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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.