Shotgun a Beer With Just Your Thumb




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Learn how to defy the rules of physics and pierce through metal using only your fingertip.  This Instructable shows you how you can shotgun anything in an aluminum can with just your thumb!

Shotgunning liquids has been around for a while.  It's the crude process of poking a hole in the bottom of a can (usually beer) so that you can drink whatever is inside the can way faster than normal.  

It's a fun thing to do at a party for sure, but it gets old pretty quick, and there's never anything good lying around to make the hole in the can with.  Using your finger to poke the hole raises things to a super-human level and is an unparalleled party trick for anyone who doesn't know that it's possible.

*****Shotgunning beers with your finger carries an inherent risk of injury and it's possible that your thumb could get cut as it pierces the wall of the can.  While this has never happened to me, or anyone else I've seen try this, my brain tells me that it's certainly something to be aware of.  Pierce responsibly and understand the risks involved of poking holes in metal cans with nothing more then your finger.*****

Step 1: Setup

There are only a few simple tips to shotgunning a beer with your thumb - most are all part of the setup.

Grab any normal aluminum can and position your dominant thumb (I'm a lefty so I use my left thumb) around 1" to 1.5" from the bottom.  The blue line at the bottom of the Pabst Blue Ribbon logo seems to be about the right spot.  Have the mouth of the can that you normally would drink from facing up towards the sky (at 12 o'clock on the top of the can).

Then, hold the can either in your other hand, or use your index and middle fingers to support it along the bottom of the can on the other side so you've got something to push against.  See the photos below.

Think about squeezing the can between your fingers and visualize squashing it like a grape and practice rocking the tip of your thumb so that your finger nail makes a diving motion in towards the wall of the can.

Finger Nail Length
While your length of your fingernail is important for a successful finger shotgun, I don't think that it means everything.  I've seen people with very short nails have success, and people with long nails have them double over and crease.  The ideal length is likely to have around 1/8th of an inch or so of the white colored fingernail extending beyond the cuticle.  That should be enough so that it can make direct contact with the can, but not so long that the nail becomes weak and flexible.

Step 2: The Bubble

Reach out with the stronger of your two arms and tilt the top of the can down towards the ground at a slight angle.

The theory of the tilt is to allow the small bubble of air that's in the can to rise to the precise position that your thumb is pressing down on.  This should hopefully make it a bit easier to pierce through the can with your thumb and also keep less of the beer from splashing out when your finger breaches through the can wall.

I don't know too much about can fluid dynamics, and I'm skeptical that it's actually any easier to punch your finger through a can into air than it is to punch it through into a liquid, but hey, we're using finger tips to bust through aluminum here, so it's good to be a believer in anything that might help. 

While you're at it, toss some salt over your shoulder.

Step 3: Dent

With the can tilted at a slight angle and your arm stretched out, begin to apply pressure with the tip of your finger to create a small dent in the can.

Step 4: Pierce With Thumbnail

Once you've got the dent made, quickly rock over onto your fingertip and engage your thumbnail with the can applying as much pressure as you can possibly exert. 

It sometimes takes a few tries to punch through in one spot.  If you're not having good luck putting your thumb through the can, try rotating the can to a new position (don't worry about where the mouth of the can is aimed at this point).

If you still aren't able to pierce through the can, try harder!  Grunt if you have to!  Visualize the strength of 1000 wild animals!

It took me 6 months to finally be able to do it from the first time I saw it done.  I'm no stronger now then I was then, so I think that one's mental approach has a lot to do with success or failure in can puncturing.  

Since then, I've seen many first timers pull it off, including many of the people in and around Squid Labs - and our thumbs are weak and delicate from all the typing we do!

Some things that helped me finally be able to break through the wall (literally) were:
  • visualize that there is no can
  • confidence is everything, attack it like you can do it, even if it's your first time
  • try different types of cans - Coca Cola seemed to be the easiest, but I have no quantitative data to support this
  • I didn't go this far, but doing some thumb exercises might help
  • don't cut your finger nail for a few weeks and then try to do it
  • if your nails are too long and are being bent back, cut them down a bit

Step 5: Shotgun the Can As You Normally Would

If you've successfully pierced a hole in the can, then you've earned a special reward - 12 fluid ounces of liquid in your belly delivered in less than 5 seconds!

Raise the hole you just made with your finger to your mouth, pop the top of the can as you would normally shotgun a beer, and gulp down the beer that flows into your mouth as fast as you can.

The hole on top allows air to flow freely in the can, thus eliminating the glug, glug, glug, factor, and lets the beer flow out of the can much faster than it usually would if it were poured normally from the mouth of the can.

Step 6: Shotgun More Than Just Beer!

While drinking beer is a hoot, putting your thumb through cans is so much fun that it's nice to be able to do it even when you don't want a beer.  Maybe your not of legal drinking age yet, maybe you don't like the taste of beer, or maybe you just want to send down a few sodas in less then 30 seconds at the office. 

Whatever the reason that you're not shotgunning a beer at this very moment, don't let that stop you from poking a hole through aluminum cans filled with other types of liquid today!



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    147 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    you can also shotgun a beer while riding a bike:


    4 years ago on Introduction

    There is a much better way:

    Proof that we have geniuses among us. I congratulate you on perfecting the art of beer drinking.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Ingenuitive, but best saved for flavorless American swill. It would be a horrible waste to do this with a good porter or a highly hopped ale.

    15 replies

    We have a "be nice" comment policy. Please be positive and constructive with your comments or risk being banned from our site.

    Apparently you missed this when you posted, so I'm putting it up there again so you can get a clear read at it.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    How did you miss the intent behind this post? I know it's harder to convey through text but he's not bashing anything but American beer. And American beer is not good. The only american alcohol I've seen imported into the UK has been Jack Daniels, even then our scottish whiskey is better in my opinion. All the good beer is imported from Germany, or brewed in a small scale.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    "All the good beer is imported from Germany..."

    Didn't anyone ever teach you that when you say something like "all X is Y" that the chances you are are woefully misinformed approaches unity?

     R u people kidding.  Budweiser and PBR are the best beers ever made.  People that wine about how beer needs to be fancy dont drink very much.  People don't pound down 30 packs of "fancy" German beer - but they do go through a couple hundred Buds in a good weekend.  Boom!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    You're wrong Sensoryhouse, didn't you ever hear about the Oktoberfest, or Beer Festival in Munich ? there, people drink f*in' good beer, and each "glass" is a pint of 1 Liter. and they don't stop after a few glasses.
    In my area, we have traditional local "fancy" beers, and my friends and I drink no less than 4 gallons of it, each, and that each week-end when we drink.

    Budweiser DOES, to my opinion, taste like a terrible industrial brew. Although I love the USA and a lot of your stuff, your beer and your cheese won't ever be able to contest with german (or european, since belgian and british beers are so different and pretty good also) beers nor with french cheese.

    You cannot say "industrial food is better than traditional food, just because there is more of it". That's just... messed up. Since when MacDonald's is better than a good dinner ? Unless you can't boil water without burning up your house, that's not possible.


    I've made good beer and im american? andCktoberfest beers are fantastic german style beers, that most anyone that can stand up to some taste can drink down in large quantaties.
    "American Beer" or what people think of it is just american style lager, after prohibition the only companies with enough money to keep going were the ones willing to cut corners, mainly using corn and whatnot. Some love it some dont.
    Theres other styles Of beer that were invented in america, and Most people still wont taste or have them brought to mind
    The California Common, The Black IPA, and most cascade hopped beers.
    Most beer styles have their American counterpart as a style of it, like american stouts, such as sierra nevada's.
    Just basic knowledge ya'll
    BUT this post is just about a method of drinking faster, and its a great method for most who have tried it. Very good party trick!

    (and you probably couldnt do this on "fancy" beer anyway , its probably in a bottle)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I believe they call that an opinion due to the adjective "good". If he had said all the beer comes from Germany then that would have been misinformation. The beauty of opinions is that they are ALWAYS right like my opinion that you are being facetious and breaking the very rule you claim to be championing in what I'm sure you assume is an extremely clever ploy for attention.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I have to ask, do you refer to me?

    also, it was an OBVIOUS generalization I made, people. Obviously I don't think all, derp, since I'm well aware some home brewer in Italy can produce far better beer on his small scale than a mass scale factory ever can.

    sleebus, Didn't anyone ever teach you that when you say something like "all X is Y" that the chances you are making use of hyperbole?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Hey man I agree. I'm American, and very patriotic, but our beer tastes like goat urine.