test shooting a cast iron bathtub

Test shooting a cast iron bathtub

This is a discussion on Test shooting a cast iron bathtub within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; A good while back I read a thread (link below) about how bulletproof a cast iron bathtub might be. http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulle...let-proof.html I'm remodeling one of the ...

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Thread: test shooting a cast iron bathtub

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    test shooting a cast iron bathtub

    A good while back I read a thread (link below) about how bulletproof a cast iron bathtub might be.

    http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulle...let-proof.html

    I'm remodeling one of the bathrooms in my Dad's house and it had an old cast iron bathtub. Not the antique type with the claw feet but the type that were used in the late 1960's. Generally you remove them by breaking them up with a sledge hammer and taking it out in pieces. Keep in mind some tubs are made of steel and are thinner, you can't break those like you can the cast iron. As I was breaking this one out, I thought it would be good to try and save some large pieces and see how it would do in a little informal test shoot. Out of curiosity, I was thinking about some test shooting to go with that original thread. BTW it took about 5-6 pretty hard swings with a 12 lb sledge hammer to get it to start breaking up.

    The thickness of the tub varied, it seemed like the edges, corners, and some built-in braces were definitely thicker. The best piece I had was simply one of the sides, in fact it was the side that was double-walled. Of course the finish is baked-on porcelain (yellow in this case). I chose to shoot at this side as it represented the side that gunfire might be toward. I'd say that the cast iron thickness at this point was < 1/4" or more accurately stated as 7/32" by my tape measure. Of course I don't have any idea about the casting formula/method the company used for this cast iron, so it's possible that cast iron tensile strength, etc is different between manufacturers. Cast iron tubs today may be thinner also?

    With adequate protection I made the first shot straight-on (no angle)with a .22 pistol, solid lead nose. It pretty much didn't do anything, the lead splattered away, and chipped the porcelain in a small place.

    The second shot was with a 9mm FMJ. It removed about a 6" diameter area of the porcelain coating, put a little defect at impact on the first layer of cast iron, and caused a very very slight dent about 3 inches in diameter.

    The third shot was with a .45 ACP FMJ. It was a similar strike to the 9mm but really didn't indicate any defects or dents at all.

    My son-in-law had just bought a CZ52 (7.62X25 FMJ)so he wanted to try it out, it hit it pretty hard, the first shot was a little close to a corner where the cast iron appeared stronger, so we gave it a second shot, and neither of them penetrated the cast.

    In fact nothing penetrated the first layer of the cast iron yet. I drove back to my house and brought my S&W 29 w/180 gr JSP, , and we finally had something bust through the first layer of cast iron, but it didn't go through the second layer, it did hit the back side of the second layer hard enough to bust off a few splinters of porcelain on the inside part of the tub. You can see this in the second picture.

    My son-in-law had also brought a Winchester 30-30 and he shot it a bit at an angle, it penetrated one side, and dinged the other somewhat like the .44 mag did. His next shot was straight on and it busted right through the first side, the second side, and blew through a piece of 3/4" plywood and made a hole in it that looks like it was shot with a 10 gauge. Sorry I don't remember his bullet types, it was typical hunting cartridges. All of the first layer shots are represented on the first picture below.

    We took some other single layer pieces to test an idea we had about this. The 3 pieces we used on our next test, had not been fired on, they were totally separate and pristine. Our idea was to keep firing a round at or near the same impact point to see how many shots it would take to finally punch through. We again used a 9mm FMJ. The first test, it took 5 rounds to finally punch a hole, the second test it took 4 rounds, the third test it took only 2 rounds. We were sure that the first round would not penetrate the cast iron, but if we kept shooting at the impact site, particularly the round area where the first shot removed the porcelain, that it would finally go through, and it did. I think that the cast iron was compromised somewhat on the first shot weakening it's structure for failure with subsequent shots. It sure seemed to work that way. I didn't get any pictures of this, but it's the number of repetitive rounds that's important here.

    The second picture below (actually the inside of the tub) shows the non-penetrating strike of the second layer by the .44 mag, it removed a few splinters of porcelain as I previously mentioned. The hole, as I've marked nearby, was done by the previously mentioned 30-30, penetrating the second layer of cast, plus I propped up the piece of plywood (3/4") for the photo that was behind the second layer. I was using it to test the penetrating power left from anything passing through two layers of cast iron. Obviously the penetrating power remaining from the 30-30 is impressive.

    In summary, the tub was pretty tough and persistent. It didn't crumble like glass and took some initial bullet hits pretty good, but repetitive hits aimed nearby would finally punch through. The cast iron doesn't stand a chance with good rifle calibers. I wish I had tried a shotgun slug and/or buckshot. Anyway I hope you've enjoyed reading about our little test, and by all means be careful about shooting something steel that may splatter or richochet. We spent a lot of time preparing so we'd be safe in doing this.
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    Turn the election's in 2014 to a "2A Revolution". It will serve as a 1994 refresher not to "infringe" on our Second Amendment. We know who they are now.........SEND 'EM HOME. Our success in this will be proportional to how hard we work to make it happen.


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    Enjoy it I did! Thanks for posting that!
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    I enjoyed your post too! Thanks for sharing it.

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    Interesting test.

    I actually thought cast Iron would be quite a bit more brittle than that.

    I'm surprised that it didn't either fracture or break an entire shard of Iron into the tub.
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

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    Quote Originally Posted by QKShooter View Post
    Interesting test.

    I actually thought cast Iron would be quite a bit more brittle than that.

    I'm surprised that it didn't either fracture or break an entire shard of Iron into the tub.

    I'm With you on that QK

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    Thanks, They are stronger than I thought
    A real man loves his wife, and places his family as the most important thing in life. Nothing has brought me more peace and content in life than simply being a good husband and father.

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    Cool Post! I can't afford body armor because I'm remodeling a bathroom, but this gives me an idea....
    It is surely true that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Nor can you make them grateful for your efforts.

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    Jim - just got to checking this out. ... at last.

    Hey - kudos re getting the pics done - they are great!!!

    I too am a little surprised, knowing the ''shatterability'' of cast iron .... but my take is, that the very concentrated inertial effects at impact from bullets, have less effect on shattering, than a solid blow with a 16# sledge hammer!

    I have shot axles and gearboxes etc with HV rifle and always just got a hole - I now want a cast iron bath of my own - to shoot!!!
    Chris - P95
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    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

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    Quote Originally Posted by P95Carry View Post
    Hey - kudos re getting the pics done - they are great!!!
    Thanks, pretty good cell cam huh? I kept razzing my son-in-law and suggested "for realism" that he actually sit in the tub and simulate bathing during our tests and photos

    Quote Originally Posted by P95Carry View Post
    I now want a cast iron bath of my own - to shoot!!!
    The tub I had probably weighed 300 lbs, of course I broke it up in manageable pieces. You might call a plumbing company and surely they are remodeling somewhere and would know where you could get a discarded tub/pieces.

    EVERYONE- Thanks for looking at our test, it was fun to do, I was glad to do it, and learned something about tub shooting as well. I need to think up some other "test" about once a month
    Turn the election's in 2014 to a "2A Revolution". It will serve as a 1994 refresher not to "infringe" on our Second Amendment. We know who they are now.........SEND 'EM HOME. Our success in this will be proportional to how hard we work to make it happen.

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    Wait, am I reading this correctly, the 9mm made more of an "impression" than the .45ACP?
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    Yes it did. We studied and compared the .45 vs 9mm strike very carefully. The 9mm caused a bit more damage and impression. Feeling behind the impact points, the 9mm left a noticeable ding in the cast, it actually bulged it back maybe 1/16" from flat, at about 3" diameter. The .45 didn't push it back at all in the same manner.

    This was only a one-shot-of-each-caliber comparison. To be more conclusive I'd have to shoot this test multiple times to see if a pattern emerges.

    If and when I get the chance, I'll try to repeat it and see if that pattern does emerge. Provided I have enough undamaged tub left?
    Turn the election's in 2014 to a "2A Revolution". It will serve as a 1994 refresher not to "infringe" on our Second Amendment. We know who they are now.........SEND 'EM HOME. Our success in this will be proportional to how hard we work to make it happen.

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    Very good. Sounds like a lot of fun. At least the son-in-law was smart enough to stay behind the gun.
    eschew obfuscation

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    Quote Originally Posted by ppkheat View Post
    Yes it did. We studied and compared the .45 vs 9mm strike very carefully. The 9mm caused a bit more damage and impression. Feeling behind the impact points, the 9mm left a noticeable ding in the cast, it actually bulged it back maybe 1/16" from flat, at about 3" diameter. The .45 didn't push it back at all in the same manner.

    This was only a one-shot-of-each-caliber comparison. To be more conclusive I'd have to shoot this test multiple times to see if a pattern emerges.

    If and when I get the chance, I'll try to repeat it and see if that pattern does emerge. Provided I have enough undamaged tub left?
    I hear ya on the one shot thing. My instructor at Blackwater said that in all the penetration tests and demos he'd seen since he'd been at Blackwater, the 9mm was unsurpassed in penetration for the major handgun rounds, i.e. 9mm .357 sig, .40, .45ACP.

    So I'm really curious to see the results if you have enough tub left to do some more tests!
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    I heard that 9mm FMJ is second in penertration to 7.62x25 of all major combat loads
    A real man loves his wife, and places his family as the most important thing in life. Nothing has brought me more peace and content in life than simply being a good husband and father.

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    Nice pics good post
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