Just for fun: can you shoot underwater?
This VCDL guest article was written by a gun-rights activist from Texas, Jay Chambers at minutemanreview.com.
Virginia – -(AmmoLand.com)- I love science, so I was interested from the point of view of physics. Glock has a modification to their guns that allows for them to shoot more easily underwater. There is a video showing someone hunting lionfish in Florida with such a Glock. Of course, the gun must be very, very close to the fish to work. The real problem with shooting underwater is that water, unlike air, does not compress as an object moves through it.
Guns Underwater: Does it Work?
Maybe they’re rare, but defensive situations in the water are possible. So, if you carry a gun, it’s worth discovering if your firearm would work underwater. That way you know whether or not it should even be part of your gameplan.
Also, it’s just fun to know more about guns.
So, let’s find out if your gun would work if you needed or wanted to use it underwater.
Will Your Gun Work Underwater? In short, your gun will function underwater. But, firearms are not very efficient underwater. So, your gun may not work for what you need it to accomplish.
Water causes issues with the ammunition, the action, and the projectile ballistics.
The issues start with water getting into the ammunition. Modern ammunition is somewhat watertight. It resists rain and external moisture very well. Even being submerged isn’t enough to immediately foul your ammunition. A minute or two underwater usually won’t cause the ammunition itself to fail.
However, if it sits underwater for hours or longer, it’s likely that water will get into the casing and render the powder too wet to ignite.
The chances that you’ll need to use your gun after being underwater for hours are slim. So, it’s most likely that your gun will go bang when you press the trigger underwater.
There’s a notable exception here: rimfire ammunition. Rimfire ammunition is known to be especially susceptible to water fouling. If you’re using a .22 or some other rimfire cartridge, it’s much more likely that your gun won’t work underwater at all. It may be best to leave your firearm out of your underwater defense plan if you use a rimfire model.
One last point: there’s no way to verify if your ammunition has been water fouled or not. Once your gun is out of the water, you should replace the ammunition that was submerged with the gun. It’s the only way to ensure the reliability of your firearm once it’s dry.
But no matter what type of gun you use, keep your ammunition dry if you can, and plan for a complete firearm failure if your gun gets submerged.
As you know, guns are designed to work in standard atmospheric conditions. So, being submerged in water causes trouble with the action of most semi-automatic handguns and rifles.
Often, the expended casing doesn’t get ejected correctly and causes a stovepipe or failure to eject. Or, the water slows the action down too much for it to cycle completely. This causes a failure to go into battery or a failure to feed.
Either way, being submerged in water essentially turns your semi-automatic firearm into a single shot.
But revolvers don’t suffer from this issue. And, there’s evidence that an AK-47 is able to fire repeatedly without malfunctioning.
But, the chances that a semi-automatic firearm will malfunction underwater are very high. Unless you’ve got a revolver, it’s smart to plan for only one shot before performing a malfunction clearance.
The good news is that most standard malfunction clearance manipulations work just fine underwater. So, you could get another shot, if you clear the jam.
This is where things get interesting. The effective range of every gun drops dramatically when it’s fired. So dramatically that you won’t be able to count on anything beyond about five or six feet.
Once you get your gun underwater, the barrel almost immediately fills up with water. All that water has to be pushed out of the barrel by the bullet. Depending on the length of the barrel, the weight of all this water might be several times heavier than the bullet itself. Pushing this water significantly reduces the muzzle velocity.
Then, cutting through water quickly reduces the bullet velocity. The projectile becomes non-lethal very quickly.
Interestingly, using a non-rifled barrel actually works better underwater. Rifling destabilizes the bullet when it moves through water because the viscosity and inertia of water is higher. That’s why guns designed to work underwater have smooth bore barrels and often fire flechettes instead of standard bullets.
But, since you’re most likely not carrying an underwater pistol, you’ll get poor ballistic performance when you fire your gun underwater.
Also, even if your bullet exits the water shortly after it leaves the barrel, it will still be severely hobbled in terms of ballistic performance. The water already did it’s damage to the bullet velocity and stability.
So, it’s wise to plan on taking a contact shot if you want a good effect when you shoot your gun underwater.
Coming up for Air
Unless you live or work around water, the likelihood of needing your gun in an underwater shooting context is extremely low. But, if there’s some reason that it could happen to you, brush up on a few skills:
- Malfunction clearance.
- Grappling skills.
These skill sets will help you get more than one round from your gun, and protect your gun while you maneuver for that contact shot.
So, to answer the question we started with: yes, your gun will work underwater, but in a very limited capacity. It will require more than standard shooting fundamentals to effectively deploy your gun while in the water.
About Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL):
Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right.
For more information, visit: www.vcdl.org.