The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 229: Blow It Out of the Water

Premier Date: July 18, 2015

It is possible to trigger an explosion that can lift a boat out of the water without destroying it.


At the workshop, Adam and Jamie filled a clear plastic tank with 24 inches (61 cm) of water, placed a model boat inside, and detonated 15-gram charges of black powder at varying depths. A surface detonation destroyed the boat, while a test at half depth lifted and flipped the boat, but also blew out the seals holding the panels to the tank frame. Once the tank was repaired, they performed a third test with the charge at the bottom and were able to lift the boat, but not as far as in the second test.

For a full-scale test, they set a 51 ft (16 m), 48,000 lb (22,000 kg) steel-hulled boat on a quarry lake, anchored to the shore to keep it in place. An explosive charge of 1,000 pounds (450 kg) ANFO was hung underneath the boat at a depth of 30 feet (9.1 m), half the total depth of the lake, and 1,500 pounds (680 kg) sand was added to ensure that the charge would not float to the surface. The charge created a large geyser and blew the boat to pieces, leading Adam and Jamie judged the myth as busted.

The booby trap built by Walter White in the series finale of Breaking Bad, involving a machine gun on a motorized swivel in a car trunk, could realistically fire into a house and kill a roomful of people.


Adam and Jamie first tested an M60 machine gun at a firing range to evaluate the recoil and vibration that the mounting system would have to endure. Adam fired 45 rounds in short bursts, while Jamie fired 70 rounds in full automatic; next they mounted the M60 on a table and fired 200 rounds at a plywood human silhouette. In every case, they decided that the recoil and vibration were manageable.

At the workshop, they examined the scene to determine the components of Walter’s mounting/triggering system and set out to replicate it as closely as possible. The swiveling mount had a garage door opener at its core; Jamie disabled its safety mechanisms so that the motor would run without stopping, and Adam added a gear and bicycle chain to reduce the swiveling speed. Even though this modification was not part of the scene, Adam reasoned that Walter might have been able to include it if necessary, using readily available parts.

Returning to the firing range, they mounted the M60 in a car trunk and placed it in front of a wall constructed to match the stucco front of the house in the scene. Plywood silhouette targets were placed behind the wall – one lying down to represent Walter, and the others standing up as his enemies. After preliminary tests and fine-tuning, they loaded 200 rounds and set the weapon to full auto, with Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan present to witness the final test. After a few malfunctions, the weapon successfully fired through the car body and stucco wall, hitting all of the standing targets multiple times but missing the “Walter” cutout. The myth was deemed plausible.