Four Letters Re: Advice on Protecting My Home from Gunfire

Regarding the question you received from a reader regarding protection from gunfire. Might I suggest a decorative planter made from poured concrete or concrete block? Brick would do in a pinch, assuming it was face brick (which has holes in them) with rebar and mortar or cement in the holes, although brick shatters easily. (Concrete block should have the cavities filled, with vertical rebar in the cavities and horizontal strengthening rectangular wire loops in the mortar every other layer). An inexpensive and attractive one or two tiered planter 16-24 feet long and 4 feet high can easily be built in a day, another day to fill with dirt and plantings. Building a foundation below frost line would add more construction time. The front and rear filled block thicknesses
plus the dirt filler will stop any shoulder fired projectile, and it can be dressed up further with a “thin brick” veneer on the visible sides. Built to window sill height or slightly above, it will provide
protection from the bottom edge of the window to floor level. Walls without windows, of course, can have higher planters. Pressure treated wood can also be used.

A similar structure can be assembled with interlocking concrete decorative block to build an attractive wall, and the wall can be built with curves, making a very attractive terrace structure. Another
advantage of strategically placed 3-4 ft high “planter terraces” is that they can stop vehicles without being an obvious anti-vehicle barrier. This would allow controlling the vehicle access path to a
house if they are built far enough out. If built close in, I’d suggest not using the house wall as the back of the planter or terrace due to moisture problems from the dirt. Regards, – H.


In regards to the earlier letter from Denise about protecting a mobile home from gunfire, I would like to share something that might be in their realm of “do-able”. A lot depends on if the home is in a park or not. If it is, oops…. If the home sits on its own land, here is an idea that I have seen more than once here in the Pacific NW. Not the cheapest, but cheaper than starting over.
A mobile home is securely placed on a strong foundation and anchored against earthquakes, wind, etc. Then a six inch wide foundation wall, up to the same height as the bottom of the mobile home, is built around 7/8 of the home, leaving a crawl space access under the home. This foundation wall is along the outside perimeter of the home and extends the full six inches horizontally past the existing home walls.
Using standard 2×4 constructions, a frame is built on the new foundation around the home up to the roof line, and then a standard peaked roof is added. If one is creative, I have even seen second floors added with stairs added inside the home up through the old mobile home roof.
If one were to use some of the ideas from this forum and add 3/4 inch plywood to the in and outside of the frame and then fill with gravel, you will add immensely to the bullet resistance of the home.
A creative person could improve on this idea to maximize insulation values. Be sure to tie the outer shell down against earthquakes as well. You would also want to tie the inner existing mobile home walls to the frame. Where windows are, you would have to remove them long enough to build new sashes and will have windows that are recessed deep into the wall. This would be the time to consider shutters.
Basically what you are doing is building a frame and all the electric/plumbing/appliances etc. are part of a modular “drop-in” unit. You are just doing the drop-in first, and then building the walls.
I hope I have been clear on how this works. Details can vary from project to project and may depend on how your county building codes view this. Of course, if you live in a lenient area, you are already a step ahead.- TM

Mr R.,
Read the entry about making the casa bullet proof. Sand bags filled with a mix of earth and gravel ( or 2″ river rock – the landscape stuff ) will be better than dirt alone. Kinda like a poor mans’ Chobham armor.
If needed, I’d site them along the inside of outer walls, making sure to cover corner angles. [JWR Adds: Because of the tremendous weight of the filled sandbags, I would only recommend this if your house is built on a slab. The floors of most wood frame houses with crawlspaces cannot support that much weight.] I might .. or might not … have them ready to be emplaced at the roof lines of our flat roof SW home, of course having set up a “floor” layer. I did a minutes’ math and figured the double-deep linear runs needed and the height ( minimum 24 ” ) and ordered from Saddleback Materials in Lake Forest, California. Phone: (800) 286-7263. When I checked they were the cheapest for the polymer-composite bags. We xeriscaped 25 years ago, and have the raw material at hand. Three yards of rock will set you back a couple hundred bucks [as of] last year.
Make sure you have a wheel barrow, or a friend with one eyebrow and a build like an ape if your plan on carrying them..And gauntlet gloves. And the apes – MurrDoc

In my part of the world, many mobile homes, single, double, and triple wide have been expanded with additional rooms and porches. Many of these additions are concrete block. Eight inch block or larger when re-barred and poured solid make a good ballistic wall except for heavy, concentrated fire from large calibers. Many of these mobile homes and additions have then been brick veneered with a new sheet steel metal room over the entire dwelling porches. The brick veneer alone would be good protection. The concrete block room addition with brick veneer even better. For window and door protection, could add Lexan storm windows and doors for most events and sheet steel window and door shutters mounted over heavy wood. When open, the wood side would be seen. When closed, the metal side would be seen. I would provide for openable firing loops. These must be well set with heavy duty hinges and locks. With kind regards, – Lame Wolf