Bullet Resistance of Sandbags

We live in interesting and somewhat precarious times.  No one can say for certain that they are immune from economic collapse, civil disturbance or even war.  With the world’s escalating financial, environmental and political problems lately, anything is possible.

All the many benefits of earthbags are reported on our EarthbagBuilding.com website – low cost, simplicity of construction, durability, and on and on.  But almost no one mentions the bullet resistance of sandbags (earthbags).  As this post explains, it’s a bonus benefit of earthbag building that is often overlooked.

How effective are sandbags for stopping bullets? The Box O’ Truth website performed a test to find out: http://theboxotruth.com/docs/bot7.htm.

Testing bullet resistance of sandbags using boxes of sand.
Testing bullet resistance of sandbags using boxes of sand.

They built boxes out of 2×6 lumber and drywall, and filled them with sand so they could measure bullet penetration.  Four boxes were stacked back-to-back on sawhorses.  But it turns out they didn’t need that many.  Just one box would have been sufficient.

They started out with a .22 LR from a .22 revolver.  It penetrated about 5 inches into the sand.

They continued the test using 9mm Ball, .45 ACP, 5.56mm XM-193 Ball out of a 20″ AR15, 7.62 X 51 from a FAL, a 12 gauge slug, and finally .223 and .308 rifle rounds.

None of the rounds penetrated more than 6”!

And I’m sure the military have done extensive testing on this or they wouldn’t have kept using sandbags for all these years.  I think we can add bullet resistance to the list of earthbag benefits.

2 thoughts on “Bullet Resistance of Sandbags”

  1. We live in a rapidly changing neighborhood; crime going up, drugs, home invasion. Our house is 150yr old victorian which we completely restored only to have the neighborhood go down hill in last 5 years. Now i going to build a saferoom in the basement which has 2 walls 8ft tallof stone and earth and one exterior 2×10 frame wall on a 16″thick foundation wall with two windows. After hours and hours of searching site after site I found you and the sand bags. Yes, I was in the military; why I didn’t think of this sooner I don’t know. Anyway, your field tests are better than mine where we shot 9’s, 40’s, 45’s and 7.62 into a mockup of a 2×4 wall filled with TREX exterior decking. The 7.62 sailed through but the 9 and 40 barely made through. Would s standard 1ft x 2ft sandbag built into a frame wall stop a 7.62? Let me know.

  2. Good to know, since I have property in the woods and plenty of deer walking across it. Always a little nervous during hunting season. An earthbag structure might give me that extra peace of mind that I wouldn’t otherwise get with regular stick-built housing…


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