The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 233: Supernatural Shooters

Premier Date: August 15, 2015

It is possible to fire a bullet through a wall and hit a moving target on the other side.


Adam and Jamie built six sample walls from various materials and fired 9 mm rounds at them, using high-speed cameras to track the bullets’ speed and trajectory on each side. Walls made from lath and plaster, drywall and insulation, and both wooden and sheet metal studs allowed the bullets to pass through virtually unimpeded. Copper plumbing within one wall changed the trajectory slightly, and a steel electrical junction box in the last one stopped the bullet completely.

Adam set up a full-size cutout of himself to move on a track that ran behind a wall. One man remotely controlled the target’s motion, while the other fired. For the first test, the target was moved at a consistent walking speed behind the wall, and one shot was allowed; both Adam and Jamie were able to score a hit. In a second test, the target was equipped with a speaker that broadcast the sound of footsteps, and the shooter was given three shots as it moved back and forth. Neither Adam nor Jamie was able to hit it under these conditions.

For a final test, they traveled to a shipyard and set up a labyrinth of rooms with paper walls. Armed with paintball guns, they were allowed a maximum of 8 shots each per trial; the first to hit the other was the winner. Jamie beat Adam twice, using a combination of briefly glimpsing Adam through the doorways, predicting his movements, and listening for his approach. Based on both these results and the firing range tests, they classified the myth as confirmed.

It is possible for a person to hold bullets between his fingers, put his hand into a fire, and discharge them within seconds to inflict lethal wounds on an enemy. (Based on a scene in the film Shoot ‘Em Up.)


At the bomb range, Adam and Jamie set up a wood-burning fireplace, removed the bullet from a 9 mm round, and positioned the casing approximately 3 inches (7.6 cm) above the flames to match the scene. The primer and powder ignited after 43 seconds, much longer than the 2 seconds observed in the scene. A second casing placed deep within the coals ignited in 10 seconds.

To determine whether the bullets could be aimed accurately and remain lethal, Jamie built a metal hand to hold the rounds, covered it with a leather glove, and calibrated its grip strength to match force data supplied by Adam. Returning to the bomb range, they set up the hand to hold one round and aimed a blowtorch flame at the base, setting off the round within 10 seconds. However, the bullet speed was only 120 feet per second (37 m/s), due to the lack of a gun barrel to focus the pressure of the expanding gases in a single direction.

When they repeated the test with a ballistic gelatin dummy placed directly in front of the hand, the bullet struck the chest, but embedded itself very shallowly. Based on the long time and high heat needed to set the cartridge off and the minimal injury inflicted, they declared the myth busted.