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What type of steel for target?

Discussion in 'Tactics and Training' started by ugly8604, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. ugly8604


    Sep 28, 2005
    Hey guys,

    I'm planning on purchasing some steel and building my own targets for outdoor range use. I plan on shooting .45 ACP along with some .223. I have a .308 Socom as well but I don't think it would be feasible to shoot steel targets with it. Can anybody recommend a certain type/thickness that would be ideal for my situation?

    Thank you.

  2. HK Dan

    HK Dan

    Mar 27, 2008
    For handguns, soft steel is okay. It does dimple, but if it's not for club use, it'll last for YEARS. For Rifle, it's pretty well got to be AR500. I'd go with nothing less than 3/8 in eiher case, but went with 1/2" for my club stuff. Holding up well.

    Hint--no less than 10 yards for handgun, no less than 100 yards for rifle.
  3. Gallium

    Gallium CLM

    Mar 26, 2003

    Good points.

    To add, if you limit ammo to frangible only, you can shoot handgun at as close as 10ft.

  4. degoodman

    degoodman Out of Columbus

    Jun 7, 2004
    Marysville, OH
    Honestly, get some professionally made steel targets for range use.

    Yes, they aren't cheap, but the steels used in steel targets aren't cheap for the home shop machinist, and poor cutting, welding or assembly techniques will weaken even the best steels.

    #2, .223 is one of the hardest calibers out there on steel targets. there's a reason that silhouette targets are generally limited to calibers 6mm/.243 or larger. .224's of any stripe pock mark and crater the targets, when larger bores, as long as you're not using .308 AP's, simply don't. If you want to shoot .223, its even more imperitive that you shoot at a high quality, commercially manufactured target.

    The article beatcop posted brings most of the key points regarding steel targets. well designed steel targets move, and are angled to the shooter at rest to deflect energy instead of straight absorbing it. Range is critical, and it needs to be farther than most people think. Also, having seen it on more than a few CAS ranges, you need to be shooting "full power" ammo for safety. Lots of CAS guys are shooting powderpuff loads that don't generate enough energy to destroy the bullet on impact with the target, and as a result, whole or nearly whole slugs frequently find their way back towards the line. soft loaded .45 ACP's are another caliber that sends slugs back towards the line. Load your ammo to at least the common major / minor power floors for the action games to make sure the targets don't bounce them back at you.

    Unless you're experienced and know what you're doing, be careful manufacturing your own steel targets. it takes more skill and engineering than is appearant on first glance.
  5. ugly8604


    Sep 28, 2005
    Thank you all for your informative responses.
  6. Amen! Properly hardened steel is not going to cost that much extra, and it will serve you much better, longer, and with more safety.
  7. HK Dan

    HK Dan

    Mar 27, 2008
    I had poppers cut from a 4x8 sheet of AR500. The steel alone was $700, and the poppers were laser cut. I made bases from 1/4" steel, also laser cut. All of my plates were laser cut from soft steel, and my steel IDPA targets were laser cut from a second sheet of AR500.

    We've made 7 Reeds Rattlers, 7 pop ups, 5 drop turners, and a bunch of other steel framed target stands that cause motion. Plans are available for use.

    You can make your own, and save a ton (not to mention shipping). It's perfectly safe as long as you keep your thinking cap on, and know what you want.

  8. MTPD


    Nov 9, 2005
    If you limit your steel shooting to pistols, soft steel is fine and scrap pieces in torso-sizes are often available in junk metal yards dirt cheap, i.e. $10-$20 each.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010