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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have recently gained access to a nice private range. it has a good dirt berm backed up by railroad ties. My question, however, pertains to the rack of steel targets hanging in front. I don't plan to shoot at them up close, but how close is too close? Where can I find info on safe distances, angles, and calibers? Thanks
 

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The range I run says 30' is as close as you can shoot steel. Ive shot it much closer with no real issues. Bullets either splatter or flatten and bounce depending on how the bullets and plates are designed. Even if they bounce, they have already lost most of their energy on the plate. The fragments can cause a scratch if they hit you. Wear eye protection and you'll be fine.
 

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Señor Mombo
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It depends on how active they are and what angle they present to the shooter before being hit by a bullet.

We've set steel plates four feet from the shooter and had no splash-back. But, we angled those plates very, very carefully and put hay bails immediately in front of them to "collect" fragments. This, of course, is not recommended. I tell it to you to emphasize the angle of the target is key.

By "active" I mean does the target deflect easily when hit by a bullet? Most of the plates we use move slightly when hit, which deflects fragments to the ground. At the end of a match, there will often be a trench beneath each target where bullet fragments have made a trough in the ground. If the targets don't move, you'll get dangerous splash-back -- regardless of the distance you place them.

Finally, and I should have really said this first, you can NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use jacketed bullets on steel plates. When jackets ricochet, they do so as flying cookie cutters. They are very dangerous to anyone near the shooting bay. Again, this is true regardless of the distance the plate is located from the shooter. Also, plates will immediately get pitted from jacketed bullets and the pits will subsequently throw lead fragments in unexpected directions.

If at all possible, do not use carriage bolts to mount plates. Any irregularity on the face of the plate will eventually send bullet fragments in the wrong direction.

So, to summarize:
1. Lead bullets only. Not even copper washed bullets are acceptable.
2. Plates angled down.
3. Plate must be free to move and must move easily.
4. Surface of plate must be clean, smooth, and not pitted.
 

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Plates don't need to be free moving. Fixed plates are fine if the are angled down.

Jacketed(or plated) bullets are perfectly safe. If you're steel gets pitted by jacketed bullets, it isn't good steel. As for fragments, wear shooting glasses and don't be a pansy.
 

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JAFO
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Finally, and I should have really said this first, you can NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use jacketed bullets on steel plates. .


Totally and absolutely Hogwash. :upeyes:
 

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I agree and disagree with some information on here.

I shoot AR500 plate and fabricate mild steel targets.
I doing so, I have done some research on metals, have had pipe welding certifications and instructed a bit on how to do so.

Rather than go through a lengthy explanation on metals and how they hold up to gun fire, I try to give links from different target suppliers so people can actually discuss what these people have researched in depth.

Ok we'll start by reading this. We will read all of it, right?
http://www.actiontarget.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/pt_Steel_Target_Resource_Guide.pdf

Although some of it is repetitious, we will go to Arntzen steel products and read this:

http://www.arntzentargets.com/SteelTypes.htm

So we don't miss any of that pertinent information, we will go to the MGM target FAQ's and read this:

http://mgmtargets.com/faqs?zenid=727ef5760619a626b08d828f44d3fe41



OK, now everyone knows everything about steel or at least what these suppliers have in their publications. Some stuff I disagree with is distance they list for shooting steel. The target manufactures list ranges further than most of us actually shoot steel and it is for liability reasons.

I disagree with a previous poster that jacketed is much more dangerous than lead. I say this from personal experience of having shot multiple thousands of rounds of jacketed at target as close as 5 yds ( handgun). I have occasionally shot closer but not too often.

The mild steel targets I make don't fare well using any rifle rounds, pistol caliber carbine rounds or magnum pistol rounds. However, I have shot or seen thousands upon thousands of pistol rounds impact 1/2" thick mild steel plate that the plate started to bend concave.

Splashback, riccochet, frag return, spatter, splatter, whatever you want to call it is a standard result of shooting any steel with any bullet. You will take some hits.

Now one thing I rarely see mentioned from a safety aspect of shooting steel is the wearing of a baseball style hat with the bill facing FORWARD. Now, you ask, why?
If you read the FAQ's from the suppliers, you will have read that bullet frags explode off a flat surface at about a 20 degree angle. Angling the target face downward will minimize but not totally deflect all frags downward. The bill of the cap ( above your safety glasses) will prevent the shards of jacket :) or lead from dropping down between your safety glasses and your eyeball.
As a welder and construction plumber, I have had many pieces of dust, debris, grinding residue and pieces of metal taken out of my eyes over 36 years of being in the business. It's never any fun and am giving y"all just a bit more incentive to "be safe".
Shooting guns is inherently dangerous. It really is. Shooting at steel compounds the possible consequences of being at the wrong place at the wrong time and taking a frag to the face or elsewhere and requiring some medical procedure.

It has risk. We all have different thresholds to the amount of risk we are willing to take so our opinions generally will reflect that amount.

I've read "it is stupid to shoot steel with a rifle any closer than 200 yds". An opinion that means only something to the poster.

Opinions are like anal apertures. Everybody has one and they all stink but mine.

Enjoy. Be safe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the info.
Some of the targets hang from a chain and swing when hit. Some hinge at the bottom and are spring loaded to come back up after a hit. I'm also concerned about ricochet from the steel framework.
 

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Thanks for the info.
Some of the targets hang from a chain and swing when hit. Some hinge at the bottom and are spring loaded to come back up after a hit. I'm also concerned about ricochet from the steel framework.
Valid concerns.

Although I have shot steel chain hanging targets, a hit on a chain can go anywhere. My advice would be to use some sort of strap instead of chain. This could range from firehose type material to 1" wide strap from ratchet straps or continuous rigging straps.

Framework ricochets are harder to control but you can widen the vertical supports or spread the horizontal supports to minimize this.

I have 2 MGM Colt Speed Plates that also have a self resetting hinge at the bottom. I'm not too concerned as the bullet explodes before the faceplate falls back. If you use pepper poppers and follow the plate down, making additional hits to speed up the fall, you risk hitting it when the angle is so far back that a bullet can skip off the plate and go a ways. Only advice for this is not to "follow the plate down" or follow rule #4 " know what is beyond your target" so skipping bullets will land in an area you know to be clear.

A poster wrote to not use carriage bolts. While I agree somewhat, carriage bolts have a lower curved profile and would be better than hex headed cap screws or bolt heads. I would not weld on AR400 to 500 plate instead of a carriage bolt. The welds wouldn't hold up well so i would opt for carriage bolts. Using longer carriage bolts could help with angling the faceplate forward by attaching the strap/chain further back on the threaded part and the weight of the plate would angle the plate forward as well.
 

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Where did you purchase the steel targets from?
catalyst686,
if you are asking me, I got the 2 6" Colt Speed plates from MGM targets. The link in my previous post should get you there with current pricing. All of the following AR500 targets are 3/8" thick. The spring plates are mild steel and will be modified to have the 8" round AR500 plates on them.



I got these 5 AR500 targets (8" rounds) from a guy on THR (mcosman) for about $25 each a few years back. They are probably higher now if he still sells them.



I got these AR500 plates from Wideners. The small rounds are 6" which will become heads. The bodies are 7 1/2" wide X 13 inches high which will be roughly COM.



I will be using the bottom set to make a couple of these.



This last one is a swing set I made from 1/2" mild steel with 1" diameter bar stock welded to the back. I gave the swinger plates away after they saw thousands of rounds at various group shoots.

 
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