View Full Version : Ricocheting of bullets

14-04-2009, 12:02 AM
A ricochet (pronounced as rick-uh-shay) is a rebound, bounce or skip-off a surface, particularly in the case of a projectile (bullets, artillery shells, skipping stone on water). The possibility of ricochet is one of the reasons for the common firearm's safety rule "Be sure of your target—and of what is beyond it."

I will quote two incidents of bullet ricochet that happened to people I knew.

A Pakistani lawyer went to his friend’s place to check a handgun which he intended to buy, in the US. His friend handed him the gun. The lawyer cocked the gun and dry fired it towards a wall, believing that the chamber is empty. Like always, the empty gun fired and the bullet ricocheted off the wall and hit the lawyer’s wife, who was also in the room, in her neck and killed her.

The second incident involved my Diana air gun. My uncle aimed at a bird on a tree in neighbour’s front yard while he was standing in our courtyard. He pulled the trigger, the bird flew away and we heard human screams. We rushed to their house and found their son having a pellet injury in his left thigh. The rest is a lot of nagging and a ban on our touching guns.

The ricocheting depends on number of factors:

The likelihood of ricochet is dependent on many factors, including bullet shape, velocity (and distance), target material and the angle of incidence.

Bullet construction has a major factor in determining both the likelihood of ricochet as well as where the bullet will travel afterward. Hard bullets have a greater tendency to penetrate than softer ones. Bullets that break up, such as varmint hunting bullets have a low risk of ricochet.

Ricochets are often more common with low power calibers such as .22 or .177 calibre, which can have trouble penetrating some materials, although a ricochet can occur with any caliber. Higher velocity projectiles have a tendency to either penetrate the target, and/or to break-up on contact with it.

Target material
Bullets are more likely to ricochet off flat, hard surfaces such as concrete or steel, however a ricochet can occur on almost any surface including grassed soil, given a flat enough angle when hit. Materials that are soft, give easily, or can absorb the impact have a lower incidence of ricochet, for example sand. Though it may not be obvious, bullets easily ricochet off water.

The angle of departure, both vertically and horizontally, is difficult to calculate or predict due to the many variables involved, not the least of which is deformation of the bullet caused by its impact with the surface it strikes. Ricochets will almost always continue on a somewhat diagonal trajectory to their original trajectory, unless it is against a flat surface perpendicular to the angle of incidence (or approach), in which case, it will reflect at an angle dependent on the other variables involved in the ricochet incident.

Ricochets are a common danger of shooting because after bouncing off an object the bullet that ricochets poses an 'unpredictable' and serious danger of causing collateral damage to bystanders, animals, objects, or even the person who fired the shot. When the deformed projectile does hit a bystander or another target it can become very dangerous. Instead of cleanly traveling through the "body/object", the bullet can behave more like a hollow point bullet, causing a larger wound cavity, or even fragmenting and causing multiple wound channels.

In rare cases, ricochets can return to the shooter. This occurs when the object struck possesses enough resistance to withstand the impact of the bullet, and whose surface is perpendicular to the shooter. Some bullets are designed to deform at the nose, which is the main reason for the bullet ricocheting at such an extreme angle and returning in the shooter's direction.

14-04-2009, 01:34 AM
Very Nice topic Hamid.Its really very important to know where you are hitting.
To add to the casses you mentioned,i once fired a Pump action at my cemented wall,later i found 9 pillets of SG in different parts of my lawn and some exactly where i was standing,i still have them.

14-04-2009, 01:41 AM
good effort

14-04-2009, 03:22 AM
nice one but i think there is already a topic running on this..so u should have matched it with the other topic

14-04-2009, 04:27 AM
Common sense states that you should not fire a projectile in a populated area unless it's a 100% secure perimeter.

It should be made a HABIT where one should always check a firearms chamber with eyes & by inserting a finger in the bore confirming that the chamber does not have a live round in it and decock or dry fire it in a safe direction before handing it over to the other person. The same practice should be performed by the person on the receving end even if the person has seen the other person perform the safety procedure.

14-04-2009, 04:22 PM
Thanks for the feedback gurus. I am new to the forum so you guys have to tolerate little bit of my deviations.

14-04-2009, 04:37 PM
Hamid,u r welcome here buddy.and new informations always good to know.

14-04-2009, 04:41 PM
@hamid Good show buddz