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missingbite's avatar

Can you cut a rope with a rifle shot?

Asked by missingbite (7486 points ) February 13th, 2010

I’m talking about like in the movies when a person is about to be hung and they shoot him loose.

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22 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I believe I could do that as I am a good shot.—but would I??—lol!

ucme's avatar

The Good The Bad & The Ugly have all tried the rope a dope trick, but only the good succeed.Hayayaaa waa waa waa.

dpworkin's avatar

Not I, but I’m sure it can be done.

JONESGH's avatar

Definitely can be done.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’ve done it, as a “trick shot” with a 7.62mm rifle at 50m.

Sarcasm's avatar

Mythbusters took on this myth in 2006, episode 65, “Exploding Lighter”.
Quote from Mythbustersresults :
Firing at a rope with the pistols, even at point blank range, failed to break the rope. The bullets were merely deflected off of the rope. A professional gunslinger armed with a more powerful Winchester repeating rifle managed to shoot and break the rope, but it required multiple tries in order to pull off. With the difficulty involved in shooting and breaking the rope, the myth was considered busted.

I’ve been trying to find a video of it online, but am having no success.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@stranger in a strange land-I would love to do that with an M1 Garand.Woooo hooooo ;)

mammal's avatar

i could, but i doubt you could…particularly if it were swinging in the breeze.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@dpworkin on a day where there is absolutely no wind
@Sarcasm Granted, there is a bit of luck involved since the rifle (match grade M1A) is capable of quarter-inch groups at that range. Was their rope under tension? I wish I had a video if my shot now. :^( A very thick rope like a hangmans noose might take more than one shot to “cut” it. I was using a rope the thickness of a clothesline and was under tension.

judochop's avatar

You can do it, just like in the movies! Most Western flicks show the cowboys and cowgirls using 45 rifles, or slang, the cowboy killer. The chances of it happening at a greater distance than over 40 yards is probably not good odds as you must take in to consideration that the rope sways and you need to shoot it out at the exact time the tension is at it’s fullest. So yeah it could be done but the odds are pretty slim for a hanging.

Sarcasm's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Yeah, it was under tension, they had some sack of potatoes or something in there as if it was being hung for witchcraft.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Sarcasm A thick rope like that might take more than one. I’d like to have a go at it with an M82A1 .50 cal. Of course they didn’t have anything like that in the “wild west” days. They had .50 cal Sharps rifles, but maybe not enough velocity to cut vs. deflecting the rope.

lilikoi's avatar

Depends how thick the rope is.

TexasDude's avatar

Technically, in the context of the historical Old West, you probably couldn’t, but under controlled conditions, you obviously can, as @stranger_in_a_strange_land and some guy on the History Channel pointed out.

Let me explain why.

A rope used for hangings in the Old West would probably be about a half inch or so thick and made from braided twine. If the man who was being hanged did not suffer a broken neck as soon as the rope extended after the trapdoor dropped, he would only have a few seconds before he suffocated. During this window of time, his partner, armed with most likely a Winchester lever-action rifle, chambered in .45 Long Colt, would have to fire off enough rounds (about 1 shot per 2 seconds) to split the rope from a relatively close range, because this shot would be incredibly difficult from more than a few yards away, even with a quality rifle with open iron sights. During this time, the guy with the rifle would probably be shot or zerg rushed by the crowd for conspiring to rescue a condemned man. That’s bad juju, ya know?

XOIIO's avatar

@Sarcasm If you know the season and episode this Will help you.

babaji's avatar

Definitely with a 12 gauge shotgun if a shotgun is considered a rifle.

TexasDude's avatar

@babaji, it would probably be more difficult with a shotgun, and shotgun is not considered a rifle.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@babaji A shotgun is more likely to kill the person suspended from the rope than to cut the rope. A rifled slug might do it, but such weren’t available in the 19th century.

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard This has got me intrigued now. When I get back to the farm, I’ll experiment with this. Say a ½” manila rope with 150 lb weight on it. I’ll set up my .50–90 Sharps on a sandbag rest at 25 yds. The distance is reasonable for a cross-street shot from a prepared rooftop position. The Sharps is authentic for the period and the .50–90 was one of the most powerful rounds of that time. I’ll have to fiddle with the sight setting, since the range is ridiculously short for that piece (I shoot at up to 1000 yds with it). This time I’ll video the result.

TexasDude's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land, that’s a great idea! I didn’t even think of the possibility of using a Sharps or a buffalo rifle. I’d love to see this video if and when you get around to it!

savage's avatar

I’d say the Mythbuster’s test wasn’t fair.
On Old West circumstances, they would hardly buy a new rope for every
hanging. That means the rope would probably be old, dessicated, and alkali-burned by
desert dust. So, unlike the brand-new rope the Mythbusters used, it
might be brittle enough to cut by a single shot…

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