Firearms Test: Bullets versus Plastic Chair

For the September 2015 segment of Righting Crime Fiction, I’ll be responding to a question asked by Writer Nina Mansfield over on Short Mystery Fiction Society’s Yahoo Group. She asked if it was possible for a handgun fired from ten to fifteen feet away to knock over a “flimsy” plastic chair. My immediate response was going to be to explain how plastic offers little resistance and bullets travel at a very high rate of speed, so the bullets (any bullet) would zip right on through without even budging the chair. I was going to support my opinion with examples of things I’ve experienced and prior tests I’ve done over the years, but then I suddenly remembered I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and writers are supposed to *show* and not *tell*. Thus, I decided I would show her—and everyone else who might benefit from the information—what happens when one shoots a flimsy plastic chair with various firearms.

First thing this morning, I drove out to the local Dollar General store and bought a flimsy plastic chair for $8.00. I then headed to the shooting range with five handguns, a rifle, a shotgun, and a camcorder to put her question and my opinion to the test.

I set the chair out to about fifteen feet and fired one shot from each of the firearms I’d brought, with the exception of my .308 Accuracy International sniper rifle. I met a guy named Charlie who was shooting a .308 Savage precision rifle, and I let him shoot the chair twice with his rifle.

Here is a list of the weapons used, and the order in which they were fired:

  1. Plinkerton .22 caliber single-action revolver
  2. Beretta 92FS 9 mm semi-automatic pistol
  3. Gloc k 22 .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol
  4. Ruger GP100 .357 magnum double-action revolver
  5. Uberti 1875 Outlaw .45LC single-shot revolver
  6. Savage .308 bolt-action rifle
  7. Benelli Nova 12-gauge pump-action shotgun

I set the camcorder up on a tripod and it remained trained on the chair during the test shots, so as to record any possible movement of the chair when the bullets struck it. My course of action was as follows: I loaded and fired a shot from the .22 revolver, activated the zoom on the camcorder to get a close-up view of the bullet hole, zoomed out, and then followed the same procedure with all of the other weapons, with the exception of the .308 rifle (as described earlier). In order to increase the odds of knocking the chair over, I aimed at the top of the backrest.

Without further ado, here is the video containing the test results:

As you can see, the bullets zipped right on through the plastic without even causing the chair to flinch. The bullet causing the most damage was the 12-gauge 1oz slug, which is a fearsome round. The football, which has more volume and travels much slower than a bullet, “pushed” the chair over onto its back, as would be expected.

Note about the football: I’d love to be able to say I called Drew Brees over to throw the football at the chair for this experiment, but he was in Arizona trying to win a football game.

I’d like to thank Nina for asking the question, as it gave me a great excuse to head out to the firing range (like I really need one:-) and it was great fun. Check out her bio below and visit her website to find out what she’s been up to.

Nina Mansfield is a Connecticut based writer. Her debut novel, Swimming Alone, a young adult mystery, was published by Fire & Ice YA in August 2015. Nina began her writing career as a playwright; she has written numerous plays, which have been published and produced throughout United States and internationally. Nina is a member of, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Dramatists Guild.  Please visit her at

Until next time, write, rewrite, and get it right!

BJ Bourg is the author of JAMES 516 (Amber Quill Press, 2014), THE SEVENTH TAKING (Amber Quill Press, 2015), HOLLOW CRIB (Five Star-Gale-Cengage, 2016), and BUT NOT FORGOTTEN (Amber Quill Press, 2016).

Copyright © 2015 by BJ Bourg. All rights reserved.

8 thoughts on “Firearms Test: Bullets versus Plastic Chair

    1. Glad to be back, Jan. I only pop in intermittently (I have a limited amount of time and an unlimited amount of novel ideas that need writing), but I enjoy the interaction with the mystery writers on the list…always have.

  1. Well, it’s a football, for sure, next time I want to knock over a chair. I would have thought the shotgun would do it. Interesting experiment, thanks for posting it.

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