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Don't laugh! A "cannon-Ball" question...

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Kentucky Rifle, Jul 18, 2003.

  1. Kentucky Rifle

    Kentucky Rifle Member In Memoriam

    As improbable as it sounds, my brother-in-law (in Florida) has found a cannon ball. It is about the size of a soft-ball, appears to be made of bronze, and has a round, flush, "plug" (I reckon) on one side about the size of a quarter. The thing *might* hold black powder. Now, knowing the unstability of old black powder, I'm wondering about his find. He keeps it outside--just in "case". I'm not foolin' here, and I'd appreciate an honest answer *if there's anyone on the board wo knows anything about these things.
    Oh--the reason I think it's made of bronze is that it's so easy to cut with my pocket knife. I don't think *brass would be as soft as this is.

  2. Chupacabra

    Chupacabra New Member


    I think I would call the bomb squad!

    As they say...Better safe than sorry. :uhoh:
  3. 0007

    0007 New Member

    Where did he find it? It sounds more like it might be a mortor round. Take it to someplace that has an X-ray machine and have it X-rayed. That will tell you if there is anything inside.
  4. bogie

    bogie New Member

    Personally, I'd call the bomb squad... If it's full of old black powder, it could be gnarsty.

    Or, and this could be gnarsty... Set up a $40 drill press, on its slowest speed, with a rope on the wheel. Brace/clamp the ball on the thing, switch on, and then get in a foxhole a distance away, and slowly pull the rope to start drilling.

    DO NOT use expensive tools, since you may not be able to use 'em again.

    And wear ear plugs. And use a LONG rope.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2003
  5. Mal H

    Mal H Administrator

    Unlike the dummy 30-06 round BrokenPaw found on the beach, that one could be very dangerous. If it does contain BP, and by a quirk of fate, it hasn't become unburnable over the ages, it could be a killer. I once opened up an ancient .44-40 shell to see if the powder was still good, it was and I darned near burned my hand lighting it. :eek: BP is not nearly as forgiving of stupidity as smokeless when it is burned in the open air.

    He should call the bomb squad.
  6. Ol' Badger

    Ol' Badger New Member

    Find a slow friend or neighbor to pick it up and drop it a few times. This can be a good enuff test.

  7. 280PLUS

    280PLUS New Member


    countless people have been killed or in jured by stuff like that ESPECIALLY when they try tampering with or "disarming" it

    be very careful!!

    call the bomb squad, like everybody is saying

    if they deem it safe, he may get to keep it?

  8. Poodleshooter

    Poodleshooter New Member

    Any chance that the "plug" is actually a sprue from the casting process? Usually you should be able to see some sort of time fuse assembly if it's an explosive round.
    Does anyone know if they made bronze explosive shells? My understanding was that by the time those were used, most shells were iron. I'd thought that bronze was mostly used for solid shot.
  9. 280PLUS

    280PLUS New Member

    still better to have it looked at by an expert...

    just to be safe, i'm not up on what materials were used for what and when so i'd err on the side of caution

    but thats just me,,,

  10. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline New Member


    My brother discovered one of those old mortar rounds in his museum. Apparently the things can have very unstable priming systems, which when added to old BP or some primitive nitro explosive could be highly dangerous. I'd keep it in some sandbags until the bomb squad can deactivate it.
  11. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Active Member

    A cannon ball made of brass or bronze?

    Very very unusual, and I'd think very doubtful, actually.

    Your brother wouldn't, by chance, be near a school, would he?

    When I was running track and field we had several practice shot put made from brass with a sprue mark... They were about the size of a softball.
  12. bedlamite

    bedlamite New Member

    How much does it weigh?

    Assuming a 4 inch diameter, volume would be 33 in^3. Solid bronze would weigh 9.8 lbs, brass would be 10.2 lbs. If it's less than that, call the bomb squad.
  13. John Ross

    John Ross New Member

    Am I the only one who would pop the thing from 200 yards with an API round from my .50? If it's explosive, you don't want it, and if it isn't, it would look neat with a .50 round though it.

    If it's a bronze cannonball with something inside it, I can't see it being a huge danger just to touch or move, provided you don't try to cut or drill it. The something inside, if anything, has to be BP or something like it, not nitroglycerine or somesuch.

    Are you sure it isn't a lost high school shotput, as suggested?

  14. CWL

    CWL New Member

    Cannonballs were made from solid cast iron and did not blow up (they smashed).

    Howitzer and mortar rounds were made from hollow iron halves-welded together, and they used an external fuse for detonation (They look just like cherry bombs or cartoon round bombs with a burning fuse sticking out). The fuse was inserted and cut to estimated in-air time prior to firing from artillery. -If you found a real hollow howitzer/mortar round -water would have seeped into the fuse hole long ago.

    If you are in doubt, don't take chances, but you may want to call up a local museum or Civil War reenactors group and talk to any of their artillerymen for identification.

    Play it safe, but your description doesn't sound like an early artillery round.
  15. sm

    sm member

    It does sound like a shot-put...I didn't do shot...I ran cross country.
    I like John Ross's Idea ;)
    Any HCI people doing a buy-back program?...oops :eek:
    Okay, call the Bomb Squad.
  16. bogie

    bogie New Member

    John, you're twisted.

    I like that.

    Why stop with the .50 tho... I wonder how much expansion you'd get...

    And hey, it's round - knowing you, you'll figure out some way to fling it through the air...

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