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The 3rd law and bullet impact

  1. Oct 4, 2007 #1
    A friends father told him that a hydroshock bullet (a type of hollowpoint bullet that spreads out on impact and ussually doesn't exit the target) shot into a mans palm from ten feet away would impart a force on the rest of his body equal to being hit by a semi truck. I know this is ridiculous, but it got us to talking about Newton's 3rd law and whether or not a bullet could ever knock someone back. In order for a bullet to knock someone back wouldn't it also have to knock the shooter back an equal amount? I guess I'm just asking for someone to give me a good physics overview of this whole scenario, please.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 4, 2007 #2


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    Last edited: Oct 4, 2007
  4. Oct 4, 2007 #3
    A common demostration in boot camp long, long ago (back about the time water was invented) was for a drill sergeant to hold an M1 rifle with the butt resting on his nose (sometimes other parts of the anatomy) and fire it. The secret, of course, was the recoil spring. The reverse of the same principle gives bullets like the hydroshock a tremendous knockdown power because the bullet decelerates so quickly. But, knockdown is not the same as knock back.
  5. Oct 4, 2007 #4
    I have heard of many novices knocked over by firing a shotgun. Your article was quite edifying as to the differences of energy, momentum and force involved.
  6. Oct 5, 2007 #5


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    That's because they stand leaning backwards like they were holding a camera and fall over when they hear the load bang!
  7. Oct 5, 2007 #6
    I have no idea why i found that funny irl ^^
  8. Oct 5, 2007 #7
    I've seen people knocked over, but I think they were flinching from the expected "BANG". A typical shotgun has a "kick" of 20-30 ft-lb. By way of comparison, a major league fastball has an energy of about 150 ft-lb.
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