Optimal steel thickness for rifle range


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gunnutery
January 27, 2012, 06:24 PM
I've been thinking about getting a steel plate made for my range. The longest distance we have is 200 yards. I've shot steel targets with handguns and shotguns close range, but they were thin enough I wouldn't want to damage them with rifle fire.

My best guess is maybe 1/2" thickness, but I'm sure someone here can point me in the right direction.

I would probably set this up (as permanantly as possible) at the 200 yard range at my local club. The biggest caliber I have to throw at it is .308 but I'm sure someone in the county shoots 30-06 (or maybe even bigger for all I know). My other purpose for getting this is for more instant results while shooting my handguns.

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Chuck R.
January 27, 2012, 06:40 PM
On my place I use 3/8th targets in AR500 for both rifle and pistol. With rifle I donít shoot any closer than 100 yards. I did have a guest screw up, misread my distance markers and shoot one of my silhouettes at 50 yards with an AR. It put very small dimples and that target is now my 300-500 yard swinger.

At 200yards using 3/8ths AR you should be safe from damage unless someone shoots AP.

I buy my targets from Arntzen and Quality Targets. Both companies have been reasonable and great to deal with.

http://www.arntzentargets.com/products.htm

http://www.qualitytargets.com/servlet/StoreFront

Chuck

chris in va
January 27, 2012, 06:40 PM
Probably want a commercial backstop, but regardless it's important to know that steel comes in various brinell hardness ratings. My Garand will punch a nice hole through a thick steel I-beam, because it isn't hardened.

wally
January 27, 2012, 07:02 PM
Hardness is more important than thickness. AR500 rating is really the minimum you should consider.

3/8" AR500 plates have held up well for me shooting steel cased .223 & 7.62x39 and surplus .308 at about 75-100 yards although the edges do get chewed up a bit. I don't think they'd stand up to a heavy diet of .308 unless restricted to soft point ammo.

I've got some 1/2" AR600 plates and so far they seem fine with .308.

NeuseRvrRat
January 27, 2012, 08:25 PM
for steel targets, hardness is more important than thickness. AR500 is generally accepted as the minimum to prevent penetration from most rifle rounds. AR600 is also common for steel targets.

none of it is likely to stand up to armor piercing rounds.

check out http://www.bigdogsteel.com

gunnutery
January 27, 2012, 09:09 PM
Thanks a lot guys, this will give me a great place to start. There is a metal fab place in town that I talked to earlier today. He didn't really know what to suggest for use as targets, but I'll see if they have AR500 or above. I didn't realize there was a hardness factor. I'd either like to go with a 2' circle plate or an FBI "Q" silouette shape. I don't think they're open tomorrow but I'll definately call early next week.

duck911
January 27, 2012, 09:44 PM
1/2" AR500 will last just about forever if you're shooting 100 yards or more and with standard (non-steel core or armor=piercing) bullets.

--Duck911

JDGray
January 28, 2012, 08:48 AM
I've built a boat load of these targets out of 1/2 frame rail cut offs(Navistar) I don't know the hardness, but a hand drill wont touch it. 11" wide x whatever you want tall. Free steel, may check out places local that build dump trucks. .308 don't touch it, 7mm mag will leave a shallow dent at 200yrs.
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b278/JDG357/photo.jpg

35 Whelen
January 28, 2012, 12:42 PM
What type/thickness steel you use depends to a certain degree on ammunition. On my 100 yd. range, I have a 6" diameter swinging target that's made out of 3/4" thick steel. Nothing penetrates it although 7.62x54r steel core gouges it very deeply. I have 3/8" at 50 yds. and mil-spec 55 gr. FMJ .223 drills right through it, but handgun ammunition (for which it was intended) won't faze it..
On the far end of the spectrum, my 600 yd. target is 1/4" diamond plate. My Swiss K-31 firing GP-11 (174 gr. FMJ) drills right through it most of the time. Same rifle with Sierra 155 gr. HP's or Hornady 150 gr. FMJBT won't; they just dent it pretty good. I have no doubt that 3/8" would stop about everything at that range, but a 36" diameter piece of 3/8" steel weighs about 120 lbs. making it difficult to remove the target for maintenance.

35W

Vern Humphrey
January 28, 2012, 03:54 PM
There are a couple of other issues -- a free-swinging target can be made of thinner steel because it's motion absorbs significant impact energy. A fixed target can be set up at a 15-30 degree angle, leaning forward toward the shooter.

gunnutery
January 28, 2012, 04:07 PM
I was actually starting to lean toward making it a swinging plate for that purpose. These are all great ideas. I'm looking forward to getting this done.

BCRider
January 28, 2012, 04:46 PM
There are a couple of other issues -- a free-swinging target can be made of thinner steel because it's motion absorbs significant impact energy. A fixed target can be set up at a 15-30 degree angle, leaning forward toward the shooter.

While this is true I'd expect the difference to be fairly minor.

For example the 3/8 AR500 target damage at close range or the chewing up around the edges mentioned above MAY not occur if the target was free hanging. But it's not like you could expect any thickness of mild steel to stand up to rifle rounds like a fixed 3/8 AR500 target just because it's free swinging or angled a little.

Since this forum is "Rifle Country" I'd expect any steel targets used here would be subjected to fast high power rounds. The need for the AR500 or even better should be expected in this case.

The option my club uses is a couple of old condemned welding pressure cylinders out at 200 yards. They leave them there until punched through so often that there's not much left then just recycle the steel and stick a new freshly condemned cylinder out there. But it's not a good idea for anything closer than 200 yards. The risk of a reflection back towards the firing line from the various dents and flared areas around the holes is too great.

rondog
January 28, 2012, 06:18 PM
I'm no help here, but this is a railroad track tie plate, it's 3/4" thick, and some 50's vintage .30-06 armor piercing rounds in my M1 flat beat the snot out of it. Great fun!

There's other hits on it from regular M2 ball, which only left divots, some M1 Carbine FMJ's, and some M1 Carbine lead bullets.

http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b150/rinselman/guns/targets%20and%20stands/DSCN3301.jpg

http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b150/rinselman/guns/targets%20and%20stands/DSCN3306.jpg

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