The .50 cal Ricochet to the head video

You guys have all seen the video before… I’m getting a lot of messages about it on facebook and youtube and such for some reason.  I guess it gone around the forums again.

Okay, it’s an Armalite AR-50. The ammo was South African Mil-Surp. The range was 100 yards. The target plate was only 1/4″ thick. It should have been like tissue paper to the 750 grain slug at 2800 FPS. Willie, the shooter, is a Former Marine with a lot of experience. The plate was angled back and to the side. A ric should have gone up and to the right. It didn’t.
This was a freak accident that could have ended badly. The ric could have opened his head up, or it could have hit one of the guys behind him. It would have been like being hit point blank with a .45ACP, that’s how much energy that slug still had.
The slug struck the arm of his glasses and the ear-pro. It destroyed the electronic ear-pro, bent the arm, and it cracked the top of his jawbone.
The man that said “We’re not doing that anymore” is his father. He almost saw his Son get killed. It was also Willie’s daughter’s birthday. She almost lost her Dad that day. Everyone there was very lucky that Willie only caught a graze.
I first posted that video on In a manner of hours it crashed my server – repeatedly – because it went viral instantly. A reader put it on YouTube. And it went viral all over again.
It’s been on TV a few times on different shows… and Willie has made some money on it. Willie remains a good friend to this day.

28 thoughts on “The .50 cal Ricochet to the head video”

  1. Jesus. That’s a miracle. Looks like it came back, hit the dirt then went upward and him. I hope he bought a lottery ticket that day. I’m happy it didn’t end badly for your friend.

  2. I had always wondered how the shooter made out in this amazing video. Willie, I’m so glad you had relatively minor injuries! Scary footage, to say the least. Hope you ‘got back on the horse again’ and have continued to enjoy that big .50 .
    Best wishes – S

  3. Wow. Proof that sometimes the dice just roll bad. This is also the proof that sometimes they also roll pretty good!

  4. Thanks for posting this vid. I’m glad your buddy made out OK. It just goes to show you that anything can happen at any time and no matter what happens you must show respect to any firearm whether it’s a .50 cal or a .22 short.

  5. I can identify with Willie, having been in a hunting accident myself in ´81. It just proves that we can go at any minute, and it just wasn´t your time. I just hope you thank God, for yiur children´s sake.

  6. Fake video. at 100 yd. (200 yds. total there and back) a .50 cal. bullet traveling at 2880 fps would take 0.208 sec. for the travel time. if you watch the clock on the video it take at least 2 sec. for the bullet to come back. This was either a set-up (probably) or some one missed trying to kill this guy. Oh, for thoses who say the video was slowed down, the dust kicked up by the shot is a normal speed.

    1. Not to discount the severity of the situation, but I have wondered the same thing. At 2880 fps, it would take just over 0.104 sec to travel 100 yards to the target. If you time the the sound of the gun report to the thud of the ricochet hitting his head, it is much closer to 1.5 seconds. That leaves 1.5 – 0.104 = roughly 1.4 seconds for the ricochet to travel BACK 100 yards to hit the shooter. That would mean it was traveling only about 221.5 fps on the way back. I’m not sure, but that seems like an unlikely speed for the ricochet.

      Of course, ricochets are unpredictable. Since the metal plate was angled with respect to the shooter, the impact must have moved the plate, absorbing much of the energy. Also, I’m guessing there was a rock or some other hard material behind the plate (possibly imbedded in the hillside) which was responsible for the ricochet. I suppose, taking all those factors into play, the speed of the bullet could have slowed that much.

      .50 caliber ammo ranges roughly between 645 and 800 grains, so at the low end (“best” case), this would result in approximately 95.5 joules of kinetic energy at 221.5 fps (as opposed to about 16,000 joules at 2880 fps). By contrast, a high powered BB gun shoots at around 600 fps. BB’s range in weight from about 0.12 to 0.30 grams. Taking the worst case, a BB weighing 0.30 grams, traveling at 600 fps BB will deliver about 5 joules of energy (and can pierce the skin).

      Bottom line – ouch! This guy was lucky.

        1. I’m kind of a “physics guy” myself…

          A .45 delivers anywhere from about 559 J to 835 J of energy … not quite the same.

          Let’s be VERY conservative and say that the time elapsed from initial firing to contact from the ricochet was only 0.75 seconds (about half the time elapsed in the video). We still have about 0.104 seconds for the bullet to travel from the gun to the target, leaving approx 0.646 seconds to return. That’s approx 464.5 fps (or 141.5845 m/s) to cover the 100 yd distance. Assuming a bullet weight of 645 grains (that’s 0.041795 kg). Energy in Joules is calculated by:
          0.5 * m * v^2
          So, that would be about 419 J … still less than a .45

          Besides the fact that these figures are estimates, none of this takes into account the additional slowing of the bullet due to it’s 2nd ricochet off the ground which further decreases the energy at impact.

    2. George knows the people involved.

      Yea, I know it’s cool these days to claim every unusual video is faked, but you just failed here.

  7. I’ve had shrapnal and whole bullets come back and hit me from using the wrong kind of steel plate in the past at a lot closer ranges. I’ve been lucky to have not gotten to injured from them. I’m glad this video was posted, it showed that even if you think you did everything right, anything can happen, anywhere, at any time. I’m glad Willy walked away. Now if we could just stop those retards from doing that bump fire crap.

  8. IF this guy as reported was firing a .50 BMG from a 100 Yards, the ONLY mistake he made was on range to target, for his own protection he should have shot at 200-250 yrds.even a direct ricochet wouldn’t make it that far as a piece of shrapnel.

    1. There is no IF about it. Hes a friend and ive shot at that location more times than I can count.
      The round should have penetrated the plate like a hot knife through butter.

  9. It is funny everyone trying to predict what a bullet will do once it leaves a barrel.

    There are many things it should do. But, if it CAN do something else, you have better be ready. Because it will.

    As for MSD (Minimum safe distance)? With a .50 BMG? A ricochet at 200 yards coming right back at you could easily still travel 400 to 500 yards ….

    It is just difficult to control that much energy. That is about 4 x 30-06 rounds in one. If a quarter of that comes back at you …. It will do damage.


  10. I love how all the claims that it’s fake assume that the South African military surplus round was completely up to spec. Big assumption because I don’t see any chronograph equipment in the video. I know Willy and the Ogre and I’ve used that range in the last week. It’s a hundred yard shot. Piss off with trying to win the Internet with cries of fake and set-up.

  11. I once shot at a range that was using old railroad rail to support wooden target frames on the 100 yd range. If you hit it just right (wrong?) 22 Long Rifle projectiles would nearly make it back to the shooting benches.

  12. Old video and old posts but curious. The YouTube description says 1000 yards and is very clear about that in saying 10 football fields. This post and comments are very clear it was 100 yards. 1000 would work with the 2 seconds for impact timing better. Which is it?

    1. The video description where this comes up, wasn’t written by me, but someone that downloaded and re-uploaded it. The range was 100 yards. Only 100 yards, and I’ve always said it was only 100 yards. The original video it was stated to be 100. I don’t know who called it 1000 yards – but it’s utter bullshit.

  13. What are the chances that it deflected the angled plate, went almost straight on, hit elsewhere and came back, the angles and amount of time, does look a little funny?

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