I created this
page because of the alarming number of emails I have received over
the years regarding the subject. Occasionally I get an email
along the lines of "tell me how to make M-80's", "why
don't you have M-80 instructions on your site?", and "how
can I make a bomb using kitchen materials?". The answer is
simple: I didn't "forget" to put instructions for
M-80s and "powerful fireworks" on my website. I never
intend on putting such information on my website. I chose NOT
to put that information on this website. Why? M-80s are
very dangerous, and very illegal.
M-80s were invented by the military (hence the M)
earlier last century to simulate gunfire/grenades during training
missions. Soon they became extremely popular with the public,
and were sold as large firecrackers. They were powerful devices
capable of blowing a human hand to pieces, and needless to say,
caused many thousands of injuries over the years. This inspired
congress to pass the Child Protection Act in 1966, which made M-80s
and cherry bombs illegal to manufacture in the United States (companies
were given until 1976 to sell off the rest of their M-80s).
Unfortunately, many people today still don't believe that the devices
are dangerous, and continue to manufacture/sell/buy M-80s despite the
severe criminal penalties that could await anyone caught doing so.
Another assumption people make is that M-80s have some relation to
dynamite; as the terms "quarter-stick" or "M-80
half-stick" are widely used to describe the power of such
explosives. Anyone who thinks so has no idea what they're
talking about. The compositions used in M-80s and cherry bombs
are completely different than those used in dynamite, and the two
can't even be compared. M-80s cannot be compared with high
"But the guy down at the reservation was selling M-80s and
tennis-ball bombs! That *must* make them legal!"
Think again. They are illegal everywhere in the United States.
EVERYWHERE. No exceptions. Just because you find someone
selling these things does not make them legal. Not even on
Indian reservations. Putting flash powder into a tennis ball
(or other object), inserting a fuse, and selling it for 20 bucks is a
very easy way to make money for people who have nothing better to do,
which is why they continue to be sold. The legal consequences
of selling or possessing these devices can be severe. Anyone
caught doing so can face prison time and devastating fines.
As mentioned before, M-80s, cherry bombs, silver salutes, and other
such devices are extremely dangerous. The number of emails I
get and the horrible injury stories I hear regarding these things
just shows how ignorant people are of the dangers of M-80s/Cherry
Bombs and what they can do to you. Unlike fireworks, which must
adhere to strict safety guidelines (like the amount of pyrotechnic
composition they can contain), M-80s and Cherry Bombs are NOT
manufactured with your safety in mind. Consumer fireworks, by
law, can contain no more than 500 grams of pyrotechnic composition.
Firecrackers can contain no more than 50 milligrams of flash powder
per cracker. On the other hand, M-80s contain up to 3 grams of
flash powder - sixty times the legal limit. These
devices are powerful enough to blow a hole the size of a fist in
thick plywood - even if it's only sitting on top of the wood
(see the pictures below)! The damage they can inflict on the
human body is even worse - I've seen many disgusting, disturbing
emergency room photographs showing a bloody, blackened stump of what
used to be a human hand or foot. Usually this happens when
someone tries to light the fuse (which is usually only an inch long)
and throw the device, only to have an unexpectedly fast burn rate
cause it to blow up in their hand. Is this how you would want
to spend the 4th of July? Losing a hand, arm, or even dying
from playing around with M-80s? The potential "fun"
or "entertainment" M-80s and Cherry Bombs may provide is
vastly outweighed by how incredibly dangerous they are.
||In 2001, someone
brought an M-80 type device to my firework show and set it off
on one of my firework launch platforms. It was 3/4"
plywood. It wasn't under the wood, it was just sitting
on it. Here are front and back pictures of wood.
The picture on the right is the top of the wood; the left one
shows the bottom.
Also, injuries caused by M-80s, Cherry Bombs, and other illegal
explosives just add fuel to the ongoing fight to ban consumer
fireworks in the United States. For more info on this, see my Fireworks
Injury Statistics Page. It discusses how
anti-firework organizations as well as the media are quick to report
on any M-80 injury as a "firework injury", even though
they're not fireworks, and lump the statistics together with those of
legal fireworks in attempt to make legal fireworks sound far more
dangerous than they really are and thus unsuitable for consumer use.
As long as you abstain from using M-80s and Cherry Bombs, there's no
possibility of you getting hurt by them and being added to the list
of "fireworks" injuries.
|Though M-80s, Cherry
bombs, and silver salutes are now illegal in the U.S.,
manufacturers of legal (1.4G) fireworks continue to name their
products things such as "M-80 Firecrackers",
"M-8000s", etc., in an attempt to lure buyers into
thinking the devices are more powerful than they really are, or
have some connection to real M-80s. But they don't - the
name is just a marketing gimmick. They're not even close
to being as powerful as real M-80s. You may be asking,
"how can I tell if a firework is real, or has been
||The first step is to
be aware of what they look like. M-80s are approximately
and inch and a half long, a half inch in diameter, with a red
casing and a stiff, short fuse coming out of the side.
Silver Salutes are basically the same, except they're silver in
color. Cherry Bombs are about an inch in diameter and can
easily be mistaken for a consumer "smoke ball".
Their outer surface is uneven and rough. Another key
factor in determining if something is legal is whether or not it
has a manufacturer's label. M-80s and other explosive
devices have absolutely no warning label, manufacturer's name,
or product number (because they weren't made in factories).
Consumer fireworks are required by federal law to have
"FIREWORKS UN0336" (the UN hazard category for
consumer fireworks) printed somewhere on the device, which is
proof to you that it was made in a factory and has been tested
and approved for your use.
If you want to
celebrate the 4th of July or some other occasion, I strongly urge you
to go to do so by buying safe, legal consumer fireworks. There
are thousands of different fireworks out there that are quite
impressive and spectacular, and far surpass the amount of
"fun" you can get by blowing something up with an M-80.