Introduction: Potato Canon Silencer

Picture of Potato Canon Silencer

Want to turn less than $20 and about an hour of your time into a simple silencing device for your combustion style potato canon? Read on.

These are the basic plans for a silencer that can be adapted for any diameter barrel your potato cannon might have.

If you want to read up on the principles behind the design of a silencer, this is a good website to explain.

The quick and dirty of the principle behind this design is to develop a device to allow the pressure generated by the combustion to to be dispersed slowly as it exits the barrel of the canon rather than very quickly, which would create the characteristic loud bang similar to that of a gun.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
I built this thing years ago, long before discovering instructables, so the material sizes are being estimated from the finished assembly. Just use your best judgement and adapt this list as req'd using parts from your local hardware store to make this work for your canon.


- 1 pc ABS pipe about 1/4 the length of your barrel & same ID (I used 1-1/2" x ~15")
- 1 pc next size up, 1.5 inches shorter (should slide over 1st pc with a clearance) (I used 2" x ~13.5")
- 2 couplings to adapt above 2 pcs of pipe to each other (I used 2 x 1-1/2" IPEX couplings)
  • one can be cut back a 1/2" or so on the 1-1/2" side, but this isn't necessary (see picture of finished asmbly in step 3)
- ABS cement


- ~2" long pc of abs pipe that is a tight slide fit onto the end of the barrel of your canon.
- 2" hub (see picture) (I used a 2" NO, stainless steel Hub by TYLER CPLG CO. it has 2 x 2" screw clamps, and a piece of rubber to wrap around the two pieces being coupled, and a thin piece of steel to cover the rubber)

Next time I'm at Home Depot or whatever, I'll see if I can get more info on that hub. It was only a few bucks, and I'm sure you can rig something up on your own with similar components.


- hacksaw
- screw driver or wrench for hose clamps
- hand drill
- 5/16" & 3/16" drill bits
- ruler (a square would be best)
- scribe or something to mark cuts etc on pipe with

Step 2: Drill the Pressure Release Holes

Picture of Drill the Pressure Release Holes

Drill 4 rows of 5/16" holes along length of small OD pipe, 1 " apart

The shorter piece of large OD pipe will be drilled in the same fashion but with 3/16" holes.

This design is pretty forgiving so do your best to make something that resembles this and I'm sure it will be fine.

Step 3: Glue Inner/outer Pipe to Couplings

Picture of Glue Inner/outer Pipe to Couplings

Apply ABS cement to the end of the small OD pipe and press coupling on until the end of the pipe is about a 1/2" from the end of the coupling. (See cross section for clarity).

Next, apply ABS cement to the end of the large OD pipe and press into coupling. The rows of holes should be offset by 45 degrees between the inner and outer pipes. IMPORTANT! Press all the way into coupling.

Next apply ABS cement to the open ends of both pipes on the OD and press second coupling into place. Note that I cut about a 1/2" from the length of the 1-1/2" end of the coupling to make it look a bit better. Not necessary, but you'll have to adjust the length of the small OD pipe accordingly.

Step 4: Optional: Install Hub to Lengthen

Picture of Optional: Install Hub to Lengthen

To use, load your potato into the end of the barrel and ram it down to the base of the barrel as usual. Now take the silencer and slide onto the end of the barrel as far as it will go. This is why in the 1st assembly the small OD pipe was glued a 1/2" from the end of the coupling - the coupling is used to attached to the barrel as well.

I didn't think this was reliable enough so I added an extension to the silencer which is where the "hub" was used. Basically, a piece of ABS the same diameter (ID & OD) as the small end of the coupling is butted up against the coupling and the hub wraps and clamps around the seam to join them. The rubber piece of the hub should squeeze through the joint as the clamps are tightened and will create a small rubber seal which will grip the barrel of the canon when the silencer is installed. I hope from the photos you can understand what I mean.

With my silencer installed, the canon now sounds more like a loud hand clap than a shotgun when fired.



X_D_3_M_1 (author)2007-12-29

if this can be fitted on a real gun, its illegal

gnose (author)X_D_3_M_12007-12-31

it's already illegal to put it on a potato gun to begin with. but heck; potato guns are altogether illegal in my area anyways. if youre looking to make one make sure it is removable and detachable, or otherwise simple and disposable.

Pbyrd (author)gnose2008-03-20

Not neccessarily. As long as the bore of your barrel is i think 1.5 inches it is legal according to the BATFE.

tyeo098 (author)Pbyrd2011-09-25

No, the ATF 'decreed' that spud guns are 'recreational devices' and are not DD's not anything illegal.

Your state (cough NY cough) may have other laws though.

ak49er (author)X_D_3_M_12008-06-12

Actually, silencers are legal. Its just a pain in the @$$, a $200 tax to BATF, and your left nut. But if you want to whine about legality, building anything with a bore over .5 inches in diameter is a "destructive device" and requires the same (unless it is a shotgun).

tictaclad (author)2010-10-01

i used house insulation in between

NostalgicStone (author)2010-08-21

Add a video with multiple shots fired with and without, and I will rate, build, and post pics of the results

joejoerowley (author)2007-07-13

I like it. What software did you use to create the images?

Automator (author)joejoerowley2007-07-13

I'm glad you like it! I used Solidworks to model it because I didn't have any pictures from the build. So those are jpg's saved from Solidworks.

nrepak (author)Automator2009-10-18

yay for solidworks :)

ak49er (author)Automator2008-06-12

Solidworks? Isn't that serious overkill? Like sandbasting a soup cracker or filling a tea cup with a fire hydrant?

joejoerowley (author)ak49er2008-06-12

I like solidworks. Since my original comment I have used solidworks and it is really nice. You could just use google sketchup though.

joejoerowley (author)Automator2007-07-13

Thats cool. I just learned Solidworks but I am only 13 so it is hard to get access to computers that have solidworks on them!

krhyde1066 (author)2009-09-25

I built one for my potato cannon, actually its a tennis ball cannot as I used 2 1/2 inch diameter schedule 40 pipe for the barrel. I used the same method as descibed in the first post, but drilled the hole in the end of the barrel instead of in an addition piece of pipe. Apart from that I built it the same way. I just added one small difference. Between the barrel and the silencer housing, I packed in steel wool. It makes a big difference. It makes more of a loud pop sound now instead of sounding like a 50 bmg!

qballcat (author)2009-03-18

dos this make it less powerful, i dont see why it would but just wondering

tjk94 (author)qballcat2009-07-10

It shouldn't because the force propelling your projectile (in this case a unfried potato chip) is exerted upon said projectile in the barrel. The presser is still dissipated at a point that, normally, is outside the barrel anyway. The only way it could is with friction but, depending on the power of your gun the projectile will only be in the silencer for a fraction of a second so...not so much.

qballcat (author)tjk942009-07-10

thats what she said!, no really thank you very much, really helpful

thejrb (author)2008-08-22

You do realize a silencer is a class 3 firearm. Class 3 meaning automatic guns. Even if not attached it is illegal and has the same consequences as illegally owning a machine gun. Make that the disclaimer.

brandon borick (author)thejrb2008-12-07

this isn't a closed silencer so its technical a compensatory

thejrb (author)thejrb2008-08-22

Oh and silencers are more effective without holes.

mayo291 (author)2008-11-17

nice idea but now lets made rockets for these things!!!

munkeeboy (author)2008-10-05

I like it a lot. Is solidworks like autocad? I'm taking engineering graphics for my high school sophomre class and we use AutoCad 2007. If they are the same type of program, which is better (I realize this is kind of off topic).

nc527 (author)2008-01-20

this is illegal

benihana (author)2007-12-17

What kind of loss have you experienced with this? Does it significantly affect your range or accuracy?

hg341 (author)2007-11-20

I would have to say this awe inspiring

Pbyrd (author)2007-07-18

You should show how to make a silencer for a BB gun next. By the way i am posting my compact tater gun later. It is alot smaller than most tater guns but is still as good.

M-26-7 (author)Pbyrd2007-08-12

A BB gun silencer works on a totally different principal than normal gun silencers. That being said I'm not sure such a thing exist.

Pbyrd (author)M-26-72007-08-19

BB guns that run off of CO2or green gas can be silenced because I have seen silencers for them online.

M-26-7 (author)Pbyrd2007-08-19

Because they have escaping gases. Most BB guns are pump.

gotja (author)M-26-72007-11-10

even if they pump its expanding gas dumb*ss i just made a silencer for my bb gun today (66 pumpmaster) its disposable so when you dotn want it you just ake it off and throw it away its good for a 200 or more shots with bbs and like 75-100 ore more with pellets

M-26-7 (author)gotja2007-11-11

There are no escaping gases in a pump BB gun, other than atmospheric gases moving around normally. If you believe otherwise you don't even have a basic understanding of how a pump BB gun works.

gotja (author)M-26-72007-11-13

ok i might be wrong to call it a "silencer" but it does supress the sound by alot

Pbyrd (author)M-26-72007-08-21

I meant bb pistols like the co2 gas blowback kind.

usuck (author)M-26-72007-09-22

i dont think so, because bb guns only make a slight poof anyway.

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