Episode 134: Unarmed and Unharmed

Air Date: December 9, 2009

It is possible to shoot a pistol out of a person’s hand without injuring him.

busted

Adam and Jamie made several plywood cutouts and equipped their hands to hold a revolver with the same amount of force that a typical person would use. They placed the guns in three different positions – drawing from the hip, pointed ahead for a shootout, aimed sideways at a hostage – and fired at each. Only the “hostage” position allowed them to shoot the gun away while not injuring its holder due to bullet shrapnel. They then devised separate methods for determining whether a person would be startled enough to drop his gun if it were hit. Adam built a paddle with a gun butt and allowed Jamie to hit it with a baseball bat, delivering roughly the same kinetic energy as a bullet; he dropped it on impact, but Jamie was not satisfied with the result. He attached a short side barrel to a revolver, intending to fire a bullet out of it so that the recoil would match the kick of a bullet in flight hitting the gun. This rig did not work properly, so he removed the side barrel and attached a second grip upside down on top of the revolver frame, mounted on a swivel. Each man held the gun in all three positions (“draw,” “shootout,” “hostage”) while the other triggered it remotely at a random time. Jamie dropped it in “draw” and “hostage,” but not in “shootout,” while Adam held onto it in every situation. Owing to the difficulty of hitting the small target of the revolver, the high risk of shrapnel injuries, and the unpredictable reactions of the person holding the weapon, Adam and Jamie classified the myth as busted.

A bus can jump over a 50-foot gap in a roadway, land safely on the other side, and continue driving.

busted

The Build Team acquired a bus with the same dimensions as that used in the film, then built a small-scale model of it as well as the stretch of road in question. Running at a calculated speed of 20 miles per hour, the bus plunged off the end of the road and crashed into the support posts at ground level on the other side. When the gap was halved, the bus still dropped far enough to hit the far end of the roadbed head-on. The team theorized that hidden ramps placed on either end of the gap may have helped the bus to make its jump safely. After outfitting their full-size bus for remote-control steering on an airfield, they did a speed test and found that it could go up to 58 miles per hour, rather than the 70 miles per hour depicted in the film. With the 50-foot target distance scaled down to allow for the lower top speed, they jumped the bus off a ramp; it fell far short of the target, but remained relatively intact until it hit a concrete safety barricade. Since the bus could not make the jump, the team declared the myth busted.

(This myth is based on a scene in the movie Speed.)

28 Comments

  1. Daniel says:

    I found the episode a little lite on content, and I thought the earlier tests with actually shooting the gun were more accurate then later tests and just show the ricochets and shrapnel make it rather impossible to pull off.

  2. Dragonfyre says:

    Just a slight comment on the bus-jumping…I have not seen this episode yet, but why did the Mythbusters do the first test at 20 mph? That is not accurate to the movie, since the bus could not go under 50 (or was it 55) miles per hour. Nevertheless, it does make sense that a vehicle as heavy as a bus would not be able to make a jump like that, unless it was possibly traveling at 100+ mph.

    • Holdaro says:

      Yeah and in the making of part of the film, they used a huge ramp (which was meracuously edited out) and the bus was travelling between 70 & 80 MPH

      • Amber says:

        the 20 mph was a simulation with a smaller bus almost toy size. everythign fit to the scale factor.

  3. Scott says:

    @Dragonfyre – the 20mph was calculated to compensate for the lower scale (and weight) of the test.

  4. Erich says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDSwdZNbaGY&feature=related

    This shows a sniper shooting the gun out of som criminals hand that was threatening to kill himself. Looks pretty legit to me.

    • Arjen says:

      Hey so quick question,this is the first video I’ve wetchad of you so this may be stupid..but your actually in the USMC,right? And also,if you are,hows the 2 (Or more,I have no idea yet.) months? in boot camp? Do they ride you like I’m hearing they do from all my friends? Only reason I’m asking is because I’m gonna try out for the Marines when I’m 18 and I just wanna be prepared for whatever they throw at me.

  5. Sqeezer says:

    The tests that use a second barrel or a second handle have a severe flaw. The energy that is used to accellerate the bullet is in both cases the same (bullet hits the pistol and pistol is fired). But the two cases have very unsimilar accelerations. The bullet hitting a pistol is setting all is energy free in a real shot amount of time compared to the rather slow accelleration of a bullet propelled in a barrel.
    This would be the same as accellerating a car to 60mph and crashing it into a concrete wall. The later would be mor unpleasant for the occupants and indeed is in both cases the amount of energy the same.
    Therefore these experiments are flawed.

    • ElectricLow says:

      Sqeezer is spot on. He points out the greatest flaw of the shoot gun out of hand experiment. The other flaws are pretty much negligible compared to this.

      • Alfredo says:

        Yes, I am a Marine. Boot camp is not too bad as long as you actually have your head in the game to fiinsh. It was a little tougher when I went through than it is now, so I am a firm believer that anyone can do it. As long as you are generally in shape (sporty? kind of kid at least) and can take being yelled at non stop for 13 weeks than you can do it no problem. PM me if you have any specific Marine Corps questions

  6. Frederick says:

    Erich, I have read a many of your comments on different episodes, and I must say you are the biggest idiot I have seen. Yes a person can shoot a gun out of the hand of another person, but the myth was not about modern snipers. The myth was about an old west stand off. If you give me a .50 riffle I can shoot anything out of your hand, with a navy colt revolver probably not. Now could you either get a bit smarter or stop posting?

  7. Andy says:

    First: Relax Fred, Erich is just expressing a very sensible opinion. Second: that´s a cool video, I wouldn’t ever think that was possible, even for a sniper, without hurting the guy. Now I have my doubts for the revolver too

  8. karen says:

    in the movie fools gold a guy is shooting a guy from under water and when he shot it cut a chain!! could that really happen some day you should try doing an experement where buster is under water and see if you can get through chains to get to buster!!

    • Gariandos says:

      I doubt it would happen, the problem is the bullet is facing much more resistance underwater and it would no doubt mushroom, meaning flatten out due to resistance, before it could even make it to the chain.

  9. erick says:

    RE the failure to safely shoot a gun out of someones hand…. I saw this actually happen to a perp armed with a pistol… a SWAT sniper shot it out of his hand, and the perp suffered only a minor laceration along his thumb…

    • Hadis says:

      You just can’t help it. Shoot full auto stupid grin. They go theteogr like peas and carrots.@Weer’d: I was working hard to control the thing. I will give it this, if you get up close and personal with someone, it will end them. 5 shots in the chest at 1200 rounds per minute would be a fight stopper.

  10. Mark says:

    I have to agree with squeezer and I’m surprised no one else has pointed it out. firing sideways is not the same as the gun getting hit by a bullet, for the obvious reasons of acceleration which he stated. Although I love the show, it has way too many of these thoughtless mistakes.

  11. Nicky Hansard says:

    ‘This shows a sniper shooting the gun out of som criminals hand that was threatening to kill himself. Looks pretty legit to me.’

    They key word being SNIPER…

  12. Dad says:

    I confirm what Eric says, I too saw the clip on TV, several times, where the police marksman saves the herbert’s life by disarming him with a shot that takes the gun right out of his hand, without, and instead of, killing him.

    Possibly if the rozzers use DUM-DUM bullets for anti terrorist purposes (as ours are said to use), that imparts more momentum to the gun, not sure about the fragmentation properties though.

    Objections that this was a sniper is not relevant as a lucky shot by a normal person nearer to the target will get just the same result.

  13. Dad says:

    I agree with the Squeezer comment as well, I thought that at the time that this does not correspond to the same event exactly. The car crash analogy is perfect in showing why.

    I also thought the baseball bat hit on a paddle on the pistol suffers from incorrect scaling factor with slower deceleration but more momentum than a fragile bullet might impart, so was also irrelevant.

  14. Chas Newport says:

    Their two guns at 90 degrees test rig for the first item was flawed. A bullet hitting a gun slows down in a shorter distance and exerts greater force than a bullet accelerating along a barrel over a greater distance.

  15. logan says:

    try diffrent tires on jumping bus :)
    it maye work better

  16. Glen says:

    It is easy to hold a gun tight enough to not get it knockled out of your hand if you know it is comming. Even if it is a randome time they are still expecting a kick out of the normal range so it is not a good test. I have actually seen a gun shot out of a persons hand by a sniper during a police standoff and he did not get any injury. It worked because he was not expecting it.

  17. bumpski says:

    “Sqeezer says:
    The tests that use a second barrel or a second handle have a severe flaw.”
    Sqeezer is exactly right: If the force when fired was the same as at impact, the bullet should shatter before it leaves the barrel!
    I’m afraid one of the Mythbusters is going to have to take the bullet!

  18. C.J. Brunson says:

    I read these comments. I see a flaw in the handgun rig that no one mentioned. Here is the problem It is all about weight. You added weight to the pistol. More weight = less recoil. The question of acceleration is a small one. The bullet still gets full acceleration at the time it leaves the barrel. Around 900 feet per second. It will travel the barrel length in less than 1/1000th of a second.

  19. Mike says:

    -Yep the acceleration time is so short it doesn’t have much bearing.
    -Don’t forget the explosive gasses that eject the bullet increase the accelerating mass.
    -And the fact that the gun Jamie and Adam held experienced the full opposite forces that the accelerating bullet caused, whereas the bullet shot to the gun only imparted a fraction since it broke down and continued to fly everywhere in still high speed.

    I agree with that the holder of the gun will grip it tighter than usual, you just can’t help it.

    Hope I made sense to yall. :)

  20. Andrew says:

    The holding the handgun test were all flawed. Starting with the “target pistol” being hit by the bat, although the force was the nearly equal between the bat and a bullet, the biggest issue is that the bat hit the target pistol with much more surface area, thereby creating more striking force on a much bigger target. Of course Adams’ hand was going to be hurt, much as it would if he just slammed the rig on a table. Additionally, the weight of the target pistol was distributed much differently than a real pistol, therefor having to exert more pressure to hold the target up. A pistol’s center balance is closer to the hand requiring less energy to hold in desired direction, which in turn would allow the gun to be moved by impact much easier. The target pistol should have had the weight distributed better and the bat should have had a smaller impact on the target to even be considered a viable test.

    As far as the live pistol rig, it also was flawed. Although Newton’s third law was stated and tested correctly, it was tested without accounting for Newton’s second law. The force of the gun’s recoil was equal to the force pushing the bullet forward. The part the experiment fails to include is the impact of the bullet (force) on a stationary gun (mass) at the angle of the force applied. Newton’s second law states that the acceleration of the mass will be in the direction parallel to the force applied. Thus, the right angle handle would have been a closer matching experiment. Each of the three positions that the gun was fired, the resulting recoil was in the opposite direction aka pushing the piston INTO the gunman’s hand. The “shootout” position was the only one even remotely close to being accurate, but the likelihood of a bullet hitting a pistol exactly 180 degrees opposite of the exact line of the gun’s aim is nearly impossible by a human, it would be more chance that deliberate. But all three positions fail to account for the mass being hit by force at a angle not equal to line of fire of the gun.

    My personal opinion is that since the whole shooting of the gun out of the hand is highly unlikely to begin with, the test should be done by the bullet hitting the barrel of the gun. Since the barrel is so far out, there would be torque created at butt of the gun twisting the gun out of the hand. I believe this would allow for the impacting bullet to ricochet or bounce off the barrel rather than disintegrate on impact, which is what was killing the targets.

    I think the experiment is flawed in the belief that it is sheer force that removing the gun from the hand. I believe if done using leverage (bullet on barrel, gun pivoting at fingers, butt twisting out of open palm), not only would the gun be shot out of the hand, i think the bullet would deflect with barrell moving on impact instead of the bullet fragmenting as it hits a stationary target with the added support of the hand/arm resisting the movement of the gun in the direction of the force applied.

    I’m just sayin…

  21. Alina says:

    Your logic is flawed, and it bigrns into question your ability to properly use research methods. The absence of a person with a gun to stop the Westroads shooter cannot logically be used as evidence that guns can help stop such violent attacks. Unless you can prove that a person was kept from bringing in a gun to Westroads, your hypothesis is mere speculation. Again, the absence of a fact (a person with a gun could have stopped the shooter)cannot be used to make a leap in logic that had something taken place, i.e., a person with a gun could have stopped the shooter, the shooting would not have taken place. In simpler terms, the fact that guns are banned from Westroads is no evidence whatsoever that if guns were allowed in Westroads, the shooting would have been any less likely whatsoever. Your logic is flawed, presumably because to support your thesis, you need to make such unsupported leaps in logic that are pure nonsense. More guns are bad. Less guns are good. In this case, security should have had guns, and they should have had the courage to stop someone who they saw with a huge bulge in his jacket, which they admit to have seen prior to the shooting. And I also see no reason why it took dispatchers two minutes to call out an officer after getting the 9-11 call for the shooting. That seems like a very very slow dispatch time.

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