Rubber band gun

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A rubber band gun, often abbreviated to RBG,[citation needed] is a toy gun used to fire one or more rubber bands (or "elastic bands") and should not be confused with Rocket Propelled Grenades.

RBGs are often used in live-action games such as Assassins, in which they are common, popular toy weapons. They are also common in offices and classrooms. Rubber band guns have been popular toys that date back to the invention of rubber bands which were patented in England on March 17, 1845 by Stephen Perry.[1][2][3]

Types of rubber band gun[edit]

Clothespin pistol[edit]

A simple rubber band pistol using a clothespin as its firing mechanism

This is the simplest form of rubber band gun. Its firing mechanism consists solely of a clothespin. The gun may have more than one clothespin, thereby allowing more than one band to be fired.

Multiple load-Single fire[edit]

This RBG allows user to load many rubber bands around the handle of the gun, in the firing position. One rubber band is staged in the firing position and is shot by pulling a pivoting trigger. It is usually cheaper than a repeater pistol with fewer moving pieces.

Repeater pistol[edit]

The repeater (or revolver) RBG is capable of firing 10 or more rubber bands, semi-automatically. Repeater RBGs are available in a variety of semi-realistic shapes, such as Luger style pistols, rifles, and Tommy guns.

The repeater RBG is usually made of wood, and has a plastic firing mechanism, consisting of a toothed wheel onto which the bands are hooked, and a sprung trigger/escapement that releases the wheel by one notch, releasing a rubber band every time the trigger is pulled.

Gatling gun[edit]

A rubber band Gatling gun consists of between 3 and 12 repeater RBGs arranged on a cylindrical "rotor". The rotor rotates and each individual barrel is fired as it reaches the top of its locus.

The original, patented (by Surefire Products), tripod-mounted rubber band Gatling gun was featured on the Gadget Show on UK television in March 2007 and January 2010.

A twelve-barrel Gatling gun using twelve-shot repeater mechanisms can fire 144 rubber bands automatically. It is fired by manually rotating a crank handle and pulling a firing trigger.


The Disintegrator

Motorized RBGs with rotary barrels, similar to the Minigun, are among the latest developments in the world of the rubber band gun. In November 2007, Anthony Smith completed the Disintegrator, a 288-shot motorized rubber band gun with 2 counter-rotating rotors of 12 barrels each. This gun can be mounted on a tripod or fired from the hip, and can fire more than 40 rounds per second.

There are two different flavors.

  • String-operated:

A spool, with a string tied around it, pulls off rubber bands one-by-one as the string is already wound up around the barrel. The string is wound around one barrel, then a rubber band placed on that barrel, then the next barrel etc.

  • Semi-automatic mechanism operated:

Each barrel has a semi-auto mechanism on it with a makeshift trigger that is pressed once it crosses the activator.

Other Rapid-fire Designs[edit]

  • Slide mechanism:

Perhaps the most straightforward way to achieve machine gun–like rapid firing, a simple slide mechanism includes a barrel and a slide. The barrel includes a series of retaining notches at its rear end and one or more retaining notches at its forward end. A single rubber band is hooked onto each of the rear retaining notches and stretched and hooked over a forward retaining notch. The slide is a wedge-shaped structure which is able to slide along the barrel from front to rear, sequentially prying each loaded rubber band out of its respective rear retaining notch and allowing it to be discharged. Both the slide and the barrel may be fitted with handles or grips. An operator uses one hand to grasp the barrel grip and the other hand to grasp the slide grip. An advantage of this design, beyond its simplicity, it that it gives the operator complete control over rate of rubber band discharge. Slide mechanism designs have been adapted to be motor driven.

Manually driven Slide Mechanism (add picture of Pull-Auto)

Motor-driven Slide Mechanism (add picture of P211 Tandem Barrel II Machine Gun)

  • Fully automatic mechanisms:

Fully automatic mechanims for rubber band guns are analogous to fully automatic firearm mechanisms, in that the energy used to drive the gun's mechanism is derived from the same source as that which provides energy to propel the projectiles. In the case of fully automatic rubber band guns, the mechanism-driving energy is the elastic potential energy stored in the stretched rubber band ammunition loaded onto the gun. Fully automatic designs pose significant challenges to designers, such as how to control rate of fire.

Fully automatic mechanism utilizing a rotationally delayed retaining cog (add picture of Yeti30)

Fully automatic mechanism utilizing a lever-arm-deflection-rotation configuration (add picture of RotaryMek-12X)

Fully automatic mechanim utilizing a "domino-effect" sequential retention configuration (add picture of MagMek-18)


Rubber band guns can be created in many different ways.

Ice-cream stick/Popsicle Stick RBGs[edit]

"Assault rifle" rubberband gun made with ice cream sticks, with "bayonet" removed
"sniper rifle" ice cream stick RBG, with mock up scope and bolt

Rubber band guns can be made from ice-cream sticks. The individual sticks are held together by either rubber bands, tape or glue. They can also be cut or carved to the required shape. It is generally limited to pistols and sniper rifles, as only one or two shots can be loaded on most guns, but semi-automatic ice-cream stick guns have been made by determined amateurs. They can also be adapted to fire arrows or other small objects with the rubber bands. In some guns, the handle doubles as a trigger, but using triggers provide much better accuracy.

A special form of rubber band gun can be made however, using ONLY popsicle sticks, staples, and rubber bands of various styles and sizes. This specialized style developed and honed by a high-school student, Stuart Burton, is very malleable, and can be utilized to develop very advanced and complicated rubber band guns. For instance, using levers and sliding mechanisms, one can make a pump action shotgun. Using simple geometry and specialized positioning, you can easily make semi-automatic and 2-shot burst fire weapons, as well as more complicated fully automatic weapons using paperclips as an axis for a rotating firing piece. Occasionally other materials like bamboo skewers and/or other materials may be used in the making of the gun. Sights, fore grips and magazines to hold extra rubberbands may also be made, according to liking of the owner however. Through creativity and imagination, one can make detachable sights, grips, stocks, silencers, and under-barrel shotguns.

K'nex RBGs[edit]

Rubber band guns can be built from K'NEX. Such constructions can include handheld pistols, automatics and sniper rifles. Some K'NEX guns work using the escapement mechanism seen in the repeater RBG, while some more advanced types have hinge triggers that are more reliable, allow for more bands on a barrel, and have a more realistic trigger feel.

In early 2007, Sebastian Dick built a motorized Gatling RBG entirely from Lego. It is capable of firing 11 rounds per second. Lots of other builders on YouTube followed suit, building string-operated miniguns, while some even shoot bricks.

A whole load of RBGs can be built out of LEGO, from simple hinge guns to extremely complicated fire-rate dampening automatic rifles. It is difficult to devise a suitable, practical magazine gun system, though tries have been made. Currently there is a way: but it involves replacing the entire firing mechanism.

The RBG mechanism can also be used to launch light projectiles like small bricks, all the way to wooden skewers.

Lego RBGs are quite reliable, without all the complexity of K'nex. A lot of LEGO rubber band guns have been made and posted to, some even firing small bricks using the mechanism. A young adult under the name of Kaspall (caspall, capalll, or kaspalll) was known to make several lego guns and made an appearance on television in Austria.


  1. ^ Loadman, John; James, Francis (2009), The Hancocks of Marlborough: Rubber, Art and the Industrial Revolution - A Family of Inventive Genius, p. 89, ISBN 978-0-19-957355-4 
  2. ^ March 17 - Today in Science History
  3. ^ How rubber bands are made. This reference states that the rubber is vulcanized before it is extruded. The rubber is then "cured" on mandrels.[unreliable source?][not in citation given] The "Made How" reference appears to directly copy text from other sources, some of which appears to be incorrect. The exact same text regarding Thomas Hancock appears in a 1995 book entitled "CD's, super glue and salsa: how everyday products are made" by Kathleen Witman, Kyung-Sun Lim, Neil Schlager. Contradicting other sources, both credit Thomas Perry rather than Stephen Perry for the invention of the rubber band.

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