Hypothetical .50BMG vs .30-06 question


August 23, 2003, 05:47 AM
While recently in the thinking room reading a hunting magazine, I came to the realization that the mighty (circa 700gr) .50BMG may not do a considerable amount more damage to a human target than a 150gr .30-06.

Would an FMJ .50BMG really lay down a much heavier dose of "umph" against a human target than an FMJ .30-06? As I understand it, the .50BMG was intended against equipment, be it vehicles or the like, but we see it all the time in Hollywood. Typically, the protagonist uses a .50BMG of some make to blow an evil doer in half, etc.
The common theme: if shot with a .50BMG, you'll have a convenient new location to carry your bowling ball, assuming you're miraculously still in one piece. I think this carries over to the mentality of everyone, including us. However, is that really the case?

I was just running the likelihood through my head... that .50BMG certainly isn't going to tumble in a medium as shallow as the human body, whereas a .30 caliber may. Therefore, much of that mind-boggling 15,000 pounds(circa) of energy isn't likely to be transferred after impact.
So, the only thing the .50BMG really has working in its favor is its greater surface area to deliver any additional energy. However, being that it's hovering around the same velocity of a .30-06 (2900fps if I'm not mistaken), it doesn't appear to have an advantage there.

So say hypothetically, you've got a heavy .50cal projectile that penetrates nose-first through and through, and a much lighter .30cal projectile at roughly the same velocities that yaws and tumbles slightly before exiting, which would really be more effective against a human target (not taking any other condition such as weather, personal armor or distance into consideration).

Just something I thought I'd toss around before going to bed.

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AZ Husker
August 23, 2003, 05:57 AM
If I was the target, I'd choose the .50 just because it's a cooler way to die!

August 23, 2003, 07:15 AM
i wouldnt want to be standing in front of either one. :)

August 23, 2003, 07:39 AM
Man, don't you know that just like the mythical .45ACP, if a 50BMG passes anywhere within 5 feet of you it'll rip your arms off and turn your head inside out just with the shock wave!!??!!?? :D

Edited to add: I say that only because I have absolutely no idea what the real answer is......

August 23, 2003, 09:39 AM
I recently read about an American sniper in Iraq using a .50BMG shooting an Iraqi who was standing ontop of water tower. Apparently the top half of the Iraqi fell off the tower and the bottom half stayed on ;)

August 23, 2003, 10:31 AM
Think Buffaloe gun (.50 Sharps) hitting an Indian! Anyway sure you get more impact and a biggerhole.! Since the bullet doesn't explode you are'nt gonna get anyone torn in half. BTW I got hit in fleshy part of left thigh at about 600yds (in a helocopter) from the Russian 12.7 mm . It torn a 1.5 inch divot across the back of my leg, missing the ham string and putting me in the hospital 3 weeks. Although that gets me $700 a month now , and canceled my jump pay then , it was not much more traumatic to me than others I met with similarly grazed with 7.62X39mm!:cool:

August 23, 2003, 12:35 PM
Ok here's the test. We shoot you with a .30-06 in the chest, while you're in an emergency room. They perform emergency surgery, etc. and then we wait 3 years for you to heal completly. Then, we shoot you with a .50 BMG, and you tell us which hurt more ;)

August 23, 2003, 01:20 PM
Well, if you measure the '06 end to end it's still not as big as the fitty is wide so tumbling won't mean a whole lot.

The fitty is HUGANTIC , yo. The '06 is a weenie lil girly bullet.


And it is true that the fitty is so powerful it creates a tornado like vortex that sucks your organs out when it passes thru ya.

August 23, 2003, 01:47 PM
Actually, a bullet I pulled from a 147gr .308 is longer end-to-end than a .50BMG (there's one sitting pretty on my book shelf) is in diameter by a quite noticeable margin. So I'd imagine the .30-06 would be similar/identical.

My true opinions of the .50BMG are that it will be more effective than the .30-06, but the question was to spark the prospect that maybe it doesn't do a significant amount more damage. I simply don't know the answer either, but it is an interesting thought.

August 23, 2003, 04:04 PM
I feel almost like this is a 9mm vs. .45 debate :)

That being said, the .50 is going to make a bigger hole and do more damage, but i wouldnt feel undergunned with a 30-06.

But that's just my opinion, i could be wrong.

August 23, 2003, 08:38 PM
Snow, I was joking about the percieved size difference...the .50BMG is a big bullet, but it ain't that big.

I guess there comes a point where it just doesn't matter how big of a whole is made; the end result is the same. I guess there wouldn't be alot of difference between a chest cavity hit by either of those calibers in the end.

August 23, 2003, 09:52 PM
:D An entire .30-06 cartridge measured end to end... now I got ya.
I must have been preoccupied with something else when initially reading through some of the replies (I hope I'm not usually that dense).

August 24, 2003, 01:46 PM
I have no real idea, but wouldn't the hydrostatic shock (real with rifle-velocity calibers) cause significant rupturing of internals if done by a 700 gr .50BMG?

I recall that a 30-06 causes something like a basketball-sized temporary cavity, so wouldn' t a .50BMG be more than twice as big? If true, then there would be additional shock and damage to all the organs if it was a COM hit.

August 24, 2003, 08:48 PM
imagine your target has class IV body armor on.

now, which do you think will do more damage?

i just wish we could have bolt action 20mm's.

August 24, 2003, 10:08 PM
There are some factors that would make the answer quite obvious:

(not taking any other condition such as weather, personal armor or distance into consideration).

Against a human target, no other factors involved... that's what obscures an otherwise decisive answer.

August 24, 2003, 10:32 PM
This is like getting run over by a semi vs run over by a freight train. Either way, you're screwed.

August 24, 2003, 11:01 PM
I went out to the desert the other day and incidentally found the answer to your question, and the answer is, the 50 BMG really is much worse. I had a large ham and shot it with a FMJ 50 BMG round and it literally blew into tiny pieces. I'm talking several baseball sized chunks, it looked like that video of the beached whale they blew up with dynamite or whatever it was. The carnage and destruction were incredible. I've seen similar things shot with a .308 (almost a 30-06) and it wasn't even close to this.

August 24, 2003, 11:10 PM
Ah, now that's as close to an answer as I suppose we can realistically ask for. If the effects on ham (assuming the ham is at least as deep as a human's torso is front to back, to allow for any yaw to initiate) were far more dramatic with a .50BMG over a .30-06, that should give us some indication which affects the target more on the battle field.

;) Thanks for the info.

50 Shooter
August 25, 2003, 12:48 AM
There was a thead posted on the board a couple of weeks ago about a soldier being killed by a .50 during training. He was shot through the upper chest with the .50, a friend who's still in the Reserves emailed me and said he was there training at the same place. Said that it was VERY nasty.

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