Steel Target Advice
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Thread: Steel Target Advice

  1. #1
    XCR Guru mjorin's Avatar
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    Steel Target Advice

    I need a little help from the XCR Commandos. I'm getting ready to put some steel on my hillside. Any suggestions as to how to place the steel? Do I need to build swingers or do I run some T posts in the ground and secure it to those? What about ricochet? Do I need to place the steel in an angle to deflect down? I was planning on putting up AR500, any other types of steel you would suggest. My furthest distance from my barn to the corner of the property ranges out at about 800 yards--how big of a target should I put up? I could stretch that out another 300 yards by shooting from the road. I figure a least a few of the fellows here have done this before and I could really benefit from your advice. Thanks in advance, never in retreat!
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  2. #2
    Expert Mechanic's Avatar
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    Nice! The most I can get is 200 yards. I'm envious.

    3/8 AR500 should hold up well at those distances. Depending on what you are hitting it with, 1/4" may do. You could also just consider these consumables and use 1/4" or 1/8" hot roll plate, then replace as necessary. A two tine pitchfork fashioned from 3/8"-1/2" rebar works well. It has enough give to absorb the energy, so ricochets are marginalized.

    The tough part with small steel is adjusting for misses. The tough part with big steel is the capitol expenditure, and the weight.
    I suppose the size depends on your tolerance for frustration. I would consider 2'x3' a large target, 18"x18" nominal, 10"x10" and you're an expert in my book. Consider some 4'x4' paper as well. You can always setup a small steel target in front as the aimpoint, and have some telltale to help you adjust as you train.

    I'd put some windsocks (streamers or whatever) at various distances also. You mentioned a hill. Depending on topology, wind will flow in many paths. Learning to anticipate the dynamics will be easier if you can see the effects.
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  3. #3
    XCR Guru Bravo's Avatar
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    Pretty much exactly what Mechanic said.

    I prefer to hang them from something. And if you go with cold rolled steel, it's amazing how much thickness you need to keep from punching through it. Consumable is right!

    Check out Wideners for AR500 targets, they're pretty reasonable in my book.
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  5. #4
    XCR Guru Sean K.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bravo View Post
    Pretty much exactly what Mechanic said.

    I prefer to hang them from something. And if you go with cold rolled steel, it's amazing how much thickness you need to keep from punching through it. Consumable is right!

    Check out Wideners for AR500 targets, they're pretty reasonable in my book.
    Cold roll will be better than hot rolled....and I wouldn't recommend either unless you want to be replacing it often.

    Will you ever be shooting 100 yards or closer at steel? If so, AR500 is the way to go. Check you local steel yards.....a lot of them are carrying it. Some will have just "AR" plate (armor) of various grades...the 400 isn't bad either....to line dump truck beds, etc.

    Welding AR plate is a bitch. It's brittle b/c it's so hard so keep that in mind if making stands. Personally, I'd want it angled down toward the ground some. I'd probably make a stand with a spring head or one that you hang the AR plate off of so there's "give" when the bullet strikes it.

    Clear all dry brush from in front of the target so in case a fire starts (HIGHLY unlikely IMO)....you don't have as much of a problem. Not a bad idea to have at least a 5 gallon bucket of water out by the target too (home depot buckets are good for this...and cheap)....but if you're 800 yards away, a pretty big fire can get going before you get to it.
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  6. #5
    XCR Guru TexasChris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean K. View Post
    Cold roll will be better than hot rolled....and I wouldn't recommend either unless you want to be replacing it often.

    Will you ever be shooting 100 yards or closer at steel? If so, AR500 is the way to go. Check you local steel yards.....a lot of them are carrying it. Some will have just "AR" plate (armor) of various grades...the 400 isn't bad either....to line dump truck beds, etc.

    Welding AR plate is a bitch. It's brittle b/c it's so hard so keep that in mind if making stands. Personally, I'd want it angled down toward the ground some. I'd probably make a stand with a spring head or one that you hang the AR plate off of so there's "give" when the bullet strikes it.

    Clear all dry brush from in front of the target so in case a fire starts (HIGHLY unlikely IMO)....you don't have as much of a problem. Not a bad idea to have at least a 5 gallon bucket of water out by the target too (home depot buckets are good for this...and cheap)....but if you're 800 yards away, a pretty big fire can get going before you get to it.
    Put the bucket on a stand for the 800. Then if a fire breaks out, just send one perfectly placed bullet to the base of the bucket....so that it drains on the fire.

    When you get really good load an incendiary round last in the mag....second FMJ....just think of the fire as a little pressure to not miss.


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  7. #6
    Marksman Benjamin Kurata's Avatar
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    Put a 20 degree downward facing angle on the strike plate, make sure there are no bolt heads, pits, pock marks on the strike plate, soft earth where the splatter pattern hits the ground (you'll be able to tell, it looks like an edger cut a narrow trough in the ground).

    No closer than 10 yards with conventional FMJ pistol ammo and no closer than 100 yards with conventional FMJ rifle ammo. FMJ gives the most consistent splatter pattern.

    And yes, I worked for the largest producer of steel targets for 4 years. Started up their training department and wrote their Shooting on Steel Safety Rules. They are at the end of the article, link here:

    Training on Steel (Part Two) : Action Target

    Have fun and be safe!
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  8. #7
    XCR Guru aziator's Avatar
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    What Ben said. I don't have the ability to have permanent steel set out anywhere so I buy the Action Target stuff and use it. One day though...
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  9. #8
    XCR Guru mjorin's Avatar
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    Great info guys, thanks for all the help! That bucket idea is pretty damn good. If a fire started, there is no way I could get across the creek and up that steep SOB of a hill in time. The good news is that everything on that side of the creek is scrub brush and cheat grass, no man made structure to burn.
    Last edited by mjorin; 06-09-2015 at 02:32 PM.
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  10. #9
    XCR Guru mjorin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Kurata View Post
    Put a 20 degree downward facing angle on the strike plate, make sure there are no bolt heads, pits, pock marks on the strike plate, soft earth where the splatter pattern hits the ground (you'll be able to tell, it looks like an edger cut a narrow trough in the ground).

    No closer than 10 yards with conventional FMJ pistol ammo and no closer than 100 yards with conventional FMJ rifle ammo. FMJ gives the most consistent splatter pattern.

    And yes, I worked for the largest producer of steel targets for 4 years. Started up their training department and wrote their Shooting on Steel Safety Rules. They are at the end of the article, link here:

    Training on Steel (Part Two) : Action Target

    Have fun and be safe!
    Thanks Ben, that was awesome and so complete. I get the use of frangible, but if a guy follows those rules of 10 yards for pistol and 100 yards for rifle, should a fellow be OK with FMJ?
    Last edited by mjorin; 06-09-2015 at 10:21 PM.
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  11. #10
    XCR Guru MickeyC's Avatar
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    I use Wideners 1/2" AR500 Steel targets. I mount them on wooden side posts with a hinge and small spring to help absorb impact. They hold up to abuse really well.
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