Homemade steel targets

SpitfireV

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#1
Hi all,

Has anybody here made their own steel targets? What kind of steel did you use and what thickness? My uncle is a metal fabricator and can make some up easily enough but there's not many around here to shoot and to ask questions about. I'm looking at shooting mostly 7.62x39 and some x51 as well. I'm still working through some possible designs.

Cheers guys.
 
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#2
It's not just about the thickness but the strength of the metal as well, while this isn't a huge factor it helps prevent pitting and is something to consider if you're shooting "big boy" rounds (.338, .50 BMG, 45-70, etc). I don't know what you're shooting so YMMV.

However what you want to be looking at is what Velocity the rounds you're firing as well as the Foot Pounds when your round is hitting the target. Often times you can get away with thinner metal than what you would think to stop certain rounds down range, it all depends on the magic numbers listed above (Velocity and Foot Pound).

Personal experience is that 1/2" is satisfactory for almost everything at 120+ yards. It's stopped everything from .44 Mag, up to .338 Win Mag, but as I stated all of this depends on the rounds Velocity and Foot Pound when it reaches the target so again, YMMV.

If you want the safest possible option go for 5/8", but as stated earlier it would probably be overkill for anything less than the .50 family of cartridges.
 
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#3
Oh and forgot to mention all of the advice I've given is assuming you're using 500 Brinnel hardened steel, also you'll want to angle your target slightly downwards to help prevent ricochets, and extend the life of the target.
 

SpitfireV

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#4
It's not just about the thickness but the strength of the metal as well, while this isn't a huge factor it helps prevent pitting and is something to consider if you're shooting "big boy" rounds (.338, .50 BMG, 45-70, etc). I don't know what you're shooting so YMMV.

However what you want to be looking at is what Velocity the rounds you're firing as well as the Foot Pounds when your round is hitting the target. Often times you can get away with thinner metal than what you would think to stop certain rounds down range, it all depends on the magic numbers listed above (Velocity and Foot Pound).

Personal experience is that 1/2" is satisfactory for almost everything at 120+ yards. It's stopped everything from .44 Mag, up to .338 Win Mag, but as I stated all of this depends on the rounds Velocity and Foot Pound when it reaches the target so again, YMMV.

If you want the safest possible option go for 5/8", but as stated earlier it would probably be overkill for anything less than the .50 family of cartridges.
Thanks for the reply! I'm shooting 7.62x39 and 7.62x51 but mostly the x39 because of cost. Those rounds are a mix of HP and FMJ (whatever I've got on hand). How do I work out the food pound? Some good stuff to think about here, thanks!
 
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#5
Thanks for the reply! I'm shooting 7.62x39 and 7.62x51 but mostly the x39 because of cost. Those rounds are a mix of HP and FMJ (whatever I've got on hand). How do I work out the food pound? Some good stuff to think about here, thanks!
You should be fine with the rounds you have. AR500 at 1/2" will stop most things aside from aforementioned "big boy" rounds however you may encounter pitting at ranges less than 100 yards.

Like I said it's all about the Velocity and Foot Pound, to calculate Foot Pound you would take Velocity squared times weight of bullet in grains divided by 450,240. So your calculation would look something like this.

Velocity x Velocity x Weight (grains)
-------------------------------------------------------- = ft lb
450,240

Forgot to mention you'll be fine with HP and FMJ rounds, it matters more if you're using a steel core.
 

Ranger Psych

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#7
My steel targets are both freehanging and angled, they're 3/8" AR500, and there's no real wear so far from shooting 308 at 15-50 yds. Being both hanging and angled, they both have a larger effective thickness due to being angled as well as bleed off energy from the swing.
 

SpitfireV

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#9
Brilliant, thanks everyone. Apologies for the late reply- didn't have much time to post via the PC and I hate posting by phone.
 

x SF med

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#10
Here, have some scary video (at least to some people) of a 7 y/o having an absolute blast.

I think I'll hit up gunbroker and pick her up her own rifle tonight. I'm sure the wife will love that.
Da Midget (aka alien space kitty) needs her own shootin iron... and a mickey cake, and ice cream, and her Montana relatives... maybe some NYE fireworks too...
 

Box

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#12
I built a lot of steel targets over the last few years. Most of it was cut from scrap armor plating - a plasma cutter will work great for cutting out your patterns, but you will need to spend some time with a grinder to smooth out the edges unless you want it to look like garbage. Even after you finish welding pieces/parts together, don't forget the grinder. Rudimentary welding skills and some patience with a grinder can produce some really nice looking steel targets.

You also have to be diligent about target maintenance and the type of ammo you plan on shooting - some rifle ammo will damage and pit your targets a lot faster than you expect. Here is a good article that touches on some of the important things you need to focus on if you are going to be shooting at steel targets.....

alloutdoor . com /2014/03/10/understanding-safety-steel-targets/
 

Salt USMC

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#13
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#14
My steel targets are both freehanging and angled, they're 3/8" AR500, and there's no real wear so far from shooting 308 at 15-50 yds. Being both hanging and angled, they both have a larger effective thickness due to being angled as well as bleed off energy from the swing.
I also use an angled, hanging, AR500 steel plate. Just to add to what you said, the angle is also great for deflecting the ricochets down into the dirt. I definitely feel safer shooting at steel that hangs at an angle than steel that is standing up straight, especially when closer than 25 yards. Though I accidentally put a round a little high and to the right, and blew off a link from one of the chains. ..So strong chains are also a plus!
 

Ranger Psych

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#15
I also use an angled, hanging, AR500 steel plate. Just to add to what you said, the angle is also great for deflecting the ricochets down into the dirt. I definitely feel safer shooting at steel that hangs at an angle than steel that is standing up straight, especially when closer than 25 yards. Though I accidentally put a round a little high and to the right, and blew off a link from one of the chains. ..So strong chains are also a plus!
That is why I use conveyor belt, or tire remnants to hang from. It can take multiple hits, but I have yet to test them at all.
 
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#16
That is why I use conveyor belt, or tire remnants to hang from. It can take multiple hits, but I have yet to test them at all.
Dang I never thought about using materials like that instead of chains, I'll have to take another look at my setup. Thanks for the tip!
 
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#18
Most down the range steel:ping targets are made out of hardened martensitic —>“steel crystallite structure” steel. As previously mentioned the type of round you would be using, the distance to the target, the velocity and the ft/lbs of pressure Being exerted by the projectile at whatever distance you have your steel target set up at.
 

256

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#19
That is why I use conveyor belt, or tire remnants to hang from. It can take multiple hits, but I have yet to test them at all.
Tire is a great idea. Does it do a good job of soaking up the slash? I just ordered 3 AR500 steel targets for my homemade railroad tie shoothouse (still sketching out the details on that). I was planning on using frangible only ammo, but maybe I could use your tire idea around the target to soak up the splatter of FMJ.
 

Ranger Psych

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#20
Tire is a great idea. Does it do a good job of soaking up the slash? I just ordered 3 AR500 steel targets for my homemade railroad tie shoothouse (still sketching out the details on that). I was planning on using frangible only ammo, but maybe I could use your tire idea around the target to soak up the splatter of FMJ.
No. The point of tire remnant/sidewall is because it can take being shot, vs hanging the targets from chain that you obliterate with one accidental round. As for a shoothouse, I would sooner dozer up a 3 sided pit and use tyvek on frames with lag bolts to interface with other frames, for an easily reconfigurable setup, than laying down a static building design.
 
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