By Will Dabbs, MD, GUNS Magazine
History has shown us testosterone is perhaps the most potent poison known to man. “Hey, dude, watch this!” has launched more than a few unfortunate journeys across the legendary river Styx, and it is not by random chance that 93 percent of the incarcerated population in America sports a Y chromosome. Ask any woman and they will tell you, sometimes prattling on for hours on the subject, that regardless of age all men can at times be both infantile and crazy.
In keeping with the storied tradition of guys divining new and innovative methods for accelerating common household items to lethal velocities, X-Products recently introduced their patented drop-in AR-15 Can Cannon. To say this thing is cool does disservice to the term. The X-Products Can Cannon pegs the Awesometer.
In a convoluted sort of way the X-Products Can Cannon works a little bit like the high-low pressure system on the M203 40mm grenade-launcher round. The launcher is built around a standard drop-in AR-15 upper receiver fitting directly onto any milspec lower. Attached to the front of the upper receiver is a gigantic stubby barrel assembly sized to accept a standard soda can loaded from the muzzle end. The pure unfiltered brilliance of the system, however, is hidden within.
The X Products Can Cannon includes a short, capped barrel stub within the launcher incorporating a series of holes in the sides to vent propellant gases. The launcher uses standard military blank cartridges readily available and fairly inexpensive. Once the launcher is fired the gases from the blank escape out the sides of the pipe in the base of the tube to pressurize the space beneath the can. In this way the energy from the cartridge is not expended directly into the base of the projectile with the commensurate risk of rupturing the can and filling your cool new toy with 12 fluid ounces of sticky soft drink.
Lighting off a live round inside this thing would result in a fearsome explosion. The list of reasons to avoid doing this is long. As expected, a warning to this effect is printed conspicuously on the side of the launcher. The Can Cannon utilizes a standard AR bolt carrier and, as it has no operating system, is single shot only.
Just what utility might there be to such a gadget, might you ask? Wow, where to begin? The X Products Can Cannon will throw a cheap generic soft drink can more than the length of a football field. Hang time at significant elevation is simply ridiculous. This function alone is good for literally hours of recreational bliss. Cheap box store soda explodes like a bomb on impact when fired against something substantial. The wasps, bees, and yellow jackets inhabiting my rural firing range have never been so thrilled over a new ballistic acquisition.
When searching for a shotgun suitable for complimenting something as awesome as the Can Cannon not just any pedestrian shotgun would do.
Will’s soon Wood behind this EAA MK 1919 Match sporting an EOTech Holosight is up to the task. The Holosight mounted atop this mule
scattergun acts like the reflector gunsights on World War II fighter planes. It takes some experimenting to get the geometry right for
exploding soda cans in flight. The liftoff is frightfully fast as is the re-entry. Positioning the shotgunner off to the side of the flight path produced the best results.
If you tire of throwing perfectly good beverage cans down range, set a buddy off to the side with a shotgun and try to explode them inflight. The exercise will put hair on your chest regardless of your gender and all involved will laugh until their faces hurt.
Fill empty cans with sand and seal the tops with a bit of duct tape before firing and you can shoot all day long for the trivial cost of blank ammunition. Though the launcher is designed to fire unopened soda cans, sand weighs about the same and you need not ruin perfectly good soft drinks.
X Products, never satisfied to rest on previous achievements, is producing some ancillary weirdness to shoot out of this thing as well. By the time you read these words they should have a grappling hook perfected and on sale. Think of X Products the next time you need to ascend into an evil fortress to dislodge a Maniacal Super Villain. I use X Products gear for all my Maniacal Super Villain dislodgment needs and can attest to the quality and effectiveness of their designs.
I know you’re wondering. While transforming gunpowder into pure unfiltered mirth, the Can Cannon kicks about like a 12-gauge firing birdshot. (Ever noticed how any large gun kicks about like a 12 gauge when described in print? This observation is much akin to the fact that apparently rattlesnake, alligator, iguana, emu, koala bears, those unnaturally enormous African bullfrogs, and panda, when properly prepared, are always said to taste like chicken.) I did, however, fire my Can Cannon alongside a handy 12-bore and would legitimately describe the experience as comparable. It’s worse the higher you elevate the muzzle.
The sound has a very mortar-ish quality and when elevated at about 45 degrees the Can Cannon will indeed launch a soft drink can the length of a football field. When an ancillary shooter armed with a 12-bore connects with a can in flight the resulting conflagration looks like a big wet sticky hand grenade. I defy you to try it without laughing.
The can leaves a mighty dent downrange and the blunt nature of the projectiles does not lend itself to pinpoint accuracy. While the ATF has ruled this device to be neither a firearm nor a non-destructive device, it would yet still take a man’s head off under the wrong circumstances. There is a fine line between fun and stupid and those who willingly cross that line seldom live to a ripe old age.
While on the subject, the manual with this device is good for a few yucks as well. The X Products guys acknowledge the inevitability you will try to shoot things other than soda cans out of your new Can Cannon. The device is built like a tank so you would have to be exceptionally irresponsible to tear it up, but they do point out projectiles must slide freely in the barrel. Not all soda cans are created equal and some yield a better gas seal than others. Stuff both heavier and lighter than a standard soda can typically yield suboptimal results.
I found the little stubby soft drink cans actually yielded longer ranges and flight times, however. When properly set-up, this device will fire rolled up T-shirts into a crowd should your school, college, or municipality be preternaturally open-minded. One bold-faced warning cautions against firing anything flammable, explosive, or living out of the Can Cannon. One can only speculate as to the twisted genesis of that last cryptic caveat.
The Can Cannon drop-in upper receiver assembly fits onto any standard AR lower. There is no operating system so the rig is single-shot only. The beating heart of the X-Products Can Cannon is a stubby piece of ventilated barrel plugged up at the end. This design vents the gases out the sides so as not to burst the can at the moment of launch. The warning against firing live ammunition through the Can Cannon is printed conspicuously on its side. As the barrel stub is plugged this would be catastrophic. Milspec 5.56mm blanks are inexpensive and readily available. As you might imagine, X-Products can hook you up.
If you are a girl, and both of you know who you are, just go ahead and roll your eyes. Yes, all men are sophomoric and childish—guilty as charged. This fact notwithstanding, you can’t debate our utility for such chores as changing light bulbs in high places, laying in firewood, and cleansing the world of foreign terrorists.
If you are a guy, however, click on over to the X Products website and pick up a Can Cannon of your own. They are not terribly expensive and will add a whole new dimension to your time at the range. If you are indeed one of those few ladies open-minded enough to sink your teeth into something this bizarre, they’ll sell you one as well. I haven’t had so much fun since I cooked up my own homemade solid rocket fuel in the kitchen and burned down five acres of timber on my rural farm (No kidding, that really happened). It seems you can take the boys out of second grade but you’ll never take the second grade out of the boys.
Photos: Sarah Dabbs
5200 SE Harney , Portland, OR 97206
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