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Old October 13, 2017, 04:50 PM   #1
Cola308
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Steel targets

Never shot at steel targets so my question is when bullet impacts the target. What are the reactions of the bullet does it stop and fall to the ground or does it ricochet to who knows where.
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Old October 13, 2017, 04:58 PM   #2
Mike38
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I'm not a fan of steel targets unless then are 50+ yards away for rimfire, 100+ for centerfire. There is an indoor range near me that lets people shoot steel at 17 yards, with .223 / 5.56. Insane. The pistol side of the range, paper only was full one day so I set up on the steel side. A lady started shooting an AR15 with that cheap Russian steel jacketed stuff. I was watching sparks fly everywhere when the bullets hit. Never again. Supposedly, if the steel targets are set right, with an angle that the bottom of the target is farther back then the top, the bullets go down. But not on these targets. I packed up and got the heck out of there.
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Old October 13, 2017, 09:20 PM   #3
jrinne0430
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My experience using ar500 type plates, the bullets tend to disintegrate on impact. The plates are angled so the debris is directed to the ground.
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Old October 14, 2017, 12:21 AM   #4
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Angle the plate down. I use steel all the time and I use it at 25 yards for handgun, but usually 50-100 yards for centerfire. Since a majority of what I shoot are cast loads, no worries. Watch the ground in front of the target, and you will see a line in the dust puff up. That is the bottom half of the circle of destruction as bullet shatters on the steel, throwing debris all the way around. Sometimes I will actually find the base of my bullet on the ground, held together by the powder coat.

Last edited by armoredman; October 15, 2017 at 02:20 AM.
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Old October 14, 2017, 05:21 AM   #5
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At our competition matches we maintain a 23 foot distance from a shooting position to the steel target.
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Old October 14, 2017, 07:23 AM   #6
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The bullets shatter and scatter. Best if the targets are angled down to direct the shrapnel or hanging so they can swing a little upon impact. The shrapnel can travel out to the sides and do some damage so keep the areas flanking the targets clear.
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Old October 14, 2017, 08:09 PM   #7
ShootistPRS
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What happens to the bullet is actually pretty remarkable. When the bullet hits a steel plate the nose of the bullet tends to momentarily retain its shape until the rest of the bullet catches up to it. The compression of the bullet heats it up and it "splashes" in a 360 degree pattern that tends to follow the angle of the plate. With the top of the plate angled toward you most of the lead goes toward the ground hitting in a near perfect line that you can find by sighting down the angled plate. There is still some of the lead that splashes up and to the sides. On our steel plates we put rubber pads on the sides to prevent damage to the side walls of the bay and the framework goes across the top at about twelve feet above the ground. The lumber on top has bits of lead and jacket material wearing the wood away. The rubber pads catch fragments of jacket and pits which snag some of the hot lead. It actually melts into the rubber. The bullet doesn't get hot enough to vaporize but it does, at least partially, melt and splatter.
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Old October 15, 2017, 02:24 AM   #8
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I do believe there are some slow motion black and white videos of this exact phenomena.
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Old October 15, 2017, 11:25 AM   #9
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"...the reactions of the bullet..." Depends on the calibre, bullet and the distance. On most typical target steels, a .30 cal. FMJ at 100 will deform and bounce off like a ricochet. A cast bullet will flatten completely and may or may not just drop. A .22 cal, varmint bullet will disintegrate just like it's made to do.
"...17 yards, with .223/5.56. Insane..." Yep. The owners never heard of liability issues?
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Old October 16, 2017, 10:22 PM   #10
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I think that the key thing would be that pistol rounds should be fired at a plate that will deselect them downwards. I was at my range a while back and someone had brought his own plAtes and the bullets were going everywhere because they were jammed into the ground and deflected upwards. I was on a sepARate range with a berm between us and his refuse kept hitting the roof.
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Old October 16, 2017, 11:25 PM   #11
armoredman
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I don't know if this will help or not, best I could do at short notice.

https://youtu.be/mL9YMbYwsYs
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Old October 17, 2017, 12:10 AM   #12
aiming fluid
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Nice video Armored man. I shoot there myself. Fun range, never know what you'll see. I've seen everything from yahoo's drinking beer on the line to full on 50 cal machine gun and a mini gun. Crazy!
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Old October 17, 2017, 12:19 AM   #13
aiming fluid
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And to your question Cola, the bullets largely disintegrate into very small fragments. With Pistol calibers sometimes you are left with a small flattened lead/jacket disk, but it's only a small portion of the original bullet and usually found a few feet in front of the steel target.

Be certain to only shoot steel targets that are designed for it. The steel needs to be hardened and undamaged. If it's pitted then spray could be deflected back to you. The targets themselves should have some movement allowed, by either swinging or hanging them. As stated the bottom of the target should be a bit further than the top to deflect the splash mostly downward. Pistols I shoot steel at over 25 yards, rifle never less than 100.
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Old October 17, 2017, 12:20 AM   #14
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That was a couple of scraps of video from my last one, just fast edited. I have only seen one machine gun, a 1919 on a tripod in the open top concrete section for skeet. I have actually never seen anyone drinking out there, but I don't doubt it happens 95% of the time, just some really nice people, and half the time it's whole families.
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Old October 17, 2017, 12:26 AM   #15
aiming fluid
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Agreed, the beer drinking only happened once. My son and I were shooting on a busy day and this guy comes to shoot next to us. He cracks one open, kindly offered one to me. I said no thanks and promptly left.

I've seen fully auto stuff there about 5 times. The mini gun was astounding!
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Old December 14, 2017, 01:31 AM   #16
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Disintegrate
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Old December 14, 2017, 07:12 AM   #17
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"What are the reactions of the bullet does it stop and fall to the ground or does it ricochet to who knows where."

YES!!
Depending on bullet construction either may happen. I prefer plated lead for shooting steel plates. They typically "rivet" and fall to the ground below a properly hung plate. Jacketed bullets may also rivet or may "rebound" toward or past the shooter.
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Old December 15, 2017, 12:26 AM   #18
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Damaged plates are more likely to reflect chunks back towards the shooter. Of it has lots of divots, reconsider shooting it...
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Old December 15, 2017, 05:58 AM   #19
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Wear quality eye protection. Be at least 15 yards back.
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Old December 20, 2017, 05:24 PM   #20
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I shoot steel a good bit - and here are a few lessons ive learned about pistol caliber..

Plated/jacketed bullets send small fragments everywhere - non jacketed rounds are better.
i think uspsa says no closer than 8 yard. 100+ for rifle caliber
no steel w/ craters
no 5.7 / 22 tcm
angle steel c. 15 degrees to send spash down into ground
use carriage bolts instead of hex head bolts
watch for mounting hardware angles
shoot steel head on (avoid olbique angles)
watch for the welded feet on falling steel targets

if buying steel.. its hard to hear the small gongs.. I suggest 10" or larger and put them further back.
the ar400 stuff works great for 9mm / .40
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Old December 22, 2017, 06:44 AM   #21
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Local range has a nice steel target gallery. The rule are as follows. No rimfire, no rifles/rifle calibers. No magnum loads. No shotguns. There is a large table 15 yards back with a sign that state " no one is to walk past this point. Do not shoot from closer than the table. Eye protection required."
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Old December 23, 2017, 06:45 PM   #22
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I prefer 25yds at a 45* angle .At the sides of the plate welded on 3/4" angle . This works very well up to 44mag. Eye and ear protection.
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Old December 23, 2017, 07:37 PM   #23
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And just to add, you will never want to go to another indoor range again once you are outside shooting steel. It is FUN!!
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Old December 25, 2017, 08:20 PM   #24
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My only experience with shooting steel is with pistol calibers. I've seen cast bullets that only have a dented nose, same with fmj, nickel size flat mushroom head shaped lead, fmj that shatter with the copper fragments on the ground, cast that shatters, basically everything you can think of.

If properly angled downwards you won't have any problems.
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Old December 25, 2017, 11:12 PM   #25
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When I first started shooting steel, I once made the mistake once of putting my AR500 gongs aligned with my paper targets to one side. The bullet fragments or splatter shredded the adjacent targets. Now I put them just a few feet behind my paper targets and don't have any more problems.

I always hang my steel plates at a downward angle, suspended by flexible material and hung at about 3-4 feet high. You can see the ground get torn up directly under the plates where the fragments or splatter is impacting the grass.

I've heard from 3rd parties that very low powered rounds (very light loaded handloads, black powder or Cowboy Action loads) are actually more dangerous, because they can bounce off, rather than fragment. I only use commercial or milsurp FMJ, so I don't shoot light loads on steel and have no personal experience with that.
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