Make a spud gun!

One thing I remember particularly from my childhood is my liking for those toy guns that made a bit of explosive flash and sound when triggered. It came in different forms but I remember my favourite one (or rather the only one my parents dared to get me :-P) which was shaped almost like a real gun with a changeable ammunitions magazine. The magazine packed a round of these cool bullets that when fired made a small explosion. The bullets had a teensy weensy amount of gunpowder in them to achieve the effect - I know because I took apart a bullet (and eventually the gun itself) to learn how they worked. But then, the government added fireworks, firecrackers and anything that went bang including these toy guns to their list of banned items. Being an avid experimenter, that got me started on making my own things-that-went-bang...

Here is how to make a spud (potato) gun. It is something quite common and easy to make. It is also pretty powerful - has a range of atleast 30ft when constructed correctly and delivers a punch that would make you go a big "ouch!" if hit by one. I made a mini pistol-like version of this when I was in Male' for holidays in August 2006, just to reminisce the gunslinging days :-D.

- Insect repellent spray (shelltox, bop spray...)
- Piezo electric igniter from a cigarette/kitchen lighter
- About 2ft of large diameter plastic pipe
- About 4-6ft of small diameter plastic pipe
- Endcap for the large pipe
- Reducer that connects large pipe to small pipe
- Paperclip
- Small length of wire


- Any type of insect repellent should do. I've tried "Shelltox" and "Bop Spray".
- Piezo electric igniters are those things found in some cigarette and kitchen lighters that when pressed makes a spark. I'm sure many have used these things to deliver a jolt of friendly electricity to friends ;-)
- Glue the large diameter pipe to the reducer and then glue the reducer to the small diameter pipe.
- The end cap doesn't need to be glued and can be just plugged onto the large pipe.
- Break the paperclip into two, heat up pieces using a lighter and when hot, push the two pieces about 5mm from each other.
- Connect wires to the paperclips terminals.
- Connect the end of the wires to the piezo igniter.
Construct as shown in the diagram.

- Push a Potato into the end of small pipe making sure it fits snugly and there is no space for air to flow. Push the potato till it is almost at the beginning of the reducer.
- Spray some repellant into the large pipe and quickly cover with the end cap.
- Take aim and press the igniter to shoot!

More details:
The above is what I did in August. There are many, many different versions of spud/potato guns available on the net. I suggest reading up more from this guide at They have photos and videos there.



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