Letter Re: Ballistic Protection of Straw Bale Houses?

I love your blog site and appreciate the service that you provide. I stumbled on SurvivalBlog several months back and quickly ordered your novel [“Patriots”]; loved it and found it to be life changing event.

I am a former Infantry Marine of 13+ years medically retired from wounds received in Fallujah in November of ’04. Needless to say, I have had some pretty major paradigm shifts (in the line of preparedness and government encroachment) since I retired in August of ’06. On with my question: I have done quiet a bit of ballistic demonstrations on the usual and conventional building materials, but have not ever seen what protection straw bales offer. My wife and I are partial to that method of construction for its fire protection and insulation properties. I’d love to here any insight you may have. Thanks, -Jon

JWR Replies: Unless straw bale houses have a thick outer stucco or adobe clay coating (two inch or greater thickness), then they are poor at stopping small arms fire. Just one layer of sandbags works much better than even two straw bales back-to back (4 feet thick.) For that reason, I prefer ICFs, tire houses (“Earthships”), monolithic domes, or traditional reinforced masonry construction over straw bale.