The US military is testing water-penetrating bullets, reportedly so Navy SEALs can shoot from underwater

Courtesy DSG Technologies
  • Bullets that can shoot from underwater are being tested by the US Department of Defence’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office.
  • They work by creating a gas bubble around the tip of the bullet, reducing drag when a bullet is shot through water. Typical bullets can travel just a few feet through the water before they’re slowed to a stop.
  • CAV-X bullets can reportedly travel 60 meters underwater, and can go through 2 centimeters of steel fired from 17 meters away, indicating that it could even be used to penetrate submarines.
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A new weapon being tested by the US military could give special operators a more lethal edge by allowing them to shoot underwater, according to Defence One.

The bullets, manufactured by DSG Technologies, are tipped with tungsten and create an gas bubble to allow the bullet to move rapidly through the water. Ordinary bullets don’t have this supercavitating effect, which means they move much more slowly through water.

While ordinary bullets can travel about half a mile per minute, that speed quickly slows to a complete stop when the bullet travels through denser materials like water.

According to DSG Technologies, “Depending on the weapon and the used loading variant, this ammunition is suitable for use in partial or fully submerged weapons, regardless of if the target is in water or on the surface.”

A press officer with US Special Operations Command told Insider that the bullets were being tested by the Office of the Secretary of Defence’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO). CTTSO confirmed to Insider that it is testing supercavitating ammunition, but declined to answer questions about whether Special Forces communities have been involved in the testing, or whether DSG Technologies is the company that provides the ammunition for testing.

DSG told Defence News that its ammunition is undergoing several tests with the military, including tests in which the bullets are fired from underwater up to the surface.

Odd Leonhardsen, DSG’s chief science officer, also told Defence One that DSG is selling the bullets to governments around the world, but did not specify where – although he did mention that those countries were testing the bullets by firing them from a helicopter into water. Leonhardsen tolf Insider that the bullets would only be sold to NATO member countries and NATO-friendly countries, and that they would not be sold to private-sector consumers.

According to Defence One, .50 calibre CAV-X bullets can travel up to 60 meters underwater, and can go through 2 centimeters of steel fired from 17 meters away through water, indicating that it could be used to penetrate submarines.

Leonhardsen told Insider that the gas bubble – and its supercavitating effect – is created by the speed of the bullet coming from the chamber.

“The reason [the bullet] does not stop in the same way as conventional ammunition do, is because the CAV-X projectile is perfectly balanced through its own rotation, and the shape helps form the perfect cavitation body around the projectile,” Leonhardsen said.

“The only part of the projectile that will be in contact with the water to create drag/friction is the tip.” Leonhardsen also told Insider that the bullets can be used in conventional firearms, and that DSG is testing with firearms currently in use by the US military, but a gas-piston firearm would be required for underwater shooting.

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