresol product


Soggey torso with nubs( .)( .) 6 years ago

yup,if the can says "caution flamable" it will work


dummy 6 years ago

potato guns are cool if you know how to make them. I once shot my dad in the gut with one.


dadof4jjjr 6 years ago

i've seen a canon made just like a spud gun but you did not load it with a spud.it made a real loud boom. it was made of 6 inch pvc. tried to make it but it flamed up in chamber. any he;p would be great.


bigfoots little sister 6 years ago

ill shot everyone with mine


Blabber 5 years ago

I was wondering if there are non-pvc alternatives strong enough to handle the job?


Blabber 5 years ago

I was wondering if there are non-pvc alternatives strong enough to handle the job?


5 years ago

will axe body spray work?


jamil 5 years ago

I read the Hub, it's good stuff about California gun laws. I imagine the difficulty of trying to enforce such laws. My heart goes out to all the police, and I have to ask...really?


fff 5 years ago

HAHAHAHA


fff 5 years ago

that's so funny


potato gun how to 4 years ago

Can someone tell me if combustion is better or if pneumatic potato guns are better? I recently got some combustion potato gun plans from

http://www.potato-gun-plans.com and they were great but they don't have any plans for pneumatic spud guns. Can someone tell me if pneumatic will shoot longer distances and does air never fail when shooting? Thanks.


BeasleyHARRIET 4 years ago

It's understandable that money makes us free. But what to do if one doesn't have cash? The one way is to receive the home loans and just student loan.


Jc 4 years ago

How much dose it cost


Futamarka 3 years ago

Служение не нужно; что нужно, так это делиться вашей сознательностью — вашим знанием, вашей сущностью, вашим уважением — но сначала вы должны иметь это.


Mylindaminka 3 years ago

Вопрос к мастеру, сколько примерно стоит биозавивка? У меня с детства густые волосы, хорошая наследственность, тем не менее я стараюсь очень редко пользоваться фенами, щипцами. Если меня хочется красивые локоны, я использую бигуди, которых сейчас огромный выбор. 2 раза в месяц делаю маски из репейного масла.


NONE OF YOUR BUISNESS!!!! 2 years ago

ummm flappy potatoes... really... free ;3

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