Can steel targets be too thick/heavy?

Jun 19, 2008
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#1
I have some steel targets for centerfire that I also shoot for 22lr. They are thicker, like 1/2 inch +. I have them hanging with a downward face angle to keep the spall going down. For safety, can steel targets be too thick (really heavy I guess) so that the target doesn't move? Is there a line where if the target has a combo of mass, angle and movement that you risk return ricochets? Especially with subsonic rounds?
 
Jan 28, 2010
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#2
Hmm, I’ve shot 1/2” with a lot of guns and never had any. I guess there is always a chance but if they’re angled down I wouldn’t think it’s a problem when shooting handguns.
 
Aug 8, 2017
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#3
It's not a "problem" for the target to be super thick for rimfire but it you like the instant feedback from the steel, which is why we shoot steel, you won't get it. I ran into that just recently shooting 22 pistol on some targets that are 3/4" thick. They don't wiggle in the slightest and only a flat pop sound for contact, like a bug on a windshield. Thin ones are much more fun.
 

lash

Swamp Rat
Sep 28, 2012
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#5
I've been using 3/16" AR400 for .22 and like the results. You get movement and sound. As far as ricochet goes, as long as your steel is angled downward, you have nothing to worry about. The only other time that it will be an issue is if you have pock-marked the steel to create craters. Cratered steel has the very real potential for return or sideways ricochet.
 
Jun 19, 2008
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#6
Thanks for the comments. The biggest one I have is a 10ish inch round with a center hole (2-3 inches). At least with the center hits, I can see them. When the face gets worked over it gets hard. When I was talking to Hoser about targets, he talked about getting reading on left-right side from the twist of the target from impact- something a bit harder to read from a wide-space, double hung target.
 
Jul 7, 2005
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#8
I bought 1/4" thick AR500 gongs (8",6",4", 3") from X-Treme Steel a year or so ago specifically for 22RF, since I didn't have anything smaller than 6" square x 3/8" thick CF steel, and wanted something light enough to be easier to move & set up for RF shooting. Even up close (50yds), the 8" gong doesn't move much when hit with std vel match grade ammo. I like to use them as a KYL rack at 200yds, where the 3" gongs (one square, one round) are the only ones that move much when hit at that distance.
 

lash

Swamp Rat
Sep 28, 2012
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#10
Interesting timing. I was at the range today and saw a couple guys shooting small light steel just hung on standing plant hooks you get at the hardware store. They ring out pretty nicely with just .22 impacts. High power would decimate those, but for .22 it seems like an option.
 

Spblademaker

Don’t tell my wife
Oct 24, 2017
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#12
With properly designed/hardened targets the risk is almost nonexistent. Spall angle is pretty consistent as long as there is no craters/pocking/cratering on the face of the target. I’ve shot ARs at targets inside of 15 yards as well as slugs. Never been hit by anything. But always follow manufacturers recommended distances and use proper ammo. Results vary. 😊

http://www.alloutdoor.com/2014/03/10/understanding-safety-steel-targets/
 
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#13
I’ve shot ARs at targets inside of 15 yards as well as slugs. Never been hit by anything. But always follow manufacturers recommended distances and use proper ammo. Results vary. 😊

http://www.alloutdoor.com/2014/03/10/understanding-safety-steel-targets/
Rifled slugs can be a problem on steel plates because of their mass and construction especially the standard hollow base rifled slugs. The velocity of the slug is insufficient to completely spall the slug resulting in large pieces flying around. The most dangerous possibility is the nose of the slug getting pushed through the skirt and being directed back toward the shooter. I HAVE SEEN THIS HAPPEN. The nose of the slug has more than enough mass and velocity to be lethal when pushed back through the skirt. Shooting the plate on an angle could mitigate this effect to some degree but maybe not.

Hope this helps.

Stephen Vincent
Hang Fast Targets
 

Spblademaker

Don’t tell my wife
Oct 24, 2017
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#14
Rifled slugs can be a problem on steel plates because of their mass and construction especially the standard hollow base rifled slugs. The velocity of the slug is insufficient to completely spall the slug resulting in large pieces flying around. The most dangerous possibility is the nose of the slug getting pushed through the skirt and being directed back toward the shooter. I HAVE SEEN THIS HAPPEN. The nose of the slug has more than enough mass and velocity to be lethal when pushed back through the skirt. Shooting the plate on an angle could mitigate this effect to some degree but maybe not.

Hope this helps.

Stephen Vincent
Hang Fast Targets
Jackets are problematic as well. I watched a shooter hit a homemade cratered target, get cut by a pice of jacket that came back at him from a 9mm. It cut his ear and got caught in his hat. Even 45ACP at 25 yards can come back at you. Crazy things happen sometimes. So we do everything to reduce the risk in case it does. Shoot quality targets. Follow manufacturers recommended distances. Angle aids in deflecting more spall downwards. Close-range steel shooting is best done with frangibles.
 
#15
Jackets are problematic as well. I watched a shooter hit a homemade cratered target, get cut by a pice of jacket that came back at him from a 9mm. It cut his ear and got caught in his hat. Even 45ACP at 25 yards can come back at you. Crazy things happen sometimes. So we do everything to reduce the risk in case it does. Shoot quality targets. Follow manufacturers recommended distances. Angle aids in deflecting more spall downwards. Close-range steel shooting is best done with frangibles.
It's not the jacket as much as the "cratered" target plate. Cratered plates are VERY DANGEROUS and can be fatal.
Never... ever shoot a cratered plate. Also, a plate on a welded on "foot" can direct spall back to the shooter. My wife caught a jacket frag in her neck from a plate on a foot at a local indoor shooting match. It was touching her artery but didn't cut it.
 
#17
Heck I shoot some stainless steel 1/2" blind flanges of varying diameter that my son-in-law brings home from work for me. They work like a champ! Just re paint every now and again
Wear eye protection and keep a tourniquet in your shooting bag. Everyone should have these items when shooting on general principles but especially when shooting soft steel.
 

whatsupdoc

Duck season
Dec 12, 2017
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#19
Shooting at metal is fun but there is risk. I have steel plates set up for pistol, many times during rapid fire the plates will swing back past their tilted forward position.
 
Dec 21, 2012
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#20
The 3/4 scale crow and the 5" circle are 1/2" and they just kind of make a smack, no ring, no swing. The 1.5" on the far left is 1/4 or 3/8 it's noisy and spins like crazy.

I have made others that hang from chain and they ring really nice and have a lot more movement. 20180111_140952.jpg
 
Jun 19, 2008
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#22
I was thinking 22lr mainly since I posted this here. Are there ‘jacketed’ 22lr? They are coated at best, eh? My main concern was thicker, larger steel not ‘giving’ when struck and 22 subs not having enough energy to spall.

Anyone ever bungee cord a small cowbell to the back of steel for long range 22 shooting to improve acoustic detection?
 

lash

Swamp Rat
Sep 28, 2012
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#23
I'm telling you, get a few plant shepherd's hooks from your local hardware store or Amazon. Then buy some 3/16-1/4" AR400 steel from a number of places online. Run an eye bolt through the mounting hole and use that to slip over the hook or just slip the gong right on the hook.

They ring like a bell, even at 200+ yards as long as you keep them small enough, like 10" diameter max for distance and 4" or so at 100.

The bell thing could work too as long as it was behind the steel and light enough to ring well with a light hit but heavy enough to have a sound that carries.
 
Jan 20, 2005
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#24
CCI SV at 215 yards definitely moves and rings an AR500 - 7" gong - 3/8" thick while hanging from a chain on a shepherds hook. While an AR500 - 2" gong - 1/2" thick at 100 yards makes a thud while hanging from a chain on a shepherds hook.
 

lash

Swamp Rat
Sep 28, 2012
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#25
I just finished running a long range .22 LR match at our club, where we shot out as far as 328 yards. Here's what worked for steel based on that experience. My small (5" dia. to 2" dia.) 3/8" AR500 targets all worked really well at ranges from 25-100 yards. I hung them on belts, 3/8" small plant hooks and also using para-cord hanging from a 1/2" rebar. plenty of good sound and movement. At 220 yards, I had a 12"x12" square cut from regular 1/8" cold roll hung from two holes by a bungee cord. It range out like a bell on impact and showed plenty of movement easily seen without a spotter. It did however, dent slightly from some people using hyper velocity .22 LR rounds, so I might up that to 3/16" cold roll. That is unless I find someone actually making them in 3/16" or less AR500.

At 328 yards (300 meters), I had my friend make up a 20" square target from 1/8" cold roll. That still made audible hits at the line and very easily spotted impacts. No real visible dents at that range. I did have 3/8" AR500 at both distances, but movement and sound were not stellar when at all. A 1/4"x10" dia. AR500 target at 220 was audible and showed good visible impacts, but not much movement.

I hope that this helps someone with comparisons.
 
Jan 15, 2010
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#27
If you can get your hands on concrete saw cutting blades that are used up they make excellent targets. Thin high grade tempered steel discs that ring like a real gong.
 

Snuby642

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 11, 2017
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#28
Had a close call a month ago shooting 45 acp on a very thick steel plate.
The plate was about 2 inches thick, no idea what it came from.
The center was flat and then rounded to the edges.
One round came back square at my face, i could feel the wind on my ear.
That was at 30 yards shooting fmj ?230grI think.
Backed up and got on an angle to it, no more problems, just scared me.
Was shooting suppressed.
The sound it makes passing by your head is memorable.
Had a round come back at an IDPA shoot once, cracked my tooth.

Just dont ever forget eye pro!
 
Nov 8, 2013
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#29
As others have stated, shepards hooks work great!! It solved our intermittent flying shrapnel issue at our pistol range, we bought all our ar500 steel plates from the same shop for pistol and rifle range so the plates just slipped into the hooks with their 1/2 holes. Seemingly endless supply of shepards hooks at the local home improv stores.

I've seen with mine own two eyes at 200yds shooting cci sv on a 10" .5 thick ar500 plate there is still good positive movement when that little lead pill hits.
 
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