Old Western Movie Stock Device?

In a lot of westerns, you see the bad guys holed up in a wood-frame house, firing out the windows at the lawmen.
My question: how much protection would a woodframe house provide against bullets? Seems like you could just fire below the window-and nail the bad guy. Weren’t most of those western towns made up of cheaply-constructed shacks?
Probably just one layer of boards over a 2 x 4 frame.
So, would they block a bullet?

Wood house? If you haven’t seen it, you simply have to see the Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke escapade The Gauntlet (1977) where they gun down a suburban brick dwelling! I laughed so hard I pissed my pants!

Hiding behind sofas and chairs: equally stupid. The six-shooter that never needs reloading. Man, we could really start ripping the B Western genre for such silliness!

Depends on the bullet. Slow-travelling .44-40 or .45 Colt handgun cartridges? Yeah, maybe, if the walls of the shack were a few inches thick or backed with some kind of insulation (even dirt).
Rifle rounds like the 45/70? Probably not.

The Rocketeer handled this right: “We haven’t got a house, Cliff; we’ve got a gazebo!”

I’m guessing that the frame itself would provide some protection. The walls, not so much.

It’s why in Death Hunt Charlie Bronson digs down into the dirt below the cabin when he knows it’s going to be shot up… and that was a hewn timber cabin.

It’s the difference between concealment and cover. Cover’s a lot more valuable, but I’ll take concealment if that’s all there is.

Much of the West is arid, and so most of the places where shootouts happened weren’t clapboard houses, but sod or adobe.

The Frisco Shootout fits the OP’s description, but was in an adobe house, with a floor lower than the outside ground. The besieged, Elfego Baca, survived a sustained barrage of 4,000 bullets.

Baca’s reputation was later sanitized for a TV series where he was played by Robert Loggia

I love it when a bullet fired inside an enclosed room goes loudly ricocheting off into the distance.


I would point out that many of the people in the Old West did home loads of their weapons. and if my grandfather’s home loads were any indication his hand gun home loads were not overly powerful. When I was little we would target shoot tin cans and bottles against the barn and it was seldom, if ever, breached (breeched?).

I’ve mentioned this before in similar threads but your post made me want to repeat it.

Perhaps my favorite one of these implausible goofs is the one where somebody (maybe a group) is standing on the porch in the darkness with maybe a lantern or candle or some smallish light source, peering into the darkness for the source of some noise that has them upset. The camera gives us a pretty clear view that nothing is visible for a good 50’ or more.

Suddenly a knife whistles and sticks up in a post just beside the main character’s head. Nice toss, Kemo Sabe. You’d be lucky to throw a baseball that well. But have you ever thrown knives?

If you want to look out into the darkness to see something, then leave your lantern behind. All it will do is ruin your night vision, but it’s not going to provide enough illumination for you to actually see anything.

I remember watching “Sarah Connor” and the characters ducked behind a couch to get away from some bullets. It really bugged me, until afterward when the cops were investigating the scene, the detective found that the couch was full of kevlar.

Let’s not forget “The Phantom” where the bullets were sparking off of TREES.

Guaiacum sanctum wood?

CMC fnord!

Yes, we all made that joke then, too.