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Let's discuss .22 ricochets on water.

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Ignition Override, Mar 6, 2009.

  1. Ignition Override

    Ignition Override Well-Known Member

    If you are standing over a small river with deep embankments on both sides, you have a pretty good berm. Both banks are about 18-23 feet above the average water level and are quite steep, with thick trees in most areas above. The nearest home, about 3/4 mile, behind numerous trees.

    If you ever take somebody with you and they are willing to hit something about 100 yards down the river, but miss hitting a stump at the bottom of the embankment, but out in the middle, how far will a cheap Rem. fmj skip, and how about a cheap Rem. brass-coated jhp? I don't shoot any distance downstream except with the .22 and bought jhp for this reason.
  2. General Geoff

    General Geoff Well-Known Member

    Get some tracers and find out. :)

    I'd say a ricochet would have maybe half the range it did before it struck something. So with any centerfire cartridge, a ricochet is still quite lethal out to several hundred yards. A .22 probably will only continue on for a hundred or two hundred yards after even a shallow angle ricochet. But you won't know for certain unless you use tracers to give you a better idea.
  3. Ignition Override

    Ignition Override Well-Known Member

    "Roger that" General. Did not occur to me. Maybe online is the only place to look. Thank you sir (bid good morning with a snappy salute).

    Looking forward to any other comments.
  4. bhk

    bhk Well-Known Member

    Years ago I read where someone chronoed .22 bullets skipping off water at a shallow angle. They lost only 50 fps. That means they could continue to go for a thousand or more yards.

    The nearest house being 3/4 of a mile away has nothing to do with how close the nearest cattle, hikers, hunters, etc. are. Be careful out there!!
  5. mr.trooper

    mr.trooper Well-Known Member

    on a level trajectory, most 22 rimfire will only travel a few hundred yard before it hits the dirt. but pointed up in the air? who knows?
  6. What he said! :)
  7. wayne in boca

    wayne in boca Well-Known Member

    I remember reading that a .22 long rifle can retain 90% of its velocity when ricochetting off water at a shallow angle.
    Do .22 tracers stay lit after hitting water?
  8. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Well-Known Member

    how far will a cheap Rem. fmj skip, and how about a cheap Rem. brass-coated jhp

    There are too many variables to give a definitive answer. It could be a few yards or over half a mile.
  9. Acera

    Acera Well-Known Member

    Angle of Reflection = Angle of Incidence

    While generally used when speaking of light, I have noticed it when I shoot shallow angles into water. Kinda like a bouncing a pool ball off the rail. We used to shoot bb guns, then .22s into the bayou where my grandparents lived, and got to where we were hitting targets on the other side with the bounce.

    Something I will have to try at the pond next time I am out in the woods. Used to be real fun.

    Before anyone jumps on me for being unsafe, the land on the other side was very wooded, bank of bayou high, and no houses for miles. Grand Pa and Dad both said it was safe to do, but that has been 30+ years ago, lol.
  10. chris in va

    chris in va Well-Known Member

  11. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Well-Known Member

    Shooting rifles so as to deflect off water is considered very bad form - no matter what excuses are offered.
  12. jpwilly

    jpwilly Well-Known Member

    Bullets deflect whether shooting off of water or dirt, rocks, the ground etc. Provided you know it's safe to do so I don't see any problems.
  13. ShakyJake

    ShakyJake Well-Known Member

    Riccochet on water

    Hi all
    Back in the '50s when I was a teenager one of our local doctors was fishing on a local lake, they say about a quarter mile from shore. Two boys in their early teens were shooting frogs with .22's along the shore. Very popular back then. A bullet from one of the rifles riccocheted and hit the doctor in the back. By the time he was found and attended to he died from shock and loss of blood. Since my mother was a nurse, I knew the doctor and I also knew the teens, at that distance they had taken no notice of him and were not shooting toward him. They were also patients of his. That was 50 years ago and I have never forgotten it. Play with your physics all you want, under the right conditions, tragedy is around the corner for the unwary. Just ask 3 families here on the west coast of Fl. Challenge Nature and you pay.
    TaKe CaRe
  14. trstafford

    trstafford Well-Known Member


    In some states like NC it is illegal to fire into water because of ricochets
  15. CajunBass

    CajunBass Well-Known Member

    Back when I was a kid, we used to shoot our 22's at turtles in the pond. (1) We didn't know any better, and (2) probably wouldn't have worried too much about it if we did. It was MILES through the woods before you got to anything to hit other than a tree, or a very unlucky squirrel.

    I don't know how far those bullets went, but I remember well that ricochet sound after the shot.
  16. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Well-Known Member

    As a kid, you dismiss the "chance" that something will happen and ricochets are just sort of ... "did you see or hear that?" . As you get older and see lots of things do in fact happen, many police themselves. The sooner you realize that there is a fair accident potential (manslaugher), you stop shooting at targets in water.

    I don't know what angle would minimize the chance of a ricochet with a 22, but I would guess any angle greater than about 30 degrees makes it a lot safer. But you still shouldn't do it. There are other things to hit than a house at 3/4 mile and there is always the chance of unseen targets that are present. I feel the same way about shooting squirrels high up in a tree. You miss and you have no idea where that bullet may impact.

    Shooting into water is a bad idea, but almost all of us have done it.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2009
  17. mr.trooper

    mr.trooper Well-Known Member

    If you know how much a bullet drops at a given distance, all you need to do is hold over that same amount to hit your target.

    at 1,000 yards, a 40grain hyper velocity .22LR with a 50 yard zero will drop approximately 3,600 inches, or about 100 yards. That means you would have to hold 100 yards above your 1,000 yard target to reach it with a .22.

    This is the scary part: 100 yards of hold over at 1,000 yards only amounts to about 6* of elevation above the horizontal. Now, after traveling that far, the bullet will only be going about 340fps, and carrying 10ft-lbs of energy, but the fact that it CAN go that far with so little elevation is frightening. Nothing within 3/4 mile is safe from a .22 ricochet, and given the right conditions, an errant .22 has the potential to travel even farther.

    I didn't believe it myself at first. I ran the trig several times and double checked my unit conversions, but I'm certain they are correct.

    the GOOD news, if you can call it that, is beyond 500 yards, a .22 probably doesn't have enough power to cause a serious injury, unless the soul in question is unlucky enough to get caught in the eye, temple, or neck. BUT ANY INJURY an inocent person suffers from your ricochet can potentialy come back to you, life threatening or not.

    Beyond the catastrophic type of events that could result, even at 1,000 yards it still packs enough punch to cause property damage such as wounded pets, broken windows, and punctured car bodies. Those could all come back to you and get you in trouble.

    Gentlemen, we are accountable for every bullet that we shoot. Ricochets are nothing to write off.
  18. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

    And shooting tracers in the woods is equally bad form.

    Mr.trooper good post, especially the point about bullet accountability.
  19. WNTFW

    WNTFW Well-Known Member

    Speaking from the perspective of someone that got pinned down for over an hour by friendly ricochet fire, It is not the best Idea. My first step was to get behind some big trees. When they stopped shooting: step 2 was to yell, step 3 was to fire some rounds. 2 & 3 didn't work so we were stuck. The surprising thing to me was the woods seemed thick enough that the bullets would not have reached us.
    If you know what is down range and are confirming the ricochets are landing safely that is one thing. Still bad things can & do happen so If I start getting ricochets of any kind I stop & I regroup for safer shooting.
  20. Harve Curry

    Harve Curry Well-Known Member

    I have read that prior to WWII Germany used to have some real fancy painted targets. Some of these targets were used for skipping a bullet off water to see who could hit the target. Kinda like using enough "english" on the billiards table.

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