Proper steel type for plates?

Discussion in 'The Basics, Starting Out' started by Garrum, Jul 13, 2002.

  1. Garrum

    Garrum Member

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    Having never shot at steel plates before, or even seen one for that matter, I was wondering what type of steel I would need for 300-400 yard plates. I would be shooting them with a 7mm RM loaded with either Hornady 139gr SST's or Nosler 140gr BT's, both at about 3200-3300 fps.

    I was thinking of maybe six or eight inch round plates to simulate the kill zone of a whitetail (Southern Alabama whitetail deer that is. Kinda small. Maybe should be three to six inch plates...hmmm)

    Regardless, if anyone could share their knowledge on this, I would be grateful.
     
  2. Dave King

    Dave King Well-Known Member

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    The steel I shoot is 3/8" Brinnel 500 rated. A steel shop should be able to get AR400 or AR500 steel for you. AR = Abrasion Resistant and the nuber rating as I understand it is the hardness rating.

    The problem is going to be the velocity from the 7mm RM, high velocity rounds go through some pretty hard steel so you may need to move the steel further out or shoot a heavier bullet.

    With the 3/8" 500 Brinnel steel we can shoot for years with 308's and 168's & 175's or use the big magnums and heavy bullets and never burn through BUT a hot loaded 300 Win mag with 180's will burn through at 250 yards. A hot loaded 338 Lapua with 200 Ballistic Tips will burn through at 350 yards.

    Mild steel give a less resounding "gong", hard steel a little nicer in the reply and can be heard better from further distances or on windy days.

    Ian M reports that by angling the steel so that the round strikes an deflects into the ground helps prevent burn through (and shrapnel too I'd imagine).
     
  3. daveosok

    daveosok Guest

    Have you ever tried welding 3 3/8's thick plates together? Ive shot at mild steel that was a 1.25 thick and with a 7mm STW. Of course at 100 yards youll do some impressive damage but when you get out to 500 yards its a nice SMACK sound. Give it a shot and see if your loads do any damage to it.
     
  4. Garrum

    Garrum Member

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    Well, leaving them out in the field isn't an option, as their are vandels and thieves living within driving distance of the area where I would be shooting. That was part of the reason that I want them to be somewhat small. Also, I don't have a trailer to haul with either, but that idea of hanging them off of a sawhorse sounds good, because I could fit a disassembled saw horse in the back of my truck (Bronco 2, fairly small if you've never seen one,).

    What I may try is welding a couple of pieces of 1/4 together and angling them a little like Ian M. suggests, and just seeing what happens. I think I can get a few scrap pieces of 1/4 for free, so if they act like wet paper, all I would be out is a little acetalyne.

    Thanks for the info everyone, when I finally get it done I'll let you know how it turns out.
     
  5. Ian M

    Ian M Well-Known Member

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    We shoot two different sizes of steel for two different purposes. The smaller square plates, ranging from 6x6 to 15x15 inches are just plain to hit out at 700 and longer and they are about the size of the vital area of a critter or smaller. The big 40x40, 24x48's and others are nice for getting initial drop settings as we can walk the group into the center of the plate for a zero. Bullet impact location is easy to see at long range through the scope or a spotter. They are also used for shooting groups as we can get a rough measurement from the center of the bullet splat, there is always a neat black spot at impact. Not as good as paper but still good enough to tell a 5" group from a 6" group out there.

    You could pick up some cheap sawhorse hinges and five pieces of 2"x4" (four legs and a center piece) and some chain or poly rope, that is all you need. We use "S" hooks through two 1/4 or 1/2 inch holes at the top of the plate to hang them with. Shrapnell will cut polyrope, light chain is better and get extra because you will eventually cut the chain with a bullet.
     
  6. Ian M

    Ian M Well-Known Member

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    Dave,
    I would even try to hang two or three pieces of steel one behind the other without welding them, should be quite a commotion happening when you hit the front one.

    First, there are two considerations. Are the plates left on the range or field or do you have to remove them and travel with them. Obviously traveling with big sheets of 1/2" plate is ugly. We have to do that and have started to use a wheeled dolley to move them with, saves the back. Have an old boat trailer to haul all the damn steel on. Can even drag it out in a pasture if necessary if we can't drive off trails.

    I shoot steel a lot and have changed my attitude towards my steel plates. I have some big plates for long range, 1/2 mild steel cut 30x30 inches and even bigger. Also have some .375" mild steel at 40x40 which is nice for catching bullets. Now I am leaning towards 2x4 foot pieces of 1/4 inch steel. Much easier to handle but they get beat up and perforated. Nice to keep them in good shape, don't dimple, gouge or punch them but what the hell, steel is NOT expensive and so what if you blow some holes through it or bend it into a bow.

    We are using either old swing sets or simple saw-horses made with old 2x4's and 5 dollar saw-horse clamps to hold the steel - both are light and dirt cheap. My buddy just bought a pretty good swingset at a yardsale for $1.00.

    I believe our next "test" will be hanging two or three pieces of 1/4" or 3/8" plate in tandem to see how much noise they make when hit. Also know some guys who are shooting old discer blades.
     
  7. Brent

    Brent Well-Known Member

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    If you don't mind it being all dimpled up good, the 308 win at 300yds 2600MV with Failsafes left pretty good goosebumps on the backside of 1/2" mild steel and a little bigger on the 3/8".

    I would get T-1 steel if using it that close or with higher power cartridges. I just got a 15"x20" remnant of T-1 last week and am going out tomarrow with the 300WM at 300yds with the new Nightforce to sight in. They said it was WAY harder. They didn't even want to put the 4' long piece in the shear so I could fit it in the car but he did. He said it would dull the blades if they did it too many times so they don't. I don't know what hardness it is though.
     
  8. RiverRat

    RiverRat Well-Known Member

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    T 1 is about as good as you can get. My shooting buddies and I have nearly 30 steel plates 3/8" thick all made of T 1 of various sizes and shapes that have been hit thousands of times through the years and are no worse for wear. Course we dont'set them at 100 yards and shoot them with a AR 50 either. On plate has a very small dimple in from being hit with a 50 at 750 yards. T 1
    is not cheap but it will last forever if taken care of.
     
  9. Brent

    Brent Well-Known Member

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    Gary,
    I never got to shoot at the T-1 plate I got this weekend, my shooting area has been overtaken by water from the river for the time being.

    My swingset the plates hang on is just standing out there waiting for the water to go down so I can get over to it.

    Can you tell me how close I could get to the T-1 plate shooting a 300WM with 200gr Gamekings and leave no dimples in it?

    The mild steel ones I've shot at so far now have a couple good dimples in each of them that sometimes appear to be a hit when shot at even after spray painting them white just because of the shadow of the dent.

    They paint up quick and clean if they stay smooth on the front and show nothing but pure white for another round.

    The kids arn't exactly shooting 6 and 700 yards yet if you no what I mean. They really enjoy hitting the steel though. It's just that their destroying it.
     
  10. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Writers Guild

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    Sorry I'm pulling this post out of the past but I was curious what type of results brent got when he finally shot the T1 plate with a 300win mag.

    I recently came across a free chunk of 3/4" T1 and I am having the local machine shop class turn it down to be exactly 1moa at 1100yds OD. Then they are putting grooves in the face that represent 1 moa at each hundred yard mark. I will be drilling and tapping the back for eyebolts and that way it will hang slightly forward at the top.

    My friend has a 300 and we dont want to punch holes in the plate if we can avoid it.
     
  11. dbhostler

    dbhostler Well-Known Member

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    I shoot at a 3/4" piece @ 400 yds. A 338 RUM with a Barnes X will go about half way through it and leave a "milk splash" rim around the POI. A 300 WSM with a 180 Barnes X will leave the same impression though not as deep. A 7 RUM with a 140gr NBT will make a slight dimple and a 223 with a 69gr SMK will only knock off the paint. Don't know the hardness of this steel. 19" in dia 75lbs and doesn't move much when hit even with the 338. I think I'll make an end table out of it when it's shot up. Maybe put an inch coat of epoxy over it. Something you don't see every day. [​IMG]
    db
     
  12. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Writers Guild

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    Thanks for the info db. We will mostly be shooting our .308 wins at it. I will just have him hold off on 300 win mag shots under 600 yds.

    I wonder what would happen if I heated the whole plate up to cherry red and plunge quenched it. That might bee all I need to increase the hardness of T1. I'll have to look into it. I'll let you know what I find.
     
  13. Brent

    Brent Well-Known Member

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    This IS a dated thread. I gave the 3/8" T1 plate to an older gentleman friend of mine that fall, never did shoot it until I had it all set up 100yds off his porch for him.

    He shoots 308 and 7.62x39 SKS and pistols at it. He only shoots 100 yards and had never shot steel before... now he's hooked.

    The 3/8" T1 turned out perfect for Joe, no dimples what so ever at 100yds with terminal velocity at about 2400 fps in the 308. However, my Dad shot it in the very top corner to see what his 300 WSM with 180 Barnes X bullets would do, perfect hole through it, so...

    I can only guess that if it was in fact just "barely" putting the holes through it, then as hard as that stuff is, you might get 500, or even 300 yards away without divots in it.

    Now yours is 3/4" TI, so unless the surface is just still too soft, (maybe all T1 is) you might have to keep it out there to keep the divots from forming in the front. It isn't going to bend or dimple out on the back, it's just to hard and thick.

    T1 is a lot harder than mild steel plate, but still lacks the hardness that 500 brinnel has, that's what I've gathered by guys that shoot the 500 brinnel up real close with the 300wm and faster.

    I wish I had a nice piece like that! Should be a great one. [​IMG] Start far out there, 500 or so and work on in with heavy loads until you don't like what you see on the plate. Bout all I can say. Take good notes on what range and loads you used! Hell, that thing should last forever! [​IMG]

    I think DBhostler was using 3/4" mild steel by his descriptions of the divot depths.

    A 300 WSM with a 180 has about 2400 fps (3100 fps MV) terminal velocity at 400yds, same as the 308 does at 100 yds. 3/8" T1 doesn't divot, and 3/4" T1 shouldn't either.

    Ian's shot lots of 3/4" mild steel, he'd know for sure.
     
  14. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

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    Last summer I started shooting steel. I have a couple pieces of 2 ft by 4 ft by 3/8 steel that is rated as T-520.

    At 2,400 fps terminal velocity with a 176 grain Cauterucio, you can't tell where it was hit once you repaint it. FWIW

    [ 01-13-2004: Message edited by: Len Backus ]