Regular shooters/military folk/hunters: ricochet sound?

I know the “ricochet sound” in old Westerns is silly, but have you ever heard a round ricochet in real life? What does it sound like?

I think I have - it’s definitely rare. I think the bullet has to strike something hard and bounce off with end-to-end spin - or at least some serious wobble

It sounded like a buzz - not as high-pitched, loud or long-lasting as in the movies, but with some similarity


No. Never.

Yes, and it does kind of sound like it does in the movies.

For small arms no. I’ve heard it with tank main gun rounds.

What makes a tank round ricochet and what does it sound like???

I have heard it from a slingshot! I was shooting gravel at something on a side walk and on a couple of shots the stone would hit and “buzzzz” into the distance.

I never shoot anywhere the bullets could ever travel past the target.


Agreed. I shoot in a natural amphitheater with a hard volcanic rock as a back-stop. I hear a high pitched whistling very similar to the war movies now and then. Usually only with the .22, as the larger calibers are so loud, you don’t hear shit for the echo and the ringing of the ears.

I’ve heard the movie type ricochet.

It was a .22 rifle bounced off an icy lake at low angle.

It’s a sound you don’t want to hear IRL. This guy is very lucky to be alive.

I’ve heard the (movie-style) ricochet sound many times, mostly shooting high-powered airguns.

I heard it once, when a .22 hit a stone. It’s pretty rare, though. I’ve seen lots and lots of rounds hit steel targets without producing that noise, because they hit it squarely and didn’t deflect at an angle.

Old school westerns used this sound effect for every single bullet which is absurd.

We shoot lots of steel at our ranges. It’s always either hanging on chains, angled in such a way as any splatter goes down into the ground, or small enough that it will be easily knocked down.

That said, accidents still occur. I was hit in the nose by a fragment of bullet jacket that bounced back from 30 feet and made a small cut.

No ricochet noise though.


Yes. Many years ago I decided it would be a cool idea to leave some 2L bottles of water on the deck overnight so they would freeze and then take them in the woods and shoot at them.

I was shooting .22 rounds, and the first few shots went spectacularly. Then one of them came right back at me and passed by my ear buzzing like an angry bumblebee.

I quietly packed up my gear and went home, never to repeat that foolish experiment.

I read of a case where a woman driving past a lake took a fatal wound behind her right ear. Turned out someone a half-mile on the other side of the lake shot a rifle down at the water only to have it ricochet off of the surface and fly through the open passenger window on the victim’s car.

Hitting something at a relatively shallow angle and a high frequency flutter are the short answers.

All of my experience is on training ranges. Armored vehicle targets are just plywood silhouettes not metal. HEAT (high explosive anti-tank) training rounds don’t actually contain any high explosive so they don’t actually explode. That means most rounds, even ones that hit their target, hit the dirt at a relatively shallow angle and bounce. I also have abnormally good hearing in some of those higher ranges. Even the last hearing test I took before my retirement still had me solidly above average, if no longer freakish, at higher frequencies. The combination probably shapes my experience.

IME the sound of the main gun is pretty tricky. The lower frequency range carries better than the higher frequency range. The sounds obviously carry differently in different weather and can channel along the terrain. Most of my experience was either farther away or down inside the turret and distracted. I still heard some of the high frequency sounds while observing from further away. Some of that wasn’t really ricochet. The sabot round has the pieces that carry the subcaliber projectile through the tube before falling away and tumbling. It all happens fast enough that I won’t pretend to have been able to tell the difference between the sounds of them tumbling before and after striking the ground.

I did spend about a week and a half once upon a time as safety on a tank range. The sounds were more noticeable driving around in a HMMWV 15-20 meters behind the firing tank…duh! :smiley: That’s really where most of my memory of the sounds comes from. I covered all of the night fire so I got pretty lights too. The experience may have contributed to my current disinterest in fireworks shows.

I have definitely heard that type of ricochet as well. The easiest way that I ever got them was shooting at water like a pond at a low angle. They really pissed off my father if any of us caused one because he pointed out (rightfully so) that they are caused by poor shooting and can go in any direction if you cause one.

I have some swinging steel targets on my firing range. And I occasionally hear a whirling sound after the bullet hits the target.

I’ve heard it from the .22 rifle and small arms I used to shoot a lot. So yes, but it’s not common.