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Old August 1, 2013, 08:02 PM   #1
spacecoast
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Shooting into water

How much water (depth) does it take to stop a typical handgun bullet? A rifle? I'm interested in doing some expansion testing but don't know what to expect. Is shooting off a ladder into a 55 gal barrel sufficient to stop most everything so the bullet can be recovered without damage from the sides of the container?
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Old August 1, 2013, 08:08 PM   #2
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Mythbusters had a segment where they fired various calibers into the deep end of a swimming pool. As I remember, 3 feet was about the maximum.
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Old August 1, 2013, 08:20 PM   #3
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Be wary of ricochets off of water....

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b52_1371102793
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Old August 1, 2013, 09:03 PM   #4
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IIRC one of my students did a research project for the college on ballistics and they used a 55 gallon barrel for .32 Acp, .380, and 9mm handguns. They stood on a back deck and shot straight down into the barrel.

I recall him saying that the professor that was mentoring him said that a 55 gallon drum also stopped expanding ammo ( soft points ) in every rifle cartridge he tried.
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Old August 1, 2013, 09:45 PM   #5
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If I remember correctly, the Mythbusters found that slower handgun rounds travelled through water the farthest; several feet or more, I think. But high-powered rifle rounds penetrated the least because the rounds fragmented almost immediately and the low-mass fragments didn't travel very far.

Basically, they found that higher-velocity bullets generally travelled less distance through the water.
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Old August 1, 2013, 10:41 PM   #6
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Shooting into water

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patriot86 View Post
Be wary of ricochets off of water....

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b52_1371102793
He is shooting directly downwards.... Ricochets won't be a problem.
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Old August 2, 2013, 12:57 AM   #7
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Shooting off a ladder, down into a drum? Be carful.
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Old August 2, 2013, 06:02 PM   #8
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Several years ago, Allan Jones, who writes the "Going Ballistic" column for Shooting Times Magazine, wrote about a bullet recovery system he used when he worked in the ballistics lab for (as I recall) the Dallas PD. You might try to find a copy of that column on the web or contact Mr Jones at Shooting Times. As I recall. they first used a horizontal tank and then built a vertical system.
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Old August 3, 2013, 01:49 AM   #9
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spacecoast, 8/3/13

I've been doing a bit of bullet recovery work in my rifle reloading with lead bullets in 30-30, .224 and 30-06 and once with my 45 acp.

First- what doesn't work. I took a thick walled 3.5 foot pipe and welded a flat plate on the bottom end. I filled it up with sand and fired into the pipe from above while standing on a creek bank. All I recovered were little lead balls about half the size of a pea. Next I filled up the pipe with water and fired a .45 acp round into the water (230 grain cast lead with 5.7 grains of W231 running about 800 ft/second). The bullet threw about a half gallon of water into my face and bottomed out on the bottom steel plate.

Next I fired a .308 jacketed soft point from a 30-30 at approximately 1800 ft/second. The good news is that the bullet mushroomed nicely and didn't hit bottom. The bad new is that the entire three gallons of water in the pipe was thrown over me and my gun. Time for a new plan.

Next up was water-soaked paperbooks from my local Salvation Army at $0.50 each. After soaking them for 48 hours they expand 50% more than their dry volume. I placed them in square plastic buckets, lined them up and fired 30-30, .224 and 30-06 cast lead rounds into them. They stop the bullets nicely at about the 16-24" depth and the bullets are easy to find and examine for retained weight and form. This seems to be the easiest way for me to recover bullets so far. Good luck.

best wishes- oldandslow
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Old August 5, 2013, 07:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spacecoast:
How much water (depth) does it take to stop a typical handgun bullet? A rifle?
IME, about two to three feet of water is all that is needed to stop most rifle and handgun JHPs, much less is needed if they fragment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spacecoast:
I'm interested in doing some expansion testing but don't know what to expect. Is shooting off a ladder into a 55 gal barrel sufficient to stop most everything so the bullet can be recovered without damage from the sides of the container?
If you are shooting JHPs that expand, the 55 gallon drum should be enough. If you are shooting FMJs or HCSWCs (especially at subsonic velocities) you run the risk of punching through the bottom of the drum.
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Old August 5, 2013, 07:45 PM   #11
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If you're using water, a swimming pool is best. If not then then two 55 gal drums welded together will catch most any bullet. Its best to have a removable lid on the barrels with a small hole in the center for firing the firearm. The lid can be removed to recover the bullet.

Its best to paint the inside of the barrel with white paint to make it easy to recover the bullet. Molding clay on the end of a stick is used to recover the bullet.

However, many bullets will be deformed or fragmented. To eliminate this reduced loads should be used.

Pull the bullet with a collet bullet puller. Dump the powder and (for rifles) load 8 gr of bulleye to get consistent velocity. Half charge of rifle powder are in-consistent.

Edit to add: This info is from one of my text books on Firearm Investigation.
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Old August 6, 2013, 12:33 PM   #12
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This is the lesson I learned about shooting into a piece of PVC pipe....


Originally posted by ME
Quote:
skunk crawled into pipe, making for a handy container for final disposition of the skunk.

shooter got into a prone firing position with muzzle a couple of feet from the opening of the pipe,

shooter fired into pipe, aiming at skunk's backside,

bullet, shockwave and gases entered the PVC pipe,

bullet strikes skunk in the biological weapon center causing bullet damage, releasing skunk fluids,

nearly simultaneous actions of pressure in the pipe and the skunk partially obstructing the pipe caused the PVC pipe to explode into pieces of assorted sizes and shapes.

to the shooters suprize, pieces of skunk coated debris rained down on him, leaving him smelly and disappointed in the fact that he no longer had a vessel suited to carry off the skunk remains.

then explained to the wife why he smells of skunk, while pleading to be let in the house.
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Old August 6, 2013, 12:54 PM   #13
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I've got a bunch of plastic 55 gallon drums. I'll try to give this a test this weekend.
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Old August 6, 2013, 12:54 PM   #14
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A 39 gal garbage can full of water with a drycleaner bag floating on top to reduce splash will not stop a Speer 88 gr .380 JHP. Bullet found about 3" deep in dirt under the can, not expanded at all.

A .38 Special lead hollowpoint FBI expanded nicely and settled to the bottom. Glad I shot that one first before causing the leak.
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Old August 6, 2013, 01:06 PM   #15
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I just line up gallon jugs of water, gives a fun comparison based on how many jugs each bullet penetrates. I got bored and tested some .38spl on pumpkins, 3 pumpkins were sufficient to recover nicely expanded bullets.
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Old August 6, 2013, 01:53 PM   #16
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RickyRick, appreciate the story! Just what was needed to create a grins & giggles segway into the afternoon.
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Old August 6, 2013, 10:04 PM   #17
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there are a few video's online showing projectiles entering water and losing velocity after between 2-3 foot, I was surprised. Id like to see a test showing ballistic gel underwater 2ft or so and see if there is any penetration.
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Old August 6, 2013, 10:56 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osirus82:
Id like to see a test showing ballistic gel underwater 2ft or so and see if there is any penetration.
Ask and ye shall receive.

In this video, uncalibrated SIMTEST blocks are shot underwater from two to seven feet (with varying degrees of penetration) with both the gun and the test medium submerged-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COea9JqJ7SM

It's not ordnance gel, but it still demonstrates the effect quite well. Discussion of the test's results begins at about 12:00 into the video.
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Old August 8, 2013, 04:26 PM   #19
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My 30-06 will shoot thru 6-7 milk jugs with 150g Hornaday interlock.
7mm mag = 7-8 milk jugs 139g interlock
.58 cap lock = 13 milk jugs 440g R.E.A.L. bullet
.62 cap lock = 18 milk jugs or through a plastic 55 gallon drum long ways. 900g custom made bullet.

I also filled a plastic 55 gallon drum with wet newspapers. The .62 averaged 29 inches of penetration and an inch and a half mushroom. 3 shots tested with 90/10 pure led to wheel weights.

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Old August 11, 2013, 02:26 PM   #20
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The old rule of thumb was 6 feet to safety. This was applied to being underwater from bullets, underground (shielding) from atomic radiation, and coincidentally, the depth of the average grave.

Bullets lose most of their velocity in 2-3 feet of water (rifles lose the highest percentage) but some bullets will retain enough speed to be able to injure you (to some degree) until around 6 feet depth.

High velocity, expanding type bullets lose the most in the shortest distance. At say 3 foot depth, you are safer from a .300 magnum than you are from a .32acp! (you aren't really fully safe from either until you get deeper)

I remember reading, back in the 60s (or maybe it was in the 70s, ) about a fishing trip Elmer made, off Florida. They went after tarpon, but didn't find any, and wound up shooting some sharks. Boat owner shot them with a .300 Weatherby, 60ish yds. Shark would roll over when hit, then roll back up and continue normal swimming. Elmer, using a 4" .44Mag with his handloads (hardcast SWC), aiming "a foot below and a foot ahead of the dorsal fin" shot some, and the sharks would roll over and that was it....
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Old August 12, 2013, 06:57 AM   #21
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I've read accounts of the WWII UDT swimmers swimming underwater as much as possible and the bullets drifting harmlessly down. Seems that a near spent bullet travelling at a high trajectory would be most hazardous.
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