Earlier we tested a variety of firearms and calibers on a healthy pine tree to see what would defeat a tree as cover. Without spoiling the results for you, you can catch up on that here. But now we wanted to see how big a tree would be needed to stop even the all powerful .50 BMG round.
Continuing where we left off, the earlier pine that was defeated 100% with .50 BMG was 60″ in circumference making it roughly 19″ in diameter. The final test round was captured by our Clear Ballistics Gel torso.
Hitting the forest, we scouted out pine trees of incrementally larger sizes. The first tree of 65″ around was right over 20″ in diamter. 3 rounds penetrated it every shot. They even went through the ballistic torso and we didn’t get to capture the steel core like last time.
The next tree was 68″ in circumference and 21.6″ in diamter. Shooting it twice with ball .50 BMG (surplus steel core bullets) yeiled no penetration. Before packing up and granting victory to the larger tree we decided to test out .50 BMG API (Armor Piering Incindiary) rounds as well.
API rounds reak havok on metal targets, such as this 1″ armored steel plate. But would it really matter on a tree? The result was a little more flash and smoke pouring out of the bullethole, but the tree still stood strong and our test media was unharmed.
So there you have it, the magic of a .50 BMG extinguishes after 21.6″ of solid pine tree. Of course wood grain is extremely variable. A hollow sweet gum would likely be penetrated by most rifle rounds. A healthy red oak might stop even the .50 BMG in less than the distance of the pine. Dead wood would probably be penetrated by a handgun. But for the most part, a decent size tree will provide decent cover in a firefight.