I was reading Mathew Reilly's Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves. In the book, a guy is shot in the forehead, but miraculously he does not die because his forehead is that strong.

Is it true, can a shot like that not kill?

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  • Related Question: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/4488/… – Oddthinking May 5 '12 at 15:46
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    What we've seen in questions like these is: depends on the gun, depends on the bullet. – Oddthinking May 5 '12 at 15:47
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    There has been lots of discussion about whether claims from fictional stories are notable. I am not familiar with the book or author. Is it reasonable to say he expected his readers to believe the claim that this was possible in real life? – Oddthinking May 5 '12 at 15:52
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    From how far away is he shot? Guns don't reach the infinite - the farer you're away, the less power the projectile has. Depending on the gun and amunition, the distance, where your chance to survive increases, differs. Of course, in such a distance you can only be hit by luck. – user unknown May 5 '12 at 23:01
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    Phineas Gage would probably say you can stand even more than a bullet... – nico May 6 '12 at 7:43

Gabrielle Giffords Source

Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head on January 8, 2011. She survived.

From The New York Times (January 14, 2011):

Ms. Giffords needed surgery immediately. She had skull fractures, dead brain tissue that had to be removed, and increasing pressure from swelling that could further damage her brain as it expanded and pressed against her skull. In addition, her eye sockets had fractures.

The bullet had passed through her skull. Fortunately, it had not severed arteries or veins.

Giffords - 2012 Gabrielle Giffords on January 2012


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  • There's also this story about an American copper getting shot in the head and surviving dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2094764/… – kotekzot May 6 '12 at 12:19
  • A family memember of mine is a neuro-surgeon and she is often performing emergency operations on gunshot victims. She operates on point-blank gunshot trauma maybe once a month. Next time I see her I will have to ask her what the survival rate is. – Mark Henderson May 9 '12 at 4:24
  • @MarkHenderson: Did you ask her? :D – Dr. Nobody Jan 12 '13 at 22:07
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    Don't forget the story of Phineas Gage. A railroad pike right through the eye socket. Not a bullet per se, but still... – Bigbio2002 Mar 19 '13 at 22:35
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    I know this answer has been accepted, but the question specifically asked about the possibility of the skull resisting penetration - this answer instead deals with someone who had a bullet go right through her skull. – Grimm The Opiner May 18 '15 at 16:33

The publication Missile Wounds of the Head and Neck states the following:

If a bullet is fired straight-on into the head, bullet deflection is unlikely; however, if the bullet is fired at an angle or hits a curved portion of the skull, deflection will usually result. In some cases, the bullet will form a wound track as it follows the curved bone, and may even exit without perforating the skull.

Therefore, is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No.

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  • Exactly my thought. Light bullets have a very definite possibility of bouncing off if they don't come straight in. It's more of an issue for suicides, though. – Loren Pechtel Mar 7 '16 at 23:34
  • It's really hard to shoot yourself in the forehead. Most people go for the temple, which has much weaker protections. – Nelson Sep 30 '16 at 9:25

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