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Back stop penetration
December 6, 2020
8:28 pm
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Here’s one for you. Whether it’s the German Mauser or MG 42 or a Winchester 30WCF, there’s gotta be some grunts or military folk in here who knows what the general rule of thumb is on how far a bullet will penetrate a dirt back stop. I’m watching some original footage documentaries of ww1 & ww2 with mounds for cover & thinking that is not going to stop a bullet but it must have been enough to do the job.

RickC

December 7, 2020
5:13 am
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Rick,

  Somewhere there is an Army Field Manual on field fortifications.  I recall there was a specified minimum thickness for a dirt parapet around your fox hole, but that was way back when I was a LT.  Vietnam was going on.  We concentrated more on setting wire and claymores.  Basically, the thicker the better, always trying to improve your fortifications.  But I THINK,  the thinnest, top part was supposed to be either 3 feet thick or possibly 4 feet.  Recall that packed dirt requires a slope of about 45 degrees to self support.  Sandbags helped by being able to be stacked vertically without much issue.  NOTE PLEASE: I NEVER dug nor was around anyone who had, the FM approved foxhole!  I did try to dig a prone firing position at Ft. Riley in the limestone and dirt hills.  I got low enough to be sideways and probably would have faired well with the limestone rocks incorporated with the log in front of me.  I hope.  TimLaugh

December 7, 2020
6:07 am
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Thank you Tim for taking the time to write. That was very interesting to read & about yourself as well. If I had the gumption I would almost bring a shovel to the range next time just to see how far a 30-30 round would actually penetrate. My home shooting range has the gravel to allow such an experiment but somehow digging a berm 3ft wide by hand doesn’t appeal to my back & legs.
I won’t lose sleep over it & I don’t lay awake at night thinking this stuff up, just curiosity after all these years with countless movies & documentaries & just wondered how far an actual rifle bullet would penetrate dirt. All the experiments I can ever remember seeing were bullet tumbling or the affects on human tissue comparisons using gelatin.

Thanks for replying.

RickC

December 7, 2020
3:02 pm
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Rick,  Another thought came to my mind.  My granddad talked to me about his experiences in WWI after I was commissioned.  He was in the trenches, which were constantly being improved.  They were way deep.  Men had to climb onto firing parapets to see over or through firing slots.  They dug caves into the sidewalls to sleep in, with overhead support with whatever they could find or scrounge.  Don’t recall his saying whether the caves/niches were in the front wall or the back wall.  Those were basically dug by hand, a huge undertaking.  Sure that they started out as what I would have been taught to be a hasty fighting position, and just got more elaborate with time.  Last I knew the combat engineers had the Small Emplacement Excavators (or SEE’s) and they might get used for individual fighting positions given enough time and such.  Priority likely went to field artillery, etc.  I was Signal, and we usually were at the bottom as to priorities.  Too many stories for this forum!  Really not something I thought about much.  Tim

December 7, 2020
3:39 pm
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Well Tim I sure enjoy reading & hearing your stories & replies. Thank you for sharing. I can only imagine some of the stories & horrors of ww1, ww2, Vietnam & others. Those who’ve paid the price for mine & others freedom. My sincere gratitude to all vets.

RickC

December 7, 2020
6:17 pm
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RickC said
Here’s one for you. Whether it’s the German Mauser or MG 42 or a Winchester 30WCF, there’s gotta be some grunts or military folk in here who knows what the general rule of thumb is on how far a bullet will penetrate a dirt back stop. I’m watching some original footage documentaries of ww1 & ww2 with mounds for cover & thinking that is not going to stop a bullet but it must have been enough to do the job.

RickC  

It appears that what I have found so far is all about sand.

https://www.theboxotruth.com/the-box-o-truth-7-the-sands-o-truth/

With dirt it is all about compaction.

https://www.hnc.usace.army.mil/Portals/65/docs/Directorates/ISPM/RTLP/PDFs/Design%20Requirements/Target%20Protection%20-%20July%202017.pdf?ver=2017-07-05-153531-603

December 7, 2020
7:20 pm
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Wow Chuck nice job finding this info. And what a surprise about the actual stopping power of sand. Handgun rounds more affective than rifle with the lower velocities. Would never of thought. Great read.

Thanks
RickC

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