Paper or steel targets for 25m?


February 29, 2012, 11:11 AM
Your opinion and why.

Trying to get a feel for a new set up that I can use out in "the boonies"

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F-111 John
February 29, 2012, 11:16 AM
Permanent or temporary set-up? Limited or unlimited budget? If you have the space to dedicate to a permanent range, and you can spend a hundred or more per target, steel is the only way to go.

If you have to pack it up, haul it to the range, set it up, then take it down to bring home, stick with a good frame and paper/cardboard targets.

February 29, 2012, 11:20 AM
It may have to be movable depending on erosion of backstops ect and preferably upgradable. One of my buddies will be footing the bill :D so as of right now I don't want to think too extravagant.

M2 Carbine
February 29, 2012, 11:27 AM
It depends.

Personally I like to shoot steel with handguns out to 50 yards.

One way to easily hang steel is with two fence posts, a couple eye bolts and a steel pole.

You can also buy or make moveable steel targets.

February 29, 2012, 11:30 AM
Steel is great. Use good armor plate, know its limitations, and a good design though. Maybe start with a combo.. heavy on the paper at start. You can always upgrade the number of steel targets later.

February 29, 2012, 11:35 AM
I like that hanging steel set up since it would not require resetting every other mag.

February 29, 2012, 11:52 AM
I use both,paper for sight ins and load development,Idpa targets with wood frames and T shirts over them,and steel for general practice/plinking.

February 29, 2012, 12:16 PM
The ability to shoot paper is nice if you're working on sights or other issues. But for general plinking NOTHING beats steel targets. Just size them to provide a decent challenge for your skill level. It's no fun if you hit them every time. But don't make them so small and so far that a hit is a rare thing.

"Portable" depends on what you consider to be portable. If it needs to go back into the shed or barn at the end of each day you may just want to make up a half dozen easy to move targets. If you would only need to move things around on a seasonal basis then even the sort of setup Hickock45 has isn't unrealistic. After all each target itself isn't that big a deal to move. In his case he just has a lot of them.

For non magnum handgun calibers you only need regular mild steel plate. 3/8 will ensure that the plate doesn't dish or dimple from the stronger hitting options. And since this is in the handgun forum I'm guessing this should fill the bill. For stands simple 5/8 concrete re-bar rod bent and welded works well and won't fall apart if hit.

If you want to shoot magnums then look at 1/2 inch plate and see. Likely that should be fine. But check the steel after a few rounds. If you are denting it then you'll need to source some stronger alloy from the AR (Abrasion Resistant) category. The top dog in that area being the AR500 which is resistant to even high speed rifle. But there are cheaper options which may be easier to find.

February 29, 2012, 12:24 PM
IMHO at 25m its pistol calibers only for steel, rifles should probably be 75 yards minimum.

Since this is in a handguns forum, perhaps my comment is unnecessary

You will get hit by splatter eventually so quality eye protection is a must for all shooters and bystanders at all times.

Chuck R.
February 29, 2012, 01:28 PM
Put me down as recommending…both!

On my place I like and use steel for “speed” but like paper/cardboard for accuracy. I use a combination of 2/3rds IDPA armor plate and full size IDPA cardboard.

The instant gratification in pinging steel helps quite a bit with speed, but I often get sloppy with accuracy as my plates are about equal to a -1 zone on an IDPA silhouette. The use of cardboard and the zero down zones, brings the accuracy requirement back into play.


February 29, 2012, 01:47 PM
I like that urban style tactical setup you have there chuck. That gives me an idea to get someone to fabricate a couple custom rigs to hold The IDPA card stock targets and put metal ping targets at the vitals...

February 29, 2012, 02:02 PM
Other: Beer cans.

JK, I say if you got the dough, buy a bunch of steel targets of all sizes and set up a cool little course, and see how fast you can run it, and how accurately.

Buy some spray paint and paint the steel plate faces each time before you use them to see how accurate you're being, and to get group sizes.

February 29, 2012, 02:19 PM
Lol beer cans... ah brings back memories... but then again I could use the spray paint cans when I get done painting steel. :evil:

M2 Carbine
February 29, 2012, 04:18 PM
Even though your steel plate might be a larger target than you want, it's easy to spray paint a rough outline of the size target you want. For instance I like about an 18 inch silouette for shooting small handguns at 52 yards.

Usually I try to spray paint the steel at the end of shooting so the targets are all ready to go next time.

Chuck R.
February 29, 2012, 08:35 PM
While I agree with you, and do the same (paint dots) on my silhouettes for rifle practice, painting gets a little old. It gets real old when the weather’s cool/cold and the outline paint runs……..

I usually paint mine at the end of each session also.

When we get together at my place it’s normally about 3-5 of us and a couple hundred rounds each. We’ll run 3-4 different IDPA COFs in an afternoon timing each other, a lot of times we’ll cut out the “Zero Down” COM zone on the cardboard IDPA silhouettes, and only count the -1s and -3s to save time pasting.


If you try the steel center, make sure it’s offset to the rear of your cardboard, or the splatter will tear up your cardboard silhouettes.


February 29, 2012, 08:46 PM
I was thinking a 6-8" space between card and steel and angling the plates to about 10 degrees down to further reduce splatter.

February 29, 2012, 09:05 PM
Spatter isn't a big issue if the plates are not dimpled from high velocity rounds. On flat plates the primary energy in the bullet spatter is out along the face of the plate. Very little or nothing comes back to the shooter. And any that does would have very low energy.

Now if you shoot at damaged plates that have dimples or craters punched into them by using inappropriate ammo which damages the steel then expect to see a lot of energetic back spatter directed at the line if you hit the wrong spot. Shooting at such damaged targets is what gives steel a bad rep. But in reality it's perfectly safe to shoot at steel plates in good condition with the correct bullets and power level for that type of steel.

I'm not sure why you want to stick a cardboard target in front of the steel. Or is the idea to signify to yourself with a DING! that you hit in the -0 or Alpha of the target?

March 1, 2012, 01:33 AM
You can do a lot with a few pieces of steel if you're practicing for Running & Gunning, or just shootin' for fun. The problem with steel, though, is the same with plinking - it's too easy to forget your misses. If it has to be either/or, then, I'd go paper.

March 1, 2012, 02:15 AM
I like steel plates for two reasons. First, I hardly ever get to shoot them so if i could setup my own that would be great. Second, instant feedback. There's noting like hearing the hit on the plate when you connect. It also gives the impression of being more 3D than paper. I really feel plates are better for practice and paper is great for sighting in scopes.

March 1, 2012, 07:58 AM
Alright so Im getting a general like for the steel for basics and paper for pin point.

Also my friend the Ex-Marine girly suggested I look into Sem-test Ballistics Media does anyone have any experience with this and if so how hard is it to work with and calibrate?

Starting to think a IDPA paper target and steel plate mix would give me the satisfying pings and the accuracy work I need. But if the Sem-test is good I might buy some and some old mannequins just to get a feel for something a little more "real".

F-111 John
March 1, 2012, 09:06 AM
I thought SIM-TEST was for testing penetration and expansion of defensive rounds, not for general target shooting?

March 1, 2012, 09:15 AM
That was a nice video and I see he has a lot of others. I will probably watch a lot of those to get a feel for different ammo for "soft" targets. My idea was to use that in conjunction with animal bone and/or driftwood to get a lifelike test for different ammo. For exmple testing wall then soft target and soft target then wall ect.

March 1, 2012, 06:02 PM
Plain paper plates at 25 yards, I can see the holes, plus the plain white background around the front sight makes it easier to see your sight picture.

March 1, 2012, 08:53 PM
I always enjoyed shooting paper, but once I bought my first steel target, I realized just how fun it is to have a reliable, safe, interactive target. If possible, get at least one portable steel auto-popper.

March 2, 2012, 06:29 PM
Paper for skill development. Steel for fun.

March 2, 2012, 11:29 PM
Steel plates and white spray paint makes for hours and hours of fun. I would have never thought a little "ping" could be so rewarding.

March 3, 2012, 12:16 PM
Steel plates and white spray paint makes for hours and hours of fun. I would have never thought a little "ping" could be so rewarding.

AGREED! ! ! !

I think it's because we want to see or hear a reaction to the shot. The whole experience is somehow less fullfilling if nothing falls over, busts into pieces or at least DINGS! with the hit.

Oh sure, shooting a nice tight grouping on paper or cardboard is also rewarding. But it's on a more intellectual plane that lacks the visceral reward of a reactive target.

One of the most fun targets I've shot is a bit steel falling line of 5 targets which can be reset with the pull of a rope. Not only do they DING! but they fall down as well. The only thing "funner" than this would be a carnival shooting gallery like set of tracks where the targets move across and demand to be shot down before they "escape" off the other side.

March 3, 2012, 01:30 PM
I just looked at my local sporting good store and he has a set of 5 self resetting 4" steel targets rated up to .50 AE for $70 per set and they can order in the IDPA frames and targets price still unknown as they have to call their supplier.

M2 Carbine
March 3, 2012, 09:31 PM
One more plus for steel targets. I just finished some laser practice in the dark.
Not that I ever miss you understand,:D
but if I did there's no doubt about it when shooting at steel targets.

March 3, 2012, 10:14 PM
Steel, paper, I enjoy and use both.

Lol beer cans... ah brings back memories... but then again I could use the spray paint cans when I get done painting steel.

Been there done that. I enjoy doing a little tin/steel can rolling with a .22. Other targets I've used (and always clean up) include:

- Water filled containers (milk jugs, soda bottles, plastic peanut jars, etc)
- CD Roms I need to destroy (shooting them is more fun that cutting them up with sissors)
- Phone books
- My kid's toys, once they are broken beyond repair
- Old cell phones (battery removed)
- Unopend soda cans (shake up good first for some fizzy fun)
- Broken alarm clocks
- A mailbox
- Dead ceiling fan (out past 25 yards due to ricochet risk)
- Pumpkins (you wouldn't believe how tough these things are)
- Toaster oven (glass door removed)
- Computer keyboard (exciting, but cleanup is a PIB)

Basically, any assorted junk that is going in the trash anyway (or that I spot on the curb) that I can make safe by removing batteries, glass, etc. Also, just be mindful of ricochet risks.

The keyboard was fun. Hit it with a blast of 12 ga birdshot (#8). Scattered keys everywhere, which wasn't that fun to clean up. I only found a few keys, most notably the ? O and Y .

I had a messed up toilet I wanted to take out to the farm one day. Teach that !@#$ a lesson. Decided the cleanup wouldn't be worth it. I regret it now. :( Coulda woulda shoulda filled that turd up with a few pounds of tannerite. There's a thread starter, "how much tannerite to make a toilet disappear?" :evil: ;)

Smokin Gator
March 3, 2012, 11:04 PM
First I made 3 pvc stands for IDPA type cardboard targets. I had a couple of 3/8" armour plates that I rigged up on metal t posts. Worked ok, but not great. I ended up getting a total of 4 10" and 1 12" Armour round plates. I found some target stands that you can use witht the standard 1x2's to staple cardboard and paper targets to. They also have, in the center, 2x4 post holder that you can mount your steel plates to. Actuall there is a bracket that you bolt the target to that sets right on top of the 2x4. So with the same stand you can use cardboard or steell targets. I have 5 of them for my plates. I just got a full size steel USPSA sillouete with another stand for it. I shoot ICORE (double action revolvers) and at the bigger matches they use a lot of steel. Mark

March 3, 2012, 11:14 PM
Shooting outdoors, (woods, not outdoor range) my favorite (Single Action) targets are spent shotgun shells left by Inconsiderate idiots who don't pack out what they pack in. ( Aim small, miss small ;) )

Stick them on twigs, low shrubs, blades of grass... but shooting the support only counts if you call the shot beforehand.

I've shot small .22 sized steels, but not larger plates. Eldest gets to work them on my sister's property.

I've also shot myself in the leg with a Wax round, when a Phone book I was shooting curved JUST enough to U-turn the wax round into my leg,.. Nice little bruise, those shotgun primers alone can REALLY send those things flying. ( << LOVE these)

March 3, 2012, 11:42 PM
I go with paper for accuracy practice and steel, cans, water bottles and such for fun plinking.

March 6, 2012, 07:50 AM
+1 just above

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