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Shotgun Ammo: Supersonic Ping Pong Ball Shows Why Steel Shot Needs Speed

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March 11, 2013

Shotgun Ammo: Supersonic Ping Pong Ball Shows Why Steel Shot Needs Speed

By Phil Bourjaily

Time for a special “Science Monday” Gun Nuts post. Steel shot, we know, is ballistically challenged because it’s light. Driving it at very high velocities is inefficient because it loses velocity quickly, but it’s the only way to make steel hit harder without going to a larger size pellet. Field experience among waterfowlers generally shows that high velocity steel does outperform slower steel shot.

By way of illustration, today’s video shows what happens when you increase the velocity of a ping pong ball—ping pong balls being even more ballistically horrible than steel—from 700 mph (1026 fps) to 930 mph (1364 fps). The 1026 fps ball, we are told, goes through a Coke can, which is pretty cool, but watch the video to see what you can do with a really high velocity ping pong ball.

It is my belief that the lighter the projectile, the more important it becomes to launch it at high velocity. I don’t care much for the new extremely high velocity (1500 fps and more) lead loads, because lead retains energy well and doesn't need to be driven so fast. With steel, I think high velocity to a point (about 1450-1550 fps) helps a lot. If I hunted with ping pong balls, I would insist on high velocity.

Comments (19)

Top Rated
All Comments
from 2Poppa wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I don't think William Henzell, is a fast playing Australian
table tennis champion, could hit that serve, much less see it. That was an interesting article. I would have liked to seen the ping pong hit the paddle in slow-motion.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I have recently found the Remington Hypersonic 1,700 fps steel shot in BB to be a real killer on snow geese.... Boom, boom, boom; thud, thud, thud.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Very interesting. Curious to what the ping pong ball looks like after the shot.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

College degrees my @ss, me and my buddies been doing experimental stuff like that blowing up $h!t before we reached junior high. The most dangerous words in the english language are "Hey, Watch this!"

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

With that being said; does a shotgunner need to relearn how to shoot fast steel loads ? A few of my friends that hunt ducks and so forth and must use steel shot, are having a problem hitting their intended targets. Do you have any advice for them ?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from PbHead wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Valuable research like this makes me consider recommending Purdue to my grandkids.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from TED FORD wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I think this answers the question about shooting a fly into the wind at a tailing redfish.The double haul well become obselete.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TED FORD wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

may well.darnit!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bruisedsausage wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I don't understand why we're not using Tungsten. It's already being used in the fishing industry and is currently used in some munitions.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from firedog11 wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

And everybody was pooh-poohing the airgun from "No Country for Old Men".

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

My niece is studying engineering at Purdue. Maybe she can hook me up with a ping pong ball gun for some in the field studies... go Boilermakers!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bustedclays wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Demonstrations like this make me almost wish I had paid more attention in calculus and physics classes.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RJ Arena wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Yea, I am SO IMPRESSED with the college degrees, which mean nothing. Test results, showing the data collected, that means something.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ncarl wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

brusedsausage, wouldnt tungston be really expensive. I cant bring myself to buy tungston bullet weights and I can get those back. Maybe thats why we dont use it yet.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from brentru wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Don't let any politicians see this video. Next thing you know you'll need a background check to purchase ping-pong balls and be limited to one sleeve of balls a month.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carl Huber wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

I should have stayed in school. All we ever did was make our own fireworks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from woodpecker wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

WOW, I'm impressed. Can't imagine what new tech. is right around the corner. Now if there was some elected officials around and that thing would shoot a rotten tomato and....never mind.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from khoff5190 wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

interesting how those dots connect... I still cant help but wonder hoe hard it would be to rig one of those ping pong ball cannons up...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ableskeever wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

The wind resistance is a function of the ping pong's velocity and the cross-sectional area. Because of the low mass, it's energy is all made up in how fast its going. The deceleration on the ball is high with the low mass of the ball.

In short, you'd need to have the ping pong gun right up against any kind of target or the ball will slow down too quickly for any kind of thump or accuracy. Potatoes, on the other hand, have a lot more mass, so they travel farther.

For a given volume of a sphere and initial velocity, increase the density, increase the distance. Tungsten is heavier than steel.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from buckstopper wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

College degrees my @ss, me and my buddies been doing experimental stuff like that blowing up $h!t before we reached junior high. The most dangerous words in the english language are "Hey, Watch this!"

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I don't think William Henzell, is a fast playing Australian
table tennis champion, could hit that serve, much less see it. That was an interesting article. I would have liked to seen the ping pong hit the paddle in slow-motion.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I have recently found the Remington Hypersonic 1,700 fps steel shot in BB to be a real killer on snow geese.... Boom, boom, boom; thud, thud, thud.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Very interesting. Curious to what the ping pong ball looks like after the shot.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from PbHead wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Valuable research like this makes me consider recommending Purdue to my grandkids.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bustedclays wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Demonstrations like this make me almost wish I had paid more attention in calculus and physics classes.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ncarl wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

brusedsausage, wouldnt tungston be really expensive. I cant bring myself to buy tungston bullet weights and I can get those back. Maybe thats why we dont use it yet.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

With that being said; does a shotgunner need to relearn how to shoot fast steel loads ? A few of my friends that hunt ducks and so forth and must use steel shot, are having a problem hitting their intended targets. Do you have any advice for them ?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TED FORD wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I think this answers the question about shooting a fly into the wind at a tailing redfish.The double haul well become obselete.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TED FORD wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

may well.darnit!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bruisedsausage wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I don't understand why we're not using Tungsten. It's already being used in the fishing industry and is currently used in some munitions.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from firedog11 wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

And everybody was pooh-poohing the airgun from "No Country for Old Men".

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

My niece is studying engineering at Purdue. Maybe she can hook me up with a ping pong ball gun for some in the field studies... go Boilermakers!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RJ Arena wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Yea, I am SO IMPRESSED with the college degrees, which mean nothing. Test results, showing the data collected, that means something.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from brentru wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Don't let any politicians see this video. Next thing you know you'll need a background check to purchase ping-pong balls and be limited to one sleeve of balls a month.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carl Huber wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

I should have stayed in school. All we ever did was make our own fireworks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from woodpecker wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

WOW, I'm impressed. Can't imagine what new tech. is right around the corner. Now if there was some elected officials around and that thing would shoot a rotten tomato and....never mind.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from khoff5190 wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

interesting how those dots connect... I still cant help but wonder hoe hard it would be to rig one of those ping pong ball cannons up...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ableskeever wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

The wind resistance is a function of the ping pong's velocity and the cross-sectional area. Because of the low mass, it's energy is all made up in how fast its going. The deceleration on the ball is high with the low mass of the ball.

In short, you'd need to have the ping pong gun right up against any kind of target or the ball will slow down too quickly for any kind of thump or accuracy. Potatoes, on the other hand, have a lot more mass, so they travel farther.

For a given volume of a sphere and initial velocity, increase the density, increase the distance. Tungsten is heavier than steel.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment