Bottle Rocket Pistol

Pocket-sized water bottle launcher.

There are plenty of bottle rocket plans out there, but I hadn't seen anyone use a quick release coupler as a launch mechanism before. Plus, all other launchers are so large, it seemed to me all you need is the coupler and a valve. I decided to make two so me and the girl can go to the park and have a shootout (after all, the bike pump is hers).

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Step 1: Collect Your Parts.

You will need:

A set of quick-release garden hose couplers (I had this idea while in an Ace hardware store, and as it happens, this brand works better than the Lowe's version which won't hold under pressure.)

Rubber tire valves (auto parts store)

4" of 1/2" PVC (Lowe's Depot)

1/2" PVC cap (ditto)

1/2" PVC to 3/4" NPT elbow (NPT= National Pipe Thread) (ditto)

1-2 liter bottle (I like seltzer.)

(not shown) extra garden hose gaskets


PVC cleaner and cement (Lowe's Depot)

Teflon pipe tape (I used the pink, which is thicker.) (ditto)


Saw (pretty much anything will cut PVC)

1/2" drill bit and something to make it spin

Channelock pliers

Step 2: Cut Off a Hunk of PVC.

The point of this was to make a compact launcher, so cut just a little more than needed for the fittings.

Step 3: Drill the Cap.

Drill a 1/2" hole in the cap. I carved a flat on the cap to thin the PVC so the rubber tire valve will seat properly.

Step 4: Install the Valve.

Stick the valve through the cap from the inside, grab it with pliers, and pull. A bit of dishwashing soap will help.

Step 5: Glue It Up.

For those who are new to joining PVC, I'll explain the whole process. (Those who know, well, you aren't reading through each step, are you?)

If you've ever wanted to weld in your kitchen, here's your chance! PVC is joined by solvent welding. This just means that you put a goop on the joint that partially dissolves the plastic, jam it together, give it a quarter twist to ensure complete contact, then let the solvent evaporate and it's all permanently joined.

The cleaner is basically acetone to remove any oil contamination before you put the "cement" on.

Allow the joints to set up several hours before pressurizing the weapon.

Step 6: Attach the Quick Release Couplers.

So, the elbow is threaded 3/4" NPT (National Pipe Thread) the couplers are threaded GHT (Garden Hose Thread) (really), and the bottle is threaded WHK (Who the Hell Knows?), how are we going to get connections on all these to withstand 50+psi? Teflon pipe tape and brute force! (plus those extra garden hose gaskets).

The pink teflon tape is thicker than the white stuff, and we're going to need all the help we can get here. Put several wraps around the female coupler threads (clockwise!) and crank it into the elbow with channelock pliers. The incompatible threads will kinda mush together.

The thread on the bottle is further from matching with the GHT on the male coupler, so in addition to the Teflon tape, put an extra garden hose gasket in the coupler before threading it on (a total of two). As you crank it together, you will see the plastic stress a little. Get it tight, but don't bust the coupler.

Step 7: You May Fire When Ready, Gridley.

Fill 1/2 to 1/3 with water, attach bike pump, pressurize to 40-50 psi, pull back the collar on the quick release to launch. (Extra points to those who can tell me who Gridley was.)

Step 8: His & Hers Launchers.

Step 9: Gratuitous Launching Picture.

Thanks for the photos, Alice!

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    37 Discussions

    Captain PedanticSylkhr

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Gridley was the captain of the Armored Cruiser Olympia, Admiral Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay in the Spanish- American War. That was Dewey's command to start the battle.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    UNBELIEVEABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every instructable I think of, someone already posted. Obviously it wasn't exactly the same but still! Maybe I should stop procrastinating.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    This is great! I made one and it worked wonderfully for about 50+ launches, but now it's getting hard to release. I figure the release mechanism when you push down isn't working properly. If there's no way to get this working better, I'm just going to pick up some more quick release couplers. Thanks!

    With the little hand pump I've only gone to 40-40 psi. More than than that is pretty hard to do, and the couplers don't release well (hard to pull the ring back with fingers only. The don't leak, though, and its plenty of pressure for a good launch. Years ago I called the 800 # on a Coke bottle to ask how much pressure a 2 liter bottle can hold. 250 psi!


    It looks really fun, and I've always wondered how to make a bottle rocket b/c i saw it on myth busters, but i never found out how they made it, thanks!! :)


    12 years ago on Step 7

    If you fill the bottle with water 100% the first time you run it up to full pressure, it won't go as far if the incompatible threads fail.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    in sixth grade we did something very similar to this in science class it was a blast (pun intended)


    12 years ago on Step 7

    He was only one of our nations most stalwart Captains, known for his part in the battle for Manila Bay!


    12 years ago

    genius!! my bro made 1 and i was like hey y duz it take so long to unscrew cos ur losing pressur fast!! and now u make a quick release one!!! genius!!


    12 years ago

    I made one at first and it worked good. Then later on I created a double launcher ith one air nipple conecting to 2 quik relesas and a bar connected to both of those then i got socked fireing them off And created the simple but offective stick, board an string when i pulled the string the stick pulled away and the board went down Poof the bottles were up up up and away ill get a pitchure of the contraption to show u guys later!!!!


    12 years ago

    Simple and effective ;) I've never seen those quick connects before -- do you know if they leak (When used for the intended water hose application)?

    2 replies

    Reply 12 years ago

    No I don't think they leak they leack a little in the takeing on and off process but bysides that not at all