View Full Version : Shooting metal plates with cast bullets

February 6, 2010, 08:26 AM
This may be the wrong place to ask this question , but I am thinking about making some reactive metal targets i.e. falling plate setup since I am getting bored with shooting paper . This would be for 45 acp and maybe 38 spl . I have been looking at some of the commercial suppliers of reactive targets and they are cost prohibitive. I have also found some articles saying shooting lead at low velocities is not recommended because of richochet and back splatter and all the usual safety precautions like be careful you'll shoot your eye out stuff.

My questions does anyone one have personal experience shooting cast bullets at metal?

At work I called our metal supplier and asked him if he had any plate steel with a brinnel hardeness of 500 and he laughed at me and said that is armor.

February 6, 2010, 09:48 AM
Ed, yes, ar500 and even ar400 steel is really hard and very pricey. I have first hand experience shooting steel with lead bullets. Riccochets and splatter can be a problem, but it can be fairly easily avoided. 2 things to remember: First, always angle the target plate down. It doesn't have to be 45*, but use your best judgement. Next, anytime you can have the target move in some way after being hit will help disperse some of the energy. Whether it it having the target fall over or swing from a chain. These methods will dissipate energy in the bullet, lowering splater and riccochets. As far as the thickness, I made a swinging target out of 3/8" mild steel and shot it with both 45acp and 357 mag lead bullets and there were no problems at all.

Here is a pic of some testing i did on 5/16" steel with 357 mag jacketed HPs and lead SWCs at 10 yards with full loads. The plate was angled slightly, but I had clampled it down so it could not move. Notice the very small dimples the higher velocity bullets created. Very small, so if you can get 3/8" to 1/2" you should not get any dimples, especially with the 38 spl and 45 acp. You have got to play around with the angle of the target to make something you are comfortable shooting at. I probably go a little less than 30*, but if i planned on shooting at close range (10 yds and closer) I would increase my angle to probably at least 30*. I do my pistol shooting at 25 yds or better.


February 6, 2010, 11:33 AM
few years ago i bought a nice steal target with a stand the things taken one hell of beating from fmj 30.06 to reduced 9mm never had a problem with it. most of my 9mm just hits it and leaves a nice pile right below the target, ive found some stray ones about 15-25ft away to the direct left or right of it. never heard any type of richochet or seen it happen with any type of round you should be fine imo.

February 6, 2010, 11:38 AM

I guess they were using iron targets...but still....be careful...please.

Another one for your viewing pleasure... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfDoQwIAaXg

zig mag roller
February 6, 2010, 01:25 PM
Hey Ed, check around with the local SASS guys(single action shooters society), better known as the Cowboy Action Shooters. These guys shoot steel targets with cast bullets at close range all day long. I haven't done any research on what type/gauge steel they use, but they shoot a variety of caliber pistol, rifle, and shotgun loads at steel targets at monthly competitions. I'm sure you have a local club somewhere near you, check sassnet.com for your local club. If you've never been to a match, I highly suggest going, take the wife and kids too! Make sure to take enough eye and ear protection for the whole family as well. These folks are very helpful and always welcome newbies and any questions you may have. Have fun!

February 6, 2010, 03:32 PM
Thank you all for the information. After seeing Coyotehunters first reply I decided to shoot at my sample piece I brought home from work.

Yep just flattened out. The only fragments I found looked like solder drippings.

I have seen the 50 caliber youtube before boy was that scary.

The contacting a coyboy action club is a good idea I think there is one withen 20 miles of me.


February 7, 2010, 06:18 PM
I welded these together with scrap steel. The spinner target is 1/2" rebar with my daughter's cars old brake pads as targets. The knock-down targets are 5/16" steel plate welded to 1" tubes pivoting in uni-strut. The bullet trap is way overkill, it's 1/2" plate top bottom and deflector plate w/1/4" sides. The background is 3/4" conveyer belt with a huge wood pile behind it.
I shoot thousands of rounds of 38 special, 357mag, 9mm, 45acp, etc. into this at 7-25 yards with home cast as well as factory jacketed bullets, and have yet to see any lead come back more than 18", and by then it's energy is shot. I recover at least 90% of the lead and recast from the bullet trap, and get a LOT back from the conveyer belt.
As you can see, I have a big problem with hitting low and left with my new XD-45, any help there???
Thanks, Steve W.


February 8, 2010, 01:26 PM
Nice setup you have there Steve,
As far as shooting low, I have the same problem with semi's but with revolvers I have no problem.
I got a new 1911 back in December with fixed GI sites. I shot about 50 rounds through it and took it to a shop for trigger job and adjustable sights among other things. 7 weeks later I am still waiting. So for now I am using a Glock 21 which I hate. I also have a GP100 .357 which shoots great. I have nothing against Glocks but the grip is so thick I can barley reach the trigger and it shoots way low. I have to aim over the top of the target even at close ranges. My boss has an XD 40 I have shot a couple of times.


February 8, 2010, 01:55 PM
I have a steel plate cut into 12" circle (like a pie plate) that I've used since the 1970's as a "practice target" for handgun deer hunting. Love it!

I only use cast bullets for hunting so the dings on the steel plate have not hurt it much.

I drilled two tiny holes through the plate and suspend it with stainless steel wire on a tripod made of steel reinforcing rods (rebar I thing they call it). That way, I can shoot as much as I want without having to "re-set" it.

I use black spray paint on the steel plate so I can see where I'm hitting.

I normally practice shooting at the plate from different shooting positions (standing, sitting, etc.) and limit shots in the field to the distance I can keep all my shots on that plate from the position I'm using.

Works for me.:D


February 8, 2010, 05:10 PM
Snobal, and if everyone took the time and effort to learn what their limitiations are as well as the firearm they carry, there would be a hell of a lot less wounded game animals left in the woods each year! Thank you for taking the time to do it right!

Dodge DeBoulet
February 17, 2010, 02:38 PM
I shoot poppers, plates and other steel targets nearly every weekend using Missouri Bullet Company cast lead bullets (.40S&W, 180gr TCFP). We normally shoot from 15 yards and only very rarely see any backspatter reach us. And then it's like it was thrown by a 4 year-old.

March 21, 2010, 06:54 PM
I had a bullet (or fragment) slap the side of my neck while shooting a plate match at a range of 7-10 yds. Missed the next two, hit the last two! Was as much a burn as a hole but it was a bit unexpected.