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If you wanted to force motorcycles to crash utilizing a sniper rifle from no more than 800 yards, what part of the bikes would you aim for to not only cause the rider to lose control, but not leave evidence of the crime? The causing event would have to result in plausible crash-related damage.

(EDITED INFO: This is for a screenplay; main character is a retired USMC Desert Storm-era sniper; soundproofing room used; weapon is based on IRL rifle manufactured with suppression; targets are in bustling city during daytime).

Obviously the issue about bullets made of ice, dry ice, mercury, etc., has been debated, so the target is the machine rather than the rider. Would a piece of gravel (or similar, common item) have the velocity and ability to complete this task, or would a bullet that shatters on impact be the better choice?

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    $\begingroup$ The pigeon flying in front of it. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme the Second Mar 13 at 3:27
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    $\begingroup$ How careful is the investigation? If there is reason to believe in "foul play" and a big investigative budget, that is different from fooling an unsuspecting traffic cop. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Mar 13 at 4:33
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    $\begingroup$ @o.m. as the question poses a plurality, it surely has to be assumed that it would not be discerned as foul play by investigation, being as mechanical failures resulting in crashes are, whilst not rare, in a significant statistical minority, and multiples of the same kind of failure are as a consequence.. Should be borne in mind that the damage doesn't need to total the bike, nor apparently kill the rider, just cause a crash/loss of control sufficient to cause a crash. $\endgroup$ – Giu Piete Mar 13 at 7:01
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    $\begingroup$ might consider ammunition aimed at the helmet but picking one that will not penetrate, but rather spread in a drag(like) pattern, dunno how achievable that is, as buckshot is clearly out, but otherwise it seems ideal as if anything is going to happen in a crash other than the bike being scraped along the ground..it's that the driver is going to get scraped along the ground. $\endgroup$ – Giu Piete Mar 13 at 7:13
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    $\begingroup$ It's always disturbing when people ask questions that read like "help me be a serial killer and get away with it". I see no worldbuilding question here at all. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Mar 13 at 11:17
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Do you need to use a sniper rifle?

If not I present the Beanbag round which is fired from a shotgun.

Since it's non fatal and a soft round, it doesn't leave anything like a bullet hole and the round can be collected after it has been fired leaving no evidence.

It might not be fatal itself but a motorcyclist hit by one at the wrong time would send them flying off the road.

The only evidence would be a significant bruise and considered they have just been in a fatal accident, would be attributed to the crash

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    $\begingroup$ "The shotgun round is inaccurate over about 6 metres (20 ft) and has a maximum range of around 20 metres (70 ft)." Hmmmm... $\endgroup$ – Alexander Mar 13 at 8:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Alexander maybe a quadcopter drone with a ballistic computer and a beanbag firing shotgun? $\endgroup$ – Efialtes Mar 13 at 22:08
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    $\begingroup$ You could use just the drone. A racing drone hits speeds over 200km an hour. You could actually build a drone designed to knock someone off a bike and fly off. $\endgroup$ – Thorne Mar 14 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ would work, you could even use a slug made out of sand and shoot it in the driver's face. Have it in a paper casing, casing and slug disintegrate on impact, only evidence is a major scuff mark on the helmet that looks like you'd expect when the helmet rolls over the ground. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Mar 21 at 8:30
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Can't be done. (Fully expect someone to prove me wrong.)

To get an accurate hit you need to shoot from the front or the back. Otherwise the relative speed of the bike makes an accurate hit impossible. The required timing would simply be too precise for any sort of no evidence trick.

From the front or back the bullet will travel along the length of the bike and the widest angle of the rider. If you shoot it anywhere near the center line it will leave visible signs on multiple points.

If you try a glancing hit to the sides or the top (helmet). The shot will again be unrealistically accurate for it to be both reliably effective and zero evidence. I could see one or the other being achieved fairly easily. For example, most people will crash their bike if you shoot them in the head or upper chest and a glancing hit to the helmet could be hidden by simply changing the helmet. Somebody might get suspicious of the helmet being in too good a condition if you mess up but there would be no evidence of the shot.

Good news is that you do not really need to either. Just use some other method. I am assuming there is some reason to not just sabotage the bike with a small GPS triggered bomb or such but all you need to do is distract the driver bad enough in a place where that is likely to be lethal. A dazzler laser is an example of actual weapon designed to be effective at such tasks. A bright enough conventional light will also work. Being unexpectedly blinded is extremely distracting and because of various reasons the brain will react with delay anyway. With the correct spot that is all you need.

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    $\begingroup$ I would not say that a shot from the side is impossible, only very difficult and unlikely to pull off. As long as the bike is not accelerating, the sniper can calculate how much he needs to adjust his aim. Example: Skeet shooting (I know they use shotguns, but the principle is the same) $\endgroup$ – DarthDonut Mar 13 at 8:53
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    $\begingroup$ @DarthDonut No it is not actually the same principle. The shotguns follow the target which means the timing is lots easier. While you can follow the target with any gun it makes the kind of precise aiming you'd use a sniper rifle for or need for this kind of trick much harder. Also a motorcycle, or any land vehicle really, will bounce up and down and slightly vary its speed while traversing the road the skeet do none of that. Anyway, I doubt this is worth serious discussion but the issue is combining moving target with pinpoint accuracy, not just the movement. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Mar 13 at 9:00
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    $\begingroup$ @VilleNiemi Guided bullets or rifles mounted on servos aren't hypothetical science-fiction, they are tool available at present (if as prototype for the former and DIY for the latter). So if they can help, why should they be dismissed? $\endgroup$ – Eth Mar 13 at 16:49
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    $\begingroup$ @GiuPiete It is a motor cycle travelling on a real, not perfectly level, road. You will not be able to accurately pre-calculate the exact position of the cycle at a specific moment. If we just wanted "a hit, any hit" I might hand wave it but if you want to crash the bike without a trace you need to be pretty accurate. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Mar 13 at 22:03
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    $\begingroup$ I find myself disagreeing with the effective impossibility of hitting from the side. Yes, the odds are long but his problem didn't state that he needed a hit on the first try, only that it be undetectable. If you miss you can try again the next time they are street racing. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Mar 21 at 21:26
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"Rock thrown from overpass"

Every few months the news reports a motorist death or severe injury from this. The targets are random and the rock throwers are presumed to be idiot teenagers.

On the overpass, you set up one or more rocks on a string such that you can release them by shooting the string. Rocks will land on or in front of the motorcyclist who will crash. People will assume it is idiot teenagers. If people hear loud sounds they will be attributed to rocks.

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    $\begingroup$ "If people hear loud sounds they will be attributed to rocks" Loud sound like a gunfire? Gunfire are extremely loud. You will never achieve this kind of sound with a rock thrown by an idiot teenager from an overpass. Use (almost) any other method than shooting and you will fare way better. But the rock is a good solution otherwise. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai Mar 13 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ -1 for not answering OP ;-) $\endgroup$ – Giu Piete Mar 13 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ also shooting a balloon full of gravel, ice, wet leaves, oil or even just plain water could work. Its almost silly how many things can make a motorcycle slip and crash $\endgroup$ – JGreenwell Mar 13 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ @GiuPiete it answers the question, through lateral thinking. The bullet doesn't hit the vehicle or the driver, instead disappearing outside the likely search area and nobody will ever associate it with the resulting accident. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Mar 21 at 8:31
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Aim for one of the tires. It should burst and be pretty shredded, making a bullethole difficult or even impossible to notice. Especially if the rider isn't important enough to warrant an extended investigation.

You don't need to worry about using special bullets. Normal bullets shatter just fine. Just don't use armor piercing, those might actually stay in one piece. A bigger problem is the sound. Gunshots are loud. Really, really loud. Loud enough that movies and TV don't do them justice. You can feel the sound in your chest and in your sinuses. Silencers aren't really a solution, because they don't make a gun quiet, they just make it quieter. A rifle is about as loud as a jackhammer, a rifle with a silencer is about as loud as a police siren. People near the "accident" might think the sound was the wreck, but people near the shooter will be absolutely certain that's not the case.

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    $\begingroup$ Tires are unlikely to burst when punctured, they just deflate quickly, and don't shred unless you keep driving on them. At least in my experience, even a sidewall puncture by a piece of rebar - a pretty close analogue to a bullet hole - just causes rapid deflation. At a distance of 800 yards, a rifle is not all that loud. If you're around here (rural US west) it would be taken as just a normal bit of target practice. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Mar 13 at 5:19
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    $\begingroup$ I know it isn't that loud at the target, but near the shooter it definitely is. OP didn't specify where this is taking place, so there may be people closer to the shooter who could tell it was a gunshot, not the noise of the wreck. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Mar 13 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ It's not just the muzzle blast that's loud. A major source of noise is the fact that the bullet is supersonic. At 800 yards there's really very little getting around this. At 800 yards, a bullet just barely below the speed of sound will take almost 3 seconds to get to its target. That's a long time when you're talking about a motorcycle going ~30mph. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Mar 15 at 23:51
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    $\begingroup$ Aim for the tires, and maybe one time in a hundred, you'll hit. That's a pretty small target for an 800-yard shot at a moving object. $\endgroup$ – Mark Mar 21 at 22:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark hitting a moving motorcycle at 800 yards is already superhuman, so I don't really feel like specifying the tires makes it any less believable. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Mar 21 at 23:35
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As an avid long range shooter myself, an 800 yard shot is nothing to dismiss. A good shooter and spotter team, with good equipment, can typically hold with in one minute of angle in any direction. (1.047in/(MOA *100 yards)). So this opens up a 16 in diameter circle in which the shot will probably land. That is assuming good conditions and a stationary target. For a moving target, things are much more complicated, the bullet will be in flight for about a second, and for a motorcycle moving 40 mph, that is a lead of about 60 ft. Lots of things can happen in that 60 ft.

What others have said about hitting the tire seems entirely reasonable but the fact is the number of variables that are not and cannot be known makes this an almost impossible shot, let alone taking down a motorcycle with no evidence left behind.

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I'm going to have to go with no on this one.

What's more likely to happen is that you'll put a bullet hole in either the bike or the rider and everyone will know some strange bullet has been fired.

A momentary impact, like hitting a seagull, might cause the bike to wobble, but a motorcycle in motion is a remarkably stable object. You have 3 gyroscopes acting to keep it up, two wheels and the engine. Of these the wheels are most significant, and once they're turning at any significant speed the bike will tend to remain upright. A riderless bike with cruise control will continue in an approximately straight line.

Your best bet is to try to lock up one of the wheels.

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