1900-year-old slingshot with lead ammo was as deadly as a handgun

Ancient Roman soldiers wielded slingshots with lead ammo that, when used properly, could kill someone in a way that isn't dissimilar from a modern handgun. The information comes from researchers who recently experimented with the old technology to gauge its effectiveness. The lead 'bullets' used in the slingshots are shaped somewhat like small lemons, and those who launched them could be trained with accuracy that spanned a few hundred feet.

The slingshots and lead ammo were utilized by Roman soldiers who, in this case, were attempting to invade Scotland. Researchers equipped with metal detectors recently combed a large part of the nation, finding thousands of these small bullets with particular concentrations indicating siege behavior.

While the history about ancient Rome's attempts to invade Scotland are interesting in their own right, experiments with the weaponry itself is most enlightening. Research has found that soldiers using slings to launch these bits of lead could do so with stopping power just under what you get from a .44 magnum handgun. The effects were likely lethal in most cases, and would have proven especially difficult to deal with at a time when many cities protected themselves with swords and arrows.

That stopping power was for a bit of lead ammo weighing 50 grams, though various sized ammo was used, likely based on needs. Someone who managed to learn the art of slinging with a high degree of precision would take someone out at distances up to 130 yards, it was determined, making the soldiers particularly deadly. These bullets were also used to scare enemy soldiers, with researchers noting that some of the lead had holes that caused them to screech and wail while flying through the air.

SOURCE: National Geographic