Cannon Fun

When the boys go out to play in Montana, some of us play with cannons.

Phase 1.

It really began because I had a 55-gallon drum I needed to trash.  But, the local trash company won't haul drums that are intact - must have a hole (or holes).  Fine, I thought, I can make holes, but I might as well have fun too.  So, friend Corey and I filled the drum with water, capped it, and lined it up in front of the cannon.

Oh, yeah, the cannon.  You knew this would get interesting.  This is a muzzleloading, black powder cannon with a 2.5-inch bore.  The service load is a 44-ounce lead ball pushed by two ounces of cannon-grade black powder.  I've chronogaphed these balls out of the cannon at about 1400 FPS.  Actually, all cannon loads seem to drive their projectiles about 1400 (and smoke up the sensors of your chronograph sky screens pretty bad, too).

Here's the cannon:

Here's an example of a standard load.  I use a section of black, plastic round stock as a wad.

So, we took the shot (still captured from video).

We had hoped that the cannon shot would explode the drum - turn it inside out.  We were disappointed.  The ball blew clear through the drum.  It swelled the top nicely, but didn't burst the drum.

Entrance                                                                               Exit

Here's the movie: (6.8MB file)

Phase 2:

So, we thought, what we really need is a hollowpoint.  We didn't have one.  But, hey, we're Montana guys,  We decided to make one.  Off to the shop we went.


Wahoo.  We're ready to go.  We wrestled out anther drum and filled it up with water - capped it tight.  Except, Corey said, it would sure be neat to capture and save the ball from this shot.  I offered to park Corey's new pickup behind the drum.  He declined.  After scratching our heads a bit, we found some sandbags lying around and propped them up behind the drum.

Are we having fun yet, or what?

We got everything lined up, and Corey lit the fuse.

Captured from the video.


Our fancy new hollowpoint blew clear through the drum AND the sandbags.

After some hunting, we actually did find this ball about 70 yards downrange.

No mushrooming!!  But, that we found our hollowpoint at all means the drum AND sandbags did slow it down some.

Notice a small piece of the drum wall inside the hollowpoint, plus a lot of erosion from the gravel in the sandbags.

Here's the movie for this one:  (6.2MB file)

Phase 3:

We're not yet ready to admit defeat.  Being Montana guys, we thought, we need a bigger hollow cavity in the hollowpoint.

So, we went back to the shop and made the, ta-dum, the "CRATER-POINT".

The problem was that at this juncture we were fresh out of drums.  Well, the World is full of 55-gallon drums.  We'll get more and report back.

At least the trash collectors won't be able to complain that my drums don't have holes and are therefore not disposable.  That is a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Corey asks, "Isn't this what Saturdays are for?"

Phase 4:

Well, on a subsequent occasion, we tested the CraterPoint.  Here a couple of images snatched from a video:

So, that worked "reasonably" well.  At lease the lawn got a drink.

Another Phase:

Somebody suggested that we needed to work up an illumination round, and test it near dark on the Fourth of July.  Sure, why not?

Here's another frame snatched from video.

That one is not the brightest frame, because the brightest one flamed out the whole danged picture (over-sensitive camera, I'm sure).

Well, that's enough for now.  We'll report back when there's something more interesting to report.

Playing in Montana.