IV8888: DO NOT Get Shot with 1.2 POUND Slug from a Cannon

In what has now become my favorite example of redneck tomfoolery independent and measured testing, Eric from IraqVeteran8888 has put a cannon to ballistics gel testing. Why? Who cares!

The cannon in question uses a 37mm cast slug, coming in at 1.2 pounds. For those wanting to compare to the .223, it is 8400 grains (or about 152x as heavy as a M193 55 grain projectile). Propelled by black powder, the cannon puts out an astounding 45,000 ft/lbs of energy (only about 25x more powerful than the military 62-grain M855 loading). The cannon is nearly 4x as powerful as a .50 BMG round, which has “only” ~14,000 ft/lbs of energy.

The cannon uses a Minie ball design, with a rear skirt that obturates (expands) under the pressure of gunpowder detonation. Once expanded, the skirt engages with rifling which then imparts spin onto the quickly accelerating round, stabalizing it for long flight. Eric states the cannon is capable of firing over 1 mile.

When fired, the lead slug penetrates over 38″ of ballistics gel, plenty of wood, and a stack of dirt. The torso of gelatin is especially telling nearly imploding over the impact (though surprisingly, not breaking apart showing the robust nature of the ballistics gel).

Check out the video below and enjoy the “experiment”.


Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Pete M

    That’s a lot of mass traveling at a good clip.

    Still, I was surprised by the destruction.

    • PK

      I think you mean magazine, geeze, we covered this the other day!

      Wait, what are we doing?

      More seriously, that’s not all that destructive in comparison to more modern direct-fire guns. It’s terrible and awesome to see what cannons and similar are capable of, these days. I was astounded the first time I fired a 20x102mm (M61/Vulcan ammo) with a solid projectile, and then I was amazed all over again when I got to fire an SAPHEI round as well. For something relatively small (as cannons go) it was disastrously destructive to the target and the berm.

      I shudder to think what a modern HE 37mm round would do… even a 37mm solid/TP shot propelled by smokeless powder at a higher velocity would likely be a real wrecking ball.

      • noob

        All I wanted was to break your walls./
        All you ever did was wreck me./
        Yeah, you, you wreck me

        • ostiariusalpha

          I award you zero points.

    • RealitiCzech

      Contemplate for a moment Napoleon’s “whiff of grapeshot” and how devastating that would be. Cannons are exceedingly deadly.

  • DW


  • If only it had been a hollow point

  • politicsbyothermeans

    It warms my heart to see someone with a blowtorch, standing beside a cannon and saying, “I have no idea what’s going to happen.” Excellent.

  • Jeffrey Williams

    You shot the round right between the stacks of ballistic gel, try using all solid gel next time…it may end up the same but at least it will be accurate

    • throwedoff

      Solid gel? That’s oxymoronic or is it just moronic?

      • Jeffrey Williams

        It has been 2 weeks and that is the best you come up with?

  • BattleshipGrey

    This only confirms the cannon on my “some day” list.

    • PK

      They’re delightfully easy to make from “scrap” or demilled barrels from items that would otherwise not be importable or offered for sale to the public these days, meaning that what’s out there is either demilled (and relatively cheap!) or intact but extremely expensive and rarely available.

      GAU-8 barrels cut into sections, 14.5mm KPV barrels, 23mm Russian autocannon barrels (all torch cut, these days), 20mm M61 barrels, 40mm L/60 and L/70 barrels, etc., are all available for reasonable prices when being sold after demil. With a large lathe, or renting time at a machine shop, or hiring them to do the work for you, it’s a relatively quick bit of machining to make a simple muzzleloading rifled cannon which is perfectly legal. Then, the only thing to do is build a carriage or mount of some sort.

      Interestingly, having the endcap/breech built well with heat treated and tempered 4140 or similar, and with thick enough parts overall, you can safely use an appropriate charge of smokeless powder, too – but DO THE MATH, don’t blow yourself up!

      Heck, by Federal law it’s not even a firearm so long as it uses an antique ignition system. Muzzleloading arms don’t meet the requirement of having a modern ignition system or having a self contained cartridge, so they’re good to go at any size. State laws may vary, but have fun!

    • marathag

      can be sooner if you settle for bowling ball mortars made from old gas cylinders

  • Major Tom

    Moral of the story: If someone fires a cannon at you, get out of the way!

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Theres a storm brewin’, make sure its lashed down tight, matey.

  • Anomanom

    Don’t get shot with a cannon. Good advice, can’t argue with that.

  • Cannoneer No. 4

    How is this NFA / Suppressors / Class III? It’s a little half-scale Parrott Rifle. North-South Skirmish Association shoots full-scale. And his service of the piece sucks. Good ole red neck boys are not unknown in Civil War reenacting, but they know enough to put a friction primer in the vent and set it off with a lanyard from outside the wheel.

  • Independent George

    How about some grapeshot next time?

  • wb

    Black powder deflagration. Not detonation, correct? At least last I checked.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Yep, no detonation. Black powder is a degressively deflagrating explosive.

  • politicsbyothermeans

    Give me double-canister, or give me death!

  • Patrick M.

    You know I was going to give this a shot but now Im having second thoughts. Thanks TFB?

  • nick

    may I suggest Southbend Replicas for all your barrel needs? We just finished making the garrison mount for one of their French Iron 6 pounder barrels we bought a few years ago. We recreated a standard garrison mount from steel, so we have 45 degree traverse, -10 / + 25 elevation, gravity on track recoil system …..and a fantastic range with just 7 oz of single F
    I will try and take some pictures / video soon ( we run a 3 inch steel ball, or “Minnie” type slug.

  • Wetcoaster

    Someone shoot this at a Level III or IV vest

  • RealitiCzech

    I want a 37mm Pom Pom after seeing this video.

  • Feral Gryphon

    Ah, dang it. There go my plans for Saturday night.

  • Sasquatch

    So stay with the 1lb slug. Ok thanks for the info.

  • Whitney Philbrick

    For those who think Americans are gun happy red necks, we give you this….

    I love it, I want one…


  • Whitney Philbrick

    See, one shot, one kill…. Just needs to be from a cannon….

  • billinfl

    Weight increases inertia. That’s why I like a .45 for knockdown power. Velocity pundits aside, I believe there simply is no replacement for weight/inertia.

  • James Young

    For everyone looking for more effective ballistics for their rifle-just use a cannon…

  • maodeedee

    One of the greatest weapons of war ever invented was the Battleship. it had cannons that were the greatest cannons of all time. And they could be aimed with pinpoint accuracy. Before guided missiles and smart bomb technology they were without equal.

    When our battleship fleet was de-commissioned and sold for scrap that was a huge waste of resources. They should have been put in dry-dock storage and maintained and even upgraded so they could be used again if ever needed.

    You wouldn’t see Iran attacking our Navy ships in the Persian gulf If we had a Battleship there or even a destroyer. -not to mention if we had a commander-in-chief with a pair of testicles.

    • In modern warfare they are a liability and high upkeep and operating cost ship, unless you want to send Qdaffy a message and blow up tanks within 20 miles of the shore.

      Dropping bombs is one thing, seeing the ship lobbing shells off your shore you can’t do anything about, sends a different message.

      It takes skill to have an effective crew that will not blow themselves up or the ship, firing the main battery. With the high turn over rate in today’s navy, along with cut backs, they are lucky to have three out of the 10/11 carriers battle ready or at sea.

      I agree, a total waste scrapping the battleships, it is not like they will ever build any new ones.

    • throwedoff

      Pinpoint accuracy? Why do you think they had multiple guns and fired multiple rounds with each salvo? To ensure that the area of the target was serviced by enough projectiles hoping that one would hit the intended target. There is no such thing as pinpoint accuracy in artillery. However, the newer GPS guided munitions and the older Copperhead (laser designated) came close.