sandbags under fire?

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sandbags under fire?

Post by PlugUgly » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:46 pm

This ones mostly for the service men and women who have seen action. As cover against small arms fire (I imagine nothing greater than large hunting rifles, but most likely smaller cals like handguns) how effective are sandbags? Is there a particular mixture of soils that are better, like sand with gravel mixed in? Will a sandbag wall one bag thick be substantial cover? Or isit all just movie hooplah?

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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:55 pm

PlugUgly wrote:This ones mostly for the service men and women who have seen action. As cover against small arms fire (I imagine nothing greater than large hunting rifles, but most likely smaller cals like handguns) how effective are sandbags? Is there a particular mixture of soils that are better, like sand with gravel mixed in? Will a sandbag wall one bag thick be substantial cover? Or isit all just movie hooplah?
Needs more input. Sandbags kind of suck, but they're better than nothing. Rounds will sneak though a single row (width-wise) so you will need at least two rows of sandbags stacked. Rain, wind, and basically anything that is not mild sunlight will deteriorate the bags and shift them. They require constant maintenance. Bags rip, break, fall down, or get squashed and then do all of the above.

Any reason you feel the need to build a 1940's era bunker?
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by raptor » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:58 pm

It really depends upon what is in the bag and what is being fired into it.

A .50 BMG API round requires more ballistic resistance than a .22 short.

Also not all dirt is created equal. You can image that a sand bag filled with reinforced concrete rubble will react differently than say a bag filled with wet or dry sand and even more differently than a bag filled with styrofoam peanuts.

The military fortunately publishes tables of various types of materials' resistance to various rounds. They are typically in field manuals.

Here is a link to one such table.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ ... 2/Ch14.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Remember, nothing is bullet proof...things offer only a various degree of bullet resistance.
Given enough time and ammo most things can eventually be penetrated..It may take a LONG time and a LOT of ammo but eventually everything can be punctured. I offer as proof water dripping on a rock, given enough time, the water will wear away the rock. :D

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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by PlugUgly » Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:10 pm

Doc: just curious about the benefits/ drawbacks in using them as a reinforcment below windows and, If it came to that, firing positions.

Raptor: I fully understand what you are saying and thanks for the link. This is more of a 'is it worth while to grab a stack to have just incase' kinda thing. Mostly cause I don't ever intend to run out and buy plate steel. Honestly if ever deployed I hope the only damage they suffer is rotting away over time.

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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:14 pm

PlugUgly wrote:Doc: just curious about the benefits/ drawbacks in using them as a reinforcment below windows and, If it came to that, firing positions.

Raptor: I fully understand what you are saying and thanks for the link. This is more of a 'is it worth while to grab a stack to have just incase' kinda thing. Mostly cause I don't ever intend to run out and buy plate steel. Honestly if ever deployed I hope the only damage they suffer is rotting away over time.
Just looked at your AO. Consider them consumable. In windows, they're better than nothing, but by no means bullet stoppers. Ask my buddy who lost a jar of peanuts to a stray x54R round about that. Thing just went right between the teeny gaps int he sandbags in our windows, and came through with enough force to murder his glass peanut jar and go through 1/2" of pot-metal afterward.
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by PlugUgly » Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:47 pm

AO will be changing to a major city in a few months. And given this cities stance on guns (supreme court ruled it unconstitutional), the possibility of a heavily armed hostile force like here in texas is less likely. Not to say its imposible, but much less likely.

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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:27 am

PlugUgly wrote:AO will be changing to a major city in a few months. And given this cities stance on guns (supreme court ruled it unconstitutional), the possibility of a heavily armed hostile force like here in texas is less likely. Not to say its imposible, but much less likely.
No point to sandbags then. One guy with a modicum of strength can push over a wall of sandbags. I'd look into other security options, if you aren't worried about guns.
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by Xale D » Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:16 pm

However!

If you're going to be on the ground floor, having a stack of sandbags around can be REALLY helpful when the water rises from time to time.

Same product, different purpose.
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by Maast » Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:12 pm

Rather than sandbags you'd be better off making a 2x4 or 2x6 wall filled w/ 3/4" gravel, it'll stop up to and including a 30-06 round.

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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by PlugUgly » Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:55 am

Doc Torr wrote:
PlugUgly wrote:AO will be changing to a major city in a few months. And given this cities stance on guns (supreme court ruled it unconstitutional), the possibility of a heavily armed hostile force like here in texas is less likely. Not to say its imposible, but much less likely.
No point to sandbags then. One guy with a modicum of strength can push over a wall of sandbags. I'd look into other security options, if you aren't worried about guns.
I suppose I should have explained my idea a bit better. And before I do let me say I appreciate your input and effort in helping me understand the usefulness of sandbags.

What I intended to do was stack sandbags on the interior of a building underneath windows. Possibly on a porch behind railings as well. I certainly am worried about firearms, hell I'm worried about them now! But I meant to reenforce walls that were already in place. Not build free standng walls out of them.

The gravel box wall seems less deployable in short notice situations. But they are basically an ideal solution. I will keep that in mind.

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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by Dak Kovar » Mon Mar 05, 2012 1:20 pm

The gravel was is interesting. Another thought is "planter boxes". I'm talking about a wooden crib filled with dirt/gravel/whatever works, and you could plant flowers in it or paint it to look "normal". It could be made with 2x6" sides and made really sturdy and then filled. You could make it as long or short as needed. It would not really be mobile but would work for a stationary instillation. You could always put wheels on the bottom to move it around a deck.

Another option from regular sand bags is pillowcases. They can be used to move things out of the house when you leave and you can use them as sand bags when you get where you are going. They can also be used to round out an installation as mentioned above. I have a handful of really long pillow cases to move food in an emergency. The ends can be tied together and thrown over the neck or whatever. Just a thought.

http://www.pillowcase.net/p-11-second-q ... dozen.aspx" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by Harbinger » Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:48 pm

Three sandbags thick for small arms. When we make a sandbag wall in the military we pound them together with a pick-axe handle. Pretty much as strong as concrete after that.

Use wet sand - not rubble or gravel as the bullet is stopped by friction with the sandbag filling as it moves through.

Better choices for the long term though as all military sandbags are designed to biodegrade after a while to deny them to the enemy. Check out sandbags meant for civilian purposes - culverts and retaining walls they won't degrade as quickly.
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by OldSchool45b » Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:52 pm

Wet sandbags will stop a 50 cal round more effectively than reenforced concrete. Get the Urban Combat Manual. It give LOTS of good tables and information about bullet penetrations up to light artillery.

They start to leak when shot up and rot after a few years, but they work well for absorbing bullets and shrapnel.
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by KnightoftheRoc » Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:07 pm

Ever see a bully on the beach kick over a sand castle?
Why you wanna live in a sand castle?

A single layer wall thickness isn't very effective, nor stable. If you get the chance to, take a good look at a MG emplacement, and you'll see they are usually at LEAST three layers thick, and interwoven for stability. And even then, as Doc pointed out, they need constant maintenance, especially if they get put to their intended use.
PlugUgly wrote:
Doc Torr wrote:
PlugUgly wrote:AO will be changing to a major city in a few months. And given this cities stance on guns (supreme court ruled it unconstitutional), the possibility of a heavily armed hostile force like here in texas is less likely. Not to say its imposible, but much less likely.
No point to sandbags then. One guy with a modicum of strength can push over a wall of sandbags. I'd look into other security options, if you aren't worried about guns.
I suppose I should have explained my idea a bit better. And before I do let me say I appreciate your input and effort in helping me understand the usefulness of sandbags.

What I intended to do was stack sandbags on the interior of a building underneath windows. Possibly on a porch behind railings as well. I certainly am worried about firearms, hell I'm worried about them now! But I meant to reenforce walls that were already in place. Not build free standng walls out of them.

The gravel box wall seems less deployable in short notice situations. But they are basically an ideal solution. I will keep that in mind.
Have you considered the strain these things would put on a standard floor? Porches are framed with the same materials, with the additional strain of being out in the weather. Where would you keep them when not needed? Getting them in place "on short notice" in any workable time frame would require a lot of manpower- are all those people bugging in with you? Bullet proofing a house is a project that requires a good understanding of engineering- as far as the house is constructed, at least- and is expensive. If you don't own the place, that's another set of issues on it's own.
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:19 pm

OldSchool45b wrote:Wet sandbags will stop a 50 cal round more effectively than reenforced concrete. Get the Urban Combat Manual.
I would LOVE to see where you're getting that. Unless you're saying that three layers of wet, hard-packed sandbags will stop a .50BMG more effectively than 3" of reinforced concrete.
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by OldSchool45b » Thu Mar 08, 2012 1:40 pm

Yep, I AM saying that three layers of wet, packed sandbags will stop a 50 better than RC. Again go back the "Infantryman's guide for combat in built up areas" (FM 90-10-1). It has lots of charts and diagrams. Turns out the wet sandbags trap and disperse the kinetic energy dump, being able to expand and shift under the impact where the reenforced concrete cracks and shatters. The sandbags last longer under sustained fire than the concrete. DHS also did a structural penetration test in 2007 that went from .22 to .50 (all available to civilian calibers) and found the same results. For best results use a heavy wall of some kind to shatter the round and sandbags on the back side to absorb the spall from the bullet and wall. We line the outside of our bunkers for this very reason. Sandbags absorb the blast better than the RC, and we replace the bags as they rot or wear out. Think of it in terms of soft armor vs ceramic plates. The soft armor gives, the ceramic shatters (The old ones anyway).
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by Maast » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:01 pm

Since I found the ref to 3/4" gravel in a 2x4 or 2x6 wall my thinking has totally shifted away from sandbags.

Sandbags suck, unless you've actually filled and stacked thousands of sandbags you have no idea how much they suck.

They're heavy, awkward to fill, fall over unless stacked correctly, and rot in the sun (even the "UV stabilized" bags), and take a LONG time to fill and place. Unless you have 50 guys doing it at once dont expect fast results. We made a plywood funnel to speed up the filling (one guy shoveling, the other holding the bags) but it still doesnt speed things up all that much.
Their only redeeming quality is that you can move and restack them.

There's a reason the mil went to hesco barriers.

A gravel wall can be placed and filled much quicker than a sandbag wall by a single guy with a wheelbarrow and a shovel, and they're thinner so you use much less material, and they stand up to multiple impacts better. You can use angle iron to protect the wooden studs and deflect the incoming rounds into the gravel - or just use hollow metal studs. You can even spray them with fireproofing paint.
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:02 am

OldSchool45b wrote:Yep, I AM saying that three layers of wet, packed sandbags will stop a 50 better than RC. Again go back the "Infantryman's guide for combat in built up areas" (FM 90-10-1). It has lots of charts and diagrams. Turns out the wet sandbags trap and disperse the kinetic energy dump, being able to expand and shift under the impact where the reenforced concrete cracks and shatters. The sandbags last longer under sustained fire than the concrete. DHS also did a structural penetration test in 2007 that went from .22 to .50 (all available to civilian calibers) and found the same results. For best results use a heavy wall of some kind to shatter the round and sandbags on the back side to absorb the spall from the bullet and wall. We line the outside of our bunkers for this very reason. Sandbags absorb the blast better than the RC, and we replace the bags as they rot or wear out. Think of it in terms of soft armor vs ceramic plates. The soft armor gives, the ceramic shatters (The old ones anyway).
Things have changed then. I've never seen that FM, and "infantry" and "bunker-busting" are both in my job description. Research says the FM dates from '93. When I get thew chance (i.e. I'm not deployed) I'll try to take a look at it and compare the twenty-year old TTPs with the current data.

I went and asked the CEB SNCOs today, ads well as my battalion gunner. Both laughed and told me that I was more than welcome to test that theory, but neither of them would choose the sandbags. I understand spalling and all, but back at the realistic side of things: if the OP is facing an M2, OP needs to GTFO. More realistic choices include .30-cal hunting rounds, 5.56, .308, the Soviet x39 rounds, and common pistol calibers. Short of a belt-fed MG, hardened structures (concrete, the gravel-wall bit) will last longer.

Sandbags are heavy, awkward, do not balance well, shift when moist, and vary in level of protection according to what is put in them. They are the bane of anyone who's rank includes "private" as well.
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by OldSchool45b » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:07 pm

My first deployment in 03 we had sandbags and hesco barriers. Yeah, the sand bags wear quickly in the desert sun but did fine on our guard towers at stopping small arms ammo. Don't know if anyone at Bargam ever got lit up with a DShK but I know the at firebases we did. Later we got armored guard towers (still in use today) and finished everything else off with hesco barriers except the artillery bunkers. For some reason those stayed concrete covered in sandbags.....

I don't know what the testing data has to do with current TTP's on infantry assault, the TTP's I have written and seen were based on things like that data. But I know up until I returned from my last deployment in July of 2010 sandbags were still everywhere and used heavily. They have been around for over 100 yrs and I doubt they are going anywhere any time soon. I can completely concur about their suck factor. As a young 0311 in the late 80's I filled more than my fair share. luckily those days soon passed and in AFG we had the Haji's doing it. LOL.

The secret to stopping rounds is just like what we use on body armor today. Trap and absorb the round with soft armor, it will take multiple hits. If the soft armor can not take the round and stop it use heavy hard armor to stop and shatter the round, like on armored vehicles and trauma plates. If sandbags were all I had I would use three layers, one with wet sand or dirt, the middle with heavy chunks of gravel to shatter and break up the round, then another of sand or dirt again. It is not very feasible for people to use armored plate or pour concrete when the SHTF. I would continue to trust them for the capabilities that FM 90-10 says they have. I am guessing it is based on years of combat experience from our armed forces. Considering their extensive continued use I am guessing the powers that be trust them too. They worked well for me over four deployments, I wouldn't have an issue trusting them based on that experience.
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by raptor » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:34 pm

I would like to mention something that I have used in past that would work nicely. It more expensive than sand but it is quick and easy to do since the bags are pre-filled and all you have to do is stack them and then throughly wet them.

Most concrete companies sell bags of premixed concrete. All you do is quick area prep, stack the bags in an interlocking layer and wet them thoroughly as you stack them. This is very common to reinforce a shoreline or a bulkhead. They set up like concrete and are quite durable.

Here is an image of a bulkhead constructed with this method. The bags disintergrate and the concrete remains. Obviously since there is no rebar it may not develop a lot of tensile strength but it will be dense and hard. You also save yourself the step of filling the bags.

Image


http://www.quikrete.com/PDFs/DATA_SHEET ... 134-80.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by Jeriah » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:46 pm

Someone mentioned planter boxes, and I think that is an absolutely baller idea. Anywhere you can, outside, use planter boxes where you want to armor a location. You can leave them in place (no need to install hastily), and grow some herbs and vegetables in them (or flowers if that's your thing). They'll probably never have to stop a stray round, but if they do, there are figures in those tables for loose soil and how much is required to stop a round, so you'll know what you've got. This is one of those cases where, since you'll probably never need their AP assets, it'd be smart to have them do double duty as food/flower planters. (Like how melee weapons will probably never be used to smash a skull, so it's good if they double as tools, e.g. shovel, flashlight, etc.)

For interiors, you can build indoor planter boxes, you just need something to catch the water. If you aren't into building shit out of wood, you can just take a Rubbermaid tub and drill small holes in the bottom. Put the lid on the ground where you want it (under a window is good for light), upside down, to catch the water that drips out. Set two lengths of 2x4 in the lid to hold the box up off the floor. Put a layer of coarse (3/4") gravel or broken pottery at the bottom of the tub, then fine gravel (aquarium) on top of that. Then fill with potting soil or topsoil, and plant your plants.

Another option for interior armor is bookshelves. Ever shoot a book? They stop some rounds, better than nothing at least. What I'd do is build, buy, or scavenge some bookshelves (in Chicago you can usually find free ones abandoned by dumpsters in alleys, people are always getting rid of 'em), and screw 3/4" plywood to the back for extra strength. Then fill them with books. ("What are books?" "They're like magazines only longer." "What's a magazine?" "It's like the Internet made out of a tree.") You can test them yourself to see what they'll stop; note there may be a difference between shooting the cover and shooting the spine/edge, so try both. If you don't own many books...see the following image:

Image

:lol:

Or you could stack other things in the shelves. Ammo cans filled with bags of rice? Canned goods? Etc. Anything is better than nothing, and you can't eat sand, so you might as well position your other goods somewhere they can double as armor.
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by gatorglockman » Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:19 pm

I think the OP is more than likely going to face small arms fire of pistols or basic AR's/AK's/Hunting rifles in a WROL situation vs the .50 M2 deal that keeps getting tossed out there. In an urban environment (like DC or downtown Chicago as the OP mentioned/hinted at).....getting sandbags...filled with..um...sand...and moved to an interior location without being noticed, etc and or the logistics of it may be difficult in reality IMHO. You are going to draw a lot of attention digging up the adjacent field/yard/etc and filling bags and wheel barrelling them back to your apartment/brownstone or pad.

I would rather use concealment and other measures to keep my bug in location from drawing attention and then reinforce or booby trap probable points of entry from someone snooping or looting. Depending on the size of your pad and the number of occupants...it would be very hard to defend an average home from a group of armed assailants with the intent of getting your stuff. There are just too many ways to punch bullet holes in an average home/appartment/etc. The one dimensional wall of sand bags would be void against shots from alternate angles, etc. Likewise the probablility of your fatal demise are high if the opposition is determined.

The concept of a real bunker or fighting position in the ground is a completely diferent animal and engineered defense than reinforcing a home/apt/etc
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:17 am

Like I said OldSchool, I've never seen one hit with a .50 cal, and if the OP is facing HMGs then there's really little point in trying to armor up. Sandbags in a double stack can let rounds sneak through. In a triple stack you're okay, but then that means a huge load on a small area, and your walls are weaker than your bunkered windows. You have to also have a place to store them. I'll let someone else do the math as far as the weight and amount of sand required to get a double-stack of sandbags. YMMV, but I'd be comfortable with plywood or some kind of shutter to stop the visibility. I doubt the average house will stop repeated hits from a .308 or x39, and there are much better ways to keep people out without adding a series of 45-lb+ sandbags to any part of your structure.

Want to armor your porch? Put in a double-thick brick-and-mortar wall about hip-height around it. Decorative brick holds up well, and you don't have to worry about it falling after a rain, getting stolen, or the bricks bursting after a rain. If your Risk-Assessment says that you have to worry about cover and repeated gunfights, think about moving elsewhere.

Sandbags do work well against floods, however, and are an okay short-term fix.
Last edited by Doctorr Fabulous on Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: sandbags under fire?

Post by Kutter_0311 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:20 am

raptor wrote:I would like to mention something that I have used in past that would work nicely. It more expensive than sand but it is quick and easy to do since the bags are pre-filled and all you have to do is stack them and then throughly wet them.

Most concrete companies sell bags of premixed concrete. All you do is quick area prep, stack the bags in an interlocking layer and wet them thoroughly as you stack them. This is very common to reinforce a shoreline or a bulkhead. They set up like concrete and are quite durable.

Here is an image of a bulkhead constructed with this method. The bags disintergrate and the concrete remains. Obviously since there is no rebar it may not develop a lot of tensile strength but it will be dense and hard. You also save yourself the step of filling the bags.

Image


http://www.quikrete.com/PDFs/DATA_SHEET ... 134-80.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I think ^^^THIS^^^ is worth another look...

Also, along similar lines, I stacked commercially available fine play sand(yeah, like for kids' sandboxes) inside a plastic storage bin, then shot the bejesus out of it with 12ga slugs, 7.62x39, 5.56, .45ACP, .44 mag, and .40S&W. Know what? 12" of fine play sand stopped all of it, and it was dry.

So I'm pretty sure you can buy everything you want to fortify a position at Fleet Farm, and never have to shovel.
JAYNE COBB wrote: Well, what you plan and what takes place ain't ever exactly been similar.
TravisM.1 wrote:If a rifle is an option, a rifle is usually the answer.
minengr wrote:I've said it numerous times, a quality rig is only as good as it's weakest link. Which usually is the nut behind the butt.

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