If you’ve ever watched a Batman movie or played Just Cause, you’ve probably thought “wow, using a grappling hook would be so much fun.” YouTuber Built IRL, whose name is JT, thought so too — and he’s been working on making that happen for the past year. The end result is a grappling hook gun that functions pretty similarly to the ones we’ve seen in movies and games.
As you’ll see in the video above, this new grappling gun is more impressive than many previous attempts. For one thing, it’s self-contained — the entire unit fits on his arm, including the CO2-powered blasting mechanism that shoots the hook using standard cartridges, and a very powerful 10,000W motor that’s properly fast and can completely pull him up into the air. (He shows off some previous historical attempts to build such a gadget, and definitely seems like his hook would win the grappling gun race.)
Unlike some other DIY grappling hooks, JT’s contraption can also bring him back down to earth. He can control his direction and speed with a wheel near his thumb.
You can also see some of the real-world limitations of a grapple gun, ones that Batman never had to deal with since he’s a work of fiction. The device can be hard to control — partly because JT’s trying to use his thumb while also supporting all his weight with one hand. For the most part, he uses it attached to a harness, so the impact of being yanked up into the air can be spread across his whole body instead of being dragged by a single arm. (Just thinking about that makes my shoulders hurt.)
It also turns out that wrapping a grappling hook around whatever you’re trying to climb isn’t as easy as it seems in Overwatch or Titanfall 2. That’s especially true when it’s being fired out of something attached to your arm.
Despite the drawbacks, the device still works shockingly well for something so small, and it’s awesome to see a project like this come together. He’s also working on a version of Spider-Man’s web shooters, and his success with the grappling gun makes me think he may actually have a shot.
If you want to see the origins of the project, you can check out the video JT made with Hacksmith Industries in November 2019. If you want to see the entire build process, you can also check out this playlist of videos detailing the project’s evolution.