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Thread: Shooting steel targets dangerous?

  1. #1
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    Shooting steel targets dangerous?

    Hey guys I had a simple question before I try out my new range I built at my place. I have a dueling tree made of AR-500 steel that I shoot handguns at all the time and have no issues with richochets,however, I used softer steel about 3/8 inch thick to construct my rifle targets. I have 3 stations. Station 1 is at 75 yards, 2 is at 125 yards, and station 3 is at 200 yards. should I be concerned with ricochets at my 75 yard target once it gets alot of cavities put in it after extensive use? I will be using anything from 30 carbine,556,76239,308, to 30-06. The targets are about 40 pounds and are suspended from a chain.

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    If those targets are mild steel, they well be Swiss cheese in short order.




    Even this cast iron brake rotor (.450" thick) is no match for the 110 AB @ 100 yards.



    Last edited by Clint; 03-13-11 at 22:53.
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    Wow. Maybe I should do some re-calculating here..

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    I would think twice about shooting at cratered mild steel at 75 yds with a rifle. Jacket ricochets are pretty random.

    Either way: Boiler plate is pretty good if you can find it, leaf springs off of trucks as well (depends on thickness). Brake discs are cast iron (or ceramic composite) and will shatter/disintegrate (like in the above photo).

  5. #5
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    I shoot at steel all the time, but buying anything less than 1/2 inch AR500 for rifles is pretty much a waste of money, IMHO. Even with the AR500, be careful about what you buy and whom you buy it from. The scammers will sell, at best, AR400, and at worst 1/2 inch mild steel at AR500 prices. Likewise the small backyard shops will sell you 1/2 inch AR500 targets that have been cut with a torch rather than underwater plasma, leaving you with a target that's lost its temper around the edges. I can tell you that those targets don't stand up either and will fragment when hit.

    Ricochets can be an issue, but I angle all the targets slightly downward, don't shoot them at less than about 40 yards, and always wear shooting glasses. I've been hit with jacket fragments at those shorter distances, but that's rare.

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    Notes on above

    For reference AR500 is about 430-530 Brinell . RHA (rolled armor plate) is 500-ish Brinell. SA516 boilerplate is 500-ish Brinell. 500ish Brinell is Rockwell C52~. Difference is composition for end use.

    These are all ballpark figures and assuming they have original heat treat. You will not be able to drill any of them easily.

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    Do you think the fact that i have it suspended from a chain and it can give a little will allow the bullet to not penetrate the steel?

  8. #8
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    no, anything less the the AR500 steel 1/2in thick WILL NOT stand up to use with Rifle, no matter how's its "suspended"

    Suspension has nothing to do with it.
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    Hanging it from a chain will not matter. I always keep my olg rotors for targets and hang them from a wooden frame. Swiss cheese with a rifle in no time.

  10. #10
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    Any time you're shooting steel targets there is an element of risk from the inherent nature of the activity. The way that you mitigate the risk to an acceptable level is to use well designed and constructed targets.

    First and foremost, if you're shooting rifle rounds, you need AR-500 steel. AR-500 is the minimum hardness needed to fragment bullets safely. Anything less than AR-500 will crater and pock and will eventually send jacket back at you.

    How the steel is mounted is another major consideration. Ideally, the mounting systems should have some "give" in it. By allowing the target to move when struck, you can dissipate some of the bullets energy by converting it to movement. The problem is that as the plates gets bigger, for instance moving from an 8" to 12", it moves less and you get less benefit from the movement. Also, the mounting system should direct the bullet fragments in a safe direction, which is generally into the ground underneath the target. The accepted optimal angle for this seems to be 15 degrees.

    Finally, you need too consider the distance the target is placed. Steel is damaged by velocity. A good guideline is 3000 fps. If the bullet hits the target at greater than 3000 fps, you'll see accelerated wear. Thus, if you shoot a 55 grain .223 bullet from a 24" barrel and a 77 grain .223 round from a 14.5" barrel, they will damage the steel differently. The 24" barrel may require 125-150 yards to minimize damage to the steel while the 14.5" barrel may be good at 75 yards. If you're shooting less conventional calibers, like a 22-250, you may need several hundred yards to keep the steel happy.

    FWIW, I think the best all around target on the market is MGM's Lolli-Popper. The flexible shafts really allow the steel plate to move out of the way of the bullet and you can shoot rifle, shotgun, and pistol rounds on it without concern. All of MGM's designs are well-made, my Lolli-Popper was bulldozed into a berm and had to be dug out, requiring two guys about fifteen minutes. The only thing damaged was one of the fiberglass arms.
    Last edited by John Hearne; 03-14-11 at 07:20.
    http://www.dvctargets.com - Promoting realism and excellence in combative shooting.

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