1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What's the truth about 50 cal guns vs. jetliners?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by DeseoUnTaco, Jul 29, 2005.

  1. DeseoUnTaco

    DeseoUnTaco Well-Known Member

    The latest hysteria is that 50 BMG rifles could be used to take down jetliners. For example: http://www.50caliberterror.com/

    There was a thread a while back where I analyzed what I thought were the risks, and concluded that a 50 cal "sniper" rifle could not effectively shoot down a jetliner. A half a dozen 50 cal machineguns mounted in a cluster, with some tracer ammo, might be able to, but a single 50 cal rifle would be basically useless.

    But I admit, I'm no expert on these things, so I asked an expert, and here is what I found. The quoted parts are from my email to him, and then there's his response:
    He said I could post this if I attributed it to him and included a link back to his website and book. I appreciate the time he has taken to answer these questions, and I hope the moderators won't mind a commercial message here:
  2. CAnnoneer

    CAnnoneer Well-Known Member

    I can't imagine how a sniper rifle can be used against fast-moving targets (e.g. a plane?!). It makes no sense to me technically. This must be a just pretext for political play.
  3. CAnnoneer

    CAnnoneer Well-Known Member

    This must be just a pretext for political play, is what I meant to say. That's what happens when the same word can be used as an adverb and an adjective.
  4. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Well-Known Member

    A few sheets and bulkheads of of aluminum and steel. Someone should reconstruct a "typical" airplane section and shoot it with various rifle calibers. One would likely find they all penetrate the plane. Of course, this wouldn't help us. It would in fact demonize all rifles as "powerful airplane taker downers". It would likely be prudent to note that the "explosive decompression" scenario posed ad infinitum by Hollywood has proven to be grossly false in the world of real people and physics.

    It would be nice to give these naysayers a chance to hit...say a car-sized vehicle at 100 yards moving at 60mph with a small .22LR rifle and see if they can do it. Then tell them to do the same thing with a 50lb rifle at an object moving in the sky at 500mph at a few thousand feet of elevation. Give them all the mathematical formulas required to calculate lead for bullet flight time, then how to calculate for crosswinds, which one couldn't measure at 2000 feet of vertical distance since there are no airborne indicators.

    I bet they couldn't even keep a 40x optic centered on the plane while in flight.
  5. carebear

    carebear Well-Known Member

    If you mean a political play by those who want to ban all guns one at a time by demonizing them with lies (Feinstein, schumer et al) then the ".50's shoot down planes" issue is just that.

    This guy, however, is presenting his informed opinion why such a scenario is unlikely in the extreme, thus it is a "good thing" for our side.
  6. Kurush

    Kurush Well-Known Member

    Great interview carebear. The antis don't care about the truth, but evidence like this can help win over moderates.
  7. Lone_Gunman

    Lone_Gunman Well-Known Member

    I sure don't want to be the test case for an airplane shot with a 50 BMG.
  8. Nehemiah Scudder

    Nehemiah Scudder Well-Known Member

    Why can't we have a 5 mile DMZ around the airports? That'd kill a couple of birds with 1 stone.
  9. SMMAssociates

    SMMAssociates Well-Known Member

    During WWII, just for example, US Forces in the Pacific Theater had a devil of a time dealing with Japanese Kamikaze aircraft while using .50BMG style weapons set up in antiaircraft configurations, as well as other even more powerful weapons.

    (About the only guaranteed technique from a ship was having a 16" round pop nearby.)

    The idea that a single round from a physically heavy gun that's "handheld" might take down a heavy jet is pretty silly.

    It could happen, of course, but any old hunting rifle probably would have a better chance ("leading" the bird, etc.). A big hole v.s. a little hole probably is irrelevant except for the larger diameter of the damage area.

    As I see it, the other problem is doing this from something other than a large anti-aircraft mount, 'cause this would only work near an airport (preferrably on the runway's centerline - a side shot would be much more difficult), is that you'd be awfully visible to the guys standing in the tower over there with binculars wondering what that gadget was.... Even with the incredible effective range, you'd likely have to be in the airport's fence line, too!


    Which, of course, is part of the anti's stock in trade.... :fire:
  10. chris in va

    chris in va Well-Known Member

    I think what the anti's are saying is a 50 could be set up toward the end of the runway in someone's house where the jet is coming/going TOWARD you, in essence hanging still in the air. They don't mean firing at it perpendicular.

    Pretty goofy regardless. I'd suspect a terrorist would rather fire off a heat seeker than a 50 cal.
  11. beerslurpy

    beerslurpy member

    If 50 caliber worked as an airplane-downing round, the germans and americans would have stuck with 50 caliber machine guns instead of switching entirely to 20mm and 30mm cannons. The simple fact of the matter is that you can shoot the hell out of any large plane (be it a bomber or passenger liner) with 50 cal and it will keep on flying. And that is assuming you can get close enough to actually score hits. Your chances of hitting a plane at 30k feet with even a hail of 50 caliber fire from machine guns is infintesimally small.

    The germans were arguably those who most advanced the use of artillery as an anti-aircraft weapon. It is telling that they completely abandonded all weapons short of the massive 88mm flak round. And its employment consisted of using a dense hail of shells against relatively low flying prop planes to produce arguably inconsistent success.

    In other words, it is complete horsecrap.

    The only single shot weapon capable of shooting down a jumbo jet is a radar guided missle with a decently big warhead to break up the airframe. Even a heat-seeking missle will only go after one of the many engines on a jumbo jet, with only a chance of a one hit kill.
  12. carebear

    carebear Well-Known Member


    Much as I'd like to claim it, this un's the great job of DeseoUn Taco.
  13. boofus

    boofus Guest

    During the Korean War the US air superiority fighter was the F-86 Sabre. It was armed with 6 .50cal machineguns. I remember reading somewhere that an average of ~12,000 rounds were fired for every enemy MiG shot down.

    Now try that with a bolt action or even semi auto .50cal rifle. If you assume the rounds come in 10 round magazines and it takes 90 seconds to fully load a magazine. On average it will take you 30 hours to load enough magazines to bring down a small plane. The average amount of ammunition required would weigh ~4200 pounds, if you don't count the weight of the magazines. Like to see feinstein carry that around.

    Say you take careful aimed shots. Maybe one shot every 2 seconds to try to be accurate. It would take avg 6.6 hours of continuous shooting to bring down a plane, and that's without accounting for barrel cool down or mag changes!

    So you are looking at paying $3000-8000 for the rifle, another $3500 in ammunition, 30 hours of loading magazines, hauling at least 4250 lbs of gear to the airport, 6.6 hours of shooting to bring down a plane, on average. That's if you can keep the plane in range for 6 hours and hit it occasionally. A larger plane like an airliner would take even more hits.
  14. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    erstwhile pilot != expert
  15. Tylden

    Tylden Well-Known Member

    This is so typical of the ploys the anti-gun liberals use. Sadly, many people believe whatever they read in the papers or hear on the news and accept it as fact. Whether or not it's true or not doesn't matter....it did make quite a splash in the news and scared a lot of people in an effort to convince them that "guns are evil". In a way, this is almost a terrorist act within itself.... sometimes freedom of the press can be a dangerous thing indeed. :fire:
  16. Kurush

    Kurush Well-Known Member

    Whoops! Anyhow great work DeseoUnTaco.
  17. jefnvk

    jefnvk Well-Known Member

    Would a .50 round even go 5 miles straight up?

    Anything a .50 can do to a plane, a .30 can probably also do. The ballistic differences between them, while impresive, probably isn't the spread needed to do any more damage.
  18. Geno

    Geno Well-Known Member

    Jet tires are 70+ steel ply, and bullets literally bounce off

    I recently saw a show on a department and a terrorist situation. The police tried to shoot-out the jet's tires to stop it...they had to take cover quick!!!! The bullets bounced right back in their faces. They later learned that the tires are 70+ steel ply!!!! I seriously doubt a .50 BMG would take them out.

    I save seen, have video footage of .50 BMG being shot into full tanks, and full gas cans...they do NOT explode. Even partially empty/full tanks/cans do not explode. To create the "explode scene" as on TV, one has to make it happen by setting a fire source beside the tanks for when shot and fuel SPLASHES out.

    There are some great videos on the markets that talk about these sorts of issues. They were produced in the late 80s early 90s. All this business about the feared .50 BMG is just a sickening, political joke. Makes me want to build one from a legal-to-buy kit just to tick 'em off. Course, I'd choose to make and register mine as a single shot pistol to make it more dangerous...concealable!! Oooooo! :rolleyes:

  19. CAnnoneer

    CAnnoneer Well-Known Member

    At distances where you would care to use a scope, you would have to shoot well in front of the plane anyway, making the scope useless.

    If there is no scope, what kind of a sniper rifle will it be? :rolleyes:

    The only plausible way to down a plane with a rifle is to satisfy all of the below conditions:

    1) plane must be at very low altitude, prob. no more than a few hundred meters
    2) rifle must be set on auto and fired at with 50 to 200m lead depending on the speed of the plane
    3) rounds must hit something to start a fire, or take out the pilots

    The chances for all of this happening - extremely slim.

    The chances of this happening with a bolt-action sniper rifle - virtually nil.

    Methinks, why don't the sides ask for an expert opinion from the Air Force and the Marines. Maybe because they know what the answe will be:

    "What?? Hahahahahahahaha :D "
  20. Vang

    Vang Well-Known Member

    Nehemiah, do you realize how many people live within 5 miles of an airport? I mean, all of downtown Chicago is within 5 miles of an airport.

Share This Page