Bullets on ice

This video shows a bullet spinning like a top after being shot into ice. I do not know how safe this is but the results are amazing.

UPDATE: Just to make it clear: this is dangerous. The bullets are clearly jumping all over the place. Don’t do it. The makers of this video claim Mythbusters have expressed interest in replicating it. Let them do it for you.

[ Many thanks to Ryan for emailing me the link. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • DavidR

    now that’s pretty SLICK! 😛

  • The physics are simple.
    The bullet gets the spin in the barrel.
    The bullet is hot, it heats the ice and creates a buffer of steam below it. This buffer keeps it from cooling down quickly and also minimizes the friction of the spinning.

    It’s a similar effect as with water on a hot plate.

  • FYI – the YouTube embedding has been disabled (no clue why).


  • SpudGun

    Wow, that is both incredibly dangerous and extremely cool. Winter’s not far away, so I imagine we’ll see a lot of shooters going to hospital with ricochet injuries trying to re-create this feat.

  • Jim

    That is AMAZING.

  • Jon Mac

    I don’t buy this for one second, sorry.

  • I wouldn’t have even posted this it’s so dangerous.

  • zack991

    One word for this guy: STUPID

  • bullzebub

    but why aren’t the bullet deformed?

    this would be very hard to fake actually. you would need a poverful motor to spin the bullet and you would hear that in the shot so i dont think its fake 🙂

    • I take the point guys and have explicitly stated it is dangerous. I posted it because it is a phenomenon that I had never heard of before.

  • There is some danger but at least the makers of the video acknowledge it … unlike so many gun videos on Youtube that begin with “Hold my beer and watch this …”

  • Alan

    Shooting snow men is much more fun, and less chance of ricochet.

  • Ivan

    This physics are not so simple. I don’t think that the steaming water working like a buffer because it takes much time to overheat ise to steam(from 0 to 100 degrees), velocity of bullet is over 300mps. And volume of steam not so large to reduce impulse of bullet. If it not so, why bullets collapsing then shot in the water?

    • I don’t understand why the bullet stays intact and is not deformed on impact. I am guessing it is slowed down just enough not to deform and then instead of deforming its spin shoots it out of the hole once it has slowed down enough… I would love it is a physicist could give us an opinion.

  • Pete

    Hard to beleive but at the same time hard to beleive its fake.

  • It’s not necessarily about how hot the bullet is, it’s because heat and pressure are to some degree interchangeable. The bullet hitting the ice imparts enough energy to induce a phase change quickly enough to cushion the bullet with water and steam both I’d imagine. This is similar to why skis work. pressure on ice causes it to melt a little creating a very thin layer of water between the ski and the snow.

  • If you’ve ever looked at mild steel that’s been hit by a round, it’s not sheared off, it looks as though it’s been MELTED through.

  • Michael

    The reason that the bullet is not deformed is because it is faked. If you pay careful attention, you’ll notice that the spots where the bullets are spinning are quite noticeably *off camera* until they magically find the bullet spinning in some place that he was not aiming. It wouldn’t be that hard to spin one on ice, it is just a miniature top.

  • Don

    I have no trouble believing this. Ever dig ball ammo out of a gravel/dirt backstop? Sometimes they don’t deform if the backstop medium can move freely and is of moderate density. Hell, next time I’m shooting pistol I’ll see if I can find one for ya and take a picture.


  • Not really hard to believe. Bullets do crazy things that don’t, at first look, make sense. Most of the GSWs i’ve seen that have left the shot person mobile, for instance, were the direct result of some nasty projectiles not doing things that you think they would. (Think 5.56 entering the front of someone’s torso, and exiting out their face with enough force to leave a terrific wound.)

    Another strange handgun phenomena is a regular occurrence at pistol matches when a shooter hits one of those big blue drums, instead of cutting through the drum like cheese, which would be the logical assumption, a lot of the time the projectile enters in one size and starts zipping around the inner circumference. There’s got to be a physicist out there who can explain this stuff.

  • Zach

    I agree Ivan, but Sven is probably on the right track. It probably just melts the ice to water, but no way in hell it heats it enough to make it steam.

    And is it really that dangerous? I’d think the chance of a ricochet at the steep of an angle would be very small, and if it did ricochet, I’d assume it would do so away from them, not towards. But I’m no physicist.

    Cool as hell regardless.

  • zack991

    Mythbusters needs to test this.

  • jdun1911

    Too bad I live in the South or I would have recreate the experiment to see if it fake or not. Any frozen northern brothers want to take this task?

  • DavidR

    The bullet deformation thing (ie, the LACK of it) is what surprised me the most too. Perhaps the fact that ice is less-dense than water helps. Also, since only UNdeformed bullets will show this phenomena, we only see those–could be that MOST of the rounds end up deformed.

    And a quick calculation shows that a 1200fps bullet, brought to a dead stop will have a maximum RPM=59,000 (out of a Glock bbl).

    So, if we want to get really speculative, that rotation could be another factor that limits bullet deformation, where some of that rotational energy goes into preventing deformation, essentially using the ice as a mold…

  • Entropy

    If I may I’ll repost the comment I left on Youtube:

    I did a little calculation and I think this is entirely possible. When fired, a .45ACP bullet from an M1911 (not the same round I know, but it’s quite similar) is doing 320m/s and turning every 0.4m – the twist of the 1911’s barrel. 320m/s divided by 0.4m is 800 revolutions per second, or as I thought of it “bloody fast.” 48,000 revs per minute. If the ice could stop a bullet’s forward motion without deforming it too much – and I think that’s possible because FMJ pistol rounds like these don’t deform much/at all when hitting liquid water – the round would continue to spin at this insane speed even though it no longer has forward movement. Listen to that buzz from the second bullet recovered; it’s very high pitched and shows how fast bullets are actually turning over.

    Sven mentioned the air cushion effect. Though that applies to water on a hotplate, I don’t think a bullet carries enough heat to boil water for several seconds after it lands. They’re hot, but not that hot. A bullet is also much, much heavier than a water drop and the steam pressure required to hold it up would be pretty huge – meaning it would have to be boiling off water at a rapid rate for a long time without melting through the ice or cooling down. I also don’t see any visible steam being given off from around the bullets, so I’m sorry but I think you’re wrong Sven. The bullets are just fired spinning “bloody fast” and they just continue to spin “bloody fast” after they hit the ice.

  • dconline

    Not fake. Ice is extremely soft and it soaks up energy very well. Once the bullet slows down enough it will jump out of the ice (if fired at correct angle) and the bullet will spin on the ice if it happens to land point first.

  • Mount

    A while back I shot a frozen pond with an SKS and got some verry strange results. Some of the bullets were stuck to the ice by the nose with the back end bent up 45 degrees, while others were just laying on top in almost perfect condition. This was over ten years go though, maybe it was the back end of the bullet that was stuck, I cant remember, but it was really weird!

  • As long as no-one tries this with a 50 cal…
    If so, I want to see the video XD

  • If Al Gore said shooting a 50 cal NEAR a Polar Bear would make that “poooor furry, helpless, creature” spin out of control, how many Eco-nuts would believe it?

  • Redchrome

    I’ve picked up plenty of bullets from an outdoor range used all winter, where in the spring they’re just left lying on the ground in perfect condition. Even when firing into dirt you’ll still find bullets in near-perfect condition.

    The video does indeed demonstrate how much energy goes into spinning a bullet. This is part of the reason why smoothbore guns give notably higher projectile speeds at lower pressures.

  • Kyle

    I find it plausible under the right conditions. but they don’t focus on the bullet long enough, which makes think it’s either really good CG or some great editing. A part that bothers me is that they don’t show the projectiles to the camera in a clear way. I can faintly see some rifling marks although i’m not sure if the glock they had (Or atleast appeared to be a glock) uses polygonal rifling or not.

  • K

    Mythbusters HAS done this last season, and found it tru, look it up schmucks http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/mythbusters-room-to-bounce.html

  • Kyle

    Not really appropriate to call people schmucks. They proved it, great. I knew they would eventually get around to it. It didn’t work on ice from a mold, but it had to be done on ice that was formed naturally. The temperature around the ice probably had something to do with the hardness of the ice as well. Testing it in a colder setting on a lake of naturally formed ice probably was vastly different than testing it in a parking lot in california with blocks of ice made in freezers

  • K

    alright shmucks was pretty harsh, but howwabout, researching something before you post a stupid ( negative) comment?? it took me 2 min to find that MB confirmed it, google people….it’s a thing of wonder!

  • Kyle

    Well, I don’t think my comment was “Stupid” or “Negative.” If you don’t question somethings and just blindly believe it is real or not real then you are easily swayed. I just said it could possibly be very good editing.