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Metal plate shooting, good idea or not?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Grantman, Aug 17, 2008.

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  1. Grantman

    Grantman Member

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    I can find hardly any information on shooting metal plate with high powered rifles. Basically I've managed to obtain a slab of 1/2 inch thick metal plate and liked the idea of shooting a target that you know you've hit when it "tings" rather than having to buy special targets + spotting scope or running back and forth to see if you've even hit the target.

    I own a full length dragunov tigr that slings 7.62x54r. The 180 - 203gr variety of ammo I'm using would probably have a muzzle velocity of approx 2,400-2500 fps. I would be using the plate at approximately 250 yards. Yes I've seen the youtube video of the guy getting hit by a .50 cal ricochet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ABGIJwiGBc but figure he must have been shooting at far longer range than I plan to.

    I realize that obviously the type of ammo is important and soft point hunting ammo is going to largely splat against the plate and, I'm guessing, unlikely to cause ricochet problems. However I've got a whole box of FMJ ammo that may like to ricochet. What I'd like to know is would an FMJ round still be going fast enough at 250 yards to disintegrate or burry itself in the plate rather than causing a ricochet?

    I thought about putting the metal plate on an angle like " \ " so richottes would basically ping off the plate and into the ground. Unless the upper edge is likely to cause problems it seems like a good idea for further distance shooting also?
     
  2. coldblackwind

    coldblackwind Member

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    I shot a 3/4 inch steel plate with a dragunov at about 50 yards with soft point hunting ammo, and hit my dad in the cheek with a ricocheted piece of the jacket. It also punched about 3/4 of the way through the plate. Given thats a lot closer than 250 yards though.
     
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    As long as you do it at long range, it is safe.

    I had a friend in high school lose an eye shooting a bridge rail with a .243 at about 20 yards.

    Another friend put a 30-06 AP core through his cars rear fender shooting a chunk of railroad rail at about 30 yards.

    rcmodel
     
  4. Grantman

    Grantman Member

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    Regarding that .50 cal ricochet, I managed to source it back to its origin - madogre.com and found that the distance fired was only 100 yards and the round should have penetrated the metal. Seems like that round may have been faulty as it appears very underpowered for whatever reason.

    "6-27-07: BOOM HEADSHOT! This is amazing. Willie, the father of Tina, who made the sandbag rests fires a .50BMG, an Armalite AR-50 and it ricochets off of a steel plate that it should have easily penetrated. The bullet comes straight back and hits him in the head. You can see it hit the dirt about 15 feet in front on him before it clobbers him. Luckily he was uninjured. He's a bit sore today, but otherwise fine. Lucky lucky bastard. He has been advised to buy lottery tickets while he still has so much luck. I don't know about the timing, but you can hear the hit on the steel plate. Time that till the impact on Willie's head... how fast is that 750 grain slug traveling? The range is 100 yards. Amazing."


    http://www.madogre.com/Archives/June 2007.htm
     
  5. Loomis

    Loomis member

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    I made a steel target once out of 3/4 plate. I cut it round, about 2.5 feet diameter and weled a chain to it and hung it in an old oak tree.

    Used to shoot at it from about 85-100 yards with everything from 22lr to 8mm mauser FMJ, to 30-06 armor piercing.

    Never had a riccochet come back to me from it.

    I did once have a piece of a 30-06 armor piercing round come back and hit me in the belly...shot at a 2" thick piece of steel plate from about 45 yards.
     
  6. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    if mild steels under 3/4" are used such as a588 and a572 you will shoot right through it with a high powered rifle shooting SP ammo at ranges inside 200m even thicker plate up to 3/4" will crater very badly. I made a 11x11" swinger target from 3/4" A588 and it held up sorta OK as long as I really watched what I shot it with and at what ranges. What I noticed is that impact velocity had much more of an effect on the target than bullet type.

    I just recently upgraded my target to utilize a AR500 steel plate from a target manufacturer, I have yet to shoot it though.

    I also believe that it's a MUST to build in some kind of motion into the target ti help absorb and not deflect bullets back at the shooter. Keeping all surfaces on the target perpendicular or angled away from the shooter is also very important, including craters
     
  7. Loomis

    Loomis member

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    Just my opinion, but mounting the plate to the ground kinda defeats the purpose, in mymind. It's more fun to hang it and try to make it "gong".
     
  8. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I got lucky, but I did something similarly stupid when I was young. The sound of a 30-30 slug whistling by your head will make you sit up and take notice. I never thought I would hit what I aimed at. My mistake. I just threw it up and shot. I had to hit it just right, and I did. :eek:
     
  9. Jeff F

    Jeff F Member

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    Shooting steel is a long range proposition, especially when using jacketed bullets. The hand gunners that shoot the poppers and falling plates are shooting lead, the bullets flatten or splatter on impact for the most part but I have seen bullets, parts of bullets and splatter come back at the shooter. Ware your shooting glasses.
     
  10. rino451

    rino451 Member

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    Plates staked to the groundor on posts stil gong. Also, mount them facing at a downward angle so that the ricochette is deflected down. Also unless the plast is Ar500 or better, don't be surprised when it get's beat all to hell at 100 yards with 7.62x54.
     
  11. wally

    wally Member

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    Steel plates you shoot at need to be purpose built from armor plate, so only the bullet splatters. Otherwise the plates pockmark (crater) and send splatter back towards the firing line which can be dangerous indeed.

    I shoot mostly steel plates, but they have to be rated for the caliber you use. For my rifles I use plates rated up to .30-'06 at 75-100 yards. Mostly I shoot .22lr, .223, and 7.62x39 at them. They've held up very well. Actually I prefer making water filled 2-liter plastic pop bottles or gallon milk jugs explode, but after these are gone, the metal plates work until I'm out of ammo.

    --wally.
     
  12. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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  13. Neckshot5seven

    Neckshot5seven member

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    I shoot 10 inch 3/4 thick mild steel from 300-600 yards. If you angle it up or down you should be safe a little closer. Never under 100 yards though. My 168SMK's splatter at 500. We even set up cardboard around it and at 10 yards from the plate there was no frag penetration. However a 2 litre coke bottle full of water that was on the ground below the gong was looking like it was hit with a .410 and all the water leaked out by the time we drove back to change targets.
     
  14. boatbod

    boatbod Member

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    Jacketed bullets and steel plates don't mix particularly well, especially at "short" range. I've seen a 50BMG fired at a 100yd steel plate strip the copper jacket and deposit it in a truck parked behind the firing line. This happened even though the core went straight through the plate...

    OTOH you can shoot .22LR at 1/4" steel all day long and only mess up your grass with the splattered fragments.
     
  15. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    I agree with the comments so far-- to a point. If you are within the distance a ricochet or backsplatter might travel, it is imperative that the steel is proper AR500 armor steel set up at an angle which causes the bullet to splatter on impact and put the fragments in safe directions. In matches we shoot armor steel as close as 75 yards, and other times we've done it as close as 30-50 yards.
     
  16. Grantman

    Grantman Member

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    Good info here. I measured the steel plate and it turns out to be about 1/3" thick and it comes off some old farm equipment. I have 2 of them. What I plan to do is use wire to hold it against a farm fence. I would be firing down onto it from an elevated position anyhow so if there did happen to be any deflection it would be downward and not straight back. From what I've read I won't be expecting it to last long it's probably going mangle into a mess no matter what bullets I use on it. [edit] As you can see this is no where near armour quality plate and has holes in it. Is this asking for trouble or will bullets bash through it?

    [​IMG]
     
  17. oneshooter

    oneshooter Member

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    I just came back from a steel plate shoot. 8"dia/3/4" A36 mild steel on a 3"X3" base, 200yds. Mil-surp rifles firing 223, 30-06, 303 Brit, 308, 7.62X54, 7.62X39. Most dent them, a few go through. Haven't had any problems with return fire yet.

    Oneshooter
    Livin in Texas
     
  18. funfaler

    funfaler Member

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    We have shot a BUNCH of steel plates at 300-600 yards.

    They are all hung up and allowed to swing. The bullets disenergrate upon impact, 308 and 223 FMJs.

    The shards do find themselves mostly in the ground, but quite a bit in the wooden fence posts used to make the frame that they hang from.

    With them being able to swing, they are more apt to deflect downward. Also, the steel swings some, thus "giving" to the bullet, this results in less damage to the steel. Set up like you have it, there is no give and you will find more penetration.

    Our steel is a large mix of 3/8" and 1/2" soft metal
     
  19. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    I have several steel plates as targets. What I've found is that if you set up the frame or the hanging chain so the plate is angled some five or ten degrees, away from you at the bottom, splatter and ricochets hit the ground below the plate. Bounce-back won't come straight at your precious bod.
     
  20. EShell

    EShell Member

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    As discussed above, mild steel is a very bad idea. Best case, it's gets shot up and becomes worthless relatively quickly. Worst case, a partial penetration traps bullet material in the crater and it gets "squirted" back at the firing line. Harder metals (steel) have a certain elasticity that will work against you and high pressure deformation often stores kinetic energy. Hit a hammer face against a hammer face and see what I mean (use your eye protection).

    I was present at the incident mentioned by boatbod occurred, when a LARGE piece of .50BMG jacket, if not the whole jacket, came back. This happened when a piece of railroad "tie plate" was shot with a .50 at relatively close range. The core penetrated the moderately hard plate, leaving a 3/8" hole, and the jacket was squeezed off and rebounded to the firing line. Railroad tie plate is tougher than cold rolled or hot rolled steel, but, is still too soft to shoot and expect good results.

    Like almost every commercial target manufacturer these days, I use AR-500. Mine is 3/8" thick and we'd shoot it with rifles up to the .338 Lapua and typically get 100% fragmentation. Many handgunners shoot jacketed bullets at HARD steel plate, and get full fragmentation as well - they don't have to be pure lead bullets at all. I would even prefer 1/2" AR-500 over my 3/8", but my larger target already weighs 85# . . .

    The KEY is having steel hard enough to resist deformation, and thus allowing the bullet to splash in a radial pattern at 90o to bullet travel. It MUST NOT crater, and every instance of serious rebound has been with makeshift plates. AR-500 steel is MININUM and as long as no steel jacketed or steel core ammo is used, one will normally get a puff of dust on target.

    Even at 50 yards, even a .300 WinMag will completely disintegrate on AR-500 and the marks left on the plate are readily covered with spray paint. About the only way to really damage AR-500 without using bullets with steel components is to use a hyper velocity round at closer ranges, since bullets much over 3,000 fps begin to exhibit exaggerated penetration abilities.

    Using standard lead core, cupro-jacketed rifle bullets at average velocities, the biggest frags we've found to date have been small round disks of bullet jacket material from the base of a flat-based bullet.

    [​IMG]

    That said, protective eyewear is a must when engaging in the shooting sports, and is especially important when shooting steel. It is not unheard of for fragments to return to the line when shooting steel with handguns at close ranges.

    If one does feel compelled to go against what has become a well known and relatively safe practice of shooting AR500 steel plate, and insists on shooting mild steel targets, this should be done at longer ranges to reduce the damage *when* (not "if") a bullet comes back. Likewise, the idiotic practice of shooting steel with steel should never be engaged in without expecting to eventually be injured or injuring some one else, possibly severely.
     
  21. ForneyRider

    ForneyRider Member

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    www.academy.com Academy Sports and Outdoors have plates advertises this last weekend.
     
  22. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I had one I used at the range. It would splatter everything down. I forgot it one Thursday. I went back Friday, and someone had gotten it. :(
     
  23. sscoyote

    sscoyote Member

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    The system i use is about the most efficient, portable, and cheap as any i've ever seen so far. Call the local brickyard and see if they have any scrap cinder block molds. This stuff is some kinda super-hard steel that's not brittle, and will not crater like other steels i've attempted to use. Most of the time they'll give it to you--0.5X9.25X19", and some smaller end pieces. You'll have to burn holes in it for suspending, since u can't drill it. Next go out to the local scrapyard and get 3 pieces of rebar. Go to the hardware store and get 2 copper or galvanized plumbing T's. Get some of the S-hooks u see on the end of rubber bungee cords (found free on the road oftentimes) or at a canvas company for suspending the steel. Now pound 2 of the rebar into the ground, set the T's on top, raise slightly to slide the 3rd thru parallel to the ground to suspend the steel on. Works great as long as i don't shoot at it closer than 100 yds. or so.
     
  24. Grantman

    Grantman Member

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    A lot of good input, good stuff.

    Okay basically if I'm going to have some decent long term fun with metal plate I'm going to have to get some good tough steel. I have a friend who works in a digger bucket factory who can source some .63" (16mm) Bisalloy which is used in such things as bulldozer blades and digger bucket teeth because of its tough anti abrasive properties. I've had a couple of fellow NZ shooters recommend this stuff also. AR500, which has been recommended, would be the ideal choice, but the bisalloy is right on hand and is said to be also well suited for the job.

    I’ve got a target like this in mind although I would use wire rather than welded chains to attach it to the frame.

    [​IMG]
     
  25. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

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    Be careful not to shoot the chain or wire suspending the gong.

    I've found that rope doesn't work well because the edges of the metal cut the rope each time you shoot the gong, and ultimately cut the rope. That was a frustrating day at the range - continually going out and retying the rope! :banghead:
     
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