Introduction: How to Turn Shotgun Shells Into Black Powder Rockets
Hey everybody!!! So in the last couple years, I have been dabbling in sugar rocketry. I skeet shoot a lot and have tons and tons of shotgun shells (20 gauge is my preference) that have been discharged and are sitting in boxes in my basement. One day I was making rockets out in the shop and I noticed a shotgun shell sitting on the bench. So I filled it with sugar rocket fuel and lit it off and it went 400-500ft. in the air!!! Unfortunately, I never was able to replicate that launch. My shotgun shell rockets were rarely leaving the ground. So I decided I need something that burns faster. Enter black powder rocket fuel. Not as pressure responsive as the black powder used in muzzleloaders and burns slightly faster in the open air I think. I found the recipe for Estes rocket engines on google and it works great. Check out my video here for an idea better idea of how they are made and perform.
Step 1: Fuel
Simple mix that consists of carbon, sulfur, potassium nitrate, and dextrin which serves as the binder and keeps the fuel from separating. Exact recipes can be found all over the internet.
Step 2: The Engine
There are two ways to make the engine. You can use the whole shell. Just shove it into a 3/4 PVC pipe and pack the fuel down with a rubber mallet and a wooden dowel. The shell is turned upside down and the primer is drilled out serving as the nozzle. The second way is to cut the brass part of the shell off and shove it into the end of a PVC pipe. Pack the fuel in with a mallet and dowel and then put a cap in the other end of the 3/4 PVC.
The match igniter is made using a match (duh) and some resistive wire bought from Amazon. Works nearly everytime and is activated by a fireworks igniter.
Step 3: Conclusion
The shotgun shells are very reliable and work nearly every time. Making a bigger rocket out of PVC works less reliably but does have the potential to go much higher.
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