Despite Elon Musk’s claims about his “bulletproof” Cybertruck, there isn’t any such thing as bulletproof, Wyoming ballistics experts told Cowboy State Daily.
“You can make something ‘bulletproof.’ I’ll just go get a bigger bullet,” said Frank Groth of Gillette.
A retired law enforcement officer, Groth also is a tactical firearms instructor who specializes in defensive shotgun training.
The proper term is actually “bullet resistant,” and Musk’s truck could probably resist projectiles only up to a certain point, he said.
“If I want to defeat a car, I’m going to use a shotgun slug,” Groth said. “A hardened Brenneke slug will go through a car like a knife through butter. I think it would go through the Cybertruck.”
Vince Vanata of Cody, a Marine Corps veteran and retired law enforcement officer, agreed that the Cybertruck probably wouldn’t stand up to rifle calibers that are common in Wyoming.
“I think if you shot that Elon Musk truck with a .308 or a .300 Winchester Magnum or a 7mm Remmington Magnum, it would go right through,” he said.
Video Proof Of ‘Bulletproof’
Some popular social media videos show the Cybertruck, which Musk touts as a cutting-edge vehicle, standing up to some gunfire.
In one, a robot puts on a black cowboy hat before emptying the drum magazine of a Thompson submachine gun into the side of a Cybertruck, occupied by another robot. The bullets dent, but apparently don’t penetrate, the vehicle. Once the shooting stops, the robot inside the vehicle steps out and declares, “I’m alive.”
The Thompson is chambered in .45 APC, which also is a popular pistol cartridge.
In another video, Telsa engineers open up on the Cybertruck with a Thompson, as well as a couple of 9 mm firearms and a shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot.
Again, the vehicle is severely dented, but apparently none of the projectiles penetrate into the interior.
Yeah, But …
The hitch with those videos is that, despite all of those rounds being adequately deadly under the right circumstances, they’re also low velocity, Groth and Vanata said.
“A 5.56 mm rifle round going 2,300 feet per second is going to go through a lot more material than a .45 caliber pistol round going about 800 feet per second,” Groth said.
Several factors come into play when it comes down to which projectiles will penetrate what, Vanata said.
“A lot of it depends on the distance and what the speed of that round is upon impact,” he said. “The faster a bullet is going, the more kinetic energy it’s going to transfer into the target. And that kinetic energy can cause the metal to heat up and actually make it melt.”
The metal on the Cybertruck’s body is “3 mm rolled steel. That’s not very thick, not at all,” so it couldn’t stand up to higher-velocity bullets, Vanata said.
Vanata reiterated that calling something “bulletproof,” including the Cybertruck, just isn’t accurate.
“Elon Musk is using the wrong word. He should be saying it’s ‘bullet resistant,’ Vanata said.
Actual body armor and specialized glass is marketed as “bullet resistant,” he said.
“Anybody who says something is ‘bulletproof’ either doesn’t know what they’re talking about or is trying to sting you,” he said.
Bullet resistant body armor comes in various grades or levels, Groth said. Level 4 body armor is the toughest and can stand up to some rifle rounds.
“When I was in law enforcement, I wore level 3 body armor. It’s rated to stop pretty much any pistol round,” he said.
Vanata said he and some fellow Marines once put some 4-inch bullet-resistant glass to the test by shooting it with several types of firearms and ammunition.
Single 9mm rounds embedded themselves in the glass. “Concentrated fire” from 9mm weapons blew through it, he said. Hollow-point rounds from a .38 disintegrated, and No. 4 buckshot bounced off, but shotgun slugs went through.
And if somebody wearing body armor is hit with a projectile that doesn’t penetrate it, the transfer of impact can still cause injuries, Groth and Vanata said.
Vanata said he once saw a bullet-resistant vest mounted on a dummy with “ballistic clay” in the abdomen area shot with various firearms.
When it was hit with 00 buckshot, most of the pellets didn’t penetrate, but the impact was still devastating.
“It pushed a hole larger than my fist right through the clay,” he said.
Why The Hype?
Other than pure hype, Vanata said he’s not sure what point there is in pitching the Cybertruck as “bulletproof.”
“I don’t know what Elon Musk’s motivation is behind trying to market that thing as ‘bulletproof.’ Maybe he’s trying to sell it to people in L.A. and Chicago,” he said.
He also noted that the vehicle’s tires apparently aren’t bullet resistant, which could weaken its value in a firefight.
Even so, the truck being at least somewhat bullet resistant might come in handy in an unusually bad situation, Vanata said.
“If it slows down the round, even if the round penetrates, and make it less capable of defeating the vehicle, stopping the vehicle and hurting somebody who is inside, it could give you more opportunity to get out of the area,” he said.
Mark Heinz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.