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Want to Safely Shoot Steel Targets

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Gimlet, May 24, 2010.

  1. Gimlet

    Gimlet Member

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    I got some 3/8 steel from a buddy that I'd like to use for targets but I want to do so safely. I'm looking for design suggestions and thoughts on caliber limits, minimum distances, and any ammo concerns (i.e. is regular FMJ ball ammo OK?).
    On TV (Outdoor channel and such) I've seen poppers, plates hanging from chain and/or thick rubber belts, as well as hung by a bracket on a post with a slightly downward angle. Some of these guys seem to shoot pretty close to the targets which makes me wonder if there is some kind of special steel/ammo relationship going on. Any first hand experience would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks.
     
  2. 55_grain

    55_grain NES Member

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    100 yards or further for rifle rounds to limit slugs bouncing back at you. .30 cal FMJ will destroy your plate pretty quickly at this range.

    Make sure your plate is hanging straight, or slightly angled towards the ground, so you don't skip bullets off onto houses downrange.
     
  3. bullseye

    bullseye Member

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    Try not to shoot FMJ at steel, has a habit to ricochet back at you, SP or HP is best, take a peek at this video and the target was 1000yds away. Seriously, I have seen FMJ at 100 yd steel targets to return a piece of jacket, not the best choice.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ABGIJwiGBc
     
  4. Andy in NH

    Andy in NH NES Member

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    Action Target put this out a few years ago:

    From an FBI Training Bulletin:

    This is one of my 100 yard rifle plates. I don't remember what grade steel it is, but .30-06 makes a small divot in it. Multiple hits from .308 and 5.56 (non green tip) only scratch the paint. If any round catches an edge, it will scallop out a small crescent.

    [​IMG]

    These are pistol targets. They work well for shotgun (anything except slugs) also. I've shot FMJ (up to .45 ACP) at them without a problem.

    [​IMG]

    When I shoot steel, eye pro is mandatory. I don't shoot pistols closer than 10 yards and rifle closer than 100 yards.

    I've seen people hit with splatter at competitions before, drawing blood, but it was always due to poor placement or poorly maintained targets.

    There is always some risk in shooting at steel, but I think the benefits of training on steel can balance those risks, so long as you take the necessary steps to mitigate the hazards.
     
    3 people like this.
  5. wahsben

    wahsben NES Member

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    When they are shooting at really close range they most likely are using frangible ammo.
     
  6. Chuck Would

    Chuck Would Member

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    Shoot Lead only. No jacketed. You still might get hit from time to time as the steel wears and divots appear. usually it's no big deal. Make sure you wear safety glasses.

    I put several thousand rounds of 250 grain .45 Colt on steel every year as SASS shoots with little or no problem.
     
  7. Tim94gt

    Tim94gt Member

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    Not sure if it matters, but they were shooting Iron in that video not Steel.
     
  8. Supermoto

    Supermoto NES Member

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    The kind and quality of the steel makes the biggest difference, Once the steel gets chipped or puck marked then it becomes dangerous. You can predict where the splash back will go on smooth steel. I have used fmj, jhp and lead on steel, with no issues, its the steel not the ammo. The problem is the jackasses that tear up close pistol steel with rifles
     
  9. Gimlet

    Gimlet Member

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    Andy in NH,
    Did you buy those targets or make them yourself?

    My buddy doesn't know what kind of steel the 2 pieces he got me are, but he thinks he can get his hands on some AR400. I was thinking about having him weld some chain on the back side just above the center line so the plate will hang at an angle to the ground.
     
  10. Andy in NH

    Andy in NH NES Member

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    I bought the target shapes, but made the stands that hold them up myself. (Except for the full sized popper in the middle - the whole thing was a purchase)

    At the time I built these, I was competing in man vs. man steel shoots where the steel had to fall down to be counted (not just hit as in some competitions), so I made my steel in order to practice that.

    In hindsight, I should have made them so that they didn't fall - much better for training. I can set the mini poppers so that they won't fall, but I need to redesign the round plates.

    I'd suggest not putting your steel on a chain. It will swing around too much to safely make multiple hits on the steel.

    There are plenty of places on the web to look at steel target designs and get ideas of your own.

    Have fun and stay safe!
     
  11. drgrant

    drgrant Moderator

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    This. Nearly every time I've seen bullets/jacket material come back from steel towards the line it was either from steel which was too soft for the job or it was beat up. Flat, hard steel tends not to send stuff back.

    -Mike
     
  12. oneswithfunes

    oneswithfunes Member

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    With ap.
     
  13. edhead35

    edhead35 NES Member

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    How about a Pre-heat treated AISI 4140 - it comes in at about 28-32 rockwell C - Its not that expensive, but if it takes a beating for awhile longer....
     
  14. DukeInFlorida

    DukeInFlorida NES Member

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    I used some Hot Rolled steel plate as "poppers" successfully. I think it was 1/4" thick.

    I have them angled such that the splash actually hits the ground behind the base stand for the target.

    I have shot them with jacketed everything up to and including .45 ACP.

    However, when I tried them at 50 yards with high powered rifle bullets (.223/5.56) they made cratered HOLES through the steel.

    So, as long as you angle the steel correctly, and use slower bullets (pistol), you should be all set.

    Having said that, the best steel is the high strength steel sold specifically for shooting purposes.

    If whatever you shoot at starts to dimple and dent, stop shooting at it. That's when you will get splashed in the face.
     
  15. daddysuperfly

    daddysuperfly NES Member

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    what thickness would you guys use for AR500 plate at 100yds? would 1/4 inch suffice, or should it be 1/2 inch.

    I have a buddy that owns a machine shop and i was thinking of asking him to cut me some plates if he can get the steel at a decent price.
     
  16. bullseye

    bullseye Member

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    So shooting a 50 Cal FMJ at a plate at 50 yards is a NO-NO!?
     
  17. daddysuperfly

    daddysuperfly NES Member

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    where did that come from?

    the AR500 i stated is the rating on the plate (brinell 500).
     
  18. andyc4728

    andyc4728 Member

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    For 22LR and similar, 1/4" is good. For centerfire handguns at 20+ yards, 3/8". For centerfire rifle (223, 308) I have had good luck with 1/2" but only at 150-200 yards. No bullets with steel in them.

    This is all assuming quality AR500 steel.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2010
  19. dcmdon

    dcmdon Member

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    I tell everyone that they need to face the target when someone is shooting steel. I've caught a piece of lead in the forehead hard enough to draw blood. If it had hit my glasses square it would not have been a problem. If it had come in the edge, it could have taken out an eye. So always face the target, don't give it a place to enter at an edge.
     
  20. daddysuperfly

    daddysuperfly NES Member

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    cool, thanks for the suggestion for 1/2 AR 500. I'll see what i can get for a price. I'm hoping he can order just a quarter sheet, because i don't need him using up a whole sheet! i want 1 or 2 targets.
     

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