Potato Gun Distances and Muzzle Velocities

Spud Guns and Ball Launchers: How Far and How Fast?

It’s easy to find information on how to build, fuel, paint, and fire a spud gun. Not many people talk much about the kind of performance you can get out of one of these babies, however. They’re more powerful than you might think, and their performance, if built right, will astound you.

Potato Cannon Significant Factor#1

Barrel Length. Say it five times. One of the most significant factors affecting muzzle velocity is barrel length. The barrel must be long enough so that the combustion fully occurs inside the barrel and the spud is propelled faster as a result. With the barrel short, combustion is still occurring – but this time – outside the barrel. This usually results in a flame or whoosh, and is useless because the spud has already left the building.

Potato Cannon Significant Factor #2

Fuel. Some fuels are more combustible and powerful than others. Propane is a hotter burn than hairspray (We should hope so!), and at the end of the day, something like propane or butane will launch a spud further than a hair product.

Ball Launchers: let’s Talk Real World

Many spud gunners have taken the time to measure muzzle velocities and ranges and there is data out there. Here is a sampling of it:

#1 PVC Spud Gun, powered by Hairspray, and with Lantern Flint ignition: Up to 246 feet per second, range 150 yards.

#2 PVC Spud Gun, powered by propane, and with stun gun ignition: Up to 300 feet per second, range 250 yards.

#3 PVC Spud gun, Pneumatic (compressed air): Up to 500 feet per second, range 755 yards

As you can see from this data sampling, spud guns are extremely powerful and even the hairspray powered potato cannon is capable of being lethal. The ranges are quite impressive as well, and something to keep in mind if you are thinking of shooting ammunition that is retrievable like PVC torpedoes or balls – even with the lightest spud gun you’ll be doing lots of walking!

As a final note keep in mind safety when thinking of numbers like these. Spuds passing through ½” plywood from short ranges are a typical occurrence with high power cannons. Your skin is more easily pierced than ½” plywood, so keep that in mind.

Range wise, see how far these projectiles go? Know what’s beyond your target when you shoot and don’t shoot over hills or where you can’t see. Finally, buy our plans and ebook for a cool combination on how to get the biggest bang out of your spud gun or orange gun.

Top Quality Potato Guns, that you can make yourself quickly and easily, check out full line of Potato Gun Plans below: