How To: Make a Powerful PVC Air Cannon with Coaxial Piston Valve

Make a Powerful PVC Air Cannon with Coaxial Piston Valve

The video featured in this article demonstrates the function and design of a powerful form of air cannon that operates using a purpose made valve that opens very rapidly. This allows for a massive amount of pressurized air to be released at once to throw a projectile many hundreds of yards.

The design of the cannon also allows the barrel and the air chamber to occupy the same space, and so it is very compact and manageable which makes for an enjoyable shooting experience.

To understand how the valve I use in this cannon works, examine the third animation on this post over at SpudFiles. I also go into more detail of how these cannons function in a video I made many years ago, showing how to build a smaller version using these same principles.


It is specifically against manufacturer recommendations to use PVC to contain pressurized air. This video is solely for education and entertainment purposes.


The parts used in this cannon are as follows:

  • (1) 3' length of 3" diameter pressure rated PVC pipe
  • (1) 3'2" length of 2" diameter pressure rated PVC pipe
  • (1) 1/2" PVC ball valve
  • (1) 1/2" x 2" long threaded PVC pipe nipple
  • (1) 1 1/2" to 1/2" threaded PVC reducer
  • (1) 3" to 1 1/2" PVC reducer
  • (1) 3" PVC coupling
  • (1) 3" female threaded adapter
  • (1) 3" male threaded adapter
  • (1) 3" to 2" PVC reducer
  • (4) 1" long self tapping screws
  • (1) brass air compressor tank valve
  • (2) 3" galvanized steel gas vent tee caps
  • (1) 3" rubber washer or sheet rubber
  • (1) 3" tank to bowl rubber gasket

Other supplies and tools needed:

  • PVC primer & cement
  • Epoxy
  • Superglue
  • TFE pipe thread paste
  • Coarse and fine sandpaper
  • Bench grinder or metal files
  • Drill & bits
  • Bicycle pump or air compressor

Thanks for watching!

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Attractive, low-cost, and life threatening! My favorite combinations :D


Can you explain more about where to get the 3inch to 2 inch reducer? The one you use is not a standard design, most reducers dont allow for the two pipes to fit one inside of the other.

EDIT: Diligent googling prevailed, the 3x2 inch reducer is known as a "flush bushing" :)

Sorry for the delay, glad you found it!

how potato will lift ? when piston is 3 inch &potato is 2 that case piston will not touch the potato.also air will not pass across piston ?

I ran across your guide last night. Wanting to try my hand at blade making but not put a lot of money into it until I was sure I wanted to jump in. I went and picked up everything I needed last night

Does anybody know the final cost of this design?

What exactly did you use for the rubber washer in the puck please? I have mine fully assembled but all of the air keeps coming out the back, so I'm thinking my puck isn't moving.

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