joe songer pumpkin carving
Joe Songer’s .22LR jack-o-lantern. photo from

Sure, you can get one of those nice little pumpkin-carving kits—you know, those sets of miniature cutting tools with orange handle—to create your jack-o-lantern for Halloween. But why not do it with a little more style this witching season?

Joe Songer over at is a target shooter who decided to punch holes in a pumpkin from 100 feet with his .22LR Anshutz MSR RX22 rifle, which is a semi-auto mimic of the FN SCAR-16 rifle, instead of carving like everyone else.

In his story, he says he used subsonic rounds so they’d punch a clean hole. But anyone who has ever taken some frustration out on some evil fruit, gourds, and other assorted exploding targets at the range knows that no matter how clean the entrance hole is, the exit hole is bound to take out most of the back of the melon, or whatever it may be, even with little .22s.

Songer has a “no duh” solution that’s simple and cheap: He filled the pumpkin with moist sand. An average-sized pumpkin should have plenty of room inside to hold enough sand to slow the rounds down enough so that the bullets won’t do much damage, or even stopp completely. He had good results, with the first few rounds not penetrating the back of the pumpkin at all. But after a few rounds hit in the same spot, Songer noticed the rounds were starting to exit out the back. Repacking the sand every eight to 10 rounds solved the problem.

In addition to the Anshultz, Songer used a Smith & Wesson M&P 15/22, both paired with CCI sub-sonic 40 grain rounds with a velocity of 1,050 fps.

Another bit of advice if you’re thinking about trying this out: Songer tipped the pumpkin up or down when shooting out the eyes and mouth to make sure the bullet had the most sand to get stuck in as possible.

You can check out a step-by-step video of Songer’s full metal jack-o-lantern here, and if you give it a shot yourself, remember, shoot safe.