Experiments

Bullets Fuse

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Firearms Folklore"
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Finding: PLAUSIBLE

Explanation: At the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862, a couple of Civil War soldiers supposedly fired directly at each other, but neither was wounded because their bullets collided — and fused together — in midair. MythBusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman put this historical myth in their crosshairs, since the softer Civil War-era bullets, called miniballs, could theoretically melt together upon swift impact.

To take the myth out for target practice, the MythBusters first replicated the 19th-century miniball firing caps and gunpowder. Next, they lined up two gun barrels with laser sights and rigged up a simultaneous electronic triggering device to allow the weapons to shoot directly at each other.

Since the finicky firearms refused to discharge at the same time, the MythBusters set up a frame to hold one old-fashioned bullet in place. Then, they shot at the stationary bullet with one of the guns. Sure enough, when the moving bullet struck its ballistics bull's-eye, the miniballs fused together.

Given the precarious timing of two guns actually firing in tandem, Jamie and Adam couldn't declare the myth confirmed. But the bullet sandwich they made earned the Civil War myth a plausible rank.

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