LooseRounds Tests .50 BMG's Penetration On Cars, With Surprising Results

Nathaniel F
by Nathaniel F

Has anyone ever described to you before how a .50 BMG is so powerful, it will shoot right through a car, end-to-end, through the engine block? Well, the truth is that they may have been exaggerating, according to informal testing recently conducted by LooseRounds’ Shawn:

Last year I did a series of posts where I fired a variety of common rifle and pistol rounds into a car to see what would penetrate different parts of the body. Today, we did a little PM on a Barrett M82A1/XM107 and decided to fire some rounds into the same car to see what would happen. We used plain ball and armor piercing.

Source: looserounds.files.wordpress.com

We all have hear about the 50s power and ability to make scrap metal out of some pretty heavy cover. I have also heard claims it will shoot through the engine block. So today we put it to the test. We went the extra mile with it and even shot from only 25 yards.

Source: looserounds.files.wordpress.com

I set a “Q” target on the back side of the car to simulate some one taking cover behind the engine and also to show any round that would go through and what it would look like.

Source: looserounds.files.wordpress.com

And then one in front for the aiming point.

As you can see in the picture, the AP round hit in the kill zone. But it did not make it through the engine. Which also had been shot to pieces over the last few years anyway and was not in its best shape to begin with as can be seen in the picture. Of course, ball did not even come close. and AP failed completely as well. [emphasis mine]

Source: looserounds.files.wordpress.com

With this limited test, in this limited environment of shooting from 25 yards showed the 50BMG even using AP certainly is not the ultimate weapon some may think it is.

I’ve reiterated many times that the difference in effectiveness even between disparate small arms rounds like 5.56 and 7.62 is much smaller than their difference in size would suggest, but this surprised even me. I would have expected at least the .50 BMG AP to make it through the block and into the target.

Nathaniel F
Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.

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  • Rooftop Voter Rooftop Voter on May 21, 2015

    What great posts! I am tumbling some 50 cal cases right now. I want to get back to this and read some more. Even at the local range, I get someone who always asks the same type questions; now I can tell them the straight dope on it.

  • Me Me on May 21, 2015

    Well, hate to dump in your cornflakes but this is the dumbest conclusion I've seen on this site, based on drastically incomplete information.

    Straight-through is all that was proven with what looks like one shot. Factor in not just possible but probable DEFLECTION and I submit that one lil' ol' cardboard target on the other side ain't enough to learn much more than that one single data point.

    Think about it--the inside of any motor vehicle-size engine block is full of chambers and curves and angles, even if you miss the cylinders.

    The quality of this test is right up there with the "magic bullet" JFK shooting deniers/conspiracy loons.