Friday, March 02, 2007

What are blank-firing guns?

by B.B. Pelletier

Well, this one came up like thunder! And, it has nothing to do with airguns, so I apologize to all the purists. Pyramyd Air recently added blank-firing guns to their lineup and the question was - what the heck are they?

They ONLY shoot blanks
Blank-firing guns are guns made to fire blanks only. When I was a kid in the early 1950s, they were sold in comic books and almost every man's magazine. The price was always around $6.95 for the repeaters. Later on in the 1970s, some German and Eastern European blank guns were offered in the same places (except the comic books). They were either single-shots or revolvers, and I don't remember the price.

What is a blank?
A blank is a cartridge that contains gunpowder but no projectile. Because there is no bullet mass to resist the powder, it is purposely faster-burning than conventional gunpowder. The object of a blank is to make noise, and for that reason, they are also called salute guns. They're also called starter pistols and are used to start races. Yachts used them to signal other craft and installations on shore. Winchester made blank-firing cannons that now have some collector value. They use 10- and 12-gauge shotgun shells and really make a bang.


Winchester 10-gauge blank cannon makes a big bang!


History
Since its invention, people have used gunpowder to make noise. Fireworks are one form, but since guns also made noise, they were used for this purpose almost from their beginnings. In my youth, blank cartridges were sold for firing in conventional firearms. They still are to a limited extent, but because they are not 100 percent safe there has been a move toward purpose-built guns that can only fire blanks - the blank-firing guns!

A blank has the same or greater potential energy than a conventional cartridge. Just look at heavy-duty nail guns that use special blank cartridges to drive big nails into concrete. Though they are very similar to .22 rimfire cartridges, the most powerful of these special-purpose blanks is far more powerful than a .22 long rifle cartridge. That's why they are kept under lock and key at the hardware store. Because a conventional firearm has a barrel that's bored through, nothing prevents someone putting something in the barrel in front of the blank and turning it into a projectile.

Outside of the U.S., the blank-firing gun has always been popular. Most countries regulate the ownership of firearms, but they permit the ownership and use of blank-firing guns, because they are purposely made so no projectile can be launched.

See and hear for yourself!
You can actually see a blank gun fire on this website! Pyramyd Air sells many different models of blank-firing guns, and the wildest one of all is the Jackal. Click on the link, and you'll go to the description where there is a cool short video showing the gun in action. Just click on the movie camera graphic or the "See for yourself" text to the gun. The Jackal is both full-auto and semiauto, depending on where the selector switch is set. It will fire 12 rounds in under two seconds, as you'll see on the video. This is a Quicktime video, so Windows users who don't have the software to view it can get a free download here.

Other blank-firing guns
There are also a ton of other blank-firing guns like the Walther P99. There's even a snub-nosed S&W revolver!

Why do they cost so much?
You can't fail to notice that these guns are not cheap. Why is that, since they don't shoot bullets? Well, they have to be made almost as well as firearms because they have to withstand high temperatures from the hot gasses. In the case of the Jackal, there is a lot of stuff packed into that frame to allow the gun to shoot full auto. The people who like them seem to have no problem with the prices, because these guns sell like wildfire around the world. From the look of things on the Internet, they are starting to sell well in the U.S., too.

Blank cartridges
Pyramyd also sells the blank cartridges, and they are pricey, too. But you don't use these guns every day. Imagine a July 4th picnic where you bring one of these instead of fireworks. Or New Year's Eve! Blank-firing guns are quite a bit safer than most fireworks because the hot gas is directed by the gun away from the shooter. The video shows that well.


They come 50 to a box. They are 9mm cases without bullets. The over powder wad is attached to the case, so nothing is projected from the gun except hot gas.



That hole in the barrel at the upper left is one of two gas ports through which the hot gas escapes. There is a similar hole on the other side of the barrel. The barrel is plugged so nothing can be fired through it.


So, that's the quick and dirty on blank-firing guns. They're pretty far from airguns, but among the many things we find to be neat.

30 Comments:

At March 02, 2007 9:15 AM, Blogger pestbgone said...

Hello B.B.
I'm off topic agin, but I have a scope sighting problem.
Gamo Shadow 1000. Leapers 3-9x32AO. Accushot med profile full length integral scope mount. Scope stop screw in the mount fits directly into the mating hole in the receiver.
Shooting at 35 yards, with the Leapers parallax adjustment also set to 35 yards, I can get the POI and POA to match, and shot a .85” c-to-c group right on the money. Seems decent to me. But when I change the A.O. parallax to 10 yds, and then shoot at 10 yards, the POI moves down .5” and .25” to the right, with a group size of .15 c-to-c. The .5” down I understand, but the .25” to the right confuses me. If I then adjust the scope to match the POA and POI at 10 yards, then the POI moves about .8” to the left at 35 yards. All of the mountings seem secure and the cross hairs look vertical when I sight. Again, the elevation changes make sense, but the windage changes baffle me. Any idea what I might be doing wrong or what I should look for?
Thanks again,
Pestbgone

 
At March 02, 2007 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

B.B

COULD THE MOVIE INDUSTRY MAKE BLANK FIRING GUNS THAT ARE PLUGGED BUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BARREL INSTEAD OF AT THE END AND POSSIBLY HAVE A FALSE OPEN BARREL LOOK TO IT? SAY LIKE ABOUT 2 INCH OF OPEN BARREL AT THE END FOR THE EFFECT AND THE REST OF THE BARREL WOULD BE SOLID. THAT WOULD MAKE MOCK GUN FIGHTS AND THINGS LIKE WHAT HAPPENED TO BRANDON LEE A THING OF THE PAST.

 
At March 02, 2007 9:35 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Pestbgone,

One of two things is happening. Either your scope is not in line with the bore of your rifle (I believe that's it) or your pellets are corscrewing in flight. Pellets will corkscrew (travel in an increasing spiral path that's nearly parallel to the bore), but usually they won't be accurate if they do.

If it's the first problem, you need to use B-Square AA mounts and you need to optically center your scope.

The way to check for this problem is if the pellet is on one side of center close up and on the other side farther away (past the sight-in point). Then you know the scope doesn't line up with the bore.

B.B.

 
At March 02, 2007 9:40 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

They can do that, of course, and I am not sure that they don't. But it's so easy to shoot extra footage with the realistic muzzles when they need them.

The director has to have all those considerations in mind, so he can film the scenes with the realistic muzzles in the same light, but modern digital software even gives him latitude with that.

B.B.

 
At March 02, 2007 10:04 AM, Blogger pestbgone said...

B.B.,
O.K. thanks for the info on sighting. I am using JSB Exact Heavy's. The corkscrewing sounds like an interesting but rare phenomenon. I will try shooting from 0 yards to 35 yards at 5 yd increments to see what pattern emerges and if a cross-over occurs. I looked at the B-square adjustable mounts on the Pyramyd site just now and I see how they could be used to fix the misalignment problem.
Thanks again,
Pestbgone

 
At March 02, 2007 12:16 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

B.B.

A bit off topic but you're the most informed to help me make my decision... Is a PCP good for short hunts for varments where you don't need to carry along a scuba tank? The sites I vistied all recommend springers, non even mentioned PCPs. Looking at the RWS 54 since it has anti-recoil. Other than needing a filling tank, the PCP seems like a better choice (i.e. no recoil, high velocity, easier on scopes, etc.). What's your pick?

 
At March 02, 2007 2:15 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Pestbgone,

The B-Square mounts don't fix the problem. They simply allow you to adjust the scope without moving the internal adjustments after you have optically centered it.

B.B.

 
At March 02, 2007 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bob
again i think if you could you should get a pcp. as i said yesterday the airforce rifles have a huge shot capacity. i suppose if you were hiking or something you might want the diana so you woulnt have to fill the tank. but if you are going hunting or eliminating pests id go for a pcp. for the Airforce Rifles you could buy more air tanks so you could have many mare shots at hand. also you have to concider that a pcp can be much more compact and lightwieght. also they will be much eiasier to shoot accuratly. see what bb has to say

Field Targetier

 
At March 02, 2007 3:00 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Rob,

Field Targetier is giving you good answers. Yes, a PCP is superior to a spring guns in many ways. It's easier to shoot accurately, lighter and usually much more powerful. The AirForce guns he recommends have a huge air reservoir and with an extra tank you would have enough shots for a good days' worth of serious hunting.

Springers are often used because they don't require any logistical support in the field. Just bring pellets. But more and more hunters are turning to PCPs for their benefits.

B.B.

 
At March 02, 2007 3:27 PM, Blogger sentinel said...

Thanks BB, on your recommendation for the BEEMAN 2004 ;) Now I need some pellets to feed it.

How would you (or anyone) rate the Beeman Wadcutter Coated Pellets (#1235) that came with the 2K4 versus say, the RWS Hobby, Crosman copperhead comp. wadctr, Crosman Premier Super Match and the Gamo Match?

I tried some RWS Diablo Basics (from the local store) and my groups doubled in size.

Also, you previously mentioned that one should use good target sheets vs printing out on regular paper. What is the reason behind this?

Cheerio!
Bert

 
At March 02, 2007 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bert
i can only answer your question about the targets. computer paper is very thin compared to target paper. the reson for this is so the thicker paper dosnt rip as much. when it doesnt rip you get smaller groups. you can buy heavy paper(oaktag) if your printer can handle it and print your own targets.

Field Targetier

 
At March 02, 2007 3:59 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

Thanks very much for your expert advice. Went to a local gun shop this afternoon that carries RWS and they recommended springers, but I give your opinions more respect. This is a great blog to get accurate information from experienced users. I've already started checking out Airforce and they seemed to have great air rifles. Glad I didn't pull the trigger too soon.

 
At March 02, 2007 4:07 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Bert,

Field Targetier got the target paper for me.

I would recommend Gamo Match first, then any of the Crosman wadcutters. The Hobbys might be okay, but your experience with the Basics makes me wonder about them.

Beeman Wadcutter Coated pellets I am not familiar with at all. Are they some kind of non-lead pellet? If so, I don't recommend them.

B.B.

 
At March 02, 2007 4:52 PM, Blogger pestbgone said...

B.B.
Hmm, I think I need to more thoroughly study your numerous blog entries regarding sighting in a scope to get a clear picture of "optically centering" the scope.
Thanks,
pestbgone

 
At March 02, 2007 4:56 PM, Blogger sentinel said...

Thanks on the paper issue. I'll go look for some really heavy paper to print on.

These are the Beeman coated wadcutters:
http://www.pyramydair.com/s/p/pellet/498

The coating is supposed to reduce lead contact, but the red and gold versions say that they increase velocity and accuracy as well.
http://www.pyramydair.com/s/p/pellet/499

I had originally thought these were some cheap pellets Beeman was trying to get rid of (as they were packing them in combo kits) but since they seem to be more accurate compared with the RWS Basics, I am uncertain. There is hardly any info out there on the net about them.

BTW Does pyramid have cheaper shipping on pellets alone? I am hesitant to pay 8 bucks for shipping for a tin costing 6 dollars.

Bert

 
At March 02, 2007 4:57 PM, Blogger pestbgone said...

B.B.
Ah, found it. July 5, 2005. I'm learning.
pestbgone

 
At March 02, 2007 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does the 9mm revolver work. As you may know, The 9mm is a rimless shell, so are moon clips needed?

HB

 
At March 02, 2007 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit I have a bad attitude towards the blank-firing guns, and, with all due respect to a really good company, I was kind of dissapointed to see Pyramid selling them. It's just that all the good side-effects of shooting -learning skilled self control, concentration, self discipline - seem to be absent from them. Unless you're in the movie or theater business, I'm still not sure what they are good for except fantasizing about being Dirty Harry. And I actually can't imagine bringing one of them to a Fourth of July picnic, that seems a little nuts.

 
At March 02, 2007 11:29 PM, Blogger dm20 said...

didnt see that video before- i wish pyramyd would've spent a few more bucks so we could see a little more footage.
i cant believe comics used to sell these. next to the x-ray specs? myself, i would just take the money to stockpile blanks. i hear there are a few different varieties available with different additives to the powder, and i've even heard of a shot load for 12 gauges with magnesium in the load! they say it will damage any barrel, but you could always dedicate a beat-up norinco to shoot the ammo.
blank firing guns are unconvertible, that much i'm sure of. but, why?
could a person not just drill thru the barrel and weld the gas ports shut?
for the price given, though, i could invest an extra hundred or so and buy a projectile launcher. if you only load blanks, the guns are safe. and you could color the blanks, so any cartridge that was not, say, bright pink would be live, and thus never loaded except at the range.
i guess some people don't really want/need an actual firearm, though. it would save them the trouble of registration.

 
At March 03, 2007 8:57 AM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

sentinel,

What Pyramyd does is give you the 4th tin of pellets free. Most folks buy multiples of three tins and save that way.

B.B.

 
At March 03, 2007 9:04 AM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

HB,

If you look at the ammo for the 9mm revolvers you will find a rimmed case.

B.B.

 
At March 03, 2007 9:18 AM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

NO!

Firearms shooting blanks ARE NOT SAFE!

That was the point of the posting. A person can be killed by the muzzle blast of just the blank powder at close range.

Think people aren't that stupid? Watch "America's Funniest Home Videos" and you'll see why blank-firing guns are made the way they are.

Your point about no registration is one valid reason for owning a blank-firing gun. But the biggest reason people buy them is because to many people there is a sharp distinction between blank-firing guns and firearms. And yet these blank-firing guns are very reralistic! That doesn't make a lot of sense to some people - it's Doublethink - but for those to whom it does make sense, it is a sound reason to buy them.

B.B.

 
At March 03, 2007 1:24 PM, Blogger Dylan said...

firearms shooting blanks are safe if you are careful. for example a few months back i had a group social studies assignment on the revolutionary war we decided to make a video. I happened to have some .22 blanks and a couple .22 rifles lying around so we decided we would have guns in the video. only after shooting several blanks in the dark at paper etc to see how big of a fireball and dust cloud a .22 short blank makes did we decide it would be ok. only one blank was loaded at a time. before loading the guns to make sure it would be safe. Nobody was hurt everybody had fun and the techer liked it.

 
At March 03, 2007 1:33 PM, Blogger dm20 said...

ah, but a firearm must never be pointed at a person, loaded or unloaded. whether that be a blank pistol or a firearm. and, with the upwards venting of gas, there is no guarantee the powder gases wont be able to harm a person. say, for example, young jimmy picks up the pistol and holds it upright to his face, as seen in so many Hollywood movies. his idiot father leaves the pistol loaded, and his finger is on the trigger- not a pretty sight.
still, i do agree with you. if these people cant look after themselves, i guess we have to play a part.

 
At March 03, 2007 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey guys check this out

http://www.sentex.net/%7Emwandel/cannon/air_gun.html

a guy built a marble shooting airgun that will penatrate half inch ply wood.

Field Targetier

 
At March 04, 2007 8:54 AM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

Field Targetier,

I went to his site and was amazed by his resoucefulness and ingenuity.

A pity he is anti-gun. His experients with cannons and marble guns are fascinating!

Thanks for the link,

B.B.

 
At March 05, 2007 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A starter pistol in every suitcase. Believe it or not, I'm hearing about professional photographers who pack starter pistols in their equipment cases when they fly with them as checked baggage. Since it's perfectly legal to fly domestic (don't know about international) with firearms some people are finding out it's slick way of making sure the bags arrive safely at their destination. The mandatory declaration of the firearm at check-in apparently assures the case better than normal supervison as it transits the baggage system.

Don't actually know anyone who is doing this. It sounds like a reasonable work around for anyone who must check thousands of dollars worth of equipment and expect minimal compensation from the airlines if it's lost.

 
At March 05, 2007 1:53 PM, Anonymous Leon - Wolcott, NY said...

Monday, March 5, 2:45 pm EST ... still no posting from B.B. per the usual 5:30 am schedule ... is it my browser or Blogger ? Or did B.B. go skiing over the weekend and is still in the hospital with 2 tibias on the same leg LOL ?!

 
At March 05, 2007 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

leon
i cant see it either.
it dosent seem like the page is updating because it will say this is comment 25 but its like 28 or something

Field Targetier

 
At March 05, 2007 7:53 PM, Blogger dbarr said...

That makes me think the problem is probably with the web site and not that B.B. has had an accident (one hopes). It IS odd that he hasn't at least posted a comment though.

.22 multi-shot

 

Post a Comment

<< Home