Episode 95: James Bond Special 1

Air Date: January 16, 2008

In this episode the MythBusters began testing various myths inspired by James Bond movies.

An electromagnet hidden in a wristwatch can deflect bullets.


Jamie built an electromagnet that could fit inside a wristwatch and mounted it near a target. Next they fired bullets at the target, making sure that the bullets passed close by the electromagnet. However, the wristwatch-sized electromagnet was not powerful enough to change the bullet’s trajectory. The Mythbuster then upgraded to a larger and more powerful electromagnet, but it still couldn’t deflect the bullet. Finally, the Mythbusters resorted to using a series of thirteen super powerful permanent rare earth magnets, which only deflected the bullet by a minor amount. The Mythbusters explained that a magnet’s energy decreased exponentially the farther away you are from the magnet. Plus, in order to be powerful enough to stop a bullet, an electromagnet would need an enormous amount of energy that couldn’t possible be contained within a wristwatch, which makes most of the magnet scenes in Bond films impossible.

(Based on Bond’s wristwatch in Live and Let Die.)

A person can shoot a propane tank and make it explode.


First, the Build Team decided to test whether it was possible to breach a propane tank with Bond’s 9mm handgun. They found that 9mm rounds were not powerful enough to breach the tank, but shotgun shells and .30 caliber rifle rounds were more than enough to pierce the tank. They then fired armor piercing rifle rounds at a tank filled with propane, but could not get the tank to explode. Not even tracer rounds were successful. Finally, the Build Team resorted to extreme measures. They found that the only sure way to make a propane tank explode was to use high explosive or a high powered Gatling gun firing incendiary rounds. The Build Team concluded that Bond (and most people) would not normally have access to such weaponry, busting the myth.

(Based on a scene in Casino Royale.)

A speedboat jumping off a ramp and flying through the air can survive the landing and continue driving.


The Mythbusters obtained a boat which was identical to the model Bond used in the movie. They then converted it so that it could be remote controlled and built a makeshift ramp in Yosemite Lake. They even put a barge with a car under the ramp to simulate the exact scene from the movie. Adam drove the boat at the ramp at a speed of 45 miles per hour, but lost control of the boat at the last second. As a result, the boat managed to clear the car, but flipped in the process. However, seeing that there was no visible damage to the boat, the Mythbusters decided that the myth was plausible.

(Based on a scene in Live and Let Die.)


  1. Beverly says:

    Just watched the Spy Myths episode and think I can answer the question of whether the James Bond boat can survive that jump. Yes. We jump our boats and yet they live…… and, one of our boats is quite a lot larger than the subject boat in that episode (12,000 pounds, 30 feet long).

  2. Bee says:

    My 7-year-old son loved this episode and wants to know where he can get the remote control boat used as the model. Does anyone have ideas?

    • Leen says:

      Funded by the NRA? the KKK? a new billionaire PAC dgseenid to deceive America? the society to further ignornace, hatred and bigotry in America??? What a disgusting pair you two are. TWENTY children were murdered in Newtown. If your child had been one of the children, would you still defend the freedom for all to own guns of war. How much do the big boys pay you to spread their propaganda and lies???

      • clay says:

        I wish they would! I say that while gun control may help with temporary insanity cases, if the bad guy really wants that gun, he’s going to get it.

  3. Charles Molsbee says:

    Concerning the 9 MM round in the propane tank. 100 % agree no explosion, because no ignition with the propane in liquid state in tank. However, curious as to type of 9 MM round used. I think 9 MM with Jacketed HP in the 158 Gr. range would puncture one side, which in my mind is ideal situaton for penetration, heat for ignition, and liquid to gas at site for possible explosive end. Any comments. Just curious. Love the show and especially love Kari.

  4. Gina says:

    I watched the Bond episode for a class. I thought it was going to be real.. Little I know!

  5. Kusumura says:

    Wow… After so many years of just believing 007 was a load of bull.. It’s now proved. But I loved it still. XD

  6. Kusumura says:

    Oh, erm.. A suggestion on that.

    In Live and Let Die, Bond uses the buzz-saw watch gadget. Is it possible to make something similar or is that just a load of it as well?

  7. Jay says:

    Do your eyes bug out if you sneeze with your eyes open.

  8. John Kernusz says:

    You cannot deflect a bullet with a magnet because ther are virtually no bullets made with ferrous metals. They are made of mostly lead with a thin copper jacket to keep from erroding the barrel. Everybody (except Jamie and Adam) knows that you must have iron to be attracted to a magnet

    • David Furr says:

      Thank you John K. Lead and copper are not attracted to a magnet, electro or rare earth.

      • P Fudd says:

        Ah yes, but a moving conductor (of almost any kind of metal or even salty water) in a magnetic field will generate a current, which in turn generates another magnetic field, in the opposite direction to the original magnetic field.

        The electric train cars in Vancouver, Canada (SkyTrain) use magnetic fields and aluminium plates between the railway tracks to move. The submarine in “The Hunt for Red October” used magnetic fields and salt water.

    • Manicol says:

      in fact Adam made several bullets from steel for that mith…steel is attracted to magnets.

  9. John Kernusz says:

    Using a 9 MM with Jacketed HP in the 158 Gr will get even less penetration in the propane tank test. The (HP) stands for hollow point which is designed to cause large destruction in soft skinned objects such as humans and game animals.

  10. glen j says:

    they do make a 9mm incendary round that burn at 3000 degrees also a hand load will also increase power on the small bore round
    they also make a 30-06 and 308 incendary round for a rifle there is no need for a mini gun there is also a “rufus ” round which is also and incendary round that burns at 5000 degrees so i really don’t think this ia BUSTED

  11. jerry says:

    just watched your james bond episode, you negelected to test the bullet for magnetic pull, you cannot get ferrous metals to stick to a magnet no matter how big or how many i busted this myth 30 years ago in high school science class

  12. glen j says:

    copper and lead have no magnetic attraction when it hit the tape it was do to a “wild” bullet it happens

  13. glenn mott says:

    bullets are made of lead and magnets only work on metel and you need to shoot from farther away because the bullet was going
    to fast for the magnet to have a chance of stoping the bullet.

    • MSpears says:

      Lead IS a metal. It just isn’t a FERROUS metal (i.e., a type of metal that is attracted to magnets).

  14. glen j says:

    it won’t matter if you are10 feet or 100 yards no maganet will stop a lead or a jacketed bullet NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO

  15. Anonymous says:

    as the bullet travel through a changing magnetic field (due to the difference in the proximity to the magnet) it generates a current, which will interact with the original field. This would cause some of the kinetic energy to be transformed into electrical, which would then be disipated as heat. (just think of the bullet as a 1 turn coil)

  16. Josh says:

    The shotgun should have worked.

  17. west side willy says:

    how many nig nugs do u smell?

  18. There are several video’s on YouTube.com of people shooting propane tanks. And none of them explode on the first shot. They all puncture the tank, then a spark from a later shot causes them to explode.

  19. DaveM says:

    Lots of people here claiming that bullets are invariably made of lead, not steel.

    This is not true. Lots of bullets have steel in them, in both the jacket and the core. There are various reasons for this. Sometimes it’s because of environmental regulations (lead is toxic). More commonly, it depends on the purpose of the bullet. Armor piercing bullets often contain steel, because lead is too soft. Usually the core will be steel, but often the jacket as well.

    A very common example of a steel jacket + steel core bullet is the Soviet 7.62x39mm cartridge (big steel core, copper plated steel jacket, bit of lead between core and jacket), which you can read about here:


    • MSpears says:

      @DaveM: Thank you! I would’ve said the exact same thing, but you beat me to it. And steel IS attracted to magnets.

  20. colt1911 says:

    The show is great to get rid of an afternoon but it is still great. For your test of the “bullet deflecting watch”, “copper and lead have no magnetic attraction when it hit the tape it was do to a “wild” bullet it happens” posted by glen j. if you watch the slow mo of the last shot, it shows the bullet was wild right out of the barrel. This is maybe due to how the mythbusters care for their firearms unlike many gun owners. One thought on how they can stop the bullet with a magnetron, pull it up in front of the target. haha.

  21. glen j says:

    thank you colt i am glad i wasn’t the only one that seen that and dave a lot of rifle bullet have steel inside them as far as i can find there is no 9mm that has a steel core i load the little round if there is asteel core for the round i would love to know about it

  22. John M says:

    Actually, anything that conducts electricity will be affected by a moving magnet (or by moving next to a magnet, such as flying by). The reason is something called ‘eddy currents’. the principle is that moving magnetic fields create electricity and moving electric charge creates magnetism. so the conductive bullet moves by the magnets, the magnets cause electric current to flow around in a circle in the bullet, the electric current creates a magnetic field that pushes against the initial field.

    The math works out such that eddy currents always resist motion, for a great example, find a non magnetic pipe such as an aluminum one and drop a magnet down it. it will fall more slowly than it would not inside the pipe.

    • Doug Orr says:

      An aluminum pipe is not a good choice for that test. Aluminum is paramagnetic, meaning it will become magnetic in the presence of a magnetic field. This is why aluminum is used in alnico (aluminum, cobalt, nickel) magnets. Cobalt and nickel are related to iron and also ferromagnetic.

  23. colby kap says:

    I love your show. my favrite episode was the superhero special I want to see you pick a lock.

  24. brandon kimber says:

    how fast you can trash a mansion
    OH i really like your show id watch it but my parents wont pay the dish bill

  25. Milton says:

    I was a bit disappointed in the bullet/electromagnet segment. Why would 007 want to *ATTRACT* a bullet? As others have mentioned, a more plausible theory of operation for this device would be to use an EMP to deflect the bullet. I would have loved to see the segment done with silver bullets (for high electrical conductivity, so the bullet deflects more and melts less). I would have liked to see the electromagnet hooked up to a bank of capacitors charged to a high voltage, with an EMP discharge triggered by the bullet itself disrupting the field of a separate prox probe.

    Any chance of re-visiting this one?

    I’m a big fan of the show!

  26. Greg says:

    I am a fan of the show. The only way I see the watch deflecting bullets, actually working is if you had two of them and the bullet was made entirely out of aluminum. It will slow down the bullet due to Lenz’s Law. However other than that the idea of this working as in the 007 movies, although cool, is high unlikely and is purely science fiction. Good job though guys.

  27. Christine and Ted says:

    Ted watched the filming of the James Bond episode in the bayous of LA. The problem with the MB reproduction was the ramp construction. It was all wrong. The stunt is real and worked. The MB ramp lacked the plywood supported structure and conveyor belt like rollers.

    • MSpears says:

      A good point, but unfortunately an irrelevant one, because the whole point of the myth was “could the boat make that jump without damage?” and it clearly could have, if Adam hadn’t lost control at the last second.

  28. alexandra says:

    c’mmon men I like the show but put coupple interesting myths . your show will be more than great

  29. Russ says:

    Loved the exploding propane tank. If I remember correctly, they mentioned the pressure in the tank was 240 psi. Unless they covered the tank in black plastic and parked it in the sun…. Tables show 240 psi occurring at 124.1 F.

  30. Tom says:

    C&T: Oh, no doubt the movie stunt worked. But was the boat sailable afterwards? It’s acceptable for movie makers to write off stunt vehicles. For instance, the bus jump in Speed, which was ‘real’ – they did a jump on flat ground and edited it to appear over the freeway gap – wrote off the bus afterwards.

  31. Paul Badenhorst says:

    Propane tank
    The first test should contain some fluid because propane will be a liquid in the tank. (water?)
    Higher velocity rounds need to be used to penetrate a metal skin of that thickness with a pistol or revolver. (.357 or .44 Mag)
    The type of bullet (projectile) is important some other bullets, other than copper jacketed ball may have better results.
    Then there are “special” bullets… ok, dangerous but one needn’t be near the handgun for this test. These could possibly be manufactured by a spy gadgetteer.

    Electromagnet wristwatch
    The effect on a ballistic gel target with all the tests would be interesting.
    Using a copper jacketed ball would also have been an interesting test. What effect would the eddy effect have on the jacketed ball?

  32. Zach Heller says:

    When Bond shoots the propane tank in the movie, he hits the valve on the top of the tank. In the Mythbusters episode, they just shot the side of the tank with the Walther P99. I hope that they will revist this so that we can see what will happen. Please revist this!

    • MSpears says:

      He did? I’ll have to go back and watch that again, in frame advance.

  33. dude says:

    kari = HOT

  34. Kassie says:

    They should of have tried the 9mm gunn on the propane tank because inside the propane tank the preasure was different to the preasure of the empty propane tank and the magnetic watch James Bond was pointing the watch towards the bulet not sideways on

  35. caleb says:

    well thats your opinion but have you read any one else’s.

  36. caleb says:

    Even though the pistol didn’t pierce the tank, it would be pressurized so it will exploded.

  37. caleb says:

    if it was pressurized then it “might” explode.

  38. howie0 says:

    the 9mm shot was at an un pressurized tank even if it didn’t penetrate, the bullet would have thinned the metal of the tank, making it weak(never use a dented tank lol). the shooting of the valve( as one poster said) could make your secondary spark plausible( if the collar isn’t painted and the valve isn’t clear coated or the handle is steel) a lot of variables you didn’t even explore.

    i work on kitchen trailors in the army, all a sniper with a barrett 50 cal has to do is put a hole in the tank and the burners on the trailor will do the rest. big white 100 pound propane tanks make an excellent target lol.

  39. Michael says:

    I just watched the part of the Casino Royale movie where Bond (Craig) shoots the propane tank. This was attempted on MB. But on MB the crew only tried to shoot the side of the tank to make it explode, but in the movie he shoots the valve off. Also on another website for propane safety it states that if the tank got hot enough it could explode. In the movie the tanks sit outside in the direct sunlight in a hot climate. These two together might cause an explosion.

  40. Michael says:

    Oh, and the tanks were a navy blue color which would conduct heat as well, as evidenced by my car seats in the summer.

  41. Goordon says:

    I am an inventor looking for a list of servos and Radio control equipment that was used in the James Bond boat jumping over the car and the boat driving away. Can you give me a list of the parts used for that? Can you tell me where to find the parts?

  42. jughead says:

    i personally saw a propane tank set on fire with a tracer round. it didnt explode but blew a fire ball across a 12 ft. dirt road. it was a 50 bfg at 300 yards. the guy has it on video but hasnt been able to find it yet. i submit that some of these myths are not carved in stone just hard to duplicate.

    • Ramazi says:

      I installed the paagcke last night in a brand new SC 6.2 install. I made some dummy templates and tried to generate the custom items but the generate button didn’t do anything. I suspect something may have been missing from the paagcke? Today I’m going to pull the source from SVN and build it myself.

  43. larry says:

    bullets are lead.lead does not stick to magnets.pretty simple,busted

    • MSpears says:

      Bullets often have a copper or steel jacket, depending on the purpose of the bullet. And as has already been stated in this thread, anything that conducts electricity will be affected by a moving magnet (or by moving next to a magnet, such as flying by) due to ‘eddy currents’.

      The problem is not that lead does not stick to magnets. The problem is that the bullet is just too darned fast.

  44. Thebeastie says:

    For “A person can shoot a propane tank and make it explode.” myth I was under the impression I an AK47 shot went off in that scene for Casino Royale, at the practically exact same time as Bond fires his gun.
    I believe in the heat of the situation one of the soldiers fired a shot next to the pieced propane tank causing the explosion simply from the fire flame coming out of his rifle.

    Bond could be a crack shot where he fires a few rounds faster then you can see/hear in the exact same place, first shot weakens the the tank, second shot breaks through.

    Don’t tell me you haven’t seen those Texas types that on TV that can fire more then 1 shot when you could swear you only saw/heard him fire 1 shot off.

  45. J Hughes says:

    bullets are lead.lead does not stick to magnets.pretty simple,busted

    January 25, 2009 at 11:19 PM

    there is one effect you have not considered
    if the metal is conductive and moving through a magnetic field then eddy currents are created and thus the metal will act as a magnet.
    This can be demonstrated with a simple electrich ( dc brushed) motor
    take a simple motor ( like the ones used in toys) and put a pully on th eshaft to act as a flywheel
    spin it and see how long it takes to slow and stop
    then short out the connectors and try again
    you will see it stops MUCH quicker.

    the motor stays the same the only difference is that the eddy currents are directed. The metal having the effect is usually copper ( the windings) and are also no effected by a magnet.

    Moving in a magnetic field has different effects to being still sorry but thats fact.

    if a bullet made from any conductor was the interract with a powerfull enough magnetic field I would expect some divergance from the “field off” path. As the bullet slowed the effect would lessen so it improbable the bullet would actually hit the magnet.

  46. gator man dan says:

    With regard to the boat that was “identical” to the jump boat in Live and Let Die, It was no the same boat. The boat that MB use was a Glastron Carlson CV 16. The one used by Eon productions for the film was a Glastron GT 150 with an Evenrude Starflite 135 which was overpowered by 45 hp. This movie boat was much smaller and higher powered than that of the MB episode, and the stunt on film was REAL. In 1972, movie producers did not have the benefit of CGI. That said, testing the myth would be moot since the stunt was performed live and real on camera. Also, a solid ramp was build on a Louisiana levee which is much more solid than the scaffolding used in the MB episode. I love the Myth Busters show, but I am sorry to say this was a poorly emulated stunt.

  47. Bill says:

    Trivia from” http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0070328/trivia

    “The boat chase through the bayous was originally written in the script as just “Scene 156 – The most terrific boat chase you’ve ever seen”. Bond’s speedboat jump made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for its distance of 110 feet, a record that stood for three years. Clifton James’ spontaneous character acting in that scene was kept in the final print. The second boat was not scripted to collide with the police car, but after this happened while shooting the stunt, the script was changed to accommodate it.”

  48. Michael says:

    I would just like to know what type of boat and what year and model… Plus boat motor year and H.p. Looked like an 85 – 115 HP all those covers where that size… somebody e-mail me with the year and style PLS….

  49. glen j. says:

    i would be willing to send MB some incediary rounds for a 9mm pistol or tell them where they can aquire them since i live in tx they are readily avalible and they are perfectly safe firing them from a pistol in good working order i fire them from a glock ncis episode uses a 45 and hits a tank on the front of a camper trailer to blow up the trailer

  50. Justin says:

    on the magnetic watch. In the episode the extremely high powered magnet deflected the bullet slightly. How ever if the gun were to be fired from further away the bullet would have more chance to lose its velocity and be deflected by the magnet. If you ask any sniper they will tell you that the wind where the bullet was fired wont affect its final destination very much which goes the same for a magnet placed just a few feet away from the barrel. If the gun were to be fired from about ten yards away from the watch it would be more likely to be knocked off course with less magnet power

  51. Keith Cameron says:

    I think that the centre of gravity is near the back well behind the aerodynamic centre so the boat is directionally unstable and will try and turn round, as observed in video. eg rotation was due to this not misalignment with ramp. Also the back will drop faster than the front; have wave jumped rescue boats with o/b on back and motor pulls back down first while air flow lifts font.

  52. Computer says:

    Great ideas.

  53. Steve says:

    How about the ballistic cigarette? Can you hold a device between your fingers that produces enough recoil to fire a projectile at a potentially lethal velocity? I mean, James Bond could do it……..

  54. Gus says:

    It’s a bit late to comment on this episode, but I want to say I don’t believe the 9 mm bullet is changing direction due to (electro)magnetic effects.

    I see some refere to the eddy effect, witch I have to admit I have never heard of even I’m an engineer. I don’t doubt the eddy effect is worth investigate. It would be interesting if someone here knew how to calculate the forces from this effect. Then we would be able to “guestimate” what impact it would have on the bullets trajectory. My guess is that the eddy effect is negliable.

    Personaly I believe aerodynamics might be responsible for the results here. This is since the bullets fly just a few millimeters above the magnets surface. A bullet in high speed will cause air waves around itself, similar to the waves you get from the bow of a boat when moving through the water. If you run the boat close to land, a massive pier or something, the bow waves will reflect back and change the course of the boat, or even make it turn somewhat. Try it, you will certainly notice the effect on the steering wheel.
    For a bullet passing by very close to a relatively large surface (longer as they add more magnets), I believe this wave effect will have a significant impact on the bullets trajectory.

    Like for the eddy effect, it would be interesting to test this theory using some kind of flow dynamics simulation software, but unfortunately I don’t have access to that.

  55. kenny says:

    I used to be suggested this web site through my cousin. I’m not positive whether or not this publish is written through him as nobody else realize such special about my difficulty. You’re amazing! Thanks!

  56. Koko the Talking Ape says:

    “The Mythbusters explained that a magnet’s energy decreased exponentially the farther away you are from the magnet.”

    Not true. The field decreases with the square of the distance, not exponentially. Very different thing.

  57. pradumn the cs lover says:

    hey why dont u guyz jst try a very powerful magnegt tied to a helmet of a soldier which will divert the bullet… dont go to a bond film in which he wears a BULLET DIVERTING WATCH jst try what i m saying and u’ll love i t..

  58. Stehle Harris says:

    LIVE AND LET DIE The Official Speedboat Jump Site Location
    link> http://www.flickr.com/photos/14223172@N06/
    Here it is 35 years later and still there. The world record speedboat jump at the time. Although the landscape has changed a little over the years due to coastal erosion and hurricanes,this was under 12 feet of water during Hurricane Katrina. Some of the camps and buildings are gone or rebuilt the shell road over the levee replaced with blacktop , the power poles are still there where they were also and some trees have been planted and a fence .But its still recognizable. The site is off Louisiana HWY 39 IN PHOENIX,LOUISIANA, and interesting enough its named HARLEM LANE . Most people claim its a hard to find location really never before seen in photos or in person.The movie stills give some background. HERE IS THE LINK TO MY PHOTOS AND THE GOOGLE COORDIANATES which is not even listed on the google earth 007 edition placemarks
    29°38’5.15″N / 89°54’16.74″W

    The ramp was made of warehouse rollers and I saw it for so many years on my family’s property.

  59. Cristian Jimenez says:

    I think adults are not thinking of all the possibility of redirecting a bullet. Is 1 way of doing that but cost millions in energy if it fossil energy it has to be renewable energy.

  60. Fauch says:

    I think the boat jump in Live and let die was performed for real and was even a world record.

  61. James says:

    In the bond episode I noticed the 9mm did not penetrate the propane tank. Now, I didnt look to see if this was said above since most of the first few comments were off topic, but isnt it safe to assume that bond had armor piercing rounds. Not to mention grain amounts. …should retest using armor piercing rounds, incindiary rounds and high grain rds since it is perfectly possible that bond could have had these options. Maybe he chose that pistol to bear because of the rounds that were in it. Just floating ideas, havent actually seen the film.

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