Tiny cannon is adorably deadly

This tiny brass cannon fires steel ball bearings with great force and accuracy, making it the deadliest cute thing and cutest deadly thing I've seen all year.

Mini Cannon Firing and Destroying Targets. Among the World's Smallest Guns (via @georgeruiz)


  1. Well, you know what they say. When all you have is a tiny cannon, everything looks like a target.

  2. Awesome! Would be nice to see it shooting at something a little harder, like some mdf or a book. Also, I want mini-chain shot.

  3. Great, but isn’t he going to be cleaning glass shards and egg white out of that keyboard for a week?

    1. He would be if that were his computer. Someone’s probably going to be very confused when they come back from lunch.

  4. It is important to remember to play with experimental firearms as close to computer equipment as possible.

    1. I LOL’d at that too. I mean, come on, a balloon? Blast that thing through the monitor baby!

  5. After putting in the gunpowder with a tiny piece of paper, then loading up the mini-cannonball with a pair of forceps, then setting the bitsy fuse, then using a microscopic rammer… he goes on to ignite it with a CIGARETTE? Where the hell is a mini-botefeux?

  6. it really didn’t need that much elevation to get the balloon, shocking amount of force

  7. If he braced the cannon with something heavy, would the shot then have more force behind it? It seems to me that the movement of the cannon is absorbing a lot of the energy in the shot.

  8. So when can we expect to see these in the bazaar? :)

    I’d put one in with my vinyl toy collection.

  9. I JUST finished listening “For Those About To Rock” by AC/DC in my car and I gotta say… my man’s choice of music is lacking.

    Hot Buttered Popcorn is a fantastic tune, but I think that as a track selection is a misfire.

    1. Blaine, I’m afraid life is never simple. Back in the 1960s a guy named Gershon Kingsley was standing next to a popcorn machine and liked the rhythm of its sounds. He wrote a song about it, called it Popcorn, used an early Moog synthesizer to record it and put it on an album called Music To Moog By. Three years later some Danish guys called Hot Butter remixed Popcorn and it became a top 10 hit in 10 countries. So who did the mix in that video? I’m not sure, tons of people have done their own versions. Crazy Frog did a cover/remix a few years back but that’s not the Crazy Frog version. (Has my love of Moog music put me off topic yet?)

  10. Yay Mini Cannon! And with that music stuck in my head I now have an inexplicable desire to smoke a cigarette and shoot stuff. . .

  11. All I have to say is: _A Maze of Death_ by Philip K. Dick. If you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about.

  12. This is so awesome!

    I would hasten to remind people who are too surprised that cannons were never designed to be weak, limited-range projectile weapons. Quite the opposite actually.

    I think he should try barreling the rifle.

  13. I’m thinking Oingo Boingo’s _Little Guns_. Also Stephen King’s _Battleground_

  14. For what it’s worth, my wife walked by and asked why I was listening to YMO.

    Hmm, I don’t see anything here that can’t be attached to (or in) jewelry. Steampunk Knuckle Dusters MkII?

    TSA: please ban all jewelry and people wearing it, ‘k?

  15. that is goddamned adorable. also, i think it’d be a fantastic gift idea. i know i’d like to have at least a couple of ’em.

  16. “If he braced the cannon with something heavy, would the shot then have more force behind it? It seems to me that the movement of the cannon is absorbing a lot of the energy in the shot.”

    No, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Rockets aren’t pushing against the ground when they take off. When spaceships use thrusters to move in space, there’s nothing for them to push against.

    Whether the cannon is held still or allowed to move on frictionless wheels, it doesn’t matter to the cannon ball. The same explosive force that is propelling the ball forward is propelling the cannon backward, just in opposite directions.

    1. “No, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

      Yes, but the cannon is utilizing some of the reaction to move. I completely understand what you mean with the space ship comparison but that’s a bad one as the framework is different. The propulsive force in a rocket is attached to the rocket, in this situation the propulsive force is external to the object being acted upon. If the cannon was immobile, there would only be one direction for the explosive force to go. As it is, the explosive force acts upon more than one object – both the ball and the cannon. Immobilize the cannon and all the energy would go into the ball.

      There’s a fixed amount of kinetic energy available from the explosion. Divide it out by the objects moved and you have an idea of the energy going into each. Reduce the number of objects moved and you’ve got more energy going into each. Or am I totally off base here?

      1. I tend to agree with you: the more energy is used to move the cannon base, the less is left to move the ball in the opposite direction.

        The other “leak” is the relatively large fuse hole. He should have tightened that up quite a bit.

        FYI, as a kid I had a very small single-shot cap gun that I modified in a similar manner. Its ammo was the head of a finishing nail (which I clipped off with a pair of pliers). Since it was powered by a single cap it wasn’t very strong; just enough to embed the nail head into a piece of cardboard (certainly strong enough to damage somebody’s eye). Luckily I outgrew that phase.

        1. instead of worrying about the fuse hole he should instead tighten the bore of the cannon. the general rule when dealing with firearms/cannons is to create a bore that is slightly smaller then the projectile. take the 5.56/.223 as an example, your bore diameter is .223/5.56 in diameter yet your bullet is .224″. by forcing a larger object down the barrel it creates a much stronger force behind your projectile, creating increased speed and energy.

  17. Ah, does this guy not mind, egg, glass, and crap all over his room, keyboard and more? Interesting, but the execution site has me a bit baffled.

  18. A cute toy, but to be deadly you would have to add some ricin to the bb, and make sure you got a close-range shot at bare skin.

      1. No, I have never seen it. What gave me the idea was the KGB assassination of Georgi Markov with an umbrella tip loaded with a ricin-coated pellet. That story was to me one of the weirdest cold-war episodes ever, and the mini-cannon reminded me of that,and all the miniature weaponry of the spy set.

        1. I though of it because it was weeks NCIS. They probably got the idea from the Georgi Markov case.

  19. The results aren’t that impressive. I expected no less from that cannon. He put an awful lot of gunpowder in it. About the equivalent of emptying out 3 or 4 .22lr cartridges. Then the BB he placed inside it looked like it was maybe .25 cal? Really, if he made the barrel on that cannon at least 20 inches, he would be able pierce the metal paneling on cars. No joke.

  20. Wow!

    The guys at the X-ray machines in airports will be more than happy to learn one more thing to look out for.

  21. Can anyone get a bead on the language on the Coke can? Might give us a clue as to the lineage of the mighty cannon.

    1. The can is in Hebrew.
      The name Shamir (from the email at the end of the clip) is usually a Jewish name (as in Yitzhak Shamir) but I’ve heard it used as a first name by Israeli Arabs (Specifically Druze)

  22. There’s a fixed amount of kinetic energy available from the explosion. Divide it out by the objects moved and you have an idea of the energy going into each. Reduce the number of objects moved and you’ve got more energy going into each. Or am I totally off base here?

    You’re totally off-base. :-)

    The explosion supplies equal amounts of kinetic energy to the cannon and the cannonball. Making the cannon larger and heavier simply reduces the amount of cannon motion by distributing the kinetic energy over a larger mass.

    The cannon and ball still receive equal amounts of kinetic energy, no matter what the cannon weighs.

    If you make the cannon heavy enough that it frictionally couples to the table (and the table heavy enough to couple to the floor, and the floor to the earth), then the resulting motion is much, much smaller, since the cannon’s half of the kinetic energy is distributed over the much greater mass of cannon + table (+ floor + earth).

    But that won’t make the cannonball go faster.

    (Slight quibble: if the cannon flies backward, it effectively makes the cannon barrel shorter, because the explosion will vent to the open air sooner than it would if the cannon stayed put. An effectively longer barrel can make for a more powerful cannon if the shorter barrel vents while the explosion is still happening.)

    As for rockets, a rocket doesn’t push on the earth, but it does push on its reaction mass – the mass of its propellant.

    To fling the rocket in one direction, you have to fling something else – the mass of the burnt propellant – in the opposite direction.

    That’s why you can’t have a purely solar-powered rocket – sunlight can provide energy, but you have to use that energy to fling some reaction mass in the direction opposite the direction you want the rocket to go. Energy without reaction mass is useless for producing acceleration.

    The only way to fling something one way is to fling something else the other way: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

    1. The explosion supplies equal amounts of kinetic energy to the cannon and the cannonball.

      This is not correct. Both the cannon and the cannon ball receive equal and opposite momentum (from conservation of momentum), but this is not the same as equal and opposite KE.

      This is because momentum is mv, while KE is 1/2 mv^2. So the KE goes up with the square of the velocity. This means that if two things have the same momentum, the lighter, faster one will have more KE.

      So the question is how the energy gets divvied up between the light cannon ball and the heavier cannon.

      If you assume the cannon ball is 1 kg and the cannon is 10 kg, you get:

      Conservation of momentum: 1*vb+10*vc=0

      vc=-vb/10 (i.e. cannon moves at 10th of the speed of the cannon ball, in the opposite direction)

      If we assume the energy of the explosion was 100 Joules, and that it was transformed entirely into the KE of the ball and cannon:

      Conservation of energy: 1/2*(1kg)*(vb)^2+1/2*(10kg)*(vc)^2=100J



      vb=sqrt(100J/(1/2*(1kg)+1/2*(10kg)/10^2)) = 13.48 m/s

      Now if we assume that the cannon instead weighed 10,000 kg, we get

      vb=sqrt(100J/(1/2*(1kg)+1/2*(10000kg)/10000^2)) = 14.14 m/s

      So as you can see, as the weight of the cannon increases (e.g. as we fix it to the table, so the weight of the cannon is the little brass thing + the weight of the table), the cannon ball receives a greater proportion of the available energy, and therefore travels faster.

      …as a thought experiment, imagine a compressed spring with a marble on either side. If you let go the spring, the marbles each travel a little ways. Now have just one marble and affix the other end of the spring to the wall. When you release the spring, the marble travels much further. The spring pushing the two things apart (marble+marble or marble+wall) is the same as the expansion of air pushing the cannon and cannon ball apart.

      1. Both the cannon and the cannon ball receive equal and opposite momentum (from conservation of momentum), but this is not the same as equal and opposite KE.

        Arggh. Right you are. Momentum, not kinetic energy.

        This is what I get for posting while half-asleep.

        Thanks for the correction.

  23. I love that he is always lighting it with the end og an almost finished cigarette. Is he smoking it while he is loading the gunpowder or does he light it afterward and then smoke the whole thing before he sets off the cannon?

  24. Well said.

    A while back on MB Jamie stated that “Driving two cars head-on into each other at 50mph damages each car the same as driving one car into a wall at 100mph”

    Controversy ensued.

    Of course they had to actually try it, and found that the 100mph into a wall car got twice as squished.

    Is this more or less the same problem as our canon?

    1. Well, duh. Had one of the “cars” been made of solid concrete, the other (real) car would have been squished as much as the one that drove into the wall at 100 mph. But because both cars were made of the same material, they both absorbed half the total (100 mph) impact, resulting in only half the damage to each.

      1. Actually no. The real car would be more damaged than with two cars, but not as much as with a solid wall. The cement car would still get it’s share of the energy/momentum of the crash. It’s mass is less than the wall but more than the other (real) car.

  25. Was neat now need to shake a full soda and shoot it, the shoot a trigger to set of a mentos soda reaction

  26. If he were in the US, he could have shot a beer can. That way, with the cigarette and cannon he would have the BATF trifecta.

  27. You guys are totally assuming that the force applied to the cannonball happens instantaneously and that is not correct.

    The ball continues to accelerate as long as it is in the barrel being pushed by the expanding gas. The gas is expanding against the barrel walls and the projectile.

    This means that any force applied to the barrel wall while the projectile is still in it (and therefore still being acted on by the gas)must be added to the inertia of the barrel, the gas and the ball.

    Anchoring the canon would be the same as applying equal and opposite force against its thrust.

    But because the barrel is so short the period of acceleration would be short and the effect would be tiny.

  28. God I love physics arguments. I just imagine each entry being read by the comic book guy voice.

    1. I admit it’s a horribly geeky thing to argue about, but it’s a far cry from arguing about imaginary characters. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  29. You think that’s geeky…

    Turns out karlschneider had the clue I needed. I’ve never seen such devotion to a single piece of music in my life as the entire wiki-like website devoted to the song Popcorn: http://www.popcorn-song.com/ With the help of it and discogs.com I have determined which version of Popcorn is in this video. Yes, majutsushi, Jean Michel Jarre did a version of this song in 1972 but that’s not his version. This is Popcorn (Radio Mix) by M & H Band in 1987, which can be heard on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZr36fczU88

  30. Wow! This is the most beautifully crafted piece of absolute irresponsibility and dubious legality I have seen in ages. Well Done!

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