Digital Weapons

Peculiar or Pointless; Mostly Harmless

Monday, January 16, 2006

Energetic Disassembly of a Burrito, a.k.a. "The Exploding Burrito"

This is the first Innocent Inanimate Objects web page - from all the way back in 1995. More to come!

Here's what happens when you fire a single .357 SIG hollowpoint bullet end-on into a Taco Bell bean burrito.


The burrito is propped up on an aluminum can "somewhere" in the Arizona desert. The bullet is about to be fired down the axis of the burrito from a distance of about 8 feet. The "carcass" of another burrito is visible in the background.

The bullet enters the burrito. Immediately the top half of the burrito is blown off, exiting the frame within a single field, meaning it's probably traveling at least 50mph toward the sky. The can, pushed forward and down by the expanding burrito, rebounds violently off the ground and twists toward the camera. Note that the rear of the burrito has moved more than the front, tending to stretch the body of the burrito. Tortillas and beans aren't known for their tensile strength, so as the burrito stretches it is being shredded by its own inertia.

The can is airborne. The expansion of the burrito has torn a hole in the side of the can. As the can takes off it continues to spin, throwing bits of tortilla and bean in all directions.

The burrito is gone. Obliterated. The fate of the top half isn't visible but it is also blasted to smithereens. The largest surviving piece is the large section of wrapper. Nearly everything else is reduced to the size of a bit of chopped onion or smaller. Debris covers a radius of about 10 feet. Note how the scrap of paper in the center "bounces".


Who would have thought that burritos would make good fireworks. But they do!

(Following comments written c. November 1995)

On this same day we tried out a variety of other handgun calibers and loads on essentially the same setup. .45 hardball (230 grain FMJ roundnose) passed right through, just ripping off the side of the burrito and making a localized mess. 9mm hollowpoint was only slighly more spectacular. 357 SIG FMJ produced a nice spray of material from the burrito but failed to blow it to bits. Unfortunately there was no high-power ammo for the .357 Magnum on this outing.

The weapon fired was a SIG Sauer P229 chambered for SIG 357. It fires a 125 grain bullet at approximately 1400 fps, similar to defense loads for the .357 Magnum (though some hotter .357 loads are available).

The camera used to capture this footage was a Sony Handycam Hi8 TR-101. The electronic shutter was set to 1/4000 sec. Images were captured at full 640x480 resolution using a PowerMac 8500. Several passes were required to get all the frames, since the 8500's built-in hardware would not capture this size at a full 30fps. (Actually this isn't true now, since I started capturing to RAM.) Individual frames were exported from MoviePlayer* as Mac PICTs. These PICTs contained two interlaced fields. DeBabelizer Toolkit was used to separate the fields and then save the resulting images as quarter-frame sized JPEGs at high quality.

All trash of any significant size was picked up and removed from the site afterwards. That's a Coors Cutter can that was brought with us, by the way--nevermind that it's a nonalcoholic beer can, but we wouldn't mix alcohol and firearms, ever, and we hope you won't either!

Various Historical Links Part I

Innocent inanimate objects (like Gallagher, but with high powered weapons)
Phreaky Phriday Phun Links
Thomcat Physics
Food Science: Play with Your Food

* The QuickTime player was called MoviePlayer back in the mid 90s.


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