Cash Stops Bullet

Mythbusters did an episode on the urban legend of a bullet being stopped by a Bible (or a Zippo lighter). They found that a hardcover book of at least 400 pages might stop a bullet, but anything less (including a Zippo) didn't have a chance. Nevertheless, police in Sao Paulo, Brazil are saying that the wad of cash a woman had stuffed in her bra slowed down a bullet enough to save her life. I'm sure the woman is very lucky, but I suspect the cash had nothing to do with her good fortune.[Yahoo!]

Law/Police/Crime Urban Legends

Posted on Wed Apr 15, 2009


just figured i should point out in your discription you're describing two different things.

1: Stop the bullet on it's own.

2: Keep you from being killed.

they could both be right. The cash didn't stop the bullet, but did slow it down enough.
Posted by David  on  Wed Apr 15, 2009  at  10:17 AM
Once my great grandfather accidentally fired his .357 magnum at the wall of his house. The bullet penetrated the brick exterior, the plaster wall inside, the tile backsplash in the kitchen, a toaster, and one side of a brown paper grocery bag my great grandmother had just placed on the counter. The bullet bounced off the other wall of the bag just inches from her chest. My great grandmother then remarked "Good thing that bag was there!"

So it's all in how you look at it. If this Brazilian bullet passed through a window, some curtains, a puffy winter coat, a thick sweater, a sturdy bra, and then a wad of cash, then I guess it WAS the cash did stop the bullet... in the end.
Posted by Crazy Ivan  on  Wed Apr 15, 2009  at  11:52 AM
What kind of gun was it? I am reminded of the novel From Russia With Love and the near assasination of James Bond.
Posted by Charles  on  Wed Apr 15, 2009  at  01:51 PM
At one time we tested the Zippo lighter theory. Although the lighter was a bit worse for wear, it stopped a .380 from 30 feet. Would leave one hell of a bruise though...
Posted by ed  on  Wed Apr 15, 2009  at  03:19 PM
A lot of it depends on how far the bullet has traveled. It will have its greatest force as it leaves the muzzle of the gun; it will constantly lose force from that instant on. If the bullet has traveled far enough, it will lose enough force that even just your skin will stop it.

The bullet will also lose force every time it bounces off of something or passes through something.

Then you have other matters, such as different types of bullets having different amounts of force, or bullets not firing properly, or bullets that are made with too little propellant, and all that sort of thing.

It's quite easy to imagine a scenario in which a low-powered handgun fired in an enclosed space could have had the bullet ricochet off something and hit this woman, whereupon the wad of money (I wonder what Brazilian money is made of?) slowed it enough that she was merely badly injured rather than potentially killed.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed Apr 15, 2009  at  03:27 PM
Accipiter sez:
"I wonder what Brazilian money is made of?"

Paper. Although printing money on kevlar or sheets of tank armor would be interesting.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Wed Apr 15, 2009  at  06:24 PM
I was thinking about how in Australia they now use polypropylene to make their banknotes. Those would probably be even tougher than paper notes, and so provide more resistance (and thus more protection).
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed Apr 15, 2009  at  07:32 PM
She did have to have the bullet removed in surgery, so it defiantly didn't stop the bullet completely.
Posted by David  on  Thu Apr 16, 2009  at  12:26 PM

I'm happy to do a comparison of your paper notes and our plastic ones. So if you send a thickish wad of $10 notes over I promise I'll give then a good test...
Posted by Joel B1  on  Thu Apr 16, 2009  at  04:14 PM
Teddy Roosevelt was saved from a bullet by the speech in his pocket:
Posted by Scout  on  Thu Apr 16, 2009  at  08:13 PM
I'm happy to do a comparison of your paper notes and our plastic ones. So if you send a thickish wad of $10 notes over I promise I'll give then a good test...

This is America, where 1/4 of the population owns guns. I think that if the testing is done anywhere, this is the place to do it. All manner of firearms will be readily available.

I will gladly accept large wads of money from any and all countries, so as to test their bullet-resisting abilities.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Thu Apr 16, 2009  at  09:25 PM
The stories of people being saved by an item in their pocket - be it a Bible, a pack of playing cards, a gold coin, or the like - are too numerous to be convincingly contradicted by one episode of Mythbusters. True, most of these items would not stop a bullet from a modern high-powered rifle fired at a right angle from the target at close range, but as others have noted there are many factors: mass of the bullet, velocity of the bullet, angle of deflection, previous objects encountered, and so forth. I have personally seen where a rifle bullet bounced off a piece of wood at a distance of about 40 feet from where the rifle was fired.
Posted by Alan  on  Sat Apr 25, 2009  at  08:40 AM
Execllent post.Thanks for sharing with us.
Posted by Fleece Vest  on  Mon Jan 11, 2010  at  12:29 AM
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