Friday, May 22, 2015

Watching the (Drone) Watchers

The Telegraph published an article this week that is one of those "well, of course!" stories.  Burglars are using widely available drones to case properties, looking for places to rob. 

It got me thinking.  It's an obvious use of the technology, and one we'd better all be aware of.  Especially if there are things on our properties or behind our fences that we'd like not to be widely known about.  Google Streetview, Google Earth, Bing Maps, and any others not withstanding.  While the mapping programs will let anyone curious know if you had a valuable car, camper or boat behind the fence on the day the picture was taken but which might be gone today, the drone will allow them to get today's information.  All the drones I've seen videos of are a bit noisy, but if you have your windows shut for some reason maybe a small drone could get close enough to take pictures through your windows.

In our location, we're technically inside a city's limits, so discharging a weapon is specifically forbidden - with the exception of self defense.  Shooting a drone looking in the window probably would be hard to sell as self defense.  As far as I know, something like this would be exempt.  They're not firearms, but whether or not they're legal to shoot in the city requires a little research.  This Ruger Blackhawk Elite will push a lightweight pellet to 1200 FPS, and you'll get the loud crack from being  supersonic.  In the real gun world, I have some subsonic 22 ammo and a couple of options that are just happy to shoot that all day, but that's depending on no one complaining they heard you shooting in the back yard. 

Offered as an intellectual exercise only, ya understand.  No actual downing of drones implied or approved.  Your mileage may vary.  Do not remove tag under penalty of law. 
What do you think, guys?  Any experience with these air rifles?  It seems the Ruger name is licensed to a Chinese factory, I'm guessing Umarex.  I've heard great things about the Benjamin Marauder, an almost $500 air rifle.  Clearly you get something more for the extra $400, but for short range/under 25 yard shots across the yard, I'd think these lower end rifles would work fine. 


  1. I have a Ruger 0.177 picked up at Wally World for less than $100.

    It does punch a hole through both sides of a R-123 (auto ac) canister.

  2. Check city laws carefully - some cities ban discharge of a firearm, others ban discharge of any weapon; I've read of people getting charged for shooting a bow in some cities.

  3. Well, for that king of money I'd lean toward a Sheridan Blue Streak. Not sure if they're still in production, but about $200 if they are; Gunbroker has some for 125-150. It's a very accurate pump-up in 5mm so you can control velocity (and noise). 10-12 pumps is about as noisy as a standard velocity .22.

    Speaking of outside the box, wouldn't be hard to bring down a drone with a net. Potato guns have been made from PVC for years, something in 2" Sched 80 that fires a net in a capsule 200-250 vertical feet would work (that assumes a drone farther away than 250-300 feet isn't regarded as a problem, although it might be from a surveillance standpoint). Potato guns frequently use hair spray or butane for fuel, don't know where that falls in the laws/ordinances. I'd think light fishing line would make a decent net, and if the capsule "pops" at altitude releasing a 6-8 ft diameter coarse mesh net would do it - a prop snagging any part of the net would pull the net in. Proximity fusing would be nice, but....

    Simplifying it more, a PVC line gun firing a lightly weighted fishing line a couple hundred feet might work nearly as well. Think Point du Hoc. (There are 12 gauge line guns as maritime accessories, but it'd be more fun to build one's own.)

  4. Hmm. Alien, I like the idea of the net, but somehow a shower of pieces would be more satisfying. This wouldn't be for wide area use. Just if it's hovering near one of my windows filming the inside. I do need to look more into what Jonathon says, though. This part of Florida is more sane than some, though. It's probably OK.

    I ordered one of those reconditioned Rugers. Figure it would have to be pretty bad to not be usable over 10 yards or so. We'll see how it works out.

  5. Slingshot. Silent and accurate.

  6. Multi strand Bolas - lots of light string "legs" to entangle the props and crash it.

    Phil B

  7. SiG, I agree, there's nothing like a satisfying BANG! accompanied by recoil and a shower of shredded plastic. Having the drone pretty much whole, however, might be more useful as evidence. Or for ransom.

    Some years back I used to have a Marlin Super Goose, and an Ithaca Roadblocker, both 10 gauge and now extinct, but sometimes available on Gunbroker. The Super Goose was bolt action, with an extra-full choke and 36 inch barrel, and since no one then (or now, I think) makes 3 1/2" 10 gauge ammo with #6 shot you had to load your own. Turned out the "gray cloud" was pretty effective on crows out to about 100 yards (loaded with #4 birdshot it would fully penetrate an entire sheet of 1/4 plywood at 70 yards, but using #6 eliminated the pattern gaps). The Roadblocker had a 21' cylinder bore barrel, was hampered by 3 round capacity (2+1, although pressing the trigger 3 times was usually more than enough for anyone), and was an excellent answer to a question no one had ever asked. But, it did throw lotsa pellets (pro tip: if you ever do procure a Roadblocker, do NOT load your own 3 1/2" hulls with #9 shot over paper wads (that allows faster shot dispersion) and visit the local skeet club. Seems the sharp corners on the bricks damage the members' sphincters something awful....). Damn useful on drones, though, I'd bet.

  8. This:
    If you don't hit the drone with a soda can or tennis ball, how about a skein of yarn...

  9. Chaff might work- a bunch of light plastic ribbons a few thousandths thick x 1/8" wide by 8" long, wadded in a shell and distributed by fireworks in the vicinity of the rotor blades.
    Or a thrown projectile of some sort streaming long light strips behind it.
    Anything that will tangle rotor blades.

  10. I have a guy at work that just bought a $650 air pellet gun with a scope that shoots a 38 grain pellet at 900fps.
    He just got it nd had to replace all the O rings in it from sitting on a shelf somewhere so he has only run a few rounds through it but he is mightily impressed with it so far.
    He is looking into getting a SCUBA tank set up to recharge it.
    You can sink some serious money into these things but I am itching to get my hands on it for just a few minutes to satisfy my own curiosity.

    As for laws against such thing inside city limits, where I live it is expressly forbidden to shoot BB guns or pellet guns, just like normal fire arms.

    Wrist Rockets would be a viable option though.
    When I was a kid we used to hunt frogs in the local Mill Ponds using Wrist Rockets and a bunch of BB's pinched into the pouch.
    Pretty damn effective out to about forty feet.

  11. Since you live in Florida you can shoot on you own property, no matter where it is, even in the city. You can even have a gun range in your yard, even on a typical city lot.

    But I would recommend a .22 with a silencer @ $400 for the silencer and $200 for the NFA tax stamp. It would also come in handy picking of squirrels and other pests.

    Or get yourself some of the cheapest drones and crash them into the more expensive invasive drones.