Twelve gauge cannon?


April 13, 2005, 08:07 PM
I was looking up small cannons today, and a thought occured to me. Would it be legal to make a small cannon - say, 18", that fires shotgun shells? You would essentially be manufacturing a shotgun.

I was thinking of a manually set firing pin, held back by a metal pin that can be pulled out by a lanyard. Firing it with slugs would be fun!

So... I guess I'm asking, can I legally manufacture a break-open action shotgun without a stock, and an unorthodox trigget mechanism?

If you enjoyed reading about "Twelve gauge cannon?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
April 13, 2005, 08:14 PM
Doubtful. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, legally. Back in high school, circa 1972, a buddy of mine in machine shop manufactured a 12 ga cannon similar to what you are referring to. His firing mechanism was a spring loaded type that he pulled back and let go. Our teacher said he couldn't grade it properly unless he saw it fire. It did, and he got an A. Thinking back, I can't even believe what we got away with in those days.

April 13, 2005, 08:18 PM
I don't know why it would be different from making any other shotgun.... I'm looking for the text of the NFA now to see what it says.

April 13, 2005, 10:01 PM
Go to any Clemson University football game. The team cheerleaders have such a cannon mounted on a set of handtrucks with large wheels. Every major event by Clemson is greeted with a blast from the cannon. I know nothing of its permitting.

April 13, 2005, 10:11 PM
Its probably a black powder cannon. Those I KNOW are legal w/o licensing. There is also such a thing as a carbide cannon, where carbide and water are mixed and ignited with a sparkplug.

I'm looking at a fully functioning cannon that uses 12ga shells, not BP.

April 13, 2005, 10:35 PM
Winchester used to make one in 10 gauge. My grandfather had one when I was a kid. Winchester sold the rights to a company in, I believe, East Haven (or maybe Branford) Connecticut, and as of about a year ago they were still making them. Saw one in the window of my local shop for a long time, but someone finally bought it.

The Winchester version said it was 10 gauge blanks only ... but it fired live shells just as well as blanks (don't ask how we found out).

EDIT: Found it ... still using the Winchester name!

April 13, 2005, 10:41 PM
From what I can tell, if they can sell them, I can make them.

I'm off to the ATF office tomorrow, see if I can get soemthign in writing before I ask to borrow a friend's lathe!

April 13, 2005, 10:50 PM
Take a printout of the Bellmore Johnson page. They specifically state that no permits are required because it's a signal device. Just tell the BATFE you want to make one of the same thing.

FWIW, my grandfather's was used for the stated purpose -- starting sailboat races.

April 13, 2005, 11:06 PM
The operating instructions to the Bellmore also include the following...General Safety Information
This cannon has been designed, manufactured and tested for factory loaded Winchester brand 10 gauge, 2 7/8 inch BLANK CARTRIDGES ONLY. These factory loaded blank shells are loaded with black powder and so marked by the manufacturer. Never fire shells loaded with smokeless powder or shells with shot or slugs as such a cartridge can lead to excessive pressures with the possibility of personal injury and damage to the cannon.

Do not insert foreign objects in the bore with the intent to fire them from the cannon with the blank or any other shell as such a practice may lead to injury from the propelled object as well as causing possible excess pressure, resulting in personal injury and damage to the cannon. Be certain that the muzzle area of the cannon is clear for a distance of at least 40 yards, as wads sometimes may travel that far with considerable force.Be certain that the bore is clear of any obstructions before firing, as such obstructions may lead to excessive pressures with the possibility of personal injury and damage to the cannon. [emphasis added] Personally, I've never considered doing anything like this, and I don't think I'd be surprised if the BATFE didn't approve. That said, if they do approve, and you end up making this thing, do be careful.

April 13, 2005, 11:11 PM
But of course. I'll consult with a trusted gunsmith in making this. Im thinking it will end up being at steel tube with brass cased around it.

O, and I HAVE to link this - - minature cannons, from quarter-sized to dollar bill-sized. They can shoot across a room with enough force to go thru paper, and just real lead projectiles and black powder!

April 13, 2005, 11:38 PM
Okay, I guess I have to 'fess up.

The Winchester cannons were made of good steel. The barrels were machined, not cast. The reason I KNOW it will fire shot is that one day, when the cannon was on loan to the local sailing club, there was a race scheduled and the committee didn't do their homework. A few minutes before the race, as the boats were already jockeying for position in the harbor, the starter discovered that they had run out of blanks.

So they sent someone running (literally, it was a small town) up the street to the local hardware store. God only knows why, because I have never seen a 10 gauge shotgun (hmmm ... maybe that's why), but although he didn't have any 10 gauge blanks the proprietor did have on the shelf a box or three of 10 gauge bird shot. So our hero purchased a box of same and scurried back to the harbor.

The starter cleverly decided that if he kept the cannon on the end of the wharf, as usual, and depressed the barrel to aim at the water, firing live rounds would be safe. You have to picture this in your minds -- the starting line extended as an imaginary line straight out across the harbor in front of the wharf, so the starter could observe if anyone crossed before the gun. Apparently the nitwit had never heard of ricochet, and the barrel of those cannons doesn't really depress ALL that much.

There were a lot of sails that looked like the mice had gotten to them after the start of that race. But ... the cannon handled it with great aplomb, and my grandfather's particular one must have been 40 or 50 years old at that time (minimum).

PS: No, I was not the starter. I was skippering one of the boats. Fortunately for me (as well as the owner of the boat ... and the sails), it was a day when I made an unusually poor start so I wasn't in the line of fire.

April 13, 2005, 11:48 PM
Oddly, for some reason the mental image I got was a Punt gun. Now that would be something worth having. I think it's a bit bigger than 12 Ga. though.

If you enjoyed reading about "Twelve gauge cannon?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!