The Gauss Rifle

Table: 3
Experimentation location: Home
Regulated Research (Form 1c): No
Project continuation (Form 7): No



Vedantu. “Gauss Rifle.” VEDANTU, 27 Apr. 2022, Accessed 25 Oct. 2022.

Chemin, Arsène, et al. “Magnetic Cannon: The Physics of the Gauss Rifle.” American Journal of Physics, 16 June 2017, Accessed 25 Oct. 2022.

Department of Energy. “How Maglev Works.”, 14 June 2016, Accessed 25 Oct. 2022.

Science Buddies Staff. "Build a Gauss Rifle!" Science Buddies, 3 June 2021, Accessed 25 Oct. 2022

Additional Project Information

Project website: -- No project website --
Research paper:
Additional Resources: -- No resources provided --

Research Plan:

How does a Gauss rifle work? When you give the trigger ball a slight nudge, it moves forward. As it gets closer to the neodymium magnet, the magnetic force pulls the ball toward the magnet. The ball bearing accelerates toward the magnet due to the magnetic force acting on it. When the trigger ball bearing hits the magnet, it transfers its energy and momentum to the magnet. Without moving, the magnet then transfers the momentum from the trigger ball to the first ball bearing on the opposite side of the magnet. This concept is called conservation of momentum. The ball bearing then hits the ball bearing next to it and momentum keeps getting transferred until the last ball bearing shoots off. In a rifle with more than one magnet stage, the magnetic field from the second magnet attracts this last ball bearing, the ball bearing accelerates toward the second magnet, and the process starts again. The only difference is that the ball bearing from the previous magnet stage gives the second magnet more energy than the ball bearing that started the chain reaction. (Science Buddies Staff)

How is the energy transferred? A Gauss rifle uses magnetic stages containing magnets and ball bearings. (Science Buddies Staff) When you use opposite ends of magnetic poles to move magnets forward, it changes the magnetic energy into moveable, or kinetic energy (Department of Energy) (Chemin et al.). All of these magnets are lined up in a straight line to minimize error and friction (Vedantu). The reason the magnets gain velocity is because the different poles of magnets push the balls forward which changes the magnet’s energy into kinetic energy, which is the energy of movement (Department of Energy) (Chemin et al.). The more magnet stages the Gauss rifle has, the more magnets it has, which increases the ending projectile’s velocity (Science Buddies Staff).

So how fast is the final ball bearing going when it leaves the rifle? What is its velocity? How far will it go? In this project, I will answer these questions and look at how the velocity of the final ball bearing depends on the number of magnet stages. The distance that the ball travels will depend on how fast the ball was going when it was shot, as well as on earth's gravitational force which will eventually pull the ball down. (Science Buddies Staff)

Questions and Answers

1. What was the major objective of your project and what was your plan to achieve it? 

The objective was to see if increasing the number of manget stages increased the velocity of the ball bearing. 

       a. Was that goal the result of any specific situation, experience, or problem you encountered?  

I was interested in how Maglev trains move so fast.

       b. Were you trying to solve a problem, answer a question, or test a hypothesis?

I was trying to answer a question.


2. What were the major tasks you had to perform in order to complete your project?

I had to build the tracks for the runway, increase and attach the magnets, and measure how far the ball travels.


3. What is new or novel about your project?

This project isn't nessesarily new scientific knowledge, but it was new for me.

       a. Is there some aspect of your project's objective, or how you achieved it that you haven't done before?

I learned how to solve physics calculations.

       b. Is your project's objective, or the way you implemented it, different from anything you have seen?

This was not different from anything I've seen.

       c. If you believe your work to be unique in some way, what research have you done to confirm that it is?

It is not unique.


4. What was the most challenging part of completing your project?

The most challenging part was to hit the ball with the same force each time.

      a. What problems did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?

A problem I encountered was how to accurately measure the ball bearing's distance, and I used a blanket to help mark the impression.

      b. What did you learn from overcoming these problems?

I learned to be resourseful and to use what materials I have.


5. If you were going to do this project again, are there any things you would you do differently the next time?

I would have found a more precise way to hit the starting ball bearing each time.


6. Did working on this project give you any ideas for other projects? 

No, it did not.


7. How did COVID-19 affect the completion of your project?

Covid had no impact on my project.