Steel Reactive Target For Handguns


Design Considerations

Using the experience I gathered from building a small caliber target To Read More, I applied many of the same principles to a large caliber target.  Owing to the inherent danger when using firearms, I cannot warrant  fitness for a particular use.

Moving vs. Static

Ability of the target to swing is paramount to its longevity.  Much of the impact is dissipated if the target arm swings freely.  While the bullet disintegrates almost instantaneously upon impact, there is still energy dissipation.  This is obvious when you see the target swing violently 🙂 .  Swing is limited though……..I don’t want the thing to spin, and I want it to be ready for the next round in a reasonable time.  So swing was limited to some degree in order for the target arm to stabilize for the next go-around.

Target Angle

I see most commercial targets angled towards the shooter.  The top of the target leans towards the shooter.  The claim is…….the fragments, and possible ricochets, will be directed into the ground at this angle.  SORRY GUYS……..YA AIN’T GOT IT RIGHT.  A bullet disintegrates in a completely radial pattern.  EQUAL AMOUNTS OF LEAD SPATTER RADIATE ALL AROUND THE IMPACT AREA.  It goes towards the ground, off to the sides, and up in the air!  What goes up,,,,comes down 😀 .  So…where does all the up-in-the-air stuff come down?????????????  It can come down on your head if the target top is angled toward you 🙂 .

Lead spatter radiates from the face of the target in a cone shaped pattern.  There is about a 20 degree deflection of the fragments outwards from the point of impact.  So….the lead spatter which goes up, will go up at a 20 degree angle.  This angle is the “launch” angle of the fragments headed towards you.  It’s like the trajectory of a mortar.  A steep curve.  The higher the point of the curve, the closer the projectiles land to the mortar.  Angling the face of the target towards the shooter flattens the trajectory, and launches the fragments further towards the shooter.  That’s just plain ol’ dumb 🙂 .

To reduce the chance of fragments hitting the shooter, it’s wise to have the target at a 90 degree angle to the point of impact.  The target plate should face the shooter absolutely flat, like a wall.

So, what happens when the target swings??????  Doesn’t this change the angle?????

A bullet disintegrates almost instantaneously upon impact.  The residual energy AFTER IMPACT is the force that makes the target swing.  The bulk of the bullet has already disintegrated before this happens.  What’s left of the bullet will rebound slightly, and drop at the face of the target (if you’re facing the target when firing, and not trying to stand at some weird angle to cause ricochets).

All test firing resulted in this deposited directly in front, and below, the target.bullet spatter.45ACP FMJ at standard velocity.  ALL DEPOSITED DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE TARGET.

Keep your target at a 90 degree angle, it works, and it’s safe.

Let’s Get After It

The main axle support is 2″ square tubing.  Axle supports are drilled, axle inserted to line them up, then all are tacked, and welded.target6I would have preferred 7018AC for this job, due to the short welds, and constant restarts, but I had a bunch of stubs laying around…regular DC 7018.  Due to arc blow, the welds had to be done from the outside inwards in two passes.target7All welds were done with 3/32 7018

The tubing is then welded to the uprights.target8target9Then the faceplate, and runners are attached.  The faceplate is simply 3/8″ UM plate.target3target2Target arms are cut, and drilled.target14Didn’t have any 6″ UM laying around, so  had to make up the target blanks from 3″ material.target10For this, I used 7018AC, which is susceptible to porosity.  It’s just the nature of the rod.  I chose it so that I could use 1/8″ rod on the small transformer machine, instead of having to fire up the Ranger.  You can see how the slag is full of bubbles……it’s strange stuff 🙂 , and hard to run unless you bury it when dragging.target11The targets are then welded to the arms.  1″ welds, 3/32 7018 at 105amps.  Spattery, but good and hot.  These are critical welds.target15target16Arms, washers, and spacers, are then assembled.target17Top targets are 4″ diameter, bottom ones are 6″ diameter.

Slap a little paint on it, and give it a

In the past I was bamboozled by the product claims about using AR500 steel for handgun targets.  It’s quite simply unnecessary.


misc,_stuff_020Any day above ground is a good day

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