Okay, so I had an idea for a relatively underdeveloped resistance force in a post apocalyptic setting that uses firework based weapons. I think I could get having things that work like muskets but with firecrackers instead of powder, but the firecracker would have to be powerful. My main issue, is making things that shoot out fireworks deadly, especially to armored soldier.

Some of my ideas involve fire, and a lot of it. But I don't think that would be that helpful, and it'd cost way too much money to produce. The main weapons that I need a functional method for are:

  • A minigun that shoots roman candles
  • Mortar that shoots fireworks that explode on impact
  • Firework powered AA guns
  • Firecracker grenades

closed as unclear what you're asking by Aify, MichaelK, L.Dutch, JBH, Lio Elbammalf Nov 28 '17 at 12:00

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome to worldbuilding @SovietMario. There is an issue with your post. You say "I had an idea", and then enumerate a list with different implementations of that idea. Well that is all fine.... but where is the actual question? If you want to discuss a concept, then The Factory Floor is the place to go for that. You can do that as soon as you reach reputation 20. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Nov 27 '17 at 10:09
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Apart from that: explosive weapons and fireworks are the same thing. The "only" difference between them is that that the latter are made to make pretty lights and impressive sounds, while the former are meant to inflict injury. Sometimes these functions (unfortunately) overlap. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Nov 27 '17 at 10:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The Chinese used so-called 'fire-arrows' roughly one thousand years as weapons of war. Basically, big skyrockets, often with an arrow tip, and launched in arrays. Sometimes there's nothing new under the Sun. $\endgroup$ – a4android Nov 27 '17 at 11:14
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Aside from the title, there isn't a question mark anywhere in the body of the post. What's the question? VTCing as unclear. $\endgroup$ – Aify Nov 27 '17 at 17:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Fireworks are based on black powder. You're problem isn't designing weapons to work on fireworks, it's explaining why your people aren't emptying the black powder out of the fireworks so the guns work better. Can you help us understand why no-one would do this? $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 28 '17 at 7:06

Roman Candle Minigun- For this first one, I've found a video with a device that would work essentially like the one you're describing here. It would obviously need to be tweaked and made a bit more devastating but it's a start.

Impact Firework Mortar- There were large firework bombs known as 花火(Hanabi) which essentially acted as a giant ball of fireworks. Just add a ignition system on the innermost layer, and on impact the flame will ignite the inner chambers, and presto

AA Firework gun- Similar to the first one I have a great video on how it could work

Firework Grenade- Lucky for you, there actually were gunpowder grenades used at one time. Known as 焙烙火矢(Houroku-Hiya) these were literally gunpowder grenades that Ninjas carried with them to kill close range attackers

I encourage you to research these as well as check out Huolongjing

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Your 1st and 3rd paragraph are basically link - only. Could you expand them on a way that will keep them useful if these links to dead? $\endgroup$ – Mołot Nov 27 '17 at 8:04

Fireworks are designed for beauty, not for damage.

Many years ago, before lighting became so practical, mankind was mostly in the dark at night. Kings and other land holders would hire a pyrotechnician for celebrations and as a demonstration of their power. The display of fireworks would dazzle and delight people and remind them subtly the ruler had the power to illuminate the night sky. This is why so many celebrations in our society are celebrated with fireworks. Independence Day, New Years Eve, sporting events all have fireworks that light the sky. Beyond offering a demonstration of power, fireworks make poor weapons because they emphasize color over power and that color actually retards the destructive potential.

Fireworks and destructive weapons like a cannonball are both powered by black powder, but they use it in remarkably different ways. With fireworks, they use black powder mixed with powdered metals for color and other pyrotechnic compositions for an emphasis of color over effect.

A rack of rockets at Winterblast

Rockets Red Glare

Lets take the example of a rocket. A well-designed pyrotechnic rocket will used compressed black powder and titanium to create a trail of sparks as it powers the rocket into the air. This makes it a terrible offensive weapon because as it streaks into the air, it creates a trail that leads to the launch location and exposes your position.

A rack of mortars wired for a show

Cannonballs Versus Mortar Balls

Fireworks shells are known as mortars. They are designed to break, not to explode. A 3" shell in a tube fired from the ground is designed to break approximately 3 seconds and about 250' from the launch location. That doesn't give you much distance from your enemy. This is opposed to a cannonball which is designed to be propelled up to tens of miles from the launch point.

Fireworks are not designed for launch accuracy. If you see a mortar shell launched, they tend to wobble as they head into the sky. They are quite light in weight, with a a body composed of a thin layer of cardboard and paper are propelled with a few ounces of black powder. They move about 33 feet per second, which is not enough inertia to cause any serious damage.

To get them to cause damage, you're better off starting from scratch and creating devices to do damage. As an example, the cannonball. A 10 lb cannonball made of iron in a rifled cannon barrel can be fired with 10 lbs of black powder will have the inertia to penetrate thick walls. If you used a similar amount of black powder to launch a pyrotechnic mortar, it would most likely rupture in the cannon barrel. One of the issues designing really big shells (16" and larger) is to make the walls strong enough to handle the force of the gas expanding to send the shell into the sky. I have seen them flowerpot just above the lip of the mortar which means days and days of work put into making the shell ended in failure.

Inside of fireworks mortar - stars

It's in the stuffing

The stuffing in fireworks are round balls or cubes called stars. They consist of black powder, a color or effect, a binder and slowly rolled to build a ball or pressed to look like a cube. It all depends on the effect you desire. Because of the binder and compression, they burn slower than the black powder would burn if you are looking for maximum expansion of gas, which is what causes the shell to break as a pyrotechnic device. It can take days or weeks or months to make enough stars for a full show. In that same amount of time, you could create effective devicess which are designed to create damage.

As a licensed pyrotechnician, I feel mentioning the facts about pyrotechnics will improve your story. To sum it up, Roman candles will do no damage. A mortar could kill you, but chances are it would just injure someone and on impact, bounce and go a different direction and if you're looking for guns powered by fireworks, just use straight black powder, like we did for a thousand years.

Good luck.


Setting aside modern firearms and artillery, one good source for fireworks-based weaponry is to look specifically to early rocket weapons.

For example the early Mysorean Rockets were fitted with swords which would destabilise the end of their flights and cut through their enemies and start fires.

Experience with the Mysorean rocket led directly to the Congreve Rocket - effectively a giant metal bottle rocket utilised as artillery and famously immortalised in the US National Anthem as the 'bombs bursting in the air'

In a different, slightly earlier lineage consider the Hwacha - a type of rocket artillery that used rockets to launch arrows long distances.

Finally while this might be out of scope for you, consider the Katyusha rocket, which is so simple to manufacture it has been regularly used in insurgent operations as an impromptu form of artillery.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.