Best Fun-Gun Ever. The Can Cannon – Mounts on AR-15

The Can Cannon:

Though it look intimidating, it is the best fun-gun ever.

Though it look intimidating, it is the best fun-gun ever.

Awesome has arrived. That’s the slogan emblazoned on the side of the inconspicuous tube in which the Can Cannon ships. And X Products–specialists in all things awesome–have nailed this one. I’ve never had more fun on the range than I did with the Can Cannon. Never. Not once.

What is the Can Cannon? It is exactly what it sounds like. This is a highly modified AR upper designed to shoot 12oz cans. Coke cans. Beer cans. Whatever. And full cans, not empties. And, coincidentally, it also shoot tennis balls and other items similar in diameter. Simply pop off your upper, transfer over the bolt carrier group and charging handle, load a mag full of blanks and get to a range with a lot of open spaces. Wide open spaces.

And brace yourself. The Can Cannon kicks–but odds are you won’t notice. You’ll be laughing too hard.

How does it work?

The concept is simple enough. Replace your AR-15 upper with the Can Cannon. It uses the same bolt and everything. Instead of loading live rounds into the magazine, fill it with blanks. Any .223 or 5.56 blank should work. They won’t cycle the action, but they’ll launch the hell out of a can of Coca-Cola.

The cannon tube screws directly to this tube, which extends from the upper.

The cannon tube screws directly to this tube, which extends from the upper.

The tube itself is a beefy piece of steel that threads over a device designed to use the pressure from a blank to push a can out the end of the tube. X Products calls it a gas ported barrel.

The launching tube screws directly onto the upper, and sits flush with the upper’s rail section. It is stepped inside, so that a can sits in the optimal position (bottom end in first).

Load in a can, cycle the bolt, aim in a VERY safe direction, and pull the trigger. Don’t get this order mixed up and load it, then stick your hand in front of the barrel. That’s not safe.

Gas vents though this ported gas-tube type extension on the chamber.

Gas vents though this ported gas-tube type extension on the chamber.

The tube is blocked on this end. This is the small detail that would make shooting a live round dangerous/deadly.

The tube is blocked on this end. This is the small detail that would make shooting a live round dangerous/deadly.

Potential dangers

Let’s get this out of the way now. Before I wax poetic about how much fun I have had with this thing, I want to talk about the very real dangers it poses. This device shoots projectiles. It is built on a rifle platform, uses blanks, and propels objects at potentially deadly speeds.

Blanks. With the amount of 5.56 I go through, I'm going to have to find a couple of dedicated blank mags.

Blanks. With the amount of 5.56 I go through, I’m going to have to find a couple of dedicated blank mags.

When I first heard about the Can Cannon, I’d envisioned a video opening that went something like this: I would set up the camera on a long range and holler to someone down range–“Throw me a beer!” The shooter would then lob a can of beer my way and I’d catch it, crack it open, etc.

Um. This is why you should always test out guns and such in a very safe place. When we first pulled the trigger on a can of Coke Zero, it launched the can so fast and so far that we barely saw it go. There’s no way I am going to try to catch a can shot out of this thing. It is a stupid idea.

That is only one of the stupid things one might do with it. There’s little to prevent you from loading a live round into this. And if you pulled the trigger on a live round in the Can Cannon, it would fire. If I had two, I’d test what happens.  But I’m not willing to destroy this one for something I know is a stupid idea. The round would conceivably blow through the end of the gas tube, then whatever object you’d placed in the Cannon itself. It could also generate enough pressure to rupture the whole thing, though I doubt it. Regardless, don’t do it.

And don’t shoot at anyone with it. We played around with some tennis balls, but only from a really long distance. And I wouldn’t recommend that. Those fuzzy balls are moving very fast.

How fast is fast?

We did chronograph this thing, with cans and balls.

Let’s begin with a point of reference: a baseball, which weighs 5.25oz, traveling at 95mph has 99 foot pounds of force.

  • Baseball                               5.25oz,       139.33fps or 95mph,         99fpf
  • A can of Coke Zero         13.08oz,        134.4ofps or 91mph,         226.4fpf
  • Tennis ball                            2.1oz,        175.70fps or 120mph,       63.1fpf

In order to get 226.4 foot pounds of force from a baseball, you have to throw it at 143.67 MPH. The tennis ball has less mass–only 2.1oz–and only 63.1 foot pounds of force–well below major league pitching danger, but still smoking fast.

Tennis balls get singed. This one has been shot once.

Tennis balls get singed. This one has been shot once.

How far will it shoot?

Surprisingly far. We could get cans well over 100 yards. Tennis balls are more of a gamble. They lose their fuzz as the blanks burn them out of the barrel. Each shot trims the fuzz, and the balls seem to slow a bit more as the gas seal formed by the tight fit gets less secure.

We shot the balls and cans on a completely flat plane and were surprised to find that the cans were averaging about 130 yards. Tennis balls were over 100 yards, but didn’t have the momentum of the cans, so they came up shorter.

I should mention, too, that only good cans work. As we try to keep our costs low, I’d bought a case of Dr. Thunder. The Can Cannon didn’t like Dr. Thunder. The pressure popped the bottom of the cans. They didn’t go very far at all. The did erupt in a shower of gas-fueled generic sugary splendor, one that coats everything with a 25 foot radius–cameras, by standers, even the shooter if the wind is right.

The Coke cans flew fine. Mostly. Dr. Thunder split every time, until we devised the duct tape patch.

The Coke cans flew fine. Mostly. Dr. Thunder split every time, until we devised the duct tape patch.

But duct-tape fixes everything. A simple patch on the butt of a Dr. Thunder can gave it the strength to clear the barrel. With the quick fix, the cans flew just like the others. No can survived the impact of the launch.

Can you catch a ball shot from the Can Cannon?

I can. Sort of. Sam can. It isn’t impossible. And it doesn’t hurt too bad. We shot almost a hundred balls at each other, and only caught a few. If they skip off the ground, they’re easier to catch. We finally got good results by aiming, studying the ball’s trajectory, and then putting the glove as close to that path as possible.

I will say that hitting is much harder. Much, much more difficult.

Less Lethal

So what’s the potential for this thing, once the novelty wears off? Well, I’ve got a long list of things I’m going to try. Some of them are bound to make it into an updated “dumb ideas” list. And I’ve been trying really hard not to utter the phrase “Hey Sammy! Watch this!” That’s what all the idiots on YouTube say right before they die.

On the more serious side, this would make a good T-shirt cannon, with some modifications that would keep it from burning up the shirt. X-Products is developing a net launcher and a grappling hook launcher. I could see bean bags, or even tennis balls, being very effective for crowd control. Launching ducks for dog training? Getting the chicken inside the duck, and both inside the turkey for a kickass Turducken. The possibilities are endless.

For me, it comes down to fun. There are endless ways to experiment. I shot a whipped cream can out of it. That was a hoot. We tried combining the Can Cannon and a shotgun for some high-speed target practice, but it was a bust. Shooting the cans almost straight up was dangerous, and arcing them put them out of range of the shotgun. As fast as the cans fly, it was hard to hit them.

The GoPro before the disaster. Can I get that moment back?

The GoPro before the disaster. Can I get that moment back?

I did attempt some GoPro action. Let me just advise against that, too. I’d rigged a shell out of a pill bottle, one that fit perfectly, and made a parachute. The GoPro won’t fit inside the Can Cannon with its protective shell on, so I padded the camera well and shot it. The heat from the gas killed the parachute, melted the pill bottle, and the force of the shot–well–it didn’t do the GoPro any favors. As my people are wont to say: “it’s all tore-up.” It will still shoot video, but the LCD screen is trashed and the WIFI link is gone, and it gets a bit toasty when it runs.

Back to the fun

Can Cannon is it. If you only shoot cans and balls, I doubt the fun will wear off. We’ll take it out to the lake this summer and see what it can do on the water. If a can can survive the impact with water…. I keep dreaming up more ways to have fun.

The Can Cannon is selling as fast as X Products can make it. If you have an AR already, I’d call this a mandatory purchase. It is a gateway drug of sorts. The Can Cannon is so damn cool that non-gun people find it too interesting to resist. A Can Cannon makes you an ambassador for the gun world.

The price is $399. The Can Cannon is worth every penny of that. Blanks are readily available on line, and from X Products. Click over and check them out.

The Can Cannon:

The only optic we used was a Lucid red dot. You don't really need an optic at all.

The only optic we used was a Lucid red dot. You don’t really need an optic at all.

Hard to photograph, but you can see the step inside to support the bottom of the can.

Hard to photograph, but you can see the step inside to support the bottom of the can.

{ 44 comments… add one }
  • Spud October 17, 2017, 11:27 am

    Let\’s not give a reason to take our rights by doing stupid $#!+

  • JayVargus September 20, 2017, 9:52 am

    How loud is it? Does the barrel suppress any of the noise a regular ar15 would make. I mean can i take it in my backyard without the neighbors thinking I am firing for real?

  • buddy gibbs February 26, 2017, 9:27 pm

    A high dollar potato gun is out of the question but Ragheads with bombs are OK! Liberal commie scum logic!

  • Seth Winterhawk January 4, 2016, 9:51 am

    IDK seems kind of stupid and a waste of money to me. Given the current climate of the powers that be ramping up disarming the citizenry I’d rather spend my resources on actually useful firearms before a goofy assed potato gun on steroids. Just a thought….

    • levi October 30, 2017, 10:34 am

      This could easily be changed into something much more effective, keep an open mind about this…

    • Terry November 2, 2017, 3:51 pm

      This “goofy assed potato gun” is a heck of a lot more. Use empty can filled with a napalm mixture. Gorilla tape over hole and launch into opponent camp, preferable into campfire or rig an impact fuse. Just use you you brain and this is a serious deadly “stupid potato gun”.

  • Charlie Romaine December 28, 2015, 11:53 am

    It looks like it might be better than a potato gun, more fun!

  • Charles December 28, 2015, 8:35 am

    It is hard to imagine that you are unaware that the ATF pulled one of their sleight-of-hand tricks to re-designate the can cannon into some sort of illegal-to-possess item several months ago.
    Since no info has come down the line about the “expected” re-engineering required by X-products to make these legal to sell, I would say that it hasn’t happened yet.
    All those folks that bought the first iteration of the can cannon are probably still awaiting “legalization modifications” for their “grey area” projectile launcher.

    • Peddlertoo December 28, 2015, 10:57 am

      Sure, you can own one. The BATF has decreed that all you must do is register it and pay the $200 fee. Just like buying a full auto gun, silencer, SBR, etc.

  • John December 28, 2015, 6:09 am

    Too bad the Feds have already decided that no one needs this & made it illegal….Oh boy!

  • JD December 28, 2015, 3:57 am

    Isn’t this shit banned by ATF? Why is this old article which doesn’t appear to be updated showing up in the newsletter?

  • SkilletsUSMC July 13, 2015, 2:12 am

    I have had one of these things for a while. I had poor luck running any can with the bottom-side in. In desperation, I tired mouth-side in. Nearly zero exploded cans since. I have also had amazing luck with 8 oz cans. They shoot further and recoil slightly less.

    Here is my video of 12 8oz cans @ 100 yards against a point target.

  • Kenny K May 23, 2015, 11:37 am

    I bought on based on your article and you’re 100% right. This thing is pure fun! 100% awesome!!! Plus it’s a kick-ass addition to my other AR’s.

    I bought this on a total whim which I never ever do. I’m so glad I did.

    Take care,


  • Drew May 20, 2015, 2:40 pm

    This looks like a lot of fun. I’m definitely going to be getting one of these. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nick May 14, 2015, 1:49 am

    “Getting the chicken inside the duck, and both inside the turkey for a kickass Turducken”

    Alright guys, pull the plugs, roll out in twenty, Internet has finally been won.

  • Quixdraw May 12, 2015, 3:46 pm

    Congrats SHeldon!! You have just won a complete vacation package to a prison of our choice with a roommate who knows all the tricks and joys of roomie fun— including butt not limiting water sports like–drop the soap and eating prickled dicks! Morons and idiots apply daily for extremely stupid ideas and show the FBI how to mangle and maim the public!
    BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING—this message is for YOU !!!

  • SHeldon May 12, 2015, 2:17 pm

    I think this might be a good alternative sub 70 yard sniper round with special blanks. Ammo could be pressurized tear or pepper gas cartridges. It combines the aimability of an RPG with a potent but less deadly round as compared to bullets or explosives.

    I am one who believes the death penalty is too good for certain people – peoplke who should live the remainder of their lives as sex objects for large mean imprisoned oafs. A busted rib cage works out better than a meat cleanup.

    For myself I want a smaller bore and a longer tube to firre high explosives home made rounds (unfired .22 lr brass inserted into drilled empty CO2 cartridges filled with 400 mesh aluminum powder and potassium chlorate. These can mangle and maim. Larger machined (1.5″ dia x 6″ tubes) are full blown RPGs – worse with C4.

  • Ron May 12, 2015, 12:38 pm

    How about a M203 (over/under) configuration that shoots golf balls?

  • Russ May 12, 2015, 1:10 am

    Dopey, like putting a 4 x 4 lift on a Corvette, and gayer than a 3 dollar bill with Clinton on it.
    Design matters.

  • jqp May 11, 2015, 10:24 pm

    tennis balls don’t retain their momentum at distance….have you considered lacrosse balls?? slightly smaller than a baseball, but solid. should go pretty good out of one of these

  • Dima Prok May 11, 2015, 8:58 pm

    Wow… somebody actually did it! Working at MS and having access to free drinks I always though it would be really fun to build “potato style gun” (ever since my friend showed me what potato gun from PVC pipe can do) that could lunch the smaller cans (can’t remember the size of these cans 6oz?) but looks like someone actually did it already using AR platform 🙂

  • Sarah Moesher May 11, 2015, 8:12 pm

    The only sad thing about this is the amount of litter that will get left behind. It’s bad enough now but will get worse. We like our fun but not the cleanup (there are always exceptions).

    • GungaDean May 17, 2015, 9:47 am

      Sarah, at the risk of coming off as a tree hugger ( I do hug them -just before dropping them for fire wood- standing “dead fall” of course) – the first thing I do , my friends as well, when arriving at an impromptu public “range” is clean the place up! it limits the residue, improves public opiniomn and shakes the kinks out so I can enjoy my shooting more!

  • Joe May 11, 2015, 7:50 pm

    Or you could build a PVC potato canon and save about two hundred fifty bucks. not to mention potato ammo costs much less than those cans of sugar water and tennis balls.

    • Russ May 12, 2015, 1:02 am

      Hear, here!

  • G Zimmerman May 11, 2015, 5:51 pm

    This would make an epic home defense weapon with a can in it.

  • J winter May 11, 2015, 2:56 pm

    Safe tac makes a dedicated blank mag for the ar15, I think this should be a necessity for the can cannon

  • buurga May 11, 2015, 1:43 pm

    Just when we are getting the electorate to take us seriously ………………………………

  • Arthur May 11, 2015, 12:06 pm

    I don’t own an AR but I just may have to get one now!
    I’m thinking they also need to develop something like a wad that is used in a shotgun shell to put behind things like your parachute to keep them from the fire and to help keep pressure even until projectile clears the tube.
    this will definitely give people a reason to consider gun nuts, well, nuts!
    too much fun!!

    • Barry May 11, 2015, 2:49 pm

      I bet if they used a piece of carpet cut the diameter of the barrel it would cut down on the singe factor, so barnacles could survive a launch!

    • Donald Robinson May 13, 2015, 9:47 pm

      Arthur, In reloading that what you need is a Gas Check , used in like you said shotgun rounds. What about if you puit the can in the tube first then the tennis ball. would that be the trick?

    • das August 13, 2015, 5:05 pm

      Use a patch of nomex cloth. That’s what people use in high-power rockets (think really big model rockets) to protect the parachute from flaming bits of the ejection charge. Works great. Check rocket hobby websites.

  • Sam M May 11, 2015, 11:47 am

    Gee thanks guys – one more useless “never seen a new product I didn’t like” review of yet another useless accessory, but you know what they say about a fool and his money…..

    • cliff bar May 11, 2015, 1:22 pm

      you seem like a really fun person

  • Epilogue May 11, 2015, 11:08 am

    As a 42 year vet in law enforcement, I must admit I was infuriated when I watched my brothers having to retreat in the face of bricks & cinder blocks… I know NOW they were under orders to take this action, but this doesn’t remove the humiliation factor. Your “hand-cannon” loaded with a proper hard rubber bean-bag load would have definitely turned the tide! Let’s get these into the hands of officers trained in their use, and level the playing field!!!! Sorry for the rant.

    • Harley Mann May 11, 2015, 2:48 pm

      I’m not law enforcement, however it seems that our elected officials have to realize that you don’t take a knife to a gun fight. It seems to me a display of superior firepower ends engagements much quicker and safer for law enforcement. God bless America.

    • Andrew May 12, 2015, 6:18 am

      officers don’t need anymore tools that they are not able to properly use they have a hard enough time using the tools they have now. what happened to the old 12GA. riot bags and rubber shot? that’s right they got abused and are now illegal in most places
      If you want to LEVEL the playing field call in the fire department they know how to properly use a water cannon to cool off any situation

  • Methadras May 11, 2015, 11:03 am

    Look, I’m not above having a good time with all kinds of armaments, but this seems excessive with respect to its danger factor. All this will do, imho, is fuel the hillbilly redneck rube perceptions that people have about us already and I’m neither of those things. What is the #1 precept of firearms usage? Safety and a close second or a co-first is muzzle/trigger awareness. However, if you are going to use this, please be careful.

  • D Hicks May 11, 2015, 9:59 am

    Can cannon thunder bullets and sugar spray ! Sounds fun and 4th of July is coming up. Great article with a comic touch.

  • Dom May 11, 2015, 9:24 am

    I don’t often act older than 15 and when I get one of these I doubt I’ll act much older than 10. This is going to be one hell of a time machine! My hamster turning the wheels up there had better get in shape for this one.

  • MagnumOpUS May 11, 2015, 9:19 am

    Probably not a good idea to be playing catch with anything shot out of an AR/rifle/gun, etc. Smacks in the face of basic gun safety, personal maturity, and common sense.

    Fun to do this? Dang straight!
    Stupid too? Yup…

  • Fred May 11, 2015, 9:01 am

    Back in 64 in Nam, we were launching both frag and white phosphorus grenades off the muzzle of the original AR-15s using blanks. Could get an air burst on frags at 125 yards or so. They just slipped over the muzzle. You didn’t fire them from the shoulder unless you wanted to get a massive kick. We held them under our arm pit and held on. Initially tried to put the butt on the ground but that would up destroying the stock. Bloop tubes with 40s were much nicer. These cannons look like they would be a lot more fun to play with.

  • Beer Me! May 10, 2015, 12:43 pm

    Thanks for posting the fps data. This is the first review I’ve seen where anyone has done that. A 95mph baseball puts it in perspective. I wonder if there’s any sort of sausage or deli meat that comes in the right diameter….

    When I was a kid we used to make tennis ball cannons out of tennis ball cans taped together end to end. We’d power them with a few squirts of lighter fluid. This is the perfect “grown-up” version of that and probably a heck of a lot safer.

    • goo June 9, 2015, 12:27 pm

      A little duct tape wrapped around pepperoni might work

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