Fireworks Guide: Bangers & Airbombs

Two very noisy - and now illegal - types of UK firework.

Key information

  • A banger is a small tube-shaped firework which is usually lit and thrown down, banging loudly. Now illegal in the UK.
  • Airbombs eject a projectile into the air which then bangs. Also loudly, and also now illegal in the UK.
  • Both are very common black market fireworks.
  • Airbomb cakes – barrages with multiple bangs that fire one by one – are, paradoxically, still legal in the UK.

Bangers

If you’re over a certain age and into fireworks you’ll probably have fond memories of messing around with these in your youth. Banned in the late nineties, bangers were the quintessential nuisance firework given their cheap cost and the ease with which they could be thrown.

It was probably no surprise that they were on the UK government’s hit-list along with several other “pocket money” fireworks in an attempt to remove the fireworks being misused by the youth of the last century. 

Vintage bangers.
Airbombs
Airbombs (see below).

Because bangers are still legal in many European countries, they do occasionally turn up for sale in the UK via black market channels. These would be illegal and unregistered “white van” sellers and illegal online sellers (some of whom post to the UK, also illegal). If you come across sellers like this, or bangers for sale, be warned they’re an illegal firework and that shipping them via the post is also illegal.

Vintage bangers
Some more vintage bangers.

Airbombs

Another favourite of many of our youths, airbombs have no other purpose than creating a very loud bang. Typically from one shot launched from a tube but sometimes a double effect. Technically, airbombs are single or double shot roman candles.

Airbombs were banned a little later than bangers, in the noughties, as part of continuing efforts to remove pocket money nuisance fireworks from sale in the UK. Because it was the cheap cost and appeal to children that drove this ban, larger cakes and barrages containing effects which only bang (in effect, a battery of airbombs) are still fully legal. So you’re not allowed to make a single loud bang, but say 25 in a row is fine. One of the many peculiarities of UK fireworks legislation!

Like bangers, airbombs are a popular black market firework in the UK and Ireland. Be warned that however genuine and “legal” airbombs might look (some are sold as replicas of popular brands such as Black Cat), they’re an illegal firework in the UK.

Thanks to UKFR Forum members TONYB and fozzboy for kindly supplying the photos used on this page.

Further information and next steps

If you are following the Beginner’s Guides then you can click here to return to that page. Alternatively you can click here to see the main menu of each firework type in this section if you want to read more (or click on the menu at the top of this page to access all of our guides).

If you have any questions then please feel free to join our busy Fireworks Forum and ask away. We’re always here to help beginners and no question is too silly.

If you’re ready to buy fireworks for your display then our Buying Fireworks section will guide you further.