Pencils as projectiles


Oleg Volk
September 19, 2004, 06:00 PM
I am curious as to the likely velocity, range and terminal effects of a plan lead pencil propelled by a primer. The idea has to do with improvised munitions. Let's assume that the barrel is not rifled and that the pencil is fired eraser end first for stability (metal fittings are a little heavier on that end).

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September 19, 2004, 06:22 PM
Oleg...... (OK, this ain't just primer!) back in about 1962, when out on manouvers during basic training .. we had our Enfield issue drill rifles (this was UK remember) .... and we were issued with a limited number of .303 blanks for use during excercizes.

I takes little imagination to realize that there would always be some (harrumph!) who needed to ''experiment'' in such situations and yeah .. the ubiquitous pencil did come in for some ''evaluation''.:D

I cannot give any hard data like velocities etc .. but let's just say .. when put down the barrel .... ''pointy'' end kept up front ...... it did when fired at a tree disappear into said tree!:p :rolleyes: :D

As for primer only ... guessing here ... I'd expect the pencil to exit quite smartly but .. cannot imagine the energy quotient as being other than desultry, even at quite close range. Mind you - I just may have to check this out sometime!:evil:

Oleg Volk
September 19, 2004, 06:28 PM
On a similar thought, would a regular bolt fired cap-first stay drag-stabilized or tumble?

September 19, 2004, 06:37 PM
regular bolt fired cap-first stay drag-stabilized or tumble?Hmmm ..... ''regular bolt'' ...... I am imagining a threaded bolt with an Allen socket head ... assuming that is what you mean ... IMO it'd be diabolical for stabilty! The head would have to fit the bore and so the threaded portion, being reduced diameter woul make this tumble quickly I think. It would need spin stabilization to achieve any ballistic stability. Oh and ... need to be loaded with head to front.

If however we had some studding ... that might be better. 5/16" would be 0.3125" and so could well be a good fit in say, a .303 barrel .. where bullets are IIRC usually 0.314". Even this tho unless spin stabilized would rapidly aquire tumble.

Without rifling ..... and I know you refered initially to smooth bore - I reckon the only thing worth using is a ball ... everything else needs spin.

My 0.02 only.

Old Fuff
September 19, 2004, 06:40 PM
Your problem here is that the pencil (or whatever) is smaller then the bore. If you wrapped the back and middle of the pencil with 1/4" wide tape you would have two driving bands, and the bore would be effectively sealed. If propeled by a large primer (rifle or pistol) and the flash hole in the case was drilled out a bit I suspect whoever or whatever got hit would hurt.

September 19, 2004, 07:06 PM
Pencils as projectiles? Gives new meaning to the term "barrel leading",
doesn't it?:neener:

September 19, 2004, 07:10 PM
Gives new meaning to the term "barrel leading", Bwhaha!:D

Get the 'point' ?? :p

September 20, 2004, 02:17 AM
My old Army "Improvised Munitions Handbook" TM 31-210 1969 (a classic;) ) has projectiles made from cut bolt pieces same length as origional bullet and caliber as barrel (or pipe on improvised gun-that it shows how to make) loaded into the brass case. It also shows how to use crushed "strike anywhere" match heads as propellant and how to make reuseable primers. Pretty interesting stuff. I haven't tried it (or any of the other cool stuff Agt. Schmuckatelli)...yet.:uhoh: :D

Improvising a firearm to test would be legal correct? It isn't a destructive device and you couldn't sell it obviously.

Disclaimer: For information purposes only, and for Petes' sake don't fire a steel bolt piece through a good barrel just to try it.
:uhoh: :what:

September 20, 2004, 02:55 AM
"Don't move or I'll fill you full of graphite!"

"A #2 pencil ain't good enough! You need at least a #3!"


No! Eberhard-Faber!



Ad naseum....

September 20, 2004, 03:14 AM
Just the firing pin striking the pencil in the eraser end develops enough energy out of a pistol barrel to be dangerous around eye balls. :scrutiny:

September 20, 2004, 02:30 PM
I always wondered why Buffy didn't load up some wooden bullets for vampire slayage...


September 20, 2004, 02:39 PM
(Photo of a young woman pointing a Glock at an unseen menace, with a sharpened No. 2 sticking out of the end)

The Pencil Is Mightier Than The Sword!

Write to your elected officials and tell them how you vote.


Johnny Guest
September 20, 2004, 06:11 PM
Munitions Test Setup

Load number one
Case: R-P Nickel plated, once-fired with hunting loads, previously fire formed in test bed rifle.
Sole propellant: CCI Large Rifle Magnum primers
Projectile: New Office Depot #2 wooden pencil with standard pink eraser. Preparation: Trimmed to 7.50” length on Boston model 16 office desk type electric sharpener.

Test bed: Rifle No. 4 Mark 1, 25.4” barrel

Instrumentation: Oehler Model 35P chronograph, Start screen at 24”, check screen at 36”, stop screen at 48”.

Okay. I’m set to conduct tests. All I need is to get a round tuit.


September 20, 2004, 09:04 PM
Never tried a pencil, but I have used a primed 223 case to shoot 22 caliber pellets. They penetrate about an inch in newsprint, which is about equal to a pellet gun. I would think the gas leakage around the pencil would be a problem, but some wadding, tape on the pencil perhaps, would fix that. As for stability, I think it would be terrible.

September 21, 2004, 04:15 PM
I have done similar with an M-16A2, a cleaning rod, and a blank round to show Marines that blanks are dangerous. inserted a m-16 cleaning rod down the barrel, then loaded 1 blank round. fired from the hip at a 14" tree from approximately 6 feet, said cleaning rod embeded itself into the tree about 6 inches(the cleaning rod is approx. 8 inches long). Definately proved a point to those Marines. Hell looking back on it I think I was pretty dumb to do it myself.

Zeke Menuar
September 22, 2004, 03:56 AM
Somebody has WAY too much time on their hands.


Black Snowman
September 22, 2004, 09:40 AM
This brings up a lot of questions. Johnny, let us know as soon as you get some answers ;)

September 24, 2004, 10:03 PM
"...Somebody has WAY too much time on their hands..." I'm suspecting moonshine.
Here2Learn, nope. A Sanford Eagle HB. Geezuz, now he's got me doing it.

October 7, 2004, 10:59 AM
for 1911 target shooters was to wrap a few turns of electrical tape around a pencil at each end, and drop down the bore eraser first. Then dry-fire at a piece of paper an inch from the muzzle. Make a black spot proportional to how a real bullseye looks, aim at that.

If your technique is consistent, you should have one small, ragged dot under your aiming bull. I've done it many times. (Pracitced that way, I mean, not made one small perfect dot)

And yes, the 1911 firing pin protudes out quite a ways, and will throw a pencil a fair distance.

Chuck Dye
October 8, 2004, 10:02 PM
As I recall, the BIC pen ad in which a pen was fired from a rifle used an unsealed blank behind a pen sitting loosely in the barrel. The safety factor was in the small propellant charge and the huge leakage.

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