Shooting Through Padlocks: Is It Like the Movies?

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Shooting Through Padlocks: Is It Like the Movies?

Special effects are some of our favorite parts of movie magic. This is especially true for those scenes when the protagonist is blasting open a padlock in the middle of a high-pressure escape or chase. In such classic adventures, the padlock naturally gives way after one or two carefully aimed shots, the doors burst open, and the scene is allowed to carry on at a fanatical pace. But what does it really take to shoot through such security in real life? Is this type of scenario even plausible? Let’s find out what two experiments have to say about the feasibility of shooting out a padlock when armed with a variety of firearms and ammunition.

Experiment #1: Demolition Ranch

Demolition Ranch took on this burning question, and the results demonstrated varying levels of success through the use of a healthy variety of firearms. Let’s take a look at the results of this real-life padlock-pulverizing experiment.

  • .22 Caliber Handgun - On first attempt with a 22 caliber in hand, we find that even after multiple shots, the armed padlock assailant isn’t getting anywhere fast, not that anyone is surprised.

  • 9mm Pistol – In this attempt, we get a little bit more cosmetic damage on the first try. But after multiple shots the padlock holds strong, and it’s beginning to look like handguns are not the weapon of choice for placing yourself on the other side of a padlocked door.

  • 5.56 Rifle with a 16-Inch Barrel – It turns out that with this rifle we have a bit more success. In fact, the bullet rips clear through the lock. But after one shot, you’re still not getting through, as the lock remains latched. After a couple shots, however, you’ve got a chance. And after three or four, you’re home free.

  • 44 Magnum with a 20-Inch Barrel – Now this option has some real firepower. After a few shots, your padlock problems are no longer. But it’s not necessarily a one-shot solution to a locked entrance.

  • 1 Ounce Slug and a 12-Gauge Shotgun – Well, if you’re in a zombie apocalypse carrying this equipment, you may be in luck. In this case it appears to be very possible to shoot through a lock on the first try.

  • Barrett .50 BMG – For a big job, sometimes it’s necessary to bring out the big guns. And this one makes the grade. This firearm blows that padlock to smithereens, making it a one-hit wonder in the wild world of padlock destruction, although it will probably destroy the door, the wall behind it, and the room behind that.

Experiment #2: Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters

Mythbusters also took to the task of testing the padlock-shooting predicament. Here are the results of their carefully constructed experiment:

  • 9mm Pistol – After three shots, this padlock is not a pretty sight, yet it’s still entirely functional.

  • 357 Magnum – Under assault by the 357 Magnum, this padlock is showing damage, but it’s still hanging tight. Here we find that again, handguns are not the weapon of choice when trying to get through this type of obstacle.

  • Another 12-Gauge Shotgun – The impressive result of the shotgun’s power in this scenario is backed by Demolition Ranch as well. Again, it appears that a shot by the 12-gauge offers plenty of damage and with a little jiggling we’re in business and the lock falls apart.

  • M1 Garand –Just like the Barrett, the M1 Garand can blow a padlock to smithereens. But you’d have to shoot from a distance to avoid the rain of shrapnel that comes with it.

In the movies, we expect a close-range, one-and-done shot to perform the job at hand. In reality, a handgun isn’t going to cut it when faced with a heavy-duty padlock. All in all, the shooter must be on point and have great aim, carry top-notch firepower, and in most cases, have more than one round to spare.

*Always check with your state and local laws for restrictions before ordering ammunition, and make sure you use the correct ammunition for your specific firearm.

6 years ago
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