The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 123: Curving Bullets

Premier Date: June 10, 2009

A shooter can curve a bullet around an obstacle by swinging or flicking his or her arm. (Based on scenes from the movie Wanted.)


The Build Team first went to a shooting range and set up a target with a wooden obstacle halfway between themselves and the target. Grant, Tory, and Kari each attempted to imitate the movie characters and shoot a bullet from a handgun around the obstacle by swinging the gun in an arc as they shot. No one was able to accomplish the feat. To continue testing, the team created a robot that could swing a gun at superhuman speeds. They set up a row of five large planes of paper, each parallel to the others to help determine the bullets’ paths. After each shot, they used a laser pointer to see if all five of the holes lined up. Even with the gun being swung by the robot, the bullet paths were completely straight. Finally, the team tried modifying the gun and bullets. With a de-rifled gun barrel and unbalanced bullets, the bullets tumbled through the air but still flew along a straight path.

The sonic boom or shock wave from a supersonic bullet can break glass.


To test this myth, Adam and Jamie used a .50 caliber rifle capable of shooting bullets at 1,984 mph (3192 km/hr), well above the speed of sound. They set up a series of glass panes, stemware, and light bulbs surrounding the path of the bullet. Even with the bullet passing within inches of the glass objects, nothing broke as a result of the passing bullet.

The sonic boom from a supersonic fighter jet will break glass.


Adam and Jamie teamed up with the Navy’s Blue Angels to test this myth. Adam first received some subsonic flight training in an FA-18; despite passing out and vomiting at various times, he enjoyed the experience. To operate at supersonic speeds, they had to go to a restricted zone due to FAA rules. At the test site, the MythBusters built a small cabin with a glass window in addition to parking a car and leaving a table with lots of glass objects on it. When a Blue Angel jet, with Adam aboard, flew by at supersonic speed and with 8,000 feet of altitude, barely a sound was heard. At 2,000 feet, a loud boom was heard but no glass was broken. The jet continued to make lower and lower passes, ultimately making five passes at just 200 feet. The house’s window was broken from these passes, but nothing else was broken. Because of the extremely unlikely circumstance of a 200-foot supersonic jet pass, and the minimal damage observed, this myth was declared busted.