If you have ever been curious about what would happen if bullets were made of diamond, the question “Terminal Ballistics: How much damage would a diamond bullet do in comparison with a normal bullet?” was recently answered on Quora. The top answer was provided by computer engineer and Gemologist Institute of America graduate Fares Alahmar.
Many may commonly know that diamonds are one of the hardest naturally occurring materials on the planet, but what they don’t know is that hardness is not the same as toughness and that bullets are most effective the more dense they are.
Diamond, while much harder than the soft metal lead, is not as dense. When a lead bullet hits a target, the metal is soft enough to immediately flatten on impact or even break apart and heavy fragments may even bounce around in the target causing massive damage.
A diamond would not fragment on impact and would pass right through the target, leaving a relatively clean area of damage, though the first trick, according to Alahmar, would be to get the diamond bullet to leave the barrel in one piece:
“Thanks for the A2A. I do not know why many people here on Quora are interested in setting violent scenes with diamonds, from crashing diamond cars to manufacturing diamond bullets.. But I believe there’s one misconception behind all of that; diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring mineral on earth, ranking 10 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness, but they are not tough at all, so your hypothetical diamond bullet will shatter to pieces by the explosion in your gun chamber before it even leaves. And supposing you manage -somehow- to make the diamond leave the barrel in one [piece], it will cut through the target in a straight path causing the least possible damage, which isn’t really the point of making a bullet.
Bullet and Ballistics engineering counts on Density, not Hardness, which is why they use Depleted uranium, Tungsten, lead and metal alloys to manufacture them. Check the figure to see the difference, and bear in mind that Moh’s scale is a qualitative ordinal scale, diamond’s absolute hardness is 1600 while it’s closest natural competitor is Corundum at 400, so it’s way up in this scale..