View Full Version : Steel Target Danger?

April 1, 2006, 11:47 AM
I was thinking of getting one of those resettable targets made of 1/4" steel to get a break from the boring paper targets but I've heard there can be a back scatter danger in using them. I'll be using my 45 ACP with mild to full loads at a distance of 15 yds. Bullets will be cast (probably TCFP's). Any merit to the danger, and if so, what's a minimum distance to safely use these? Thanks.

April 1, 2006, 09:29 PM
Backsplatter of bullet fragments from steel targets is always a concern.

ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION! This also applies to spectators.

I've seen bullet fragments draw blood at pistol matches and have been hit by a few myself both while shooting and as an RO. IPSC specifies that steel targets be shot from no closer than 7 meters. Most stages have them further away. I have a set of steel plates that I always set up at least 10 yards away. 15 yards should be fine, but there will be bullet splatter.

Did I mention wearing eye protection?

Mike T
April 2, 2006, 01:59 AM
ScottyS1 is right on with distances from the steel. However, I'd think 1/4" steel is a little thin for 45acp.

April 15, 2006, 03:06 PM
I don't hesitate to waste my time plinking at rifle gongs but I avoid jacketed bullets at close range. Rumor has it that any irregularities in the surface of the steel can focus the rebound. That is a crater can act like a flashlight reflector and throw the rebound back at the shooter. Ask your vendor but 1/4 inch is IMHO a little light for full power .45 ACP loads and may deform fairly quickly. Try it and then watch for deformation. Targets are made with different alloys and some stand up better. When all is said and done I've only known one person to lose an eye to bounce back on an indoor range.

April 15, 2006, 10:52 PM
I've never had problems with jackets, but I've found that the heavy lead round nose bullets have a bad habit of coming back at you with a bad steel hit.

.45 Vet
April 29, 2006, 04:56 PM
Been using 3/8ths" plate in 6"x8" rectangles with 3/8ths" round-stock welded to the back to act as a hanger. At 15--25 yds even the 200gr lead SWC at 700/800 fps has enough oomph to swing the target, and the lead is directed down toward the ground...

Ken O
April 29, 2006, 08:47 PM
I have a couple pistol bays in my backyard, I made up targets out of 3/8" A36 plate such as bowling pins, IDPA silhouettes, tombstones etc. Occasionally you do get splatter back so glasses are a must. A few weeks ago I went out back with a Ruger MkII .22 and was shooting targets and didn't have my shooting glasses on, a frag came back and hit my eyebrow and drew blood! It was a wake up call, I could have lost an eye. I still don't know why I didn't have the glasses on. I normally shoot a .45, maybe I was thinking "its just a .22"...dont know.
If you are making your own targets, the desired AR plate is way too expensive right now, the cheap A36 plate works great even with fairly hot .44Mag loads, I've have not seen even a dent.

May 1, 2006, 09:07 AM
to the longevity of the target.I don't know the nomenclature,but some steels are 'harder' than others.
Yes, you can get zinged,and so can bystanders.Use big ugly safety glasses to get as much protection as possible.Side shield types are grreat..
IIRC it's usually the bystanders that get whacked.At our cas shoots I"ve seldom seen the shooter get zinged,but I've been nailed as a bystander a couple of times.

July 9, 2006, 10:38 PM
I haven't been here for a while but I thought this one should be brought back to the top. This has been a pet peeve of mine for a while.

My wife caught a jacket fragment in the neck about 1/4" from her jugular from splatter off a steel plate that was made incorrectly. She had to have it surgically removed. This prompted me to look a little closer at how plates are made and what causes splatter.

A hazard that is often overlooked with steel plates is the configuration of the base and pedestal the plate sits on. If you have a flat steel "foot" with the plate welded in the center it can direct the splatter back at the shooter. The plate should be mounted flush to the front of the "foot" with the plate angled back slightly for balance. The plate/foot combo should sit flush with the front of the pedestal it sits on so the splatter coming off the bottom of the plate is directed to the ground. I have only been to a few clubs that used plates as described above but I have been to a lot of clubs that had shooters injured by splatter caused by incorrectly made plates.

July 10, 2006, 10:13 AM
even with mild loads its a danger.... I had a piece of lead graze my nose as I was bending down to unload my guns at a CAS shoot... ouch :eek:

July 10, 2006, 12:01 PM
i have a steel bowling pin target hanging on an old realty sign i use to plink at... when it was made we kinda hang it so it hung at a slight angle to keep the spatter an ricochette danger down..... you can't tell it at 15 yds but it's at about 10-15 degrees tilted back..... i shoot it with my .357 mag with no problems........it's made of pretty thick steel though....... and it's a swinger so that helps too...........

July 10, 2006, 05:56 PM
Not exactly the same thing, but I had blood drawn from lead spilling out from the compensator of a revolver after shooting lead bullets first and then followed by jacketed bullets...hit me in the face everytime, and I couldn't figure out what was going on till I called S&W and they explained I should have cleaned out the lead before firing jacketed bullets. :eek: ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION! :eek:

Ammo Junky
July 10, 2006, 07:36 PM
I once had a bb come back and shater my glases. When I was younger and first learning to shoot I was once shooting a home made swinger plate and I had an entire 45 auto lead rn come back and hit me in the thigh. There was no perminant damage, but yes, That did leave a mark. :(

July 11, 2006, 03:04 PM
do not cause the splatter to come back too much towards the shooter. Since the bottom of the target swings out it allows the splatter to go more towards the ground. I use the high velocity steel for pistol as well as rifle.


July 15, 2006, 11:58 AM
Just one more observation:

I took an MP5 class last year and we shot 3 rd bursts & full auto at steel targets at 15-20 yds all day long and didn't have any problems with metal coming back. These were 9mm, of course. FWIW.

July 17, 2006, 09:34 PM
Bowling pins have a drilled hole for weight and balance adjustment and if the bullet hits it just right it will make a u-turn. I had a 255 gr SWC shot out of my 45 pin gun come back and hit me in the nuts after it hit one of these holes in the bowling pin. :eek:

July 17, 2006, 10:58 PM
Egads Man!

July 19, 2006, 07:39 PM
For practice use the Frangilble bullets. The disintergrate on inpact.:p

July 19, 2006, 07:42 PM
Bowling pins have a drilled hole for weight and balance adjustment and if the bullet hits it just right it will make a u-turn. I had a 255 gr SWC shot out of my 45 pin gun come back and hit me in the nuts after it hit one of these holes in the bowling pin.

Ouch, that makes me hurt just thinking about it:eek:

July 20, 2006, 03:04 AM

July 20, 2006, 06:54 AM
The self sealing targets I have had experience with in the past were temperature sensitive in that on very cold days they would crack and hot days they didn't react very well. One vendor sold them in different temp ranges to compensate for ambient temps. Also the lack of audible feedback throws steel shooters off their game.

Bill DeShivs
July 20, 2006, 12:51 PM
In the prehistoric days, we were taught to never shoot at rocks, metal or water. These objects cause riccochets. Wonder why that has changed?

July 20, 2006, 06:03 PM
I don't think it changed. 99% of the time you shouldn't shoot at hard targets. PROPERLY CONSTRUCTED steel targets are the exception. So always wear eye protection and in my case a cup would have helped a lot.

August 29, 2006, 09:27 PM
For anyone interested in shooting at properly constructed steel targets in a safe manner check out the websites of two of the larger manufacturers of steel targets in the U.S. They are www.portatarget.com and www.actiontarget.com. Both companies have very informative sections on steel target shooting design, construction and safety.

I've purchased a variety of steel targets from both.

We shoot thousands and thousands of rounds on steel every year. But these are commercially designed and produced targets with custom blended steel. Even still we average at least one person getting hit each year by jacketed bullet fragments. I'm not sure why but we haven't had any problem with hardcast lead bullets. The bulk of bullet splatter with good targets stays within the first 20 degrees of the target but some of it can easily come straight back at you. Steel with pock marks deeper than 1/4" exascerbate the splatter back problem.