Home made steel targets

esshup

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Mar 23, 2008
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674
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N. Central Indiana
I'll put a divot about 1/4 the way throught a 1/2" piece of AR400 that freely swings at 300 yds. with the 7mm Allen Magnum with either 175g SMK's at a MV of 3475 or 180g Berger VLD's at 3375.
 

nmbarta

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Mar 8, 2014
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691
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billings mt
Lots of back and forth, lots of opions on this.
Shooting mild steel in general isn't a great idea from a safety standpoint.
Know your target and beyond is one of the basic rules. If you don't know what your bullet is going to do when it hits a target at whatever range, velocity, angle,fixed or not, your breaking rules my 11 year old kid wouldn't break. If you don't know what happens when you hit the target, you don't know your target.
I buy ar 500 at scap prices from a local fab shop, or about 50 bucks a ton. Most guys that own welding shops own guns and like gun owners, most are happy to help with this sort of thing, you just have to find one that uses ar 500. Look for guys that fix heavy equipment, they probably have some laying around.
Don't try to harden the steel yourself, its not going to happen, zero chance of that.
 

ntsqd

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Nov 16, 2015
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796
Location
Upper SoKA
Lots of back and forth, lots of opions on this.
Shooting mild steel in general isn't a great idea from a safety standpoint.
Know your target and beyond is one of the basic rules. If you don't know what your bullet is going to do when it hits a target at whatever range, velocity, angle,fixed or not, your breaking rules my 11 year old kid wouldn't break. If you don't know what happens when you hit the target, you don't know your target.
Somebody had to break those rules or no one would know what to expect.
........
Don't try to harden the steel yourself, its not going to happen, zero chance of that.
Normally I would disagree with this statement. You can heat-treat most steel alloys at home if you've educated yourself on the topic and you're not trying to do or work with something exotic. Look up the Gingery Bros. books on amazon, there's likely one that covers this. However, with the large sections being discussed the odds of someone at home having the means to get that much mass up to the temperature(s) required isn't all that likely.
And, merely hardening the steel would not be a good idea. Hard = brittle. May as well shoot at rocks because it's going to behave the same way. Hardened + Tempered = now we're talking.
 

Revolting Peasant

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May 10, 2017
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161
Location
Matagorda, Texas
At a time I had access to lots of scrap mild steel I used to make targets. I still use a bunch of them. 1/4” up to 3” thick. My experience, I only use mild steel inside of 200 yards for .22 long rifle. Thick mild steel works fine for me at longer ranges but I don’t have neighbors so am not too worried about bullet splatter. Ricochets are minimized by angled targets and target placement but happen more as the target face gets torn up and cratered. I have gradually purchased more AR500 targets over the years as I found deals. Yes, they have a different sound. Make em thick, get em way out there, and consider them consumables.
They made some welding rods for hard facing earth moving equipment blade edges. Wonder how that would work on a target face? Don’t know if they still make them or if it would be economically feasible.
 

Revolting Peasant

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May 10, 2017
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161
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Matagorda, Texas
IF you have a place to use them at longer ranges, you are probably gonna wish you bought all of them....
I use a tractor front end loader with pallet forks to move/hang the bigger ones. Too heavy and the bullet craters get sharp edges that tear up skin and clothes. Have fun!
 

redneckdan

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Joined
Aug 2, 2007
Messages
244
Location
MN Iron Range
They made some welding rods for hard facing earth moving equipment blade edges. Wonder how that would work on a target face? Don’t know if they still make them or if it would be economically feasible.

I have tried Lawson Cronatron 7355 and also overlay plate. They were too brittle. They are more of a high abrasion low impact carbide material. Cronatron 777 Austenitic might work. I have not had an opportunity to try it though.
 

ntsqd

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Nov 16, 2015
Messages
796
Location
Upper SoKA
I have tried Lawson Cronatron 7355 and also overlay plate. They were too brittle. They are more of a high abrasion low impact carbide material. Cronatron 777 Austenitic might work. I have not had an opportunity to try it though.
That was my guess, but no practical experience with any of them.

Merely Abrasion Resistant plate is relatively easy, pick your alloy and run with it. Impact resistant AR plate isn't quite as easy. Narrows the available choices considerably because most aren't designed to be both impact resistant and abrasion resistant. ~20 years ago when I had a project that required impact resistant AR plate in a thin section meant that I had two choices locally, Core 10 and Ten-X. There were one or two other alloys available, but my need for 10 gauge max thickness means that I've forgotten all that weren't offered that thin. I've got to think that the whole HSLA market has changed considerably since then.
 

redneckdan

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Aug 2, 2007
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244
Location
MN Iron Range
0 There were one or two other alloys available, but my need for 10 gauge max thickness means that I've forgotten all that weren't offered that thin. I've got to think that the whole HSLA market has changed considerably since then.

Its crazy what the steel industry is able to do. We've developed some amazing products especially in the auto industry in the last few years. Obviously this stuff is like non-canister powders, it isn't available on the normal markets.
 

Blackhawk

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Joined
Mar 29, 2018
Messages
220
Location
Florida
Until proven sufficiently hard, I would not use any caliber of high vel rifle on this at 100yds. Pistol calibers will be ok and lower vel rifles. I have shot holes through 1/2-5/8" railroad bedding plates with 22/250, 243, 6mm, 25-06 etc, and even won a bet in the 80's by shooting a 130gr 270W and 168gr 30-06 through a piece of 5/8" cold roll steel.

As long as a sufficient type bullet is used, Velocity is the key.

At my old club, I saw mild 1" plates become rifle cratered rather quickly, and bullet fragments ricochet every which way. And a 5 piece set of 1/2" dueling pistol plates become destroyed by a couple of misfits using old 7.62x54R steel jacketed ammo.

That said, your purchase is very cheap, so use your best judgement and safety.
I know at my range the RSO will ask you what grade of steel and it's rating before allowing the use of any steel targets.
He will want to see proof of the grade of steel and its ballistic rating before allowing you to use it.
If you can not provide documentation it will not be allowed.
The reason is that people in the past were tense used soft steel or one that was rated for a 22 and the resulted ricochets as well as deflections. became deadly missiles.
Not to mention that the soft steel quickly became bent and distorted and in some cases the bullets themselves penetrated the soft steel and kept on going.
Enough Said!
 

Hugnot

Formerly 'HUGNOT'
Joined
Sep 26, 2020
Messages
77
Location
Montana
I once shot at a range where mild steel was used for targets. In addition to spatter and flying hot steel as evidenced from deep craters, hot glowing fragments flew and occasionally started fires.

I use store bought hard steel targets & hang them using straps cut from mud flaps so they swing back and deflect bullet fragments down. Looking at features near steel targets it can be seen that they show signs of being blasted with bullet fragments and possibly steel fragments. Higher velocity strikes produce shallow craters in hard steel targets. Plastic tape streamers used to gauge wind don't last long even when positioned 3 feet away from the steel.

Bullets containing hard penetrator cores also do a number on even hard steel targets. I remember seeing a penetrator core firmly embedded into a 3 inch thick slab of mild steel, it looked like remnants of some .50 BMG bullet (armor fiercing).

I only feel comfortable when steel targets are at least 200 yards away, unless tiny steel chickens at 40 yards for .22LR silhouette shooting sitting on railroad ties in front of a soft sand berm.
 

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