For hundreds of years, cannons were used for warfare, both on ships and on land. By the late 1800s/early 1900s, however, rifle shells made the cumbersome cannonballs obsolete. And soon, autocannons more closely resembling machine guns than the black powder cannons of yore became the preferred weapon for combat vehicles.
That said, traditional black powder, or gunpowder, cannons still exist. But with little use for them in combat scenarios, they’re housed mainly in museums. Those found online are mostly miniature replicas, meant to decorate the desks and bookshelves of antique enthusiasts.
We’re in the age of the internet, however. And if you really want something – and are willing to pay enough to get it – you can probably have it. So while it’s a little strange that a random YouTuber owns a fully functional black powder cannon, is it all that surprising if you really think about it? I would venture to say no, not at all.
The YouTuber in question, named Edwin Sarkissian, lives in the California desert, allowing him the freedom to fire the various weapons in his collection at gummy bears, tortillas, Teslas, oxygen tanks, jars of Nutella … anything he can get his hands on, it appears.
In his latest questionable “science project,” the YouTuber fired a bowling ball from a black powder cannon, sending it soaring three miles into the desert. Was it entirely safe? Absolutely not. But when you have more than 4 million subscribers, you have to do whatever it takes to keep their attention.
Why You Probably Shouldn’t Play With a Black Powder Cannon
Now, the YouTuber lovingly refers to this massive weapon as a “bowling ball cannon;” and while that does aptly describe its primary use, it’s still powered by gunpowder.
For those unaware, here’s how a black powder cannon works. The user must first load gunpowder into the barrel, typically followed by paper or hay. Finally, the cannonball is thrown in on top. Lighting the fuse threaded through the touch hole causes the gunpowder to ignite, the force of the ensuing explosion launching the cannonball within.
It’s unquestionably a volatile weapon. Add too much gunpowder or fail to notice a fracture in the barrel and the entire thing could explode.
Not to mention, the YouTuber and his friend are front-loading a cannon by hand in the desert. Gunpowder is extremely sensitive to ignition sources, including flame, sparks, impact, and friction. One wrong move and he could’ve blown his hand off or worse.
All that said, watching a cannon hurl a bowling ball across a barren desert and into a canyon was admittedly satisfying. The men miraculously avoided serious injury, and shrieked and giggled throughout the entire video, clearly enjoying themselves. It’s obvious why the YouTuber’s ill-advised adventure garnered more than 3 million views.