Variable Energy Research Accelerator aka. Worlds Largest Potato Gun

Variable Energy Research Accelerator (VERA) is essentially a massive potato gun capable of generating up to 1,660,000 ft/lbs of muzzle energy! It can launch a 100 pound (700,000 grain) projectile at 1000 feet per second. It is an incredible machine.

[ Many thanks to David for emailing us the link. ]

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.



    VERA…I see what you did there.

    • Mike

      Browncoats for the win!

    • Jack

      It is my very favorite gun.

  • Leonard

    Very nice footage! Everyone who ever built some kind of potato gun would love to get their hands on VERA…

  • Jeff

    Can the world’s largest potato gun shoot the worlds largest potato?

    • bbmg

      It can shoot a whole sack of them apparently 😀

  • Billy 10mm

    I think I just found my new CCW – yeah baby.

  • hikerguy

    Ahhhhh…The poor man’s railgun! LOL

  • CA

    Solution to a tail-gating problem.

  • Lex

    I take it this is based the same principles as a light gas gun?

    • D_Hall

      No, it’s based on the same principles as a potato gun (seriously).

      • Lex

        So its just ordinary compressed air? Wow.

      • bbmg

        Ordinary compressed air *plus* 😀

  • FightinBluHen51

    The question is, what is the flash we’re seeing out of the muzzle? I assume this is an air cannon and the flash is some kind of charge on the “wad” to separate it from the projectile?

    • FightinBluHen51

      If not an air cannon, I want to buy some stock in AquaNet hair spray.

    • D_Hall

      The flash is the sabot igniting due to kinetic energy release upon impact with the sabot stripper plate (a chunk of metal bolted to the muzzle that impacts the sabot to remove it from the projectile).

      The process is much more visible on the 900 fps shot as the sabot doesn’t ignite.

      • FightinBluHen51

        Thanks D_Hall…I figured that to be the case, but was NOT sure. I assume that the sabot stripper plate is made of some pretty strong stuff give the energy that is generated.

      • Mike Harris

        That is not correct, while the sabot may be igniting, there is a combustion cycle that is causing the explosion. In the 900fps one, the explosion is inside the barrel, but you can see it in the 1250fps footage.

  • cargosquid


  • John Doe

    That must be one big ass potato.

  • Lance

    Has to be the coolest way to make french fries. well when ammo is too expensive to buy anymore this may be the only way to practice marksmanship skills. LOL

  • Royi

    “potato gun”

    …wich is in design similar to the ‘dynamite gun’ wich faded in the fog of history real quick, after seeing some action during the Spanish-American war.

    • D_Hall

      Yup. And similar requirements drove the design of both guns. Note, however, that while one was intended as a weapon, the other is not. Thus, many of the requirements that drove the dynamite gun to be a historical footnote don’t apply.

    • bbmg

      Actually, it has nothing to do with the Sims-Dudley dynamite gun. The latter design used a solid propellant charge do drive a piston which compressed the air that fired the projectile. VERA on the other hand works on a completely different principle.

  • bigwhiteyeti

    Did anyone else catch the reverberating drone sound after firing?

    It sounds like a pulse jet engine to me. Could anyone else with better physics knowledge confirm that what I’m hearing is the air in the long barrel reverberating back and forth from the sudden pressure change?

  • Mike Harris

    Hmm, there is something more going on here than just the sabot igniting. Look at the 1250fps image and there is an explosion as the rocket leaves the muzzle. The interesting thing is the explosion ends in FRONT of the rocket, which leads me to believe there is a combustion cycle associated with this device.

    This isn’t just a potato gun, but a combination potato gun as well as a normal rifle. They initially get the projectile moving via compressed air, and then fire a combustion cycle after the initial acceleration. They probably have some sort of g-loaded trigger for the combustion cycle.

    I just wanted to let people know this is NOT a potato gun per-se, but instead a potato gun initially, then a real gun after the projectile get’s moving. I would think the reason would be to decrease the initial g-load on the projectile, and to cause a smoother acceleration than just if fired from a combustion cycle, or say a rocket engine.

    • D_Hall

      As the guy who designed VERA… Ummm… No. Nice try though.

  • Trekintosh

    I can’t believe nobody noticed it’s called VERA, and the relation to Jayne.