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In the world of fiction, when bullets hit a surface, they ricochet with sparks.

When such bullets hit a container of anything remotely like gasoline, this has predictable results.

In real life, bullets almost never spark, for various reasons. Detailed here.

Compare with Sword Sparks.

When adding examples, please only post subversions, when it's done realistically or when it's exxagerated.


Anime and Manga

  • The movie version of Ghost in the Shell was very good about this. The animators said in the Making Of featurette that they experimented with shooting different substances to get reactions. This shows in the scene where a long line of bullets are shot into a concrete wall, making no sparks at all - but huge spider-web pits.
    • Better yet, it showed a stream of bullets chewing through a pillar of reinforced concrete, generating only a shower of debris - until they started hitting the metallic rods in the core of the pillar, producing a shower of sparks in one of the few situations where it's actually somewhat realistic.
    • Something similar happens during the famous Government Lobby shootout from The Matrix, a Shout-Out to both this scene and John Woo movies that feature scenery getting ripped apart by gunfire.


  • Road to Perdition avoids this trope. In fact, at one point Jude Law's character shoots a wall, blowing a hole through it and killing a guy on the other side.
    • That wall was made of plaster and wood; it shouldn't have sparked.
  • Hong Kong movie The Bodyguard From Beijing goes to extremes with this: in the final shootout, bullets make sparks when they hit...a sofa.
  • The Last of the Mohicans averts this: the few times that bullets are actually shown hitting something (usually a stone cliff face) the only indication of it is a puff of dust and rock debris. Perhaps sparks wouldn't have felt 18th century-ish?
  • The fanfilm Grayson has this with the Joker shooting a sub-machine gun at Robin holding a thick metal plate to deflect the bullets. The effect was achieved by setting off firecrackers attached to the plate.
  • The Jean-Claude Van Damme film Hard Target featured bullets that sparked... when hitting trees.

Film - Animated

Live Action TV

  • The Myth Busters tested this myth and proved that it wouldn't work, though they did manage to replicate the visual effect by firing paintballs filled with fireworks.
  • When R. Lee Ermey fired two BMG rounds at a steel plate they produced sparks when viewed in slow motion, although not at regular speed.

Video Games

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 uses this as part of a game mechanic - weapons equipped with the "FMJ" attachment, which allows them to penetrate thicker surfaces, make obvious spark-showers when shot at walls and whatnot as a visual indication that they have the attachment.

Real Life

  • This can happen with magnesium and depleted uranium ammunition. Commonly used in "spotting rifles" attached to recoilless rifles—once you see sparks on the target, you fire the main weapon. This is because magnesium and uranium burn very easily, so the bullet material's sparking on its own.
    • There are visible sparks upon impact in this real life video, taken at night. The shooters likely used surplus ammo that had a steel core. Steel on steel would generate a spark.
  • Apparently, a baseball can do this, of all things.