Smallest blackpowder artillery ever made


The blackpowder cannon enthusiasts over at the Graybeard forums came up with some amazing pieces of artillery.

CU_Cannon built the “Nano-mortar”. It fires .177″ BBs. The bed it sits on is 1″ long.

Click to expand the images.

The Nano-mortar

Here is a video of it in action


Cal.45 built a 3mm mortar called the “Pico “Mortar”

The “Pico Mortar”

The pico mortar was build solely with a drill-press, some files and emery paper. It fires 3mm shot pellets (0.118 inch diameter) and has a maximum load of 0.2 grains of blackpowder. It has a barrel length of 8mm (0.315″) and can fire 6 meters (20 feet)

Anyways. I started with a load of about 0.2gr Swiss #2 but this did just a sizzling sound, so from the next shots on I used Swiss #1 (which is even finer in granulation: about 0.011 to 0.015 inch) which produced a nice snapping. Cheesy.

The touch hole is 0.5 millimeters = close to 0.02 inch (that makes it about 16% of the bore diameter (if one may still call it so).

Priming was done by filling the touch hole granule by granule; sweaty hands help maneuvering these tiny particlesin place.

First I wanted to enlarge the touch hole to fuse diameter and keep the rest at the smaller diameter (to keep some pressure) but the wall thickness is that small, that this wasnot possible.

Ignition with a lighter proofed to be better than trying to do it with a match: the flame produces soot but therefore does not function (kept them as size reference on the photo though).

Whatever. At first I thought that the shot would barely leve the muzzle: wrong!

Firing from the kitchen table I shot dimples into the door! This was 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) away! By the trajectory (angle of the mortar and height of impact) this means an estimated firing distance of 6 meters (about 20 feet): I would never have guessed this to be possible with a piece that has a barrel length of just 8 millimeters (0.315 inch).

 Images Cal45 Picofire
The “Pico Mortar” being fired

“Pico Mortar” blueprints

Rickk built the “Nano Cannon”

 Im Cannon Nano2
The “Nano Cannon”

Now I know what only the others who have made one know… what the tremendous roar they make sounds like Grin

Bore is 3/16 (.186), so it will take a BB. Fuse is 5/64, so it will takes 1/16 fuse.

Trunions, as well as cascable, are 3/16 inch steel rod pressed into shallow 3/16 holes and then brazed in place.

All the work was done on my drill press, with some help from an angle grinder and a file for shaping.

It needs a pit more polishing, but I just couldn’t wait to fire it ! Total time into is so far is about 2 hours.

 Im Cannon Nano4
The “Nano Cannon” with carriage

I found the smoldering paper towel pieces about 15 feet away, and the gun recoils back about 6 inches!

BTW, for BB caliber, Q-tips make excellent cleaning rods.

Terry C. built the the very first micro-gonne. A hand gonne is a hand held cannon. It fires #4 buckshot.

the micro-gonne

 {7C94E0D4-Cbb9-4919-90Cf-45A96F1Ba128} Picture
The micro hand gonne being fired. Note the wooden rod attached.

Victor build a bigger scale hand gonne:


Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • James R. Rummel

    Those are the coolest things I have ever seen!


  • Rob

    Nice summary of the story.. it’s been added to

    Great blog too!

  • Yuri Orlov

    Looks like a blast! (pun definitely intended!)

  • Steve

    Hi Rob, thanks for submitting it!

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  • Murdoc

    This is a great post.

  • Rus

    I can just see it at a test fire…

    “Why is your gun so small?”
    “I’m compensating.”


  • Ryo

    Cool… but this catapult I made actually has greater range and is safer for CQB use (er, you know, like in my apartment). Check out the video on youtube:

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  • JR

    Now that was cool.

  • JR

    I finally got around to building my nano morter. I’ll do a range report when I can get some pellets for it.

  • Steve

    Well done JR! I can’t wait to see the report. Lots of pics and videos please :)

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  • Tiny Tim

    I bought a similar on on eBay. The seller is amazing and he also sells plans, or plans with a stock kit. He makes all kinds of stuff and his site is The above cannons are sweet too, but you gotta check him out! They are called “Pocket Cannons”. He’s got a few videos too!

  • Izak


    This one has a 27 mm barrel with a 3mm bore. Check out the following face book link for a photo and a video of it blowing away some plastic army men.

    Look up the “Zululand Black Powder Day” event on Facebook.



    • Steve

      Izak, very cool!

  • Bobby

    If you guys want to buy one premade (rather inexpensive) check out I made a few things out of his “Hex Barrel”s. Saving for a lathe… lol

  • Joe

    Hey guys I curently hold the ” Guinness World Record” for the world,s smallest working cannon !

  • David

    Wow talk about minature cannons check out

  • buying a gun in florida

    That is way cool!! I want one! I love cannons but i don’t have space for a 500lb cannon in my ‘work room’, That cannon would be so much fun on the 4th of july!! Have you thought about selling them? I would love to have one! It would be something cool to have in my store!