Q-switched (QS) Tm:YAG laser ablation mechanisms on urinary calculi are still unclear to researchers. Here, dependence of water content in calculus phantom on calculus ablation performance was investigated. White gypsum cement was used as a calculus phantom model. The calculus phantoms were ablated by a total 3-J laser pulse exposure (20 mJ, 100 Hz, 1.5 s) and contact mode with sample size. Ablation volume was obtained on average 0.079, 0.122, and in dry calculus in air, wet calculus in air, and wet calculus in-water groups, respectively. There were three proposed ablation mechanisms that could explain the effect of water content in calculus phantom on calculus ablation performance, including shock wave due to laser pulse injection and bubble collapse, spallation, and microexplosion. Increased absorption coefficient of wet calculus can cause stronger spallation process compared with that caused by dry calculus; as a result, higher calculus ablation was observed in both wet calculus in air and wet calculus in water. The test result also indicates that the shock waves generated by short laser pulse under the in-water condition have great impact on the ablation volume by Tm:YAG QS laser.