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How to Build a Spud Gun - Videos and Plans to Building a Potato Cannon

Updated on February 12, 2018

What is a Spud Gun

If you grew up on a farm, you are probably familiar with the term spud gun, or its other common name is a potato cannon. Like many pastimes on the farm, some wouldn't consider it completely safe, but it is an impressive display to see a potato launched from a good spud gun. Its one of the great forms of traditional backyard ballistics.

If you've never seen one, they are similar in design to the cannons they use at ball games to shoot t-shirts and the like into the crowds, only cranked up a notch. (By the way, at a recent college football game I attended, an air cannon shaped like a pickle was used to shoot the t-shirts into the crowd!)

Some of these designs create a great explosive sound when fired, satisfying the pyrotechnic urge in many of us. And the range these "guns" can cover is truly impressive.

A Compressed Air Potato Cannon

In this video, they build a compressed air gun. It uses lengths of approximately 2 inch pipe as an air reserviour, and what appears to be a lawn sprinkler valve as the trigger mechanism.

They follow the construction up with a sequence of test shots in the neighborhood. You'll note that a compressed air gun is not nearly as loud as some of the other types of guns.

WARNING - Spud guns are not legal in some jurisdictions.

If you decide to build and use one proceed at your own risk, and check with your local authorities first.

There is a listing of places where spud guns have been outlawed at Wikipedia, but this may not be completely up to date.

Spud Gun Plans

Basically a spud gun is a device constructed with PVC pipes or some similar tubing, that will impel a whole potato that is tightly inserted into the tube. The method of propulsion will vary, some use pneumatics (basically are compressed air), while others (known as combustion launchers) use some combustible gas like hair spray or propane mixed with air. An ignitor like a BBQ starter is used to fire the propane. A few designs are hybrids in nature, compressing a fuel air mixture, which as you may imagine gives an extra pop to the design.

The Backyard Ballistics books gets a lot of good reviews, and it covers a number of projects in addition to potato cannons that appeal to the junior pyrotechnic expert in the family, but are designed to be relatively safe.

There are a variety of places to buy plans and parts for building your own spud gun.

One of the more popular is, but at the time of this writing the owner was selling off the business, so it's uncertain if they are still around.

Make Magazine - Stun Gun Potato Cannon

Build this night lighter potato cannon as a weekend project.

Another Combustion Type Gun

This is actually one of the more complete instructional videos. Ignore the spelling on the instuctions. Do be careful, this is a combustion chamber type gun.

Children's Spud Gun Toys

There are factory made spud guns, which are typically very low power kids toys, which launch small pieces of potato using compressed air. These are available at many toy stores, and are safe for younger kids to play with.

Check the ratings on the individual guns, but you can find some that are rated as OK for kids as young as age 5.


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    • profile image

      Johnb284 3 years ago

      Keep working ,impressive job! dcefdfaekcbb

    • Jed Fisher profile image

      Jed Fisher 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Spud guns are cool.

    • profile image

      3D HDTV 7 years ago

      I work with this! Nice tool

    • profile image

      Eric 7 years ago

      two to three seconds spraying

    • profile image

      jake 8 years ago

      my dad has one

    • profile image 9 years ago

      This is my first spud gun and I want to use hairspray as my fuel. If the chamber is 3 inch by 24 inch long. How much hairspray would I need to have a successful launch. And is there a better fuel to use. I am open to any ideas and all suggestions or recommendations. Thanks!!!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 9 years ago from America

      My husband is called the spud man because he works with potatoes everyday but I don't think I'll tell him about the spud gun.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      Definitely check state laws before buidling and using potato guns.