So yesterday we’re working at the gunshop when a couple of gentlemen come into the shop, wanting to buy some blackpowder. I tell them that we don’t sell reloading supplies (yet). I then start telling them where they can get some locally, or the best places to buy it online.
They say that they’re going to need hundreds of pounds of it, and they need it today. I tell them that most places don’t stock that much on hand, and I then asked what they were doing.
Well… it turns out that they just built a cannon. It had a 2″ bore. They told me that they were going to go shoot it today, and that since they needed 1/2 pound of blackpowder, PER SHOT, that it would add up pretty quick.
You know that sound that a record makes when it skips. Yeah, I heard that noise in my brain.
“1/2 pound, per shot?”
“Yeah, that’s what somebody told us.”
“Are you sure you’re not mixing up pounds and ounces? Or maybe some other unit of measurement?”
“Nope. This guy we saw at the range told us that’s what he loads his with.”
Okay, let me break this down for the non-physicists in the audience. That’s enough powder to blow their cannon, and whoever’s setting it off, into smoking fragments of steel and meat. I suggest that their measurement might be mistaken. But nope, that’s what some guy at the range told them, so that’s what they were going to do. Today. As soon as they found some powder.
By the way, they ask, since they just built this thing, is it legal to have? See, they weren’t really sure.
Well, I don’t know. It’s a blackpowder cannon, so I knew they were different than modern Destructive Devices. So I get PvtPyle, because he’s the NFA expert. They say that they’re not worried about it, because though they have it, they haven’t shot it yet, so just like a homemade machine gun, you can have it, just don’t shoot it. (which by the way, isn’t how it works, at all, in fact mere possession of an unregistered machine gun or destructive device = a mandatory 10 years in prison).
So not only had these guys home constructed a weapon that they weren’t even sure was legal, and they were about to load it with enough powder to kill them all, one of my regular customers started asking them about their design. This regular customer actually knows about cannons.
Apparently their design was backwards, and dangerous too. The point that was susceptible to the highest pressures was made of the weakest materials. The Regular then pointed out that they would need to clear the barrel of residue after each shot, and they were like “Really? We didn’t know that.” Because you know, not blowing yourself up while you’re trying to load volitile explosives down a hot sparky bore is not really worthy of any forethought.
So PvtPyle gave them a breakdown of how destructive device laws work, and also pointed out what some of the grain weights were for various cannons. I’m not really sure if any of this sank in at all. Partially because I’m pretty sure they had all been drinking. Because nothing mixes with homemade, overloaded, ill-designed, questionably legal cannons, better than some Thunderbird.
They left, promising that they would actually do a little bit of research before shooting it.
Wow. Just… wow.