In an experiment you should never, ever try at home, the experimenters at YouTube’s DemolitionRanch found that if you were strong enough to bend the barrel of a rifle back on itself (a clever manoeuvre Bugs Bunny often pulled on Elmer Fudd) the bullet would actually follow the curved path.
Years ago, on the Discovery Channel, The Mythbusters confirmed that if you bent a rifle’s barrel 90-degrees, instead of exploding and turning the tube into a bouquet of shredded metal, the bullet would actually follow the curve and exit the barrel as it normally would, albeit with a little less oomph. For DemolitionRanch’s latest firearms experiment, it goes one step beyond what The Mythbusters tested and bent the barrel of an automatic rifle almost 180 degrees backward so that it points back at someone unfortunate enough to be holding the weapon. Instead of going full Elmer Fudd, however, they built a remote rig to safely test what would happen.
The two most logical outcomes of the experiment seemed like they’d have the round either breaching the barrel at the beginning of the bend, or getting stuck before completely navigating the tight curve. But confirming that at least some of the outlandish physics you see demonstrated in cartoons is accurate, when the rifle was fired remotely, the bullet exited the barrel at its business end, destroying the weapon’s sight in the process.
So could a manoeuvre like this actually save your life should you ever find yourself staring down the barrel of a rifle? No, absolutely not. Bending a barrel by hand would require a Superman-calibre feat of strength, and even then it would probably leave a dangerous crimp or pinch in the barrel that would result in a nastier outcome than demonstrated here. For this experiment, the rifle’s barrel was heated and then carefully bent to a specific diameter that ensured the tube’s structure remained intact so that a bullet could potentially still traverse it. In reality, the first time Bugs Bunny tried something like this, both he and Elmer Fudd would have found themselves in the emergency room.