Legal Issues?

A while back I wrote the ATF asking about the legality of the potato cannon. The response was the following form letter (I've cut out my identifying information). You can read the letter yourself, but note that you should also check with your local authorities about where you can use your cannon legally. As a rule of thumb, do not use your cannon within city limits. Find a nice open field, make sure no one is down range, and use some common sense.


Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Washington, DC 20226


"Today's date"

City, State Zip


This refers to your letter of "the other day", in which you ask about the legality of a device known as the "Spud Gun."

These subject devices are generally constructed from PVC tubing and fittings and are designed to launch a muzzle loaded potato using aerosol hair spray or other type of propellant. Ignition is by means of some type of "spark" igniter.

The Bureau has previously examined devices known as "Spud Guns, Potato Guns, or Spudzookas" and have determined that such devices, in and of themselves, are not firearms as defined in Title 18 United States Code (U.S.C.), Chapter 44, S 921(a)(3) or 26 U.S.C., Chapter 53, S 5845.

However, any similar devices which can be determined to be weapons by reason of their design construction, intended use, actual use, ammunition or other factors may meet the definition of a firearm under Title 18 or 26 U.S.C.

We suggest that you contact your State and local law enforcement authorities concerning possession of such devices.

We trust that the foregoing has been responsive to your inquiry. If we may be of further assistance please contact us.

Sincerely yours,

Edward M. Owen, Jr.
Chief, Firearms Technology Branch