The Box O’ Truth #36 – Frozen Clothing And The Box O’ Truth

I have had a number of people send me notes asking if I would test a rumor that they heard about the Korean War.

It seems that it was rumored that the North Korean Commies wore thick clothing and that in the freezing rain, the outside, which was wet, froze.

It was then said that the .30 Carbine would not penetrate this frozen clothing, but would bounce off like an over-cooked string bean hitting an anvil.

(Okay, I just threw in that part about the string bean and the anvil).

Well, I don’t have any authentic North Korean Army clothing from that time period, but I do have some cotton terry cloth towels. So, I did the following.

First, I folded the towel three times, making it 8 layers thick.

Is this the same thickness as the clothing worn by the Commies?

I don’t know, but it looked like a good winter thickness to me.


I then wet it down really well and wrung out some of the water.

I left it pretty soaked so that it would freeze well.


I live in Southeast Texas, and we don’t see a lot of freezing weather here, but I do have a freezer.

So, I laid it on a tray and put it in the freezer for about a week and froze it good and solid.

I took it out of the freezer and placed it in a cooler to transport it to the range without it thawing out.

We then went to the range and set it up in front of the Waterbox O’ Truth.

I used some clamps to hold it in front of the gallons of water.
The frozen material was a little over one inch thick.


The frozen material was a little over one inch thick.

We will get back about 45 yards and shoot it with the .30 carbine and standard military Ball ammo.

As we placed the frozen towel on the Waterbox, I told Tman, “This stuff is a lot thicker and tougher than I expected it to be.

Maybe it will actually slow down a .30 carbine.”

It was as stiff as a board. Well, only one way to find out.

First, I shot a paper target to be sure I had the point of aim correct.


It put two rounds into almost the same hole.

I know when to quit.

I then fired a round of standard .30 Carbine Ball into the frozen towel.


We went down range and were amazed that not only had it easily gone through the frozen material, but had penetrated 7 gallons of water.

That is approximately 42 inches of water.

That means about 21 inches of ballistic gelatin or human flesh.

Since 12 inches is considered to be the minimum required penetration to reach vital organs, this round penetrated almost twice as far as needed.


Well, maybe they meant it was the old .45 ACP that couldn’t penetrate the frozen clothes.

So, a good excuse to try out the newly refinished Sistema .45 ACP.

I shot from about 15 feet.


How do you like the size of that entrance hole?

Looks like the .45 makes a good ice pick.


We were amazed that the .45 ACP also penetrated 7 gallons of water.

Both the .30 Carbine bullet and the .45 ACP bullet were good old Ball ammo and the fired bullets could have almost been loaded into a cartridge and shot again.


Lessons learned:
  1. If anyone shot at a North Korean Commie and he didn’t go down, it was because they missed him. Because frozen clothing sure won’t slow down a .30 Carbine.
  2. The old warhorse, the .45 ACP Ball, isn’t exactly “weak” in the penetration category either.
  3. I don’t know how this rumor got started, but it looks like it was completely false.
  4. The .30 Carbine, as we have noted before, is highly underrated in many categories.
  5. Shooting stuff is fun.

6 Comments on The Box O’ Truth #36 – Frozen Clothing And The Box O’ Truth

  1. My understanding is that the problem was the WWII ammo, more specifically the powder, that had deteriorated and caused issues in extreme cold. I’ve heard from many long-time gun collectors that the 30 carbine is under-powered. They usually come up speechless or disbelieving when I tell them it is roughly equivalent to a 357 magnum. Personally, I feel that the M1 Carbine is an excellent home defense weapon, powerful enough and easy to shoot, with the right ammo.

  2. Thomas Bunner // January 17, 2016 at 8:13 am // Reply

    I too heard this “well proven” myth over the years. Korean War vets supposedly shot NKA and PRC troops and routinely failing to stop the quilted clothed enemy even at close range.
    Thanks for showing what I for the most part always suspected, but never saw proved.

    Deo Vindice!

  3. rangerrick // May 10, 2016 at 10:37 pm // Reply

    The Korean War with the m1 carbine is a load of hooey. My granddad carried a m1 carbine for 3 years during WW2 and for 1 year in Korea. In WW2 he was a radioman with the ” Big Red One” and told be before his death, he put quite a few Nazis in the ground with no problem, and during Korea the same thing as long as the range was 300 yards or less and you had to hit the target before it hit you. I too own a m1 carbine and hunt with it and it does just fine on deer out to 150 yards with good soft nose ammo. Granddad said a miss with a 22 is just as bad as a miss with 105 howitzer, just the 105 gets your attention a lot faster.

  4. All you have to do is sit down with a calculater, do the energy math and be appalled at this ongoing [True Stupid] myth.
    I’ve a 1943 M1 Carbine, And an Ex-Bazooka guy, and I can tell you the Carbine will shoot through at least three guys no mater what they’re wearing, and at least two guys wearing flak vests. The product of poor or non-existing training…and simply poor marksmanship.
    I might refer the reader to Bill Hickock’s alleged statement made during a ca 1870 newspaper interview. The question was, “where’s the best place to aim in a gunfight?”
    Supposedly Bill said, “Shoot a man in the belly and the fight’s pretty much over.”
    Having participated in more than one barracks bull-session I can also verify that the bull-level legendarily exceeds all expectations.

  5. Blume, Son of Julius Blume USMS // April 5, 2017 at 6:07 am // Reply

    I have to disagree…. you weren’t there and neither was I… but my late father was and was one of the Chosen Few… he told me that when hit with a M1 carbine 30 cal round most of the Chinese kept coming… just because you have a hole in you does not mean you stop… especially when there are guys behind you that will shoot you if you stop or turn around. Oh, and does your frig. go down to 30 below?

    • Squat Dookus // May 12, 2017 at 1:24 pm // Reply

      You’re full of some real good BS, Blume. The Japanese were ten times as fanatical as the Chinese in Korea. No amount of ice on a coat can stop a .30 carbine. Maybe study physics and get back to us.

      And another thing, just because a man has the courage to stand and fight a horde of screaming communists doesn’t make him right 24/7. Being brave doesn’t mean being smart. The soldier worship is intolerable when you use it to gloss over reality. It’s good to remember them for their bravery and sacrifice, but they aren’t gods, they weren’t superhuman. They were men just as we are, just forced into a situation that demanded everything of them.

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