View Full Version : Steel Targets

January 23, 2011, 09:02 PM
Looking for a good source to buy steel targets to play with my 45. Any suggestions?

January 23, 2011, 10:53 PM
My club has purchased all of theirs from MGM Targets (www.mgmtargets.com). We found that we could buy cheaper steel targets from other places, but not of the same quality. I suspect that for an individual, you'll never replace it (unless you do something dumb).

January 23, 2011, 11:03 PM
As Hardcase said, MGM Targets has a good reputation for quality stuff. If you want steel targets that will really stand up to .45 cal, check out these bad boys. They might be a little pricey, though. :D

January 24, 2011, 12:34 AM
That's hilarious, napp!

Be careful with steel targets. I don't know how people use them without getting someone hurt eventually. I remember cutting some heavy steel discs to use as long range targets (the 'gong' tells you you hit them, even out to over 600 yards). A group of friends and I were at a cabin one of the guys used to have, and I set one of the targets out at 100 yards for some handgun fun. We were standing next to the cabin's wall, and almost every time we'd hit the steel target I'd hear a thump on the cabin's wall. It turned out that the bullets were nearly turned inside-out and had bounced back at us with pretty good force. How are the commercial steel targets made so they won't do that?

January 24, 2011, 01:14 AM
I bought 6 - 7" Gongs from http://www.qualitytargets.com a while back. They're laser cut out of 3/8th" AR500 steel plate. Their prices are even better on their ebay store. The 7" plates are still going for $20 each.

You can get them with or without "ears" to attach hardware to hang them and they sell all sorts of shapes and sizes.

We built target stands out of black iron pipe and used chains and shackles to hang them. They suggest using carriage bolts so the plates are angled down to deflect the lead and spatter downward, the plates dance around for us, the remnants of the bullets are deflected downward. Lead spatter will shred rubber straps over time and coat everything with lead around it, but no ricochets.

At 100 yards, not even .30-06 will hurt them, at 50 yards, .223 will dimple them a little. Handguns and .22's just scratch the paint off at 25 yards.

I wore out a 3/8" mild steel swinging plate that was 18" in diameter. If it was hit by a 9mm or lighter, it didn't budge and I had some ricochets hit my house and shed. If it were smaller or hung with chain, that wouldn't have been a concern at all.

January 24, 2011, 09:46 AM
Model-P, I used to manufacture steel targets and have done quite a bit of shooting for fun and testing on them.
A steel target must be allowed to swing easily or fall over easily. That way the bullet will deflect down or up. A rigid, fixed target can, and often does, send the fragments back towards the shooter.
Either way, I believe 25 yards is the minimum distance they should be shot at. I know a lot of folks shoot shorter but that is my opinion. I have a scar on my elbow that convinced me.

January 24, 2011, 10:18 AM
Old video...but, interesting.

January 24, 2011, 11:09 AM
What Rifleman1776 said. I shoot Steel Challenge matches and not only do the targets swing free, they're mounted so that they face slightly downward. It does not eliminate the chance for a ricochet, but substantially reduces it - down to the point that I can only remember a couple of times that something made it back to the firing line.

Smooth targets that can rebound to absorb the energy of impact make steel shooting as safe as anything else.

January 24, 2011, 11:30 AM
I would suggest that you never shoot steel with jacketed bullets at any range. My one foray on steel with hot 41mags with jacketed bullets gave me the experience of pulling half of a bullet out of my leg.
I now shoot, with great confidence, steel with my cowboy loads and soft bullets. As SASS requires, no jackets and no gas checks.

January 24, 2011, 12:28 PM
like rifleman said they have to be angled or able to swing,,i have 10 that i made out of just 3/8 steel plate,,put a hole in the top and used re bar and made like shepard hooks to hang them on,,that was 15 or so years ago and they are still alive today and i have shot them with everything you can think of from 45-70 to 22 the take the shock and swing out of the way deflecting the bullet to the ground

they work good and cheap to make ,,, AND NO BOUNCE BACK

my .02


January 24, 2011, 12:35 PM
Hey, I've shot some of those before Napp! .....those T-72's.....

....'cept the 120mm went right through so there was no bounce-back....:D

I didn't see anybody else post these guys, so I'll throw them out as a target supplier as well. I have not purchased from them, but was going to do so. My hospitable neighbor who happens to work in a metal fab shop cut me some great targets out of "scrap" AR500, so I didn't need to buy any.


As far as hangin' 'em, I have three 8" circles mounted on a "hitchin' post" of 4X4's suspended by old fire hose (which seems to work better than some other methods I've tried). I have two silouettes hanging from "target hangers" (which my wife insists are "plant" hangers, but what does she know? :)).

January 24, 2011, 01:49 PM
Thanks for the replies guys, big help. Im new to steel targets and im a bit concerned of shooting at steel. I would be shooting cowboy loads 200-250g only. What is the closest "safe" distance" I should be shooting AR500?

January 24, 2011, 02:10 PM
We shoot Steel Challenge from 11 yards on out, but not straight on at that distance. I believe that the straight on targets are 15 yards and more. Now, they're hung so that they're facing down at maybe 8 to 10 degrees off vertical. And they move when hit.

BTW, most of our shooters use jacketed rounds, but I don't think that anyone is shooting full house loads - we use up so doggone many rounds in a match that you'd have to be Midas to buy 'em at the store.

January 24, 2011, 02:20 PM
Some steel shooters use plated bullets like those from Berry's Bullets. They're less expensive than jacketed bullets especially if bought in bulk.

Plated bullets are sometimes required for some indoor steel shoots instead of plain lead.

Clicking on each caliber will reveal their full selection:


.45's for instance, plus there's page 2:


January 24, 2011, 07:47 PM

SASS shoots cowboy loads at steel at the following ranges:

Pistol - 7-10 yards*
Rifle - 13-50 yards*
Shotgun - 8-16 yards*

* As per Cowboy Action Shooter's Handbook

Cowboy loads are defined in the same manual as:

"The minimum standard for center-fire smokeless ammunition used in all SASS matches State, Regional, National, International, and World Championship Competitions is not less than a minimum power factor of 60 and no velocity may be less than 400 fps. The maximum velocity standard for revolvers is 1000 fps. The maximum velocity standard for rifles is 1400 fps."

For the most part, we're shooting lead at around 700-800 fps from our pistols, if that helps any. I've been "splattered" a couple of time with ricochet pellets from shotgun, but never anything else....and not hard enough to leave a mark or anything. That's why we always wear safety glasses, even if you're not shooting.

On my personal range, I shoot lead at higher velocities (950-1100 fps) from other pistols and remain at least 10 yards out with my swinging targets. I've never been hit with splatter or bounce-back.....about 5000 rounds down range now. FWIW.

Good Luck!

January 25, 2011, 12:22 AM
Thanks, guys. I had the steel target solid against the backstop, and most likely tipped back to boot, so that probably explains it.

January 25, 2011, 10:03 AM
You might check with DODGER at Dodger Targets at <[email protected]>
We have completely re-done our range using his targets. His knockdown shotgun targets are awesome.

January 25, 2011, 10:11 AM
I have seen the jacketed vs. lead argument before. Personally, I don't think it makes any difference.
In fact, even soft lead can ricochet.
I recall an incident that was almost fatal when I was shooting against a solid backstop. (BTW, this was before my steel target days) I was shooting a patched lead round ball from a Brown Bess musket, the ball was .715 diameter. We were in deer camp and doing some target shooting with the targets hung at about 25 yards on a big tree. Many rifle (traditional muzzle loaders with patched round ball) shots were fired without incident.
Then my turn with the big Bess. A tiny fraction of a second after I shot we heard the ball come whizzing back and it brushed the ear of a friend standing slightly to my left and behind me. An inch or two more to the left and it would have gone through his head.
Never use a fixed target, wood or steel.

January 25, 2011, 10:34 AM
What he said!

January 25, 2011, 11:35 AM
Rifleman 1776
Never use a fixed target, wood or steel.

I hope this isn't a threadjack; but the quoted comment reminded me of a freak training accident that occurred in 1966 at Ft. Hood, Texas.

Training was being conducted on one of the old style Known Distance (KD) ranges where the targets are raised and lowered from behind a large berm by a target detail located in the "pits" behind the berm. Suddenly, one of the soldiers serving as a target puller was hit by a stray round. The soldier was DOA at the post hospital.

Subsequent investigation revealed that the bullet (.308) had entered the wooden target frame and was deflected downward, following a split in the grain of the wood. The bullet exited the wood near the bottom of the target frame and hit the soldier beneath the target. The bullet entered the soldier at the little pocket formed by the collar bone and the base of the neck. The bullet continued downward and struck the soldier's heart.

Be careful guys. Stray bullets have no conscience.

January 25, 2011, 04:30 PM
Thanks guys, I actually scored a good deal. My buddy works at a fab shop and he lazer cut me a 8, 10, 12, and 14" plates, AR400. Paid 80 for the material :D