A Better Machine Gun Jetpack

XKCD recently discussed if it was possible to build a jet pack out of AK-47 rifles.

I would say it is not possible because finding enough AK-47 rifles would be very hard given their relative rarity. The AK-47 was succeeded by the AKM and AKS not long after its inception. Most of the AK rifles you see in the news are Khyber and Chinese copies of the original.

[ Many thanks to Darren for the tip. ]

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.


  • Vincent

    You could always go with a GSh-6-30.

    • Andrew

      Which was the final conclusion of the article.

  • Dat Guy

    Really? “I would say it is not possible because finding enough AK-47 rifles would be very hard given their relative rarity.” Did you really have to be that guy

    • JonMac

      Steve’s right of course, although frankly popular usage of ‘AK-47’ is so widespread as to be not incorrect, whilst at the same time not technically accurate.

      I take issue with ‘Most of the AK rifles you see in the news are Khyber and Chinese copies of the original.’ however, since the vast majority out there are AKM copies and derivatives of various origins, Chinese being one of them. Khyber pass rebuilds and scratch-builds are of course out there, but far outnumbered by factory-built AKM-type rifles.

      • I’ve heard from several sources that the U.S. gov’t supplied Romanian AKs to Iraq police forces at one point. I have seen a whole bunch of AKs on the news, from various middle East countries, with the Romanian furniture, including the wood handguard with the “Donkey Dong” vertical grip. I would have no idea how to spot a Chinese or Kyber Pass rifle, as they pretty much look like every other AKM to me.

      • JonathanF

        Chinese are easy – SKS-style enclosed front sight protector (instead of the standard AK ‘U’-shape), and on most fixed stock examples, a folding bayonet. There are other tells, but those are perhaps the best.

        Khyber rifles can be anything from near-indistinguishable (at a distance anyway), to obviously hand-made with a ‘melted’ look due to over-buffing, to weird and wacky configurations not seen elsewhere. But yes, can hard to spot without close-up photos or examination. And the myriad AKM variants are even harder.

        Which is why ‘AK’ is the perfect catch-all term – you don’t have to risk being incorrect!

  • John

    “An AK-47 clip holds 30 rounds.”

    At least he got the bullet/cartridge part right, gotta give him credit for that.

  • Doug

    There are discusions that further the advancement of flight and rocketry, but this isn’t one of them.

    • bbmg

      Not directly, but if it sparks an interest in the physics involved in the brain of some youngster, he might grow up to do great things. Nothing wrong with having a bit of fun with science, even if you’re not 12.

      The first ever webcam was apparently set up as an informal project to monitor a coffee pot.


  • Brendan G

    Now thats what I call “rain of lead.”

  • bbmg

    Almost as good as this πŸ™‚ http://style.org/unladenswallow/

  • Partizan1942

  • Burst

    What the cartoonist fails to understand (or omits for the sake of clarity) is that you are not limited to weapon designed as weapons.

    Midway through, he suggests the MG42, which is appealing not just for it’s higher firing rate, but higher capacity. Chop the stock off and give it about
    3″ of barrel, and you’re looking at a very hard recoiling gun.

    • Anon

      If it fires the same cartridge, the momentum impulse is the same regardless how how much “felt” recoil there is. Shortening the barrel might actually reduce the specific impulse of each bullet since you will probably get incomplete powder burn.

      • Burst

        I thought of that, but the marginal loss of performance would almost certainly be overwhelmed by omitting the weight of a barrel.

        A hypothetical question, then- what’s the hardest recoiling cartridge that could attain full performance in 3-6″ of barrel, and could you build an MG42 action around it?

  • Mike Knox

    Not being some know-it-all but, jetpacks are supposed to go on someone’s back..

    • David/Sharpie


      • Mike Knox

        Here’s a question: if that contraption ever gets off the ground, how do you controll it?

        And if so, what’d he do after getting to whatever height he can after fifteen seconds (longest full auto mag dump I’ve done)?

  • Stanislao

    Randal Monroe is a physicist turned cartoonist, cut him some slack.

    • Stanislao

      Correction: Randall Munroe.

  • gunslinger

    i like xkcd, and his what if section. I was going to submit this earlier, but didn’t. i like his idea of physics and it gets you thinking. some of the stuff seems off the wall, but enough to get thinking.

  • Ian

    So it’s true, you probably can’t find enough genuine AK-47’s in the world to create a spacebound rocket out of them. But, what if, the reason they’re so rare now days is because someone has already succeeded in creating a spacebound rocket from AK-47’s and they’re all floating out in space somewhere? Makes sense given the crazy ideas that governments thought up during the Cold War.

  • doug

    I forgot how unfunny and lame this “comic” was.

  • Really?!?!

    I think what your failing to see is that it’s an innocent question: can you use enough fully automatic rifles to lift yourself from the ground? But because he said “AK47” you had to be a dick. If your obsession with something prevents you from being personable you have a problem.

    I’ll ask the question the way you wanted it:

    If you acquired enough fully automatic rifles of the same type, caliber, magazine capacity, and firing rate (through manufacturing or some other means) and you made sure they worked perfectly, then created a new sciencey fool proof way of making them all fire together, then you place all those weapons on the bottom of a platform attaching them so in no way would the fall off, and you got on the platform and made the weapons fire all at the same time – would your platform lift from the ground?

    • JonathanF

      I don’t think Steve was entirely serious…

    • GTengineer

      personally i think we would need something with a little more bang, im not sure but i think maybe an automatic 20mm cannon that has been modified might do the trick. ever heard of project orion? it was the same concept only using nukes for travel in space.

      • Timothy T.

        Or, maybe, a 30mm cannon like the one the article concludes with?

  • Frank J

    I say wrap AK around you and you can maneuver around the space by firing the opposite direction πŸ™‚

  • Anonymous

    Troll science.

  • RedCat

    Hey, folks.
    What AK47 are U talking about.
    There is typical Vz58 on the pic. With reciprocating dust cover.
    That guy even didn’t know what he drew.

    So much shout about one ignorant, pfff.

  • Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated http://www.photoblog.com/hairweft/2012/12/10

  • That is uncomplicated and most of my gents up to now know this.

  • Great share ill be back soon.

  • Im not sure why Tiger is apologizing to the world. He betrayed his beautiful wife and his loving children and he needs to answer to them. He probably cost his sponsors tens of millions of dollars but the rest of us just need to remember our own shortcommings and forget about Tiger.