Steel Ringers, I Wanna Hear From You


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montgomery381
November 2, 2012, 08:52 PM
I want to get some steel targets. So I have been looking at various manufacturers. I have seen a couple that use a cariage bolt run through a hole in the target as the method to hang them. So, my question, is there any danger of a ricochet if that bolt is hit straight on? I know the chances are slim but it could happen. I have shot steel before but they were poppers and hanging plates on chains. The brands that I've been looking at are shootsteel.com and arntzen. Anybody with experience with these kind of targets I would like to hear from you. Thanks for your help.

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BCRider
November 2, 2012, 10:10 PM
The issue isn't when you hit the bolt head. Instead it's when you hit right beside the bolt head.

When shooting at steel if the bullet is slow enough to not leave a divot then the lead spreads out in a fan evenly over the face of the target. Or for jacketed rounds the jacket splits and the lead then disintegrates and spreads out as with all lead roungs but with some deflection from the jacket.

What happens if you strike the target beside the domed head of a carraige bolt is that the side spray hits the edges and sloping head of hte bolt and is deflected back towards the shooter.

So no, holes and bolts in the target are not generally a good idea.

For non magnum handgun rounds you can get away with "almost" mild steel. Almost anything which is a little harder than plain mild steel is fine and the medium grades of alloy will allow you to weld a hook or other fitting to the rear without undue stress or damage to the metal's ability to withstand the rounds

Hell, even mild steel isn't all that bad as long as you don't use full bore magnums. One of my clubs has a bunch of mild steel targets we use regularly for the local version of Speed Steel. Over time they tend to dome a little so we simply turn them around and shoot the crowned side for the next few matches. These vary in size from 6 to 12 inches round and are made from 3/8 thick regular hot rolled plate.

Now if you want to include rifle or full power magnums then that's a WHOLE other story. Then you really want at least AR300 or AR350 for the handgun magnums. And for rifle with the fast speeds there is simply no option other than AR500..... Bring cash... LOTS!

Locally a 4x8 sheet of AR400 in 3/8 thickness to work with magnum handgun rounds is $450. Mind you a LOT of targets can be cut from something that size. But then if you cut it with a regular oxy-acetylene torch you'll ruin the edges. So it needs a water jet or at the very least a plasma cutting setup to limit the edge damage. So more cost.

Coal Dragger
November 2, 2012, 10:36 PM
BCRider gives good advice.

I own only two steel targets, a spinning Birchwood Casey double steel plate, and a Caldwell Magnum Gong target made of AR550 (if I recall).

The little spinning target is supposedly rated for up to .44 Magnum but I don't buy it, at least not after shooting it with some midrange .454 Casull loads at 25 yards. Which after the second or third shot ripped it out of the ground, and flung it down range a few feet. Upon closer inspection the target is now dented up pretty badly from the impacts of 360gr bullets.

The Caldwell has been much better, although the plate does have holes through the plate to allow the gong to be hung from chains. The chain hooks are soft mild steel, and the gong swings a good deal when hit with full power .454 loads and the plate chewed up the chain hooks pretty badly. Then they stretched out, and the plate falls off the chains when hit. I just finished rebuilding it using some clevises that should be much more durable. I will note that the plate itself is quite durable, the only damage to it is from a friend of mine smacking it with a .223 round shooting 55gr FMJ at 50 yards before I could tell him not to. All it did was leave a little pock mark, no cratering, and no penetration. As long as impact velocity is below 3000fps it shouldn't leave any damage at all, although FMJ and copper solids are not recommended.

ColtPythonElite
November 2, 2012, 10:48 PM
I own AR 500 gongs bolted to chain and shoot them alot. I wear my safety glasses and don't worry about splatter or ricochet.

wally
November 4, 2012, 08:04 AM
No matter what you do, if you shoot enough at AR500 rated steel you *will* get hit by splatter. Rarely even breaks bare skin, but good eyepro is a must. Distance is your friend, lowering both the probability of getting hit and the energy of the fragments. Eyepro is critical for any bystanders too, as they are more likely to get splattered than the shooter.

I use AR500 targets from Weidner's,
(http://www.wideners.com/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=100000131&dir=)

hung from chains, this angles them down and the dirt below clearly shows that is where most of the splatter ends up. I buy their 1/2" plates for rifles.

BCRider
November 4, 2012, 08:05 PM
The issue of spatter coming back isn't the target itself. Like the bolt head issue it's due to the side spray of lead hitting the links of the chain which then re-directs the spatter back out towards the shooter to some small degree.

If the target has NOTHING that sticks out past the face of the target and the face is nice and flat with no pock marks or dimples the shooter would be able to shoot at even as little as 5 yards and never feel a bit of anything coming back at them. It's the bolt heads or chain links which re-direct the side spray and aim it back to the shooter. The trick is to find a way to support the plate either from behind or soley by around the edges so there's nothing that sticks out that could re-direct the spatter spray.

montgomery381
November 4, 2012, 08:50 PM
Guys, thanks for the responses. One of my main concerns is not just splatter but the whole bullet or a large chunk coming back after a dead center hit on the bolt head. Anyboby had any experience with that? Thanks again.

allaroundhunter
November 4, 2012, 09:27 PM
One of my main concerns is not just splatter but the whole bullet or a large chunk coming back after a dead center hit on the bolt head. Anybody had any experience with that? Thanks again.

It just won't happen. Physics does not allow it to. The bolt head will still cause the bullet to flatten and splatter, it just won't last as long as the steel target.

Caveat: If your target gets dented, then you might be at a greater risk of seeing a ricochet. But if the target is in good shape, you won't have large pieces coming back at you.

BCRider
November 5, 2012, 02:18 AM
With a bad crater in the face if a round hits right on the edge of the spherical depression a healthy chunk of the spatter can do a "U" turn down into the depression and then come whizzing back off the opposite side. This is why we're all so quick to say that the plate must be in good condition.

So once you realize how the surface has to be shaped to avoid a return then you'll realized that hitting the head of the bolt dead on is simply not an issue at all as long as you are not shooting a fast enough round to deform the head and produce a crater like depression. Even then it's not THAT shot which is the problem but some subsequent shot which hit's the "U"turn path just right simply by coincidence.

HankWm
November 12, 2012, 03:09 PM
I recently bought some targets from shootsteel.com. So far, I like the one I have hung (18x30 silhouette), but I guess wally had it right:

you *will* get hit by splatter. Rarely even breaks bare skin, but good eyepro is a must.

It happened to my brother the first time we used the target. Hit him right under the eye--just a little lead pancake, not more than a few grains; looked like the flattened base of the core. It didn't break the skin, but it sure was startling.

Despite the chance of being hit by splash, we still like the target. Correct me if I'm wrong (please, because this is what I'm relying on), but I think there's little danger of serious injury as long as you wear eye protection, don't shoot funny ammo (hollow points; steel core; bimetal), and stand the minimum distance from the targets--I think it's 10 yds for handguns and 100 yds for rifles.

allaroundhunter
November 12, 2012, 03:10 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong (please, because this is what I'm relying on), but I think there's little danger of serious injury as long as you wear eye protection, don't shoot funny ammo (hollow points; steel core; bimetal), and stand the minimum distance from the targets--I think it's 10 yds for handguns and 100 yds for rifles.

Hollow points are fine. Bimetal and steel core will just tear up the target, they don't increase the risk of you getting hit by fragments.

The biggest safety factor is the distance you are from the target.

BCRider
November 12, 2012, 08:11 PM
HankWm, I'd be willing to bet a couple of boxes of ammo that the spatter you guys felt was due to the the rounds hitting close to the chain links that are hanging the target. The side spatter hit the links and was then secondarily deflected back to you two.

If these targets were hung from a lug welded to the back of the target spatter reflecting back to the firing line would simply not be an issue.

In any event by the time anything from a good target and chain hanger comes back at you the energy is greatly dimished. Wear eyepro for SURE and the odd bit might break the skin on a very rare basis. But most of the time if you feel anything at all it'll be nothing worse than a minor sting.

CZ223
November 13, 2012, 07:50 AM
you are gonna get hit with splashback. There are a couple of things you can do to keep this to a minimum. Targets hung by a chain are a bad idea unless they are really far a away. A hard target that is angled downward is your best bet. This will help redirect your bullet into the ground where, hopefully. it will stop. You can also use use things like haybales and small berms in front of the target to minimize this even more. Shooting from behind cover like in IDPA is an even better idea. If you don't believe that bullets can come straight back from long distances, got to youtube and search 50 caliber ricochet. This guy actually has his headset knocked off by a ricocheting bullet.

BCRider
November 13, 2012, 09:52 PM
The odd bit of splashback can occur but it's not a sure thing. I've been shooting at steel targets pretty much since i started in with guns and only rarely feel the odd bit of metal come back. As long as the targets are smooth and flat it simply has not been an issue. But I've also gotten some pretty good "zingers" from a steel backstop which was in poor repair with a good number of pockmarks.

So smooth and clean with no protrusions and any splashback you get will be minor and of low velocity. Pockmarks, craters and poor mounting techniques that produce things to reflect the spray of lead back will see the firing line showered by bits of lead and jacket.

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