Updated with video documentation from a colleague! See below!
NOTE: Click on any of the photos below and a larger image will appear in a separate window. Best viewed at 800x600 resolution.
Greetings fellow Americans. A few weeks ago a couple of good friends of mine from the credit card company I work for told me about a little computer problem they were having. My friend Rick, a retired US Navy aircraft mechanic, fellow Visa employee and all around good guy, has a strong background in computers and owns a houseful of them. One day he had innocently turned one of them on (an old Packard Bell it should be mentioned) and his monitor shorted out, sending smoke and flames through the vents in the top of the monitor's plastic casing. Needless to say a burning computer is a serious bodily hazard. Rick, his Navy reflexes honed razor-sharp, swiftly unplugged the flaming menace and put the blaze out before his little toy fighter planes caught fire.
Yes, my friends, it's no lie. Rick became another statistic that dark day, an innocent victim of a dark phenomenon known as "computer rage". No one thinks it can happen to them. No one. Not content with it's lot in life as a well-loved household appliance, the old Packard Bell turned on its master and attacked! This was how it repaid Rick for all the years of loving attention and regular maintenance, not to mention its costly adoption in the first place when he rescued it from the cold, hard shelves of the Wal-Mart computer orphanage from whence it came.
Hold on, there's more...
Next we have my friend Diane, international supermodel and NASA rocket scientist (cleverly disguised as another fellow phone-jockey) who accesses the internet with a struggling old beast that can run Windows 95 and AOL but little else. Note that this is not her fault: Diane is just such an internet genius that she transcends the need for the latest computer gear. You would therefore assume that this old home computer she cleverly maintains to hide her vast cyber-skills from the general public would behave better and be grateful that its old carcass still has a home. But no, friends...this was not the case. Having too much mileage on it to have the energy to catch fire or run off and elope with her washing machine, her monitor quit working too, most likely out of sheer spite. No doubt it was jealous of the shiny cappuccino machine in Diane's kitchen.
Diane's unfaithful monitor in a chilling "before" photo...
All that hard-earned money wasted...monitors are expensive, after all. Rick and Diane had to endure the inconvenience and expense of replacing the heaviest gosh-darned component of their computer systems and lug home a new monitor. So...what to do with these incorrigible, seemingly useless computer screens? One burned up, the other in a permanent coma. It would seem they no longer served any use.
Until they came to Big John...
Better Living Through Science
The 25 yard lane at Pleasant Hope, seen from the rifle bench
After two previous studies in the field of cybernetic lead impact analysis I have found that old dead computer parts that have frustrated their owners turn out to be quite useful as backstops for inbound gunfire, not only from the standpoint of physics research but as therapy for the aforesaid disenfranchised owners. The pair of 50 lb. computer screens could serve one last useful purpose after all. There is virtually no recorded information regarding high-speed lead impact effects on computer equipment in any of the law enforcement ballistic test journals, physics textbooks or cartridge reloading manuals, so there is much work to be done.
Therefore my rifle range buddies--uh, I mean, fellow researchers--and I are always looking for new ways to better mankind through the pursuit of science. Knowing this, Rick and Diane generously donated their non-working computer monitors to our Institute. Each one was set up at the 25 yard lane at the Pleasant Hope Conservation Department public rifle range in Polk County, MO for Lead Impact Analysis testing.
It was a typical Ozarks August afternoon...in other words, a sauna. Horseflies used us to practice air raid sorties. The air was humid enough to boil cabbage. The sun beat down without mercy. This did not deter us. But we must warn you...the photos you are about to see are gruesome and disturbing. If you have a weak stomach or have small children looking over your shoulder, proceed no further. You have been warned.
Tools of the trade
For the test equipment, I brought with me my brand new Savage model 24-N rifle/shotgun combination gun as well as my trusty Makarov pistol, the popular if ubiquitous Soviet Union government and police issue sidearm chambered in the surprisingly dandy 9x18 caliber cartridge. This gave me three calibers of varying power and foot-pounds of energy transfer to experiment with, not to mention the other lead delivery vehicles provided by the other lab technicians.
Professor Dunn's Savage 24
This Savage 24 of mine is "new" insofar as I just bought it a month and a half ago; it was manufactured when Nixon was president. It is an over/under gun with a .22 Long Rifle barrel on the top and a 20 gauge 3-inch shotgun barrel on the bottom. My fellow analysts came equipped with a Ruger 22/45 semi-automatic pistol (also shoots .22 long rifle) and a trusty Remington .30-06 deer rifle. At the range we were met by a gentleman and former U.S. Marine who had driven out to the range to do a little target shooting of his own. He brought to the test area a mint-condition, original issue World War II 8mm German Mauser. This collector's item still has the original factory inventory number penciled on the butt stock. Regrettably I have photos of only the firearms I brought, not having thought to ask the other fellows who were there if I could take pictures.
We started with Rick's rebellious (and heavy...did I mention heavy?) computer monitor since after nearly burning his house down it deserved to die the most. I set it up at the base of the bullet-stop in the 25-yard lane. We began the experiment with basic Federal .22 Long Rifle 36 grain jacketed hollow points delivered via the Ruger 22/45 semi-automatic pistol equipped with a "bull" (target) barrel. As seen in the photo below someone else had been to the range before us and had experimented upon a portable boom box. Is this competition?
Regretfully blurry image showing faint .22 Long Rifle impacts
We found that the bullets had done little damage. I have seen a single .22 Long Rifle shot make a nickel-sized hole in another computer monitor--sadly, with no photos for proof...I had no camera at the time--with expanding cracks that radiated further damage all over the glass. But on that instance it was done with a rifle barrel; specifically a Marlin model 60 using the very same ammunition. At handgun velocities the glass face of a computer monitor presented some resistance! (Or maybe I just had some really crappy cheap Wal-Mart ammo, you never know.)
Next we turned the power up a notch and implemented a round of Winchester AA 20gauge bird shot in the Savage Model 24-N Delivery System. I made an amateur's mistake and forgot that the barrel I was firing was underneath the barrel my open sights were installed on, so I erroneously held my sight picture on the dead center of the monitor instead of somewhere along the top edge. The blast caught the glass face of the test subject right along the bottom as seen in the photo below.
Bird shot from approx 7 yards away
As you can see, the patterning effect from the bird shot on the glass provides an intriguing glimpse in how the average, everyday computer monitor can withstand a shotgun blast.
At any rate the damage was more severe than in the previous .22LR experiment but the pellets still did not seem to visibly penetrate through the back of the monitor. Therefore we next loaded up a single shell of Remington Express "Power Pakt" 2 3/4 inch buckshot. This is a 20-pellet payload with, of course, a much more powerful charge of propellant "with a granulated polyethylene filler material which cushions and protects the shot pellets, reducing shot deformation and improving the even-ness of the shot pattern" according to Remington. See below:
...but we were in for another shock. Smug in our imagined success, the other technicians and I swaggered over to the still-defiant monitor and turned it over...and found that the buckshot load had still not penetrated the casing!
Rick's monitor stopped the buckshot pellets!
We decided to finish it off with a good coup de grace: we spun the thing so that it's left side faced us and put a Federal "Classic" 20 gauge magnum hollow point rifled slug through it. We had finally found a combination of projectile and propellant charge that would give us the desired result. The slug, I assure you, successfully exited the other end of the monitor.
Click the photo for a close-up of the damage.
The gruesome aftermath
Now it was time to see if poor Diane's monitor could withstand a high velocity lead projectile. We set it up next to Rick's perforated specimen and asked the other gentleman who had brought the Mauser to fire a single shot through it to see if her monitor could possibly deflect an 8mm rifle round. As seen in the photo below, it apparently could not.
An 8mm rifle bullet drills a neat hole completely through Diane's malicious computer monitor
We therefore submit unto the annals of science that a computer monitor is incapable of withstanding high-powered rifle fire...but what about a medium-sized pistol cartridge? We decided it was time to test a handgun round. I brought out my Makarov 9mm pistol and loaded a magazine (or "clip" if you like) with it's full 8-round capacity of 95 grain FMJs that I got a good deal on from B&J Guns and Ammo. (The sale price they sold me these for is so scandalous that I cannot print it here for fear of risking a stampede of customers to knock down Miles' front door.) With a "Weaver" style hold on the pistol from about seven yards away I emptied two full magazines--16 rounds--into the remaining glass face. Then for variety I tried to hold the sights on the upper left corner of it's casing and slowly let go eight more rounds. Here was the end result:
Diane would be pleased to know that not only did Big John's Ballistics Research Team gather some valuable data on whether or not a computer monitor could withstand sustained and varying degrees of small arms fire but that she also got her vengeance on the misbehaving heap of junk.
We regret that the true test of a PC monitor's sturdiness could not be done. Miles had offered to subject one of the test receptacles to a barrage of sustained, fully-automatic 9mmP Uzi SMG fire while videotaping the event for scientific study. (Before you ask, he has a Class III license; it is quite legal.) But neither of us own a video camera and it became logistically impossible to borrow one from someone on a day we could use it. Obviously the Big John Institute of Ballistic Studies needs better funding. To contribute, email the Institute below.
Thank you for your attention.
innocent bystanders have been shocked by this rubbish since the website crashed in August 2003 (original publish date was 9/17/01)
Email the depraved author as others have done:
You obviously have a lot of time on your hands, however, my daughter's monitor has just died, so we might subject it to some ballistics testing of our own.
John got an email from the esteemed Mic McPherson of Cartridges of the World fame! He honors me thus:
Now, if you could just do a similar research project on those who do the programming and write the so-called user's manuals -- now that would be worthwhile indeed! We keep struggling with ME. If you are so foolish as to consider an electronic update to try to get some of the bugs out of this system, do not do it! Used the Microsoft website to download their prescribed patches and came within a hair's breadth of having to reformat the hard drive! Please, do a similar piece on that entire subject -- Microsoft sucks, fulltime.
Your Cybercide pieces got me to remembering my first and subsequent experiences shooting discarded crappers.
Back in 1960-something, we
came upon six or seven of these that had been dumped in a gravel pit. We had
one or two Mod 94s loaded with Speer plinkers. This was good enough to
fill the air with flying shards of porcelain and white dust.
Thereafter, for a good many years, I would cabbage off with any used
Thundermug I found and shoot it with something. My mother would not
allow car parking in the front yard and really went ballistic when I
temporarily stored a Thundermug there. Hell, A lot of people around here use
'em for planters.
Never ever shoot a fully charged scuba tank, no matter intriguing it sounds, and no matter how many Black Russians you have consumed.
(name withheld by request)
This was sent from a fellow Impactologist from Scotland. Due to the top secret nature of some of our research his name has been withheld for the sake of industrial security. (This was posted 06 Oct 2002.) He writes:
I read your valuable research paper on the final solution for electronic equipment. I thought you might be interested in the accompanying MPEG showing that other scientists are hot on your heels.
The MPEG came from the Web but for the life of me I cannot remember where I found it. It had a number as the file name and I renamed it "TV rifle shot" - so don't bother searching for it under that title.
Professor X (name withheld), from the [Deleted] Institute of Cyber-Impactology
Click here to download the .zip file of the Professor's mpeg. It is 804kb in size. *Under Construction*
He adds: I had a closer look at the video I sent you. I think the monitor that cops it is the small one, second from the right. The scientist had placed what looks like a beer can on it, and then went and missed it! Shocking bad science, if you ask me.
I reply: --Clearly there are some quality control issues we need to address in our research. Thank you for the video footage!