Episode 167: Dodge a Bullet

Air Date: June 1, 2011

It is possible to dodge a bullet if the shooter is far enough away the target.

busted

Adam and Jamie called in a U.S. Army sniper for some preliminary tests to measure the time it took for a bullet to reach its target. After some failed attempts, they obtained travel times of 231, 597, and 1791 ms for distances of 200, 500, and 1,200 yd (180, 460, and 1,100 m), respectively. Next, the pair did some workshop tests to find how quickly they could dodge a shot, using a camera flash to simulate the muzzle flash. Jamie proved slightly faster, dodging in 490 ms; based on this result, he and Adam calculated that the shooter would have to be at least 400 yd (366 m) away.

They then watched Dave fire standard blank cartridges from various distances and found that they could not see his muzzle flash at all past 200 yd (183 m). When he switched to Hollywood-style blanks with much heavier gunpowder loads, they could easily see the flash out to 1,200 yd (1,097 m). Finally, they set up a blank-firing rifle at 200 yards, wired to a timer and paintball gun; when one man pulled the trigger, a paintball would be fired directly at the other’s chest after 231 ms. Neither was able to dodge any shots until the rifle was moved to 500 yd (457 m) (600 ms delay) and loaded with Hollywood blanks. Adam and Jamie declared the myth busted, since an actual sniper would take precautions to ensure that the target would not see the muzzle flash.

A person who falls from a great height into water will sustain the same injuries as if he had landed on pavement.

busted

The Build Team fitted Buster with accelerometers, hauled him up with a construction crane, and dropped him feet-first onto pavement and water. Drops from 25 ft (8 m) gave g-force measurements of 60 g on pavement, but less than 25 g on water (the lower threshold that the instruments could measure). At 75 ft (23 m), the team obtained a reading of 29 g for water, but over 500 g for pavement (the upper measuring limit). To investigate the effect of body orientation on impact forces, the team did more drops with Buster in a belly-flop position. Pavement and water drops from 25 ft (8 m) gave 286 g and 115 g, respectively, while 50 ft (15 m) drops maxed out the instrument on pavement and registered 220 g on water.

For a final test at terminal velocity (roughly 120 miles per hour), Tory threw two pig carcasses out of a helicopter at 600 ft (183 m), after which they were X-rayed to determine injuries. The pavement drop resulted in 17 fractures, a shattered pelvis, and a decapitation, while the water drop yielded 7 fractures and a broken neck. Since no water landing produced the same level of impact force or injury as a fall from the same height onto pavement, the team declared the myth busted.

18 Comments

  1. andries says:

    “car cut in half with thermite”"Thermite and ice explosion”Combinne the two put the car full of ice and then try cut it in half.I hope for a BIG boom…..

  2. Scott says:

    I think you busted the bullet dodging a little fast. If it were dusk or dark you could see the flash a lot farther. A sniper has the ability to shoot at night.

    • Derp says:

      Thats of course assuming you are expecting the shot and have an idea of where said sniper is. Otherwise I seriously doubt you could consciously dodge a bullet.

      • Thomas says:

        Well if Dusk enables you to see the bullet lets say up to the 1200 mark you would have according to the graf just less than 2 sec to avoid. Say you are a military on guard duty, you would probably know a muzzle flash and take cover by reflex. So a night or dusk time test at 1200 might give a plausible result.

  3. Scott says:

    Also your foil timer would have worked fine if you had freely hung the stop switch instead of putting right on the metal plate. A few inches would probably do it.

  4. Boof says:

    Hi this isnt to do with the topic here i just couldnt find the exploding paint cane episode which is on in australia right now :p anyhow 3 years ago i left some of my paint for my car in my car and it exploded and no it wasnt the first time it happend too me it also happend in the car before that i think its the amount of thinners and paint mix that affects the paint from exploding in the heat like how my poor bunderburg rum exploded on my passel shelf leaving glass everywhere also have had cds melt in the heat or could be reflections corsing one point too course it too go

  5. Jose says:

    I agree the bullet busting myth was busted too quickly. I wouldn’t like to be the test subject, though. I’d rather have one of my enemies try to bust it! God luck on that busted! Regardless it’s better to die trying to dodge the bullet than not doing it!

  6. Speed of Sound says:

    The speed of a bullet lets say aound 1000ft + per/sec and the speed of sound about 600ft per/sec. So the bullet would more than likely hit you before you would hear the bang. Only being a given distance where the bullet slowed down below 600ft/per/sec would maybe and very maybe give you any chance of moving in time. This would be a better test for the mithbusters to do.

    • Patrick says:

      Speed of sound = 761 mph
      Typical rifle muzzle velocity = 2000 mph

      This myth is about the speed of light, not the speed of sound. A bullet will never slow down to under the speed of sound before landing or ricocheting off of something. Even if it did, it would still be far in front of the soundwave for twice that time.

      Speed of light (in a vacuum) 670,616,629 mph

      Since the bullet will never be travelling faster than that, you will see it before it hits you everytime, unless you can no longer make it out.

      So the only variable is reaction time and “escape” time, which they tested and busted.

      • Kevin says:

        Agreed the distance required wouldnt be a shootable distance

  7. Chris says:

    To redo the test just find out how far one might see the shot at night.
    Regarding the point about knowing it’s coming, just try to think the person is 007… As though they know they know they might be shot.

  8. luis says:

    wow how do you guys do a the stuff

  9. sean priddle says:

    can you actually get a car that can float and drive on water. Im 10 and I love your show

  10. Geoff says:

    a normal .45 pistol, 300 paces out. you have 3 seconds until impact to dodge.

  11. Pryz Fytr says:

    @Geoff, no right-minded sniper will use a .45 from 300 meters. Or 100.
    If I were a sniper, I’d consider shooting to the left or right of the target, if I knew they were looking in my direction. If they are not – and there’s a HUGE chance of that – it’s all over.

  12. Kevin says:

    This myth assumes that the target is looking for the sniper, if the target was looking for the sniper though an ocular device they might be able to see the muzzle flash and get out of the way….I’d like to see that tested

  13. Matthew says:

    Dude…. some ninjas are so fast that you cannot shoot them.

  14. Madars says:

    A person who falls from a great height into water will sustain the same injuries as if he had landed on pavement.

    Change “the same” with “fatal” and it’s all good!

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