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Old February 22, 2012, 04:57 PM   #1
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Shooting Steel Plates

I just ordered a 5" AR500 3/8 steel plate to shoot at the range. I was planning on mounting it the same way in this picture which I got off their website, as I already found some chain and hooks in my basement to use. Just a few questions before I start shooting the thing.

Will this mounting method work safely?
Is it advisable to shoot jacketed rounds at the plate?
What is the minimum distance I should be shooting this plate from?
What are the chances of a ricochet even with lead nosed .22's?

If anyone is wondering where I got it , I only payed $25 and that includes shipping. Beats the .22 spinner targets I got from Walmart for $20, which by the way was shot to ribbons in only 100 rounds.

Last edited by Dragline45; February 22, 2012 at 05:14 PM.
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Old February 22, 2012, 05:47 PM   #2
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holes and chains

I've heard if there's a hole in the target (yours has two) that the 'splatter' can ricochet back a long way. Also, you might hit the chain, and that could ricochet or break/shrapnel the chain links. I personally wouldn't have a problem with this risk out at around 20 yards. To each his own... Cool target in my opinion.
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Old February 23, 2012, 08:49 AM   #3
Uncle Buck
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I like this concept.

What about hanging a steel plate from one chain?

Tag. Waiting for responses.
Inside Every Bright Idea Is The 50% Probability Of A Disaster Waiting To Happen.
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Old February 23, 2012, 09:00 AM   #4
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Your chains will work fine. I've been to the website. I was going to price some AR500 at a steel supply shop. Right now, I'm using some old 20# propane tanks. They sure do ring from 180gr 40's.
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Old February 23, 2012, 09:08 AM   #5
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I used to manufacture steel targets. The method of hanging you show is just right. The target should not be hindered from movement in any way. Min. distance 25 yards. Cannot speak for the .22s on a heavy target. Strange stuff happens with bullets. I would suggest a lighter target for the .22s.
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Old February 23, 2012, 11:17 AM   #6
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What about hanging a steel plate from one chain?
I've tried it with bits of scrap steel. With one chain it will spin the target making you wait inbetween shots for it to straighten out.
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Old February 23, 2012, 01:52 PM   #7
Clifford L. Hughes
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I wouildn't place your steel target less than 100 yards for the fiiring line. At a range in San Diego, CA I was parked fifty yards behing the pistol range's fifty yard line. A .45 ACP, 230 grain ball round ricocheted from the fifty yard butts and hit my car with enough force dent the door. The bullet flew between my firend and I. Bullets, when fired, do strange things.

Semper Fi.

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Old February 23, 2012, 08:12 PM   #8
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Old February 23, 2012, 10:34 PM   #9
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As long as the plate can swing, it will absorb the energy from the bullet and you won't get much in the way of ricochets. The more it swings, the better it absorbs the hits. If it's swinging when you shoot it and it's facing down when the bullet hits, the bullet splatter will go down. If it's swinging and facing up when the bullet hits, the bullet splatter will go airborne and may come back at you. In steel plate matches where they rapid fire, they don't hang plates on chains. They mount them loosely to a solid frame with the plate angled downwards.

If the plate twists, it will send splatter sideways. Your setup looks pretty good so it might be okay but I used steel rods when I hung plates to keep the plate rocking back and forth but not twist sideways.

If the plate is too heavy, it won't swing much and you can expect alot of splatter coming back at you.

Soft lead bullets are best. They don't ricochet, they just splatter. If you shoot jacketed bullets, you will find the flattened jackets all over the place, usually without any lead.

Wear good eye protection, a ball cap or a wide brimmed boonie hat to keep the splatter from coming down on your head and getting around your glasses, long sleeves, long pants, etc.

Most of the cases of splatter I've seen were people shooting at solid metal that didn't absorb any energy from the bullet. The jackets bounce right back.

For rifles, I always set the steel at 100 yards. For pistols, I set it at 25-50 yards. Under 25 yards, you will get a lot of splatter.

Good luck. Shooting steel is fun.

Last edited by RalphS; February 23, 2012 at 10:42 PM.
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Old February 24, 2012, 12:14 AM   #10
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I've seen steel plates do some strange things. I was at a Team Challenge Match in Mass. several years ago and in setting up the precision pistol plates the RO and his assistant tried them out to see if they'd fall correctly. The assistant (his good buddy) was off to the side but back behind the firing line in a "safe" area. The RO shot a couple of shots and one of the rounds richocheted and came back and hit his assistant in the nose. The bullet penetrated his nose and lodged in his sinus cavity. The guy who was hit went to the emergency room, got x-rayed, and was told they needed to do some surgery to remove the slug. He had them put a band-aid on it and told them he had a match to run for the next two days. This is no bull, really. I was there. He helped run the match for two days (I know he was in agony from the pain). After the match he got it taken care of. I saw him at some other shoots that year and the next. FYI...the R.O. was a Mass State Police and his good buddy, the injured party, was a Deputy Sherrif. I feel sorry for anyone who messed with this dude! He was one tough hombre.

Another time I was at the Annual Sportsman's Team Challenge in Sunrise, Fl., and I was walking down the spectator line and one of the precision pistol slugs richocheted and I saw it coming. It looked like a large bumble bee coming at me. I tried to turn away from it but didn't make it. It "bounced" off my chest but cut my shirt and put a pretty deep gash on my chest right in the middle of my sternum. I had a nasty cut and a deep bruise for several days. Lesson here: you never know where a ricochet will end up or when it will happen. Always, I mean ALWAYS, wear safety glasses and be careful.
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Old February 24, 2012, 12:33 AM   #11
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I shot steel matches for 5 years or so. Bullet fragments are a constant hazard, so face the berm so your glasses are in between your eyes and the fragments.
While I was waiting my turn to shoot I used to hold up a piece of cardboard to catch the fragments (I always wanted one of those Eastern European plexiglass riot shields they used to sell in Shotgun News).

Speaking of nose hits, one time I was on the same squad as my dad and saw him flinch as another shooter was shooting. He turned to look at me and had a piece of lead about 1/4" square in the tip of his nose. He went out of the range and removed it and came back in and shot. Painful, for sure, but not life threatening.

Steel shooting is a ball. Have fun, but be safe.
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Old February 26, 2012, 03:15 PM   #12
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Ralph S is correct...

The plates should be hung so that they naturally angle "downwards"- meaning hang them from the back side. They'll naturally hang with the top end forward due to the weight distribution being uneven. This will deflect the frag downwards into the dirt...

Get some large dia. bolts/washers, and attach the chains to the back side of the plates, rather than hanging them on the centerline.

It's not uncommon with hollow-core ammo (pistols) to shoot steel at close range like this...7-10 yards- but the steel MUST be angled downwards as described.

However, we shoot .30 cal (.308, 30-.06) FMJ's- and it's recommended to never go less than 100 yards with that type of ammo.
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