The Box O’ Truth #1 – The Original Box O’ Truth


This is the Box.

Having some time for study of this fascinating sport, I built the “Box O’ Truth”.

The purpose of the Box is to test the penetration of various rounds.

People often say, “I think…”. “I suppose…”, “I bet…”, when discussing facts like penetration of ammunition.

There is only one way to know how much a certain round penetrates.

You must shoot it into a medium and see for a fact.

This is the entrance of the last sheet.

This is the entrance of the last sheet.

My shooting buddy, Tman and I took it to the range with a variety of guns and ammo. Here’s what we did.

First, we loaded the box with 12 sheets of 5/8 sheetrock, which is also called wallboard in some areas.
Since it takes 2 sheets per wall, this is the thickness of 6 interior walls.

Why twelve? It seemed like a good number and I thought it might stop most rounds.
I was about to learn something.

First, I shot it with my M-17 S&W, .22 LR HP. It penetrated 6 sheets and bounced off the seventh sheet.
That would be the equivalent of 3 interior walls.
And that’s only a .22 pistol.

Long story short, we proceeded to shoot several rounds and they all penetrated all 12 sheets and exited.


Notice that the XM-193 is tumbling.

We pulled the sixth sheet and that’s about where it first tumbled.


Here I am shooting a .45ACP at the box.

Here I am shooting a .45ACP at the box.

We then replaced the sheetrock with something tougher, 3/4 inch Ponderosa Pine boards.


We fired several rounds and saw the following Penetration:

.22 Long Rifle (Wildcats) – 4 boards and bounced off 5th board.

9MM JHP (Federal) – 8 boards, bounced off 9th.

.45ACP (Federal Hydrashocks) – 7 boards, bounced off 8th.

Amazingly, none expanded at all. The nose just filled up with pine.

Here I am busting the Box.

Here I am busting the Box.

It was time to get out the rifle.


Here are the two exits. Notice, again, that they were tumbling.

I shot my 16″ AR with XM-193.

We don’t know how many boards it would have penetrated, as it was still moving after exiting the twelfth board.

Lessons learned:

  1. Sheetrock (drywall) doesn’t slow any round down much. If you shoot in the house, walls will not stop any serious round.
  2. Twelve pine boards will not stop a .223 round.
  3. Shooting stuff is fun.


6 Comments on The Box O’ Truth #1 – The Original Box O’ Truth

  1. brian crockett // January 24, 2016 at 1:23 am // Reply

    love the test 🙂 might try a shotgun to show people how effective it is but will, i should say im assuming will stop before going to the neighbors house

  2. Great demo. Interesting that for all the talk of stopping power for the .45, the 9mm actually penetrated one full board more. Take that .45 purists!! LOL

    • That’s actually not a positive for the 9mm…you want the energy to be expended within the subject target, not the next wall (or person standing on the other side of the next wall).

      Interesting test, I’m tempted to modify your test to include stucco after about two walls and see what that does…and I’d love to see it with 12 gauge buck and slug.

      Looks like I have a project.

      • Another idea to test, which will be much more complex…. but be much more realistic, space out double layers of painted drywall, with randomly placed “studs” and fireblocks, and remnant trims from residential 12/2 w/ground electrical wire, and maybe a 3/8″ copper pipe or two and some sch. 40 PVC randomly placed. Also a dryall repair, a gangbox with an outlet, maybe some furniture panels randomly placed between walls. Space each of these simulated walls out, each being 4’x4′, a mininum of 4 ft from the next. Around each place paper, or some other medium to show deviation from a 4×4 panel. Panels should be built without shooter knowing where such aub-structures within the wall are located, or which wall contains which simulated sub structures within. The distance between layers will make a difference, as i have personally had fired a .45 at a badger that got into my finished basement years ago, hard ball, that penetrated wood wall panel, a layer of drywall, and an airduct where it penetrated one side, bounced and dented the opposite side, and laid to rest inside the air duct, all within 12 ft.

  3. Did similar test. THREE Walls using 2×4 wood frame, installing 1/2″ gypsum drywall on each side. 1st Wall- had just one layer, 1/2″ drywall on both side of six (represents Standard ‘interior’ wall), 2nd Wall was setup ten feet from wall #1 (similar to distance across bedroom)- installed on BOTH Side of 2×4 stud, one layer 1/2″ drywall PLUS standard 1/4″ wood paneling (actually 3/16″ thick, a fact similar to 4″ wood stud measures 3-1/2″), then last ten feet behind wall #2 was another 2×4 wall having on BOTH sides, 1/2″ drywall PLUS layer 18ga. galvanized steel sheeting (like a/c ducts before newer flexduct material)… EVERY HANDGUN ROUND FIRED, 22lr, 32acp, 380acp, 9mm, 45acp, 357mag., 454 Casull and 44mag. WENT THROUGH ALL THREE WALLS WITH NO SIGNS OF STOPPING, THE FIRST round tried was 22lr from 4-3/4″ Ruger Single Six revolver was only stopped by second layer of paneling in wall #2. The 22lr from 1″ NAA mini-revolver went through Wall #1 and through one side Wall #2, stopping in first layer drywall but not paneling. Shotgun Loads from 20ga and 12ga, Buckshot went through all three walls, birdshot in second wall (sorry need to dig up notes on shotsize and ga insofar as second wall. Hollow core interior doors no more protection than wall with two layers of drywall- YOU NEED TO BE DUCKING OR DODGING. Lot of time, effort and expense to do what these guys have done on this site. LOT OF WORK even if you have a place to shoot.


    Wide variety of handgun ammo manufacturers, including exotic stuff like GEICO’s BAT 9mm (Blitz Action Trauma), Personal Protection Systems in 380acp and 45acp, even ‘new’ in 1983 SUPER VEL in 357mag, 44mag, and 45acp ( from 3-1/2″ 1911 Detonics, S-V 45acp, 190gr. JHP chronograph at ~ 1,050fps), SuperVel 45acp wasvonly load except Winchester Silvertip that did NOT plug Hollow Point cavity then penetrate like BALL ammo (which is WHAT MOST MANUFACTURER’S JHP AMMO DID, PLUG UP HP THEN PENETRATED MEDIUM LIKE BALL AMMO LOADS, PRIOR TO THREE WALLS, initial testing was through media and bullet captured in 48″ deep cardboard box packed solid N tight with dry paper ((brochures, junk mail,etc.)

    Penetration tests are different subject, and despite shooting through various mediums including HEAVY jackets, hollow core doors, Plumbing clay, drywall, before capturing in the backstop box,,, Until then we had expectations of our third wall stopping ‘some’ of the bullets because of two layer 18ga. sheetmetal were soon gone. Only LARGE vs Smaller holes in sheetmetal gave indication of ‘some expansion’ in the various calibers never to be recovered bullets that is a guess not facts,,, conjecture at it’s worst, not facts.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.