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Old August 4, 2013, 11:39 PM   #1
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Steel Targets

Hopefully this is the right place for this topic: Shooting steel targets with hand guns. Shooting steel really looks I bought a small spinner target made by Taylor targets designed for center fire hand guns. I did pop a few at it from my .40, and it was fun just doesn't seem right to shoot a 180 grain FMJ at a swinging steel plate. Around here, you just cant buy anything soft for a .40 or .380 so my question is....does everyone shoot FMJ at steel targets? Obviously we're wearing safety glasses, etc but...what exactly happens to a FMJ upon striking the plate? Deflect down or to the side and into the ground/ stop material (dirt) or do they explode on impact from hitting something harder than themselves? It just doesn't feel long as it's ok to do I can picture getting a few more and having a ball out there but wont until I research this a bit further. What does everyone else think...and use?
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Old August 5, 2013, 02:02 AM   #2
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Steel targets that ring when hit are angled down. The USPSA minimum distance between muzzle and target is 23 feet to avoid ricochet. FMJ is OK to use. The steel should be AR500 or harder and 3/8 inches thick, I believe.
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Old August 5, 2013, 08:14 AM   #3
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To answer the OP's question directly:

What actually happens (almost always) to an FMJ bullet, as it strikes a steel plate target, is that it breaks up. It literally flattens, the jacket splits and often fragments... and the material "pancakes" against the steel plate.

However, "spall", which is the proper term for bits and pieces of the fragmented bullet core or jacket, CAN sometimes ricochet back at the shooter, or others nearby. I have received a (very) minor cut on the hand from spall - which came from a steel plate target (used by another shooter) to my right.

Spall is generally not a great danger, though, as the velocity of such fragments is fairly low and the probability of it coming back at you decreases greatly with distance and the angle (the closer you are to directly in front of the plate, the less chance of spall coming back). However, as with anything shooting related, strict safety rules should be observed, such as ALWAYS wearing protective eyewear.
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Old August 5, 2013, 09:14 AM   #4
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FMJ, lead and hard cast bullets are fine for shooting steel.

Do not shoot JHP bullets at steel as the jacket will separate from the core and come flying back at the shooter like a mini buzz saw.
If they hit you they can cut you severely.

Keep you steel a minimum of 12 yards, that's the standard in steel matches.
Armor plate (I believe it's T1) is the best for making steel targets.

Best Regards
Bob Hunter
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Old August 5, 2013, 02:16 PM   #5
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Do not shoot JHP bullets at steel as the jacket will separate from the core and come flying back at the shooter like a mini buzz saw.
Yep, we had a guy shoot HPs' at a polish plate rack. The RO had to be taken to the hospital.
The knee jerk reaction of the club was, no more steel shooting.
NRA member, DCF&S member, PAFOA member, USPSA member, NSCA member

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Old August 6, 2013, 09:09 AM   #6
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Guessing close to 70% of the 100 or so shooters on our steel shoot Saturdays shoot JHP's for many years with no problems and no more separation than FMJ's.

Many prefer them for any kind of pop up or pepper popper as all the energy goes into the target making sure it will fall.

Last edited by LarryFlew; August 7, 2013 at 10:07 AM.
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Old August 6, 2013, 02:38 PM   #7
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I have to agree. Many of our USPSA shooters use JHP. In two years I've only seen one person get a bloody mark on his leg (he was wearing shorts). It's safe if you are 23 ft. or more away. Not wearing shorts helps.
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