Remington Model 700 XCR Tactical Long Range 300 Win Mag

Monday, March 14, 2011

Home-Made Steel Target Testing

Steel is hands-down my haven't target material but if buying pre-maid targets is very expensive.  After spending some considerable time searching forums I discovered steel target vendor that stood out from the rest - Las Vegas Steel Targets. Here's a video from their website of one of their innovative reactive steel targets.

The down side to these amazing targets is obviously the price. At this point I just can't justify $2-300 for a target so last week Eddie and I visited several scrap yards and metal retailers in search for a do-it-yourself alternative. The first metal yard had a huge selection of scrap as well as a whole section of pre-cut target sized pieces of varying sizes and thickness. Apparently they had seen guys like us before and had exactly what we were looking for, specifically a 1/2" thick by 18" diameter circular steel plate as well as some smaller 10" & 12" square and circular versions. The downside once again was the price. The 18" plate was nearly $50 which isn't horrible but it was only 1/2"which we weren't certain would withstand a 300 Win Mag at less than 500 yards. We did find several thicker 3/4" and 1"+ plates but the price was $.55 to $.60 per pound just like the 18" plate but heavier. Once again we were looking at $50+ and thought we could do better.

At the second location, more of a scrap yard than a retail metal lot like the other we found a much smaller selection but we loved the $.40 per pound price for any scrap metal regardless of thickness. We settled on two 3/4" thick by 12" in diameter plates for $8.00 each which we thought was a "steal."'

From there I spent an hour at home depot deciding on something like a saw horse to hang it from. My initial thought was a foldable steel saw horse but at $30+ for the heavy version with adjustable legs and $18 for a light weight non adjustable version I found myself wanting the heavy adjustable version but only wanting to spend $18.  I also realize that if placed on a hill which is likely going to be the case I would need the adjustable legs. In the end I bought neither and instead had a much better idea that was lighter, sturdier, cheaper, adjustable and packs away very compact.

Home Depot
- $6.50 for three 4 ft pre-cut lengths of rebar
- $3 for 3 ft of chain for hanging
- $3 for a roll of tie wire to lash legs together & mount plate to chain. (already had some)

Here is what I came up with -

I was extremely proud of my home-made steel target and stand for less than $20. 

Unfortunately, I was banking on the steel being more than adequate to withstand the 300 Win Mag at 200+ yards but I was sorely mistaken. After the first shot I could see through the scope that there was much more than a black splatter left on the plate, even at 250 yard it looked like a crater.  I couldn't believe that the hole left behind nearly went all the way through the plate and was big enough to put my index finger in with room to spare.  


My hope was that this steel was the the AR 500 that I read about in the forums or at least something close to it but based on the result I am now certain that it is just standard rolled steel and that even with the steel swinging it still was no match for the 300 Win Mag at 250 yards.

Back of plate protrudes from 300 Win Mag hit. Would have blown thru a 1/2" plate. 

The larger holes are 300 Win Mag, the smaller & more shallow are .308 Win (far left edge & center of mass right) 

The setup. 68 gr of Win 760 pushing 168 gr Speer BTHP at 3150 fps. 

A look through the Nightforce NXS 5.5 - 22 x 56 mm with NP-R2 Reticle at 250 yds. (22 x shown) 

The moral of the story - 
If you're going to make a steel target for large caliber rifles you have to use AR steel which is very expensive (approximately $1200 for 4' x 8' sheet) or buy your targets pre-made from Las Vegas Steel Targets (link is above.) 

As for us, we're going to keep trying our luck at the scrap yards locally and we'll keep you posted. 

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