Texas Man Struck by Ricochet…What Caliber for Armadillo?

Texas has more than its share of interesting and sometimes dangerous indigenous wildlife (and we’re not even talking about what happens on Dirty 6th). I was asked by a Best of the West range officer to dispatch a 4+ foot long rattler that was coiled under a tree near one of their bays a few months back (I happened to have a shotgun handy).

Our feral hog population is significant and destructive enough (they do millions of dollars of damage to crops and livestock each year) that you can take them year round with a hunting license.

While Foghorn used an unidentified bolt gun to take the two above, ARs seem to be the rifle of choice for pigs in this part of the world.

Armadillo is Spanish for “little armored one” for very good reason. They’re tough little buggers whose scale-like skin is their primary defense against predation. Property owners don’t like them as they can to do a fair amount of damage to lawns and gardens. The state considers them “non-game” animals and may be hunted at any time by any lawful means on private property.

While their armor is thick, they’ve been taken with air rifles, rimfire guns and even slingshots. But as an East Texas man found out, sometimes you need something a little more powerful.

Cass County Sheriff Larry Rowe said the man, who was not identified, went outside his home in Marietta, southwest of Texarkana, at around 3 a.m. on Thursday morning. He spotted the armadillo on his property and opened fire.

“His wife was in the house. He went outside and took his .38 revolver and shot three times at the armadillo,” Rowe said.

The animal’s hard shell deflected at least one of three bullets, which then struck the man’s jaw, he said.

The Reuters report says his jaw was wired shut after he was airlifted to a local hospital, so we’re glad to hear he’ll apparently be fine (though he can look forward to a steady diet of Gatorade and milk shakes for a while).

So given that a round as stout as a .38 wasn’t enough to plug the ‘dillo that the unidentified man targeted, what caliber would you use?


  1. avatar General Zod says:

    Not buying it. He probably hit a rock in the vicinity of the armadillo an caught a bullet fragment on the ricochet. Armadillos just aren’t bullet proof at any angle. A .22lr will put a hole clean through that shell.

    1. avatar haroId says:

      Interesting but that’s not been my experience. On more than one occasion a .22lr has failed to penetrate the shell of an armadillo. Two shots on the first failed attempted and three on the second day.

      I now use a 9mm carbine.

      1. avatar samuraichatter says:

        I do not doubt you and while I am sure many an armadillo has been killed with .22 lr, I could never go for it because it does not have an actual metal jacket and deformation of the lead on the hard shell may have been what kept your projectile from penetrating. .22 mag or .32 on the other hand . . . I could see that doing it. Or 9mm 🙂

        1. avatar Desert Dave says:

          Only sure way to kill a ‘dillo with a handgun is a .460 Rowland! that or just run them over with your HumVee. The roads in that area a re paved with them.

      2. avatar anonymoose says:

        I was thinking maybe an AR pistol or a 10mm or .357.

    2. avatar OmnivorousBeorn says:

      I have no experience with shooting armadillos, but I don’t get how — if he shot the ground — you don’t hear about this happening with other animals.

      1. avatar anonymoose says:

        I hit one with my car once. Knocked my splash shield off.

    3. avatar Ranger Rick says:

      I’m thinking more along the line of a 3 a.m. drunk firing off his noise maker and hurt himself.

    4. avatar BLoving says:

      I’ll agree the .38 bullet probably hit a rock, i can personally attest to the remarkable toughness of a ‘dillo. I once shot a large specimen on a friends property that absorbed three rounds of .45 hardball before he stopped flailing and making me feel like a heel.

      1. avatar The Gray Poseur says:

        Yes. Those armadillos start doing backflips after they are shot. I do feel bad about shooting them at that point.

    5. avatar Hank says:

      It’s possible. But, an armadillo shell strength is greatly over exaggerated by many people. My German Shepard crunches right through the shell when he catches them.

    6. avatar Joseph says:

      Yep, I’ve shot more armadillos than Carter’s got pills, mostly with .22LR. A .38 is not gonna fail to penetrate, much less ricochet back with that much force. The bullet hit something besides the critter before it returned.

    7. avatar matty 9 says:

      me neither, probably missed one shot, bounced it off of something like the bumber of a truck.

  2. avatar BDub says:

    I’m not buying it.

    The guy missed, hit something really solid and ate it., Even if a round failed to penetrate a ‘dillo, its going to loose way too much energy to come straight back and do the kind of damage desdcribed here.

  3. avatar The Gray Poseur says:

    .22 Subsonic will penetrate the outside of the shell, though usually not lethally. I’ve seen them run off full speed after being shot. Most will roll around a while and a couple of more shots finish them off.

    .22 Supersonic will penetrate both sides of the shell and is much more effective.

  4. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    On a trip to a computer show in Dallas in 1986, I ran over a ‘dillo with a Toyota 4-Runner, loaded with computer equipment. I was doing about 50 MPH on a two-lane road, west of Amarillo.

    I hit the ‘dillo squarely with the two right tires. I nearly flipped the 4-Runner. After I pulled over, I went back to examine the wretched beast. He was dead, sitting in the middle of the road, like a cinder block. I kicked him down into the ditch on the side of the road. Later that evening, when describing the event to Texans at the restaurant where I was eating, they laughed when I told them that I hit it with a Toyota. They recommended nothing smaller than a 3/4 ton Chevy pickup for hitting ‘dillos.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Vehicles *routinely* get crashed in Florida when they hit an alligator.

      I’ve popped one armadillo in my yard, it looked like it may have been sick. One round from my NAA mini with the .wmr cylinder dispatched that ‘dillo quite nicely…

  5. avatar jwtaylor says:

    Yeah, not buying it either.
    But, if you’ve ever spent much time hog hunting at night, you’ve probably been fooled by an armadillo at least once. They are just the loudest damn animal in the woods, with their grunting and rooting around. With all the racket they make, I’ve been fooled into thinking they were a big pig before.
    Also, while laying down and aiming at a big pig, I had an armadillo walk into my line of sight, then walk towards me in the dark until he actually ran into my muzzle. He jumped, scared the pig, and they both ran off.
    Pretty sure they coordinated the whole thing somehow.

    1. avatar Renner says:

      You right-wingers and your conspiracy theories.

    2. avatar Kaban says:

      You, sir, simply did not master integrated combatives to counter armadillo taking the point!

      1. avatar Matt in SC says:

        I chuckled.

        On a side note, I caught an armadillo with a fish net in 1994 in North AL. Sucker ran under the steps going down the hill to the dock and I poked him out with a broomstick. Ran right into the fish net I was hanging out the other side. Carried him around to show the neighbors before I let him go. He was all bloody from trying to get out. Good times….

    3. avatar ACP_arms says:

      What, you couldn’t pull off a Hickok45 two-fer shooting the armadillo and pig with the same shot? 🙂

  6. avatar Shawn Graber says:

    Best use some of those illegal cop-massacrin’ armor-piercing rounds; make sure to load them in an assault clip rather than a magazine for +4 damage. 5.56 (ARMY BULLETS, in media-speak) or 5.7×28 (ASSASSIN BULLETS, in media-speak) should be just fine.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Black Talons. In .45 ACP. When you have to absolutely have to kill something absolutely.

      1. avatar Chris. says:

        Nah, still not enough… 30X173mm API

  7. avatar Mark says:

    Didn’t a guy just dispatch a 800lbs boar with a .38spl, (in Alabama IIRC) not too long ago?

    1. avatar Anner says:


      I’ve pegged armadillos with a 2LR rifle using standard velocity ammo. Every round has punched through their armor and at least stopped them well enough to walk up and pop them in the nugget.

  8. avatar Big Al says:

    Cannot accept that a 38S&W spl did not penetrate an armadillo shell. I have shot them with 22lr, 222Rem, 38spl, 45acp & 35Rem. ALL penetrated the shell, EVERY time. Yes, ‘dillos are tough critters and hard to stop. I have shot them with 22lr as many as 10 shots (all rounds struck the animal) and it seemed that they went faster with every shot. However, ALL rounds penetrated the shell EVERY shot.

  9. avatar Navy Jack says:

    No way.

    I have extensive experience shooting armadillos. Don’t ask.

    My weapon of choice? Beretta 9mm with light. Why? Because: fun + training = training fun.

    My son uses a 410 shotgun. One shot. One kill.

  10. avatar VaqueroJustice says:

    Last time I saw one of these buggers shot, the caliber used was a .30-06.
    The armadillo, it went…pop.

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      Pureed Amarillo, I’ve heard it tastes like pork…

      1. avatar VaqueroJustice says:

        Not eating anything that might give me leporcy.

      2. avatar Wiregrass says:

        My uncle used to make a nice barbeque with them. None of us contracted leprosy. Cases are rare but you must thoroughly cook them to insure you kill the bacteria.

  11. avatar pwrserge says:

    To be fair, armadillos fall under “mostly harmless” in my book. I don’t have any expensive landscaping or a garden, so for me it would be a live and let live approach. Plus I’m sure my dog would have fun chasing one around.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      If I find them in the woods or near the house, I let them be. If they are in the fields, the penalty for trespassing is death.

      1. avatar The Gray Poseur says:

        The armadillos tear up my landscaping and the the part of my property that isn’t bahia grass. And big holes/burrows in the ground. Now possums, I just trap and release them. Can’t do that with the armadillos. Now raccoons, that’s the subject of a whole nother story. Those things are hostile.

    2. avatar T-Bob says:

      Careful letting your dog tangle with them or handling them after dispatching them. Though they are relatively parasite free, they are proven common carriers of Leprosy. It has to do with their low for a mammal body temp of 89 degrees and dank shell cavities that helps if proliferate.

    3. avatar RMS1911 says:

      At least it’s not a skunk.
      Imagine if armadillos sprayed.
      Skunkadillo or armaskunk?

  12. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I am thinking that high velocity (or better) .22 LR out of a rifle is adequate, as well as all larger centerfire rifle calibers.

    As for handguns, I imagine .380 ACP is the minimum.

  13. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I cannot see a .38 Special bullet bouncing off an armadillo and coming back at the shooter with enough velocity to cause any serious injury. Even if the armadillo’s “armor” was enough to prevent bullet penetration, the armadillo’s MASS is tiny and the critter should have moved significantly on impact which greatly reduces the possible velocity of the bullet on the return path.

    Saying it in Physics speak: the armadillo would cause an “inelastic collision” that was highly inefficient.

  14. avatar Mike Betts says:

    I would never use anything less than a .9 mm loaded with G2 R.I.P. rounds with extra trocars. Armadillos have been known to charge if you just wound them.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      That .9mm had better be scoped then. I hear they can spit leprosy from 40 yards away.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        Armadillos carry Leprosy, so it’s good to fight fire w’ fire.

        1. avatar AdamTA1 says:

          Give them blankets and pillows infected with smallpox?

        2. avatar Joe R. says:

          and fire water, then let the Vegas Mob push casinos on them.

    2. avatar clst1 says:

      Doubtful that a projectile that is half the size of a BB would penetrate the shell of an armadillo. My Red Ryder BB gun shoots a projectile that is approx 2 MM,

      1. avatar Mike Betts says:

        You’re going to have to keep up with TTAG better and then you’d know that the newsies have pronounced the .9mm as the deadliest round EVER, especially if loaded with the super-duper hyper-lethal G2 R.I.P. ammunition. Not mentioned but quite important is that your .9mm must be held in the “gangsta’ grip” for the trocars to be fully effective.

      2. avatar rt66paul says:

        Is that a 2LR or a 2 short?

        1. avatar Big Bill says:

          Could be either, but at least we know it’s not 2 BB.

    3. avatar sagebrushracer says:

      unless you roll a natural 20, a .9mm is just going to sting it a little.

      1. avatar BLoving says:

        I don’t keep any twenty-sided dice in my shooting bag, but I appreciate the RPG reference…

    4. avatar michael says:

      that .9mm ought to slip between the scales….

  15. avatar Wyvern says:

    This is a two year old story.

    1. avatar Jeremy in AL says:

      Nope, that was a different one. Believe that one went thru and deflected off a fence post. I’m sure this one was something similar. I’ve shot so many armadillos with so many calibers that this is ridiculous.

      1. avatar cogline says:

        JULY 31, 2015 / 4:51 PM / 2 YEARS AGO

        Looks like a two year old story to me.

  16. avatar A Brit in TX says:

    I’m with pwrserge on this one, they’re pretty much harmless and the only ones you see tend to be squashed on the road.

    I say shoot animals that pose a threat to you or your family, are very destructive &/or whose populations are out of control (i.e hogs) or are very tasty!

    As a kid I used to shoot various birds (with an air rifle in the UK) but must be old and soft now because I do look back sadly at having done that. Now I spend time trying to entice hummingbirds into the back yard and detest the cats that try to eat them!

    1. avatar The Gray Poseur says:

      Armadillos are quite destructive. And near impossible to trap. I’ll trap the possums and either trap or shoot raccoons, depending on how smart and/or vicious they are. I would not shoot a bird. I don’t enjoy killing these varmints, as a lot of people sure seem to.

  17. avatar ACP_arms says:

    Nothing like shotgun to make a rattlers head disappear…

  18. avatar Snatchums says:

    Aren’t people getting leprosy from armadillos these days?

    1. avatar H says:

      Not these days.
      Alternating 6th Tuesdays of the month.

      Oh and if you were a fan of the Hansons.:)

  19. avatar The Nefarious Dr. T says:

    2,000 pound lead weight dropped from a helicopter hovering at 500 feet.

  20. avatar Ragnarredbeard says:

    I have to note that the only witness to the ricochet off the armadillo is the guy. More likely the bullet hit a rock and ricocheted.

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      I think he took a shot from his significant otter.


  21. avatar Vhyrus says:

    This may be a silly question but why all the armadillo hate? They’re tiny and cute!

    1. avatar Mike Betts says:

      Aside from the damage to landscaping, the CDC confirms that in rare instances armadillos can transmit Hansen’s Disease (AKA: leprosy) to humans. https://www.cdc.gov/leprosy/transmission/index.html

    2. avatar Juliesa says:

      The little three banded armadillo is from South America.

      The US species is much larger and not quite as cute. Personally, I like them, and when I was younger and more agile, I would catch them by hand and release them.
      i sympathize with folks who need to protect their yards or fields though.

    3. avatar TheOriginal JohnO says:

      True Facts About the Armadillo:

    4. avatar TheOriginal JohnO says:

      True facts about the armadillo:

    5. avatar TheOriginal JohnO says:

      1. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

        Those true facts videos are hilarious. I used to go over to next door in my office building and watch them with my office neighbor when I needed to get out of the office for ten minutes.

    6. avatar Steve Day says:

      Some people have an “if it moves I’ll kill it” attitude.

      They data fire ants FFS! We need more armadillos in Texas not less.

  22. avatar HEGEMON says:

    7.62X54R will usually do the trick from a milsurp Mosin Nagant.

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      If 7.62x54R cannot kill whatever you’re shooting you probably have no business shooting at it in the first place.

  23. avatar Supermike says:

    I’d probably go with a .22-250 Remington or .223… little bit more than a .22, but not quite up to .243 levels.

  24. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

    Two points.

    1) You can hunt hogs in Texas without a license, but game wardens have some silly ideas about it. (Basically, you have to have the land owners permission, and the “reason” for hunting them is the depredation they cause). I’ve heard of game wardens saying that you can’t harvest the meat without a license. I don’t know where they get that from, though.

    2) I saw five hogs off the side of the road yesterday when I on the way to work, which is very unusual. I live in a fairly populated area, but there is some unincorporated land between my home and office. I saw rabbits there all the time before I moved to law school, but never hogs. The point being that calling the population “significant” is good use of understatement.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      One of the biggest pigs I’ve ever killed was right at HWY 71 and Hamilton Pool. At 5pm on a weekday. For those of you that don’t live around Austin, that area is definitely into the suburban populated zone. Mostly concrete and upscale malls.

      1. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

        I’ve lived here for about 30 (non consecutive) years. That was the first time I’ve seen hogs on that stretch of highway. The population has really expanded over the years.

        I just hope I have a suppressed 300 BLK before they make it to my neighborhood. I guess that is the next “need” on my gun list as this is less than 7 minutes by car from my house. Probably 4 or 5 minutes away actually.

        1. avatar Joe R. says:

          ya, the Pig map has spread across the U.S. faster than concealed shall-issue regs.

          I think there’s intentional release (1-3% of the problem) the rest is that swine are out to getcha and they are bunnies in the bedroom. Arm up. 300 BLK suppressed is good, JWT likes the 458 SOCOM suppressed (that’s a Broken Arrow, OK, native round and I concur, but like the 300 BLK for overall utility / cost).

        2. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

          I’ve come across large enough groups of hogs that I’d need that 30 round magazine. Also, if I’m shooting hogs in my yard, I want the quietest effective round possible.

  25. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    .44 mag worked for me last year.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Man, that must have been one yuge, yuge I tell you, dillo. It took a .44 mag to put him down.

      Did it blow his head clean off? 🙂

  26. avatar Jon in CO says:

    Anything small like that, I’m trying 22lr supers out of a rifle first. (I’m in CO obviously, so we don’t have these critters around). If that doesn’t work, like some have said up above, I’ll go lightweight varmint rounds out of an AR. 45gr grey tip are moving at 3450+, so they’ll make it through. Once I get some land of my own, I’ll probably have a G20 holstered for most things. Would also consider an SBR’d PS90, small, fast, bullets, and lots of em.

  27. avatar GS650G says:

    .308 armadillo piercing of course.
    Thanks folks, tip your waitress and try the veal.

  28. avatar Pliablemoose says:

    Yeah, I don’t buy it, he missed and hit a rock or something.

  29. avatar Winterborne says:

    Hmm, I’d suggest a 68 pounder Muzzle Loading naval cannon the rifled version.

    That or the GAU-8 off an A-10.

    For hogs? FASCAM delivered by 16 inch naval gunfire support.

  30. avatar Tom in PA says:

    I’ve dispatched them with a .300 Win Mag, 12 gauge and a baseball bat. They can make your landscaping look like someone ran a Ditch-Witch through it, and keep you up at night rooting through dry fall leaves when the windows are open – the primary reason for their demise by my hand. Other than that and leprosy, they are generally harmless. I was shocked the first time I snuck up on one – they can actually jump rather high considering how they’re built.

  31. avatar Rusty Williams says:

    On a vacation trip to Texas with my parents (I was 12) my dad hit a Armadillo with a 1962 AMC Rambler Classic. The only thing that happened was he rolled into a armored bowling ball and made a perfect strike on the exhaust system. We drove back to Indiana without a muffler, and didn’t need to use the heater from all the heat my angry old man was putting off because of the little b-tard.

  32. avatar Mattb says:

    I watched my dad shoot an armadillo with a 5″ 1911 in 10mm with fmj at about 15 yards down a slope. First shot hit and knocked it about 5 feet but didn’t penetrate, second shot from about 5 yards finished it so it can happen.

  33. avatar Dave Lewis says:

    I beat the heck out of one that was tearing up my flower bed with a baseball bat (I had the bat, not the armadillo!). I heard the shell crack and it just looked up at me and ran off. Years back I shot one with a Winchester 94 .30-30 and the results were much more satisfactory.

  34. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    I couldn’t even tell you how many armadillos I’ve killed with a .22LR rifle.

  35. avatar strych9 says:

    M995 would prolly get it done.

  36. avatar Ruppert Jenkins says:


  37. avatar Ruppert Jenkins says:

    Back in 1990 I shot an armadillo with a 12ga, using 8-shot.
    He was around 25 yds away. He seemed to ABSORB the load, and he scrambled away into the brush, while wounded.
    I had to get MUCH closer(7-8 yds away) and blast him twice more, to kill him.
    He was TOUGH.

    1. avatar James69 says:

      Turkey Choke, one shot and done. Also a good tune up for turkey season. The Wad is usually inside them as well. It’s amazing what a little piece of plastic can do. I use my turkey shotgun for pest control, works wonders. 5 shot JTS M12AK with triton red dot and mini mag light. Truglo TG170XC choke. Even with cheesy birdshot it makes a mess. I like to get some practical use from my collection of a salt waffles.

  38. avatar Tom in PA says:

    I’m getting quite a kick out of all the .9 mm references! Deadly I tell you, deadly!!

  39. avatar Ralph says:

    Didn’t those crazy anti-gun girls at UT carry armored dildos?

    1. avatar Chadwick says:

      Good lord, dispatching dillos with dildos! That’ll be the day.

  40. avatar kap says:

    .22 LR, CCI Mini Mag 40 grain. works well! works on hogs, cats, dogs, squirrels, Deer, Bear, Coon, rats, mink , skunk, rabbits, various birds, Sheep, mules, cows, porcupines, horses! LOL

  41. avatar anonymoose says:

    “Unidentified bolt gun” that Foghorn has looks like a Winchester Model 70 to me.

  42. Fuck ballistic gel. Shooting the Bull 410 needs to do an Armadillo test.

  43. avatar James69 says:

    .38 ? Ya mean .38 S&W now that I would believe. I use a JTS AK12? saiga like shotgun with a turkey choke and Walmart bulk pack ammo. Shot a herd of em about a month ago (3) in one outing.

  44. avatar James69 says:

    Shot one about 3 weeks ago with my shockwave from about 12 feet. Killed it and rolled it about 6 feet. Bird shot – Gotta love 12ga and the Shockwave!

  45. avatar Keepitsimple says:

    Using a 38 snubbie from a distance maybe although the ricochet is hard to understand but there is certainly enough evidence that anything can happen during a gunfight. Although nothing is guaranteed the .50 madeuce should prove effective against all but the largest armadillos. Watch for airborne leprosy attacks if you are downwind or in the blast area.

  46. Last week at 5:30 am, I stepped out the back door to go turn the pool skimmer off.
    I came face to face with the biggest damn armadillo I’ve ever seen. Reminded me of a painted truck tire buried half in the ground. The head was about the size of the softball girls use.
    It froze when I stepped out. I froze too, except for drawing my Glock 19. It couldn’t see me with the patio light behind me.
    As I had my night sights perfectly aligned on what I assumed were the vital areas of this armoured vermin, the story of the man who shot his mother-in-law in the back came to mind. Supposedly, the 9mm projectile bounced off an armadillo, penetrated a wood fence, continued through a door, through a recliner and coming to rest in the woman’s back.
    My next thought was, he must have been using ball ammo. Surely my hollow points will tear this creature a new one.
    I decided to take aim at the head. A smaller target. But at 3 paces, mine not the rodent’s, I was confident. I once put a bullet through the neck of a copperhead with the same pistol from a distance more than twice what I now faced. Yeah, I was aiming at the head and hit the neck instead. But the same MOA here would still do in this walking retread.
    Finger on trigger. Slack taken up. Wait. It’s 5:31am Tuesday morning. Don’t need the neighbors calling 911.
    Grub eater lives another day to dig holes.

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