In a movie I watched recently the hero grabs an enemy and uses him/her as a shield protecting himself from the bullets of other enemies. When those other enemies shoot at the hero they hit the "shield" enemy killing him/her and leaving the hero unharmed. Would this work in real life?


The guns used in the movie were probably M16 rifles. The distance was about 12 feet. The bullet seemed to hit the shield in the upper torso.

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    Against what gun, at what distance? Hitting the shield how? Guns are rather random weapons, there are many factors. – user3150 May 31 '14 at 23:53
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    @JonofAllTrades I updated the question for what you asked for. – 67cherries Jun 1 '14 at 0:21
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    @68cherries This question doesn't constitute a notable claim. Show what are you skeptical about. Movies are fictional, and you must demonstrate that there is a reasonable amount of people who believe this. – sashkello Jun 1 '14 at 0:23
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    @sashkello: In this example the police (or someone unwilling to shoot the human shield) were not present. I am having some trouble finding documentation that a significant amount of people believe this. – 67cherries Jun 1 '14 at 0:41
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The details of where the bullet hits will determine this, but in general an ordinary human being will not consistently block a bullet from an M16 at close range... but could easily deflect one.

Per Wikipedia, citing http://ammo.ar15.com/project/Fackler_Articles/effects_of_small_arms.pdf, an M16A1 will penetrate 15" of ballistic gelatin. So if a bullet strikes just soft tissue, it'll pass through all but the largest of human bodies. It will be relatively weak coming out the other side, skin is tough, so it may not be deadly, but it'll certainly penetrate.

However, projectiles which strike bone can be deflected, especially small 5.56 bullets used by the M16. So it'll help, probably a lot, but it won't be bulletproof.

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    Aren't 5.56mm bullets supposed to tumble or fragment on impact? – vartec Jun 2 '14 at 14:19
  • There's some controversy about that, but from what I've read ALL bullets can be expected to tumble when striking something, yes. As for fragmentation, jacketed bullets should not normally do so, but there are plenty of people who do report fragmentation for the M16 at least at short ranges - but I have not found any really authoritative sources to quote. This suggests that a human shield may be effective most of the time, but I still wouldn't want to be shot through somebody. – user3150 Jun 3 '14 at 18:06
  • I mean 5.56mm in particular, because it allegedly lacks the stopping power in case it would neither tumble nor fragment, thus work has been put into making sure that either or both occurs reliably. – vartec Jun 4 '14 at 9:05
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    "So it'll help, probably a lot, but it won't be bulletproof." - hehe – Dr. Nobody Jun 5 '14 at 7:40

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