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Thread: Range Report: Penetration Testing of Residential Brick Walls (Pic Heavy)

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    Range Report: Penetration Testing of Residential Brick Walls (Pic Heavy)

    Shooting Residential Brick Walls

    Questions being explored:

    If shots are fired inside a brick clad home, will they penetrate an exterior wall?

    If shots are fired outside a brick clad home, will the brick provide any protection to occupants of the home?

    Secondary question: How much energy is left after a round passes through a brick wall?

    These questions were asked in a recent INGO posting by lovemachine46147.

    Setting up the Test

    In the spirit of the Box-O-Truth website, I decided to once again break out the INGO Box-of-Truth and shoot some bricks!

    But first, a bit of research and gathering of materials.

    Most residential brick walls are a single layer of bricks attached to the outside wall of a frame home. The wall studs are covered with plywood, OSB board, or rigid insulation. The bricks go over that.

    Diagram of brick wall construction

    A few INGO members agreed to help with the test by supplying materials, ammo, firearms, manpower. They were: Colt45er, Hamsterstyle, and esrice. (Also thanks to HighStrung for the milk jugs he previously donated to me!)

    One of the first discussions we had was how to hold the bricks for the test. At first, I thought I would make some wall sections with bricks and mortar. Then I tried holding a stack of four bricks in the Box-of-Truth using wedges to hold the bricks in place and provide some compression on the bricks.

    A test shot with .223 convinced me that this method would work. It allowed for easy refilling of the Box with fresh bricks between shots. I didn’t know how long the mortared wall sections would last under fire. Using the stacked bricks allowed me to use the Box-of-Truth to hold sections of plywood and drywall around the bricks along with water jugs behind the bricks. Mortared sections would have been harder to manipulate.

    During the testing, we noted that when hit with the higher-energy rounds, the bricks would shatter with pieces blowing out the sides. In a real brick wall, the brick fragments would be held in-place by the mortar and neighboring bricks. We don’t know how this would affect the shattering pattern of the bricks but believe that the brick would fracture to absorb the bullet’s energy and still not allow the bullet to penetrate.

    Summary Approach:

    We decided to shoot a variety of pistol, rifle, and shotgun calibers with mostly hollow point defensive ammo through a test wall constructed to simulate a standard brick clad residential wall. We set up the Box-of-Truth as if the shot came from the inside the house.

    Water jugs were placed behind the walls to gauge the amount of energy left after passing through the wall.

    There was a sheet of ” drywall, a 3.5” air gap, a sheet of ” plywood, a brick layer, a sheet of drywall (to hold the bricks in-place) and then the water jugs. Since drywall is nearly ‘invisible’ to most bullets, I felt the second drywall layer would not skew the test results. (Turns out it never had the chance to!)

    Range Set-up:

    The shooting was done on April 16, 2011 between 4 and 7 pm. We managed to select the worst weather of the week with 48 degrees, mist/rain, and 10-20 mph winds! However, everyone agreed that even with the rain, it was still more fun to shoot stuff than be most other places!

    All shots were done at 15 feet to simulate an indoor defensive shooting scenario.

    We shot from the canopy, off a bench, into the Box-of-Truth.

    After each shot, the results were recorded and fresh brick(s) installed. The plywood and drywall sheets were replaced every few shots as needed.

    Tabular Results:

    Here are the results. Pictures and detailed commentary follow.


    We moved our gear to the canopy and reviewed the approach we intended to use for the testing.

    Starting with the .22 pistol, we shot individual rounds at the bricks.

    The lowly .22 didn’t do much. It barely left a mark in the brick!

    It hit near a seam, so we did the test again, but the results were the same. The bullet hit the brick and the bullet shattered without damaging the brick.


    It broke part of a brick.

    A .38 round launched from a revolver wasn’t impressive at all….

    It only cracked the brick. It did leave a nice ‘petal!’

    .357 Magnum
    A .357 Magnum round got us back in the game! Colt45er was enjoying that Python smoothness!

    This round shattered a brick outright and pushed the back-up drywall into the water jugs.

    After each shot, we inspected the Box-of-Truth and put in new parts if needed.

    Hamsterstyle brought out his ‘noisy cricket’ (aka Glock 27) for the .40 S&W test.

    It mostly shattered one brick and gave us another nice petal pattern.

    The Colt .45ACP broke a brick and left its jacket wedged next to the brick face.

    We switched to rifles with a Ruger 10/22 up first.

    Very similar results to the .22 pistol. No damage to the brick.

    .223 Remington
    Using a Colt AR, we tested the .223 round.

    The first shot hit a seam and broke up the brick on either side. We shot a second time and hit a brick square. It shattered one brick.

    The 7.62x39 round launched in an AK47 shattered one brick and part of another. However, it didn’t penetrate beyond the brick. When were these rifle rounds going to get the job done?

    The Mosin rifle had a minor advantage…it’s so long that its muzzle was much closer to the test box than the other firearms! Shooting a 7.62x54R round, it shattered two bricks, but still didn’t get past the brick. This was with a steel core round!

    (In the video there is a comment about ‘water dripping’ but that was from a jug that had a pinhole puncture in it. The force of the impact pushed the rear drywall sheet into the jugs and squeezed out a few drips of water. The rifle round didn’t penetrate past the brick.)

    12 gauge 00 Buck - Flitecontrol
    Ok, so it looks like we’re going to have to depend on the shotguns to get past the brick.

    A Federal Flitecontrol round kept its trademark tight pattern and shattered one brick and broke another. Still no penetration.

    Several of its pellets were found in the brick debris.

    12 gauge 00 Buck – S&B
    The S&B buckshot also broke bricks, but because of its wider pattern, the force was spread out a bit.

    12 gauge slug
    Colt45er loaded up a Hornady SST 12 gauge slug in a rifled shotgun barrel.

    The slug shattered one brick and cracked two others. However, the slug did not penetrate the rear drywall sheet! We also noticed that the wad went completely through the first drywall sheet.

    While we had the shotgun out, we decided to hit the water jugs without any drywall or brick. We set 6 water jugs in the Box-of-Truth. The slug went through all six jugs spraying water everywhere and then left the Box.

    .50 Muzzleloader
    Our final test caliber was a .50 muzzleloader. It took out two bricks but still no penetration beyond the brick!

    Additional Impromptu Shots:

    One conclusion we came to during the testing is that a brick does a good job of absorbing the energy in a bullet. The brick fractures and dissipates the energy. So, what would happen if there were multiple hits in the same general area?

    We loaded up the AK47 with several rounds and fired at the brick wall.

    The results were surprisingly different! The first round shattered the brick, but subsequent rounds quickly went through the brick rubble and began bursting the water jugs.

    Hamsterstyle tried a similar test with the .40S&W round. The results mirrored the rifle test. Rounds 2,3,4, etc. went through the brick and into the water jugs.

    The brick testing was done, however we did some more shooting of various items and some longer distance shooting of the rifles into steel targets.
    One video can be seen here:

    I’m going to see if I can get esrice to post a few of the fun pics and videos. I’ve just about tapped out my internet connection with this range report!


    The original questions were:

    • If shots are fired inside a brick clad home, will they penetrate an exterior wall?

    Answer: Probably not as long as you don’t hit a window or door.

    • If shots are fired outside a brick clad home, will the brick provide any protection to occupants of the home?

    Answer: The brick will provide good protection for single shots in one area.

    • Secondary question: How much energy is left after a round passes through a brick wall?

    Answer: None since the brick stopped every round! Follow-up shots through the same area appear to retain much of their original energy.

    -- I was very surprised by the bricks’ ability to stop every round. It would be interesting to try some of the calibers above the 7.62x54R and see what happens.

    -- I was equally surprised by how quickly additional shots did penetrate into the water jugs! It appears that a brick is good for one shot and not much more.

    -- Some older brick homes are made of more than one layer of brick or brick and block layers. They would provide even more protection.

    -- I haven’t tested aluminum or vinyl sided home walls, but from what I know of the penetration characteristics of wood, plywood, drywall, and metal clad doors, I doubt that vinyl or aluminum sided homes provide much protection from bullets going either into or out of.

    -- Brick homes provide some protection from errant rounds from the outside, but windows and doors are still virtual gateways for rounds. (Metal doors don’t stop much. I’ve tested them.)

    -- I was very impressed with the safe gun handling demonstrated during the test. Since we were inspecting the Box-of-Truth after every shot we had to be certain the range went cold each time; and my shooting partners did that. My thanks to them for the extra care demonstrated.

    -- Shooting stuff is still fun!

    Parting Shot:

    After shooting in the damp, we adjourned to dinner at the house. We ate ‘manly food’….roast, potatoes, carrots, and rolls followed by brownies! (Sorry for the fuzzy pics, the camera lens was fogging.)

    Shooting guns and sharing the company of INGO friends made for a special and memorable day!
    Last edited by esrice; 04-18-2011 at 14:21.

  2. #2
    Grandmaster Bunnykid68's Avatar

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    Awesome test, thanks to all for taking the time to do this. Although I imagine it ended up being as much fun as it was work.
    Quote Originally Posted by PaulF View Post
    The bunny is legion. It cannot be banned.
    I cut grass for a living

  3. #3
    Expert GARANDGUY's Avatar

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    Very nice job and thank you for doing this test and sharing the results with us! We do however want our brownies too,lol.
    Protection One Tactical Training

  4. #4
    Marksman csmith's Avatar

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    Thanks guys. Awesome to such a thorough test.

  5. #5

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    Very cool. Keep up the good work.

  6. #6
    Master Rob377's Avatar

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    Great test! Thanks for doing it. I'd be happy to volunteer my 357 Sig, if you ever have the desire to test it.
    Slow is slow, and slow is not fast.

  7. #7
    Sharpshooter kevman65's Avatar

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    Good practical test. One thing on the results, multiple hits on an actual brick/block wall might come up with a different result. Most walls also have mud (mortar) slopped into the hollows of the brick/block at different intervals. I have seen some people go the extreme of mudding every course. Between that and the mortar on horizontal and vertical surfaces of each row could change the end result.

  8. #8
    Grandmaster snorko's Avatar

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    This is why I love INGO.

  9. #9

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    Very cool info, I love when things are informative. Great job!

  10. #10
    Certified Regular Guy esrice's Avatar

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    I was flat-out SHOCKED at the results from our tests. When we were all "taking bets" on which one would penetrate the brick first, I was certain that getting into the higher power rifles would do the trick. I was wrong.

    A big thanks to lovemywoods for taking the initiative on the test when INGOers asked. He spent lots of time researching, designing, and constructing the test before we even stepped foot on his property.

    We also appreciate colt45er and HamsterStyle for providing most of the guns, ammo, and bricks. They were also fabulous shooting models.

    Of course the day was replete with comments noting lovemywoods' OCD tendencies (engineers. . . sheesh. . .). A couple highlights were his labeling of the slot on the BoT that contained the drywall, and of the various sizes of drywall. This certainly cut down on the number of questions we had to ask him during set up.

    After the testing was complete, we turned out attention to a unique target placed on the shooting table. Apparently lovemywoods' church was throwing away a bass guitar, so we "disposed" of it for them. You'll have to pardon our snarky sarcastic comments about being scared of the sound of a racking shotgun.

    To give ourselves an idea of what AK vs. concrete block looked like, we let colt45er destroy a small pile.

    And here was the aftermath of our day.

    So was anyone else totally surprised by our findings?

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