All posts by Chief Guy in Charge of Stuff

1/4″ AR400 as a Long Range Rifle Target

MOA Targets currently makes targets from four different steels. 3/8″, 1/2″, and 1″ AR500 for rifles, and 1/4″ AR400 for service pistols and rimfire. The 500 & 400 part is the Brinell hardness, where 400 is softer than 500.

We’re always working to improve our data and widen the use of steel targets. Being based in northern Nevada, we’ve got lots of wide open spaces to shoot long range. 300 yards is common and up to 1000 yards isn’t unusual for long range shooters out here. Recently, we figured out at what distances you can shoot the 1/4″ AR400 pistol targets with rifle.

The tl;dr is 556 at 300 yards, 308 at 500 yards. Limits on use are: 2500 fps at the target (as opposed to 2800 fps with AR500) and 1000 ft/lbs of energy at the target. The details of the test are below.

Our testing was primarily conducted with 5.56x45mm 55gr ammo fired from a 16″ barrel AR15 and 7.62x51mm 147gr ammo fired from a 16″ barrel AR10. The initial test was at 300 yards.

MOA AR500 steel target gong
Initial test platform. 8″ diameter 1/4″ AR400 gong, on MOA A-Frame bracket based stand.

At 300 yards, 5.56x45mm put a visible hit on the metal target but did no damage. The 7.62x51mm dented the target pretty badly.

1/4
556 at center, 308 at 4 o’clock, and 6.5CM at 2 o’clock
1/4
Deformation of edge strike by 6.5CM at 300 yards. 1/4 AR400 steel gong.

With these results in hand, we backed out to 800 yards and switched to 7.62x51mm and 270WIN. We also upped the target to a 18×12″ 1/4″ AR400 test plate, which is a standard size MOA product.

At 800 yards we got a great ring sound off this thinner than usual rifle gong and no damage. Ditto when we moved in to 600 yards. At 500 yards, the sound was excellent, and we did a careful examination for damage on the target. No damage noted at 500 yards.

1/4
12×18″ 1/4″ AR400 steel rifle gong. As engaged at 800, 600, and 500 yards with 7.52x51mm and 270WIN. No damage.
1/4
Edge view of 1/4″ AR400 steel rifle target. As engaged at 800, 600, and 500 yards with 7.62x51mm and 270WIN. No deformation of target noted.

At this point, we discontinued the test, as the math showed that if we moved in much closer we would start seeing deformation of the target. At distances less than 500 yards, long range shooters typically aren’t using a very large target, which reduces the need for a thinner (lighter) gong.

Advantages with using 1/4″ AR400 for long range rifle include: reduced weight and cost by going with the thinner material; improved sound return by going with the thinner steel; improved visibility of swinging target when struck, by reducing target mass.

Disadvantages  with using 1/4″ AR400 for long range rifle include: increased minimum engagement distance to prevent damaging the target, 300 yards for 556 instead of 100 yards with 3/8″ AR500 and 500 yards for 7.62x51mm (308WIN) instead of 100 yards with 3/8″ AR500; and explaining to your friends why you are using 1/4″ AR400 and what that means.

The minimum distances are recommendations only. These distances are based off the calibers and conditions as tested, with a result of a maximum velocity of the projectile at the target of 2500 fps and a maximum energy at the target of 1000 ft/lbs.

That means you’re gonna have to break out your ballistics charts before you go throwing rifle projectiles at pistol targets.

As a result of this testing, we have a new package deal for long range shooters. This package includes a 10×20″ 1/4″ AR400 steel rifle target, a set of A-Frame brackets, and 18″ firehose hang kit to put it all together. This package runs $100, and ships for free USPS flat rate. For another $60, you can add a second 10×20″ gong and the hardware to combine the two gongs into a 20×20″ target. Neat.

As a follow up to the new 1/4″ AR400 long range kit we did the same thing but in 3/8″ AR500, so you don’t have to worry about the increased minimum engagement distance. Same package details but in 3/8″ AR500. Out the door at $150, plus $100 for a second 10×20″ gong if you want to go big.

Four Ways to Mount an AR500 Target Gong

Phase 1: Buy an AR500 gong
Phase 2: ???
Phase 3: SHOOT

MOA Targets offers gongs in three different basic configurations: Just a bare piece of steel with no holes, tabs or whatnot; 1-3 holes; or with what we call the Universal Mounting Tab.

Bolt on, two chains, two firehose straps, or the Universal Mount.

If you chose to go with the bare piece of steel, it’s a fair guess that this isn’t your first rodeo, and that you plan to weld it to something. We don’t like welding AR steel, due to the trouble with weakening the temper of this heat treated steel, and failed welds being difficult to fix in the field. Knock  yourself out if you want to do so though.

Holes and tabs are where it’s at for us. With holes, flexibility is king. One hole is good, two holes is better, three holes can be useful but is generally overkill.

One hole hanging options.

With one hole, we recommend using a firehose strap, or two chains. You can get away with one chain, but it’ll twist and be a PITA to engage rapid fire. A single firehose will twist as well, but not nearly as bad as chain. With two chains you get away from most of the twist. Worst case, you can always just screw it to the crossbar.

Two holes gives you some redundancy as well as stability.

Two holes give you a more stable setup, and gives you some redundancy when you invariably blow out a bolt head or chain. Just like with one hole, you can always screw it to the crossbar.

Do you want to build a snowman?

With two holes, you can also do fun stuff like daisy chain targets.

KISS – just bolt the sucker to the 2×4.

The two down sides to just bolting the target to the 2×4 crossbar (or whatever) is the inability to use carriage bolts, which reduce splash, and the reduced noise from strikes. Our testing has shown that the ability to swing has virtually no effect on target life, and increases the risk of engaging while the target isn’t facing at an appropriate angle.

Three holes are generally put on a 2, 6, 10 o’clock pattern, with the 6 o’clock used to tie the target back at the optimal angle to and keep it from swinging. Neat, but often overkill.

There’s a general recommendation, especially while shooting pistols, to lean the targets with the top towards the shooter at an angle of about 15 degrees. This helps direct splash (projectile fragments) towards the ground, and not the shooter.

The MOA Universal Mounting Tab system slips over the top of the standard 2×4, and leans forward just right. This gives you a boltless mounting system that’s durable and easy to use. With a long vertical 2×4 (four foot or so), you can use the whole thing as a dropping target. A more refined version of that concept is available from MOA as the 417 Determined Attacker system.

MOA Universal Tab and mount bracket, from the front.
Universal System, from the back.

Using the dropdown options when ordering a gong from MOA, you can request that a gong be cut with a Universal Mounting Tab, for use with the MOA Universal Mounting Bracket. Brackets are specific to target material thickness, but otherwise are interchangeable.

So there ya go, four easy ways to mount  your gong target.

A-frame bracket system, a simple way to get in the field quickly.

For those who are wondering what the wonderful A-Frame is, that’s the MOA A-Frame 2×4 bracket system. Stupid simple, and made of 3/8″ AR500 for long life. Also available to take round stock instead of a 2×4.

2×4 brackets, for quickly building your own a-frame

Good luck, have fun, don’t die.

Cola Warrior East 3 – Innocence Lost

September 2015 brought fair weather, green grass, and vomit to the wild woods outside Appomattox, Virginia for the third year running. Cola Warrior East once again interrupted the quiet rural lifestyle of the remote bit of humid subtropical Piedmont, with so much history, as a band of sugar charged locals and visitors converged to test their mettle.

As in the previous two events of the year, Cola Warrior West (Kingman, AZ) and Cola Warrior 5 (Liberty, MS), the format was five obstacles, an AK-47 to field strip, a package of Peeps to consume, a half mile of dirt to run, pistol and rifle targets to shoot, and 72oz of Freedom to chug.

East had been accused of being “diet” in past events, with the feeling by some that their obstacles weren’t up to snuff. Several East Vets came out to the inaugural West event, and are often found at the Classic event in Liberty MS. The obstacles at East 3 far more resembled Classic than West, and were decidedly *not* diet.

First, a wall that had about one board you could get a toe on, if you took a running launch. Climb up and over, without grabbing the sides. There was a trick to threading a belt through the wall, about six feet up, to give a hand hold. Didn’t help me or a bunch of other people summit the wall, but a fair number made it over.

Click on the photo for a gif of it in use (hosted on Imgur)

Second, a Salmon Ladder. There’s no trick to help here. It’s just torture. Lots of penalties assessed here.

Next, throw the big, ungainly chunk of wood over the cord. The cord was attached with a magnet, you could bump it, but not dislodge it. This was as close to a “gimmi” as East had, and it still racked up a lot of penalties. Incidentally, it’s the only obstacle I didn’t fail.

Apparently, there’s a trick to climbing ropes. I wouldn’t know, we don’t have any trees in Nevada.

Name one thing we’re going to need this stupid fucking rope for?

Nothing if not determined, the Cola Warrior Juniors (Soda Squirts?) run a kid scale version of the event.

Last, drag the disintegrating pallet/sled with about 900 lbs of cinder blocks on it back and forth some arbitrary distance that was farther than the 1/4″ I was able to wiggle it.

These obstacles were obscene. The diet of yesteryear was purged under a nigh unstoppable tsunami of penalties.

The AK was battle worn. The peeps were stale and warm. The run undulated along the forest dirt road.

The range portion of these events, with about eight pistol targets, and about the same rifle targets, is usually an afterthought for most experienced Cola Warriors. Calm down just enough to squeeze off the pistol rounds, you’ve got two full mags after all. After you clear the pistol and your heart rate is down, go prone, and clear the rifle, it shouldn’t even take a full mag.

Not at East 3. Rifle targets were scattered the length of the narrow ascending forest track. Heavy vegetation and constantly shifting light would bring targets in and out of visibility. Difficult, with the 300m target being a 2/3 scale IPSC Metric (equivalent to a full scale IPSC at 450m). Doable, but not easy. I cleared the rifle targets with less than a mag of 5.56 from a Colt 6940 with an ACOG TA31 optic.

The pistol targets, on the other hand, were a nightmare. Set at 25m from the line, the eight pistol targets were staggered above and below a horizontal cross bar.

At 25m, this is a tough target to hit, 8″ diameter paddles just about entirely disappear under a standard pistol front post. Unnoticeable at 25m, and in the poor light, are the two counter weights at either end. Invisible are the bearings at the center, over the single center support. As soon as a paddle is hit, it falls off, unbalancing the whole affair. At 90*, a counterweight falls off, causing the now heavier “up” end to rapidly be the down end, dumping it’s weight. Now the whole thing is spinning on the center like a propeller. Three of the Cola Warriors cleared this target system. Many failed to get more than three paddles off of it, including myself. As much as MOA has been blamed for this monstrosity, we didn’t do it. Sure, we will soon, but we didn’t do it. We do a similar target, the Red Neck Texas Star. Soon, and rifle rated to boot, we’ll be torturing people.

All in all, a fantastic event. Great location, great people, great food, amazing sponsors (listed below, check ’em out, and thank them for their support), and a good time had by all.

Top Woman prize pile

Geissele http://geissele.com/

ALG Defense http://algdefense.com/

SLR Rifleworks https://www.slrrifleworks.com/

ESSTAC http://www.esstac.com/

Arson Machine https://www.arsonmachine.com/

Arisaka Defense http://arisakadefense.com/

Cherrybalmz http://www.cherrybalmz.com/

ADW Custom Knives http://www.adwcustomknives.net/Directory.htm

Dynamik Blades http://www.dynamikblades.com/

NUoSO Concealment http://www.nuosuconcealment.com/

ADM http://www.americandefensemfg.com/

Nightlong Industries http://nightlongind.com/

Quanitico Tactical http://www.quanticotactical.com/

Trijicon https://www.trijicon.com/na_en/index.php

B5 Systems http://www.b5systems.com/

AIM Surplus http://www.aimsurplus.com/

Weapon Outfitters https://www.weaponoutfitters.com/

2A Arms http://www.2a-arms.com/

Bobro https://www.bobroengineering.com/

Gun Goddess https://www.gungoddess.com/

MOA Targets https://www.moatargets.com/

 

Please join us at Cola Warrior West II, Reno NV March 31 – April 2

Cola Warrior 5 – West Was Harder

 

 

Cola Warrior 5 was run the last two weekends of May 2015, at the FEMA Camp outside Liberty, MS. For those who don’t know what Cola Warrior is, the tl;dr is obstacle, AK/peep, run, shoot, chug. Also for those who don’t know what Cola Warrior is, good on you for making it this far in the blog post after watching that emesis introduction. This was the fifth annual event in Liberty. I ran at CWWest a couple months earlier in Kingman AZ, and placed well enough to get invited to CW5.

I sponsored a custom target and a prize, and had some steel to deliver to customers also attending the event. Turns out steel is heavy, and doesn’t pack well in airline luggage. So, four days of solo driving and 2,100 miles later, I arrived in the swamp late Thursday as the event kicked off.

I was welcomed with open arms, it helps to bring steel targets and beer to salve wounded spirits and bodies after the runs.

The kid as cover for his cyborg structure is a nice touch.
You’d hardly believe that this chill looking dude is actually into soul crippling S&M.
It turned out spray plastidip didn't come off quite as well as they hoped.
The locals took a shine to me quickly, and absconded with my sign.

Without further ado, let’s run through the course.

The ninja rolls over this were awesome. The failed runs were even better. #pistoldidit
Obstacle one: clear the unstable vert bar four times in a row. A decent number of people were able to do this. I wasn’t one of them.
No putting your belt over the top.  #summitclub
Obstacle two: hand over hand on the edge of a 20′ conex, there and back (40′), and then over the top. 11 of 77 competitors were able to do this. I was not one of them.
Turns out a broken hand doesn't make this easier. :/
Obstacle three- Next, hand stand along the 20′ conex, a 25lb barbell in each hand. A fair number were able to do this, I was not one of them.
#ringfairies
Obstacle four- Starting with hands in the rings and the right side, work your way to the middle, shimmy up, transition to the bar, hit the far left post, then come back and reverse the process until you can hit the far right post. A fair number got this. I *was* one of them.
#pyramidpals got to see the MOA logo while they succeeded.
Obstacle five – Simply lift the 150 lb tire up, and casually toss it up and over the 6′ or so wall. No biggy. 12 of 77 competitors accomplished this one. I was not one of them.

This was possibly the most amusing of the various ways people failed to accomplish the tire toss. While it made for great photo ops, I worry that putting the MOA logo there may lead to lost sales. Few want to see that logo ever again after having their body and soul crushed by that tire.

Three runners, including the cyborg who started it all, were able to do all the obstacles. Three. That’s insane.

29 of the 77 runners failed every obstacle, and a new hashtag was born.

 

Now the real fun begins. Field strip the AK, while eating a package of peeps. Peeps lead to hate. Hate leads to anger. Anger leads to AK in the trashcan.

Note the MOA targets set up to the left. I'm special, ya'll, and forgot to put them in any good pictures.
CWARs. CWARs everywhere. And the prereq trashcan AK, of course.
A total of six women ran, the highest placed 13th overall. Don't fuck with Colaettes.
Pakitape is most halal.
See what I did there?
Some people take to peeps better than others, and blitz through them.

A leisurely peep fueled 1/2 mile run down the muddy roads winds up the last of major physical torture. Thankfully, the run is mostly flat or down hill. I suspect with extra rain, it would be hell, but we lucked out on weather to some extent. It didn’t rain any more in the four days I was there than we get in a typical year in Nevada.

MOA's future Ms. June
Now we shoot! Rocking the CWock with the ALG 6-Second Mount, TR-1, and extended mag, this overly happy lady blasted through the targets.
All ARs all the time, it seemed.
MOAR! Rifle targets from 50 to 300m, with a custom MOA FEMABOT at the center. The FEMABOT was a full size IPSC M equivalent, and ended up being the reference point for all the rifle targets at the far end of the mud bog / range.

Keep an eye on MOA’s site, Fantasy Monster category, for the FEMABOT to be listed for your own shooting pleasure.

I totally didn't shoot it myself. I may have bribed a kid to do so though...
Homemade mild steel peep, which worked as an awesome advertisement for MOA’s AR500 hardened steel targets. Thankfully, I had brought out a replacement sabertooth peep from Cola Warrior West.

And with that, there was nothing left to do but chug, and puke.

This is how a winner pukes, folks. With a time of 11:07, arfcom’s Kaik managed a come from behind to win. He gets an asterisk for having run twice, a week apart, but he earned it, and showed he had what it took to take home the title.

So much MOA branding in one image. Hurray!
So much privilege!

After that, it was time for more food (which there was tons of, in huge variety, and it was awesome) and to announce placements and prizes. Make sure you scroll down to check out the sponsor list, it’s pretty amazing.

Prizes aren't why we go to Cola Warrior, but they're awful nice to have when you're recuperating. Much of the prize package gets added to the competitors daily use gear.
SWAG! Pretty much everyone took home a pile like this. It even includes a Geissele SSA-E!
FEMABOT knows where you live, and is in league with the NSA. Shoot to neutralize.
MOA got in on the prize giving out madness. Another FEMABOT, this one pistol rated. Given to the competitor who left the most pistol targets unmolested. Get out there and practice, yo.

Overall, this event was much, much tougher overall than Cola Warrior West (my only other experience). The obstacles is what killed it, and ironically, that made it easier overall for me. As I was only able to complete one obstacle, and had to skip one entirely due to a broken hand, I was in way better shape going to the AK and peeps than I was at West. My West time, sans penalties, was 31:48. Here, sans penalties, 22:54 for a 19th place finish. Top time here was an insane 11:07 (RustedAce, the guy who started it, was 8:07, which is nuts). Top time at West was pushing 15 minutes, and the runner who did that has been competitive in every CW event he’s been in. We apparently broke him at West, he was unable to make CW5. West was harder, but CW5 was a different level of challenge entirely.

Note the insane low time for the first runner. Note the penalties on everyone else.
SCIENCE!

Thanks again to everyone for making me welcome. It was a hell of a long drive, but it was worth every mile. I’m going to try to hit CWE3 in September/October in VA. I’ll be sure to make CWSE and CWTX next year. And, don’t forget I’m hosting CWWII in Reno, NV the first weekend of April 2016. Send me your ringers, your runners, your pyramid pals. Kaik can come if he helps West’s Dirty Inky cook, I suppose.

There's now an MOA logo right under the Geissele. Kickass!
The gang’s all here.

 

And finally, thank you to the sponsors who help take the pain away.

Business type Cola Warrior Sponsors
MOA Targets – NVGeologist (hey that’s me!)
ADW Custom Knives – DamascusKnifemaker – custom badass blade
Corporate Sponsors
Geissele / ALG Defense triggers, rails and so much swag
TNVCESSTAC – old is new school gear
AIM Surplus 

2A Arms – Balios Lite receiver set and 12″ MLOK BL rail.

Arson Machine

Arisaka Defense

Forward Control Design

Blue Panda Arms – Cerakote job for most ink visible immediately after their run

Nightlong Industries

American Kami – Ti sporks, maybe a blade

Dynamik Blades – something sharp

SLR Rifleworks

AR15.com

SKD Tactical

Ballistic Advantage

AXTS

ODIN Works

HSGI

Armalite

 

 

Beer, it's not just for breakfast.
Beer yoga is best yoga.

Cola Warrior West 2015 – How the West was Run

Several years ago, the Cola Warrior series of fitness, shooting, and willpower competitions were founded by RustedAce, a cyborg who lives in a swamp and fights in a desert. Cola Warrior a competition in five parts: several difficult obstacles, field strip of an AK pattern rifle while eating five marshmallow Peeps, run half a mile, shoot rifle and pistol targets from field positions, and chug 72 oz of carbonated soda.

No one in their right mind would do this. May 2015 will be the fifth consecutive year of events at RustedAce’s FEMA Compound in the Swamp (now known as CWOG). This fall will be the third CW East (CWE). Late March 2015, P2tharizo hosted the first Cola Warrior west of the Mississippi, outside Kingman, AZ (CWW). As owner/operator/Chief Guy in Charge of Stuff for MOA Targets, I sponsored the steel targets for the CWW event and also ran in the event. I would like to take this moment to reiterate- no one in their right mind would do this.

 

12m pistol target (spaceship) with alien hostage.
300m target, which had to be put in place way out in the desert, up hill (both ways) in the snow, barefoot. Or at least that’s what I was told.

The obstacles at CWW were designed to break each contestant, forcing you to use your body in new and horrible ways each time, after you were already chewed up by the previous one. Every obstacle you fail adds five minutes to your total run time in penalties. First, flip end over end a 200+ pound tire uphill about 25m, then return it to where you started. This obstacle was especially tough for those under 5′ 4″ or so, due to lack of leverage.

View post on imgur.com

Next, drag two 50 lb kettle bells on a cord about 25m through the sand and return them to where they started. This obstacle didn’t penalize many, it was just hard work.

Next, push the godawful huge ATV up the road- about 15m. At about 800 pounds, this obstacle killed anyone who was under about 150 lbs, due to lack of traction and inertia.

All tuckered out from moving heavy objects uphill, both ways, and through the sand, we come to the fourth challenge. The hand-over-hand angle iron bar eliminated many the heavy guys who rocked through the first three challenges like they weren’t even there.

20′ of wobbly overhand angle iron goodness. The flex on this was pretty epic with anyone over 200 lbs, making it difficult for them to keep their grip while making forward progress. Payback for making Battle Midgets move heavy objects.

The final obstacle (of the first section of the course, this keeps going) was a low crawl through sand and rock, with rattle cans above you, and a keg to push. Despite being the physically least demanding, this obstacle accounted for more penalties than any that came before it. Most who were penalized shop in Men’s Big and Tall sections, but exhausted flailing limbs nabbed a few more normals.

Of course a geologist is chasing a beer keg.
Hit a string hard enough to rattle a can, or hit a can directly, five minute penalty. The ultimate winner of the event had nightmares about this crawl the night before.

Excellent. We’ve had a nice bit of exercise, time for a snack. The next challenge is to gobble down five marshmallow peeps while field stripping an AK-47.

Enjoy that sugar, you’re going to need it to fuel your run.

With the AK field stripped (and the dust cover beat back into shape), grab a stuffed animal and start the 1/8″ of a mile downhill run. At the end of that, swap the stuffed animal for another to prove you made it there, and start the 3/8″ of a mile uphill run, ending at the firing line. Oh yes, don’t forget this is ultimately a shooting competition.

Turns out 34 grams of sugar in a food coloring glazed marshmallow format isn’t the best way to start a 1/2 mile run in the desert.

Onto the range. Spread across the landscape were a total of seven pistol targets from 12-40 meters and eight rifle targets from 100-300 meters. Targets were designed to show bad habits. Long skinny horizontal axis targets show anticipating recoil (flinch) as well as breathing control and vertical tall skinny targets show wind drift and poor trigger control. Rifle targets also had odd shapes and color, were scattered all over the place, and were simultaneously loved and hated by all. Shooters were limited to standard capacity mags, two each pistol and rifle.

 

200m “angry dragonfly” target. So much hate. Available from MOA Targets to infuriate your friends and coworkers.
Field positions, run what you brung, two mag max. Everyone used an AR variant rifle, mostly AR-15 in 5.56x45mm.
Vegetation made the 12m targets even more difficult, obscuring the already small (39 square inch) targets.

I was surprised to learn during the award ceremony that I had the fastest pistol time during the event, about 38 seconds, with 11 shots fired to clear 7 targets. I was not, however, surprised that I missed a rifle target. 40 rounds of 7.62x51mm were fired to clear 7 of 8 targets. The long and skinny 100m coyote target proved to everyone that I didn’t have my dope dialed in, and it cost me a five minute penalty for one missed target.

With the easy parts of the event wrapped up, it was time for the willpower challenge. Chug 72oz of carbinated soda, your choice, with a five minute penalty for each can not finished. There was a 2L option with a 5oz chaser, and a hefty 30 minute fail penalty if you couldn’t finish. Go Big or Go Home. Although Diet Mt. Dew was popular, I chose 6 cans of Squirt, getting all of them down with no penalty.

First can, no problem.
Several cans in, considering my choices in life.
#sixpack
All six down (no penalty!), and here they come back up.

Final Result: 9th of 46, with a time (including five minute rifle penalty) of 36:48. For reference, first place was 15:25, 23rd was 52:22, and last was 103:20 for a night vision run with lots of penalties.

All said and done, I regret everything. I can’t wait for the next one. MOA will be hosting CWWII the first weekend of April, 2016, outside Reno, NV.

 

Hope to see you there.

Full Cola Warrior West 2015 sponsor list:

2A Armament
MOA Targets
Precision 3D Targets
Esstac
WWW.AR15.COM
Dynamik Blades
Nightlong Industries LLC
GMTG Tactical
Blue Panda Arms
Geissele Automatics:
NUoSU Concealment
AIM Surplus
SLR Rifleworks
American Kami
Primary Arms
FIREclean
SKD Tactical
Arson Machine
Fortis Manufacturing
Arisaka Defense
Bobro Engineering
B5 Systems
Coast
Gun Goddess
V7 Weapon Systems

The Pros and Cons of Shooting Steel Targets

I’ve realized there is an elephant in the steel target showroom. While there are significant benefits to shooting AR500 steel targets, there are drawbacks that must be discussed.  The big three criteria for pretty much anything you may deal with in life will be (in no particular order) cost, safety, and effectiveness.

COST- Steel targets, especially commercially built AR500 targets, rated to handle everything from 22LR up through 50 BMG, are expensive. MOA’s line of gongs, the most simple of targets, average about $4.75/lb. A standard 8″ diameter 3/8″ AR500 target (5.35 lbs) with two holes is $25 from MOA is $4.67/lb. For that price, you can get a whole packet of shoot and see or sight in paper targets. Simply put, AR500 steel targets are about the most expensive option out there for steel targets, even before getting into the reactive targets.

View post on imgur.com

Expensive, yes. However, if used per manufacturer direction, a typical AR500 steel target will last thousands to tens of thousands of rounds. With standard pistol calibers (9x19mm, .40S&W, .45ACP), a 3/8″ AR500 target will effectively never fail. With standard rifle calibers (5.56x45mm, 30-30 Win, 7.62×51) a 8″ diameter 3/8″ AR500 target will last several thousand rounds before replacement is required. Larger targets, due to increased surface area, will last even longer. You’ll need to do a major overhaul on your rifle before you’ll need to replace your target, if you follow manufacturer recommendations for use.

Shipping costs can be quite high on steel targets, due to weight. MOA uses US Postal Service Flat Rate shipping for as many target options as possible, and offers $5, $20, and free USPS flat rate shipping on many targets.

SAFETY- Safety is always a primary concern when using firearms. Shooting steel, even at manufacturer recommended distances, includes a degree of risk of projectile and target material rebounding and striking the shooter or bystanders. This risk exists with any sort of target that is not fully penetrated by the projectile, and backstops which do not fully engulf the projectile.

The deformation process which occurs when the projectile strikes the target surface transforms a good portion of the kinetic energy of the round into thermal energy. The higher the degree of deformation, the more energy converted to heat energy (as evidenced if you’ve ever picked up the deformed remains of a projectile immediately after striking a target). A portion of the kinetic energy is transferred to the target as kinetic energy (that’s what makes it swing) and a small portion as thermal energy. The goal is to leave as little energy in the projectile as possible, so that any pieces which do come back are slow and small. AR500 target, being much harder than copper and lead, typically tend to cause projectiles to flatten and fragment (pistol projectiles) or completely disintegrate (rifle projectiles). Mild steel, on the other hand, tends to deform with the projectile and often will not flatten or fragment projectiles as effectively as AR500. Rifle velocity projectiles will often crater mild steel, which adds to the hazard. Steel core projectiles raise the hazard significantly, as the steel core tends to not deform and can separate and rebound dramatically.

Target angle and ability to swing also should be taken into account. The safest steel targets will be made of hardened steel (AR400 for velocities less than 1200 fps, AR500 for velocities up to 2800 fps at the target) that can swing freely with strikes, and that angle slightly towards the shooter (5-20 degrees). The 5-20 degrees angle recommendation is based on industry standard recommendations, and should be measured not from the ground, but from the shooter position.

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Steel targets are commonly used in competition at both pistol and rifle ranges with great effectiveness. Millions of round are safely fired every year from a wide variety of platforms, at varied distances, and of many calibers. Manufacturers have recommended minimum distances and competitions have additional requirements for steel target use. These limitations are in place for a reason. Pay attention to manufacturer recommendations, club rules, and competition guidelines, and be safe.

EFFECTIVENESS- Steel targets are excellent training aids. Few other targets provide the immediate feedback that steel targets do. A visual cue (swinging, falling or other movement), combined with the audible ring of the projectile striking steel is irrefutable, the shooter hit the mark. Setting zero on a steel target can require a large piece of steel, depending on how off the firearm sighting system is, which can be expensive. A freshly painted piece of steel is fantastic for zeroing a new rifle, or confirming zero. Where steel targets fall short is for measuring grouping, as tight groups obliterate individual strikes quickly. The minimum safe distance requirements limit the effectiveness of steel targets for training self defense and close quarter battle situations, where cardboard may be more appropriate.

For individual use, steel targets allows one to call their own hits when practicing without walking back and forth to the target after every drill. The ring of projectile on steel is effective at pistol range and rifle. When shooting long range, a spotting scope may not even be required to confirm hits on long range targets, due to the delay in the return ring at the speed of sound. Engaging multiple targets in a single string is made easy with steel targets, and many ingenious mounting methods for the targets exist.

Carson City Public Range

Hybrid range environments, such as USPSA, IPSC, IDPA, and 3-Gun often include a mix of steel targets at appropriate distances and cardboard and clay targets at closer distances.

Steel targets are commonly used in competition settings because of the ease of scoring hits (audible or visual cue), easy of resetting targets (paper must be taped or replaced every time), and low cost over time. Once purchased, steel targets rarely need replacement, even after years of heavy use. Competitors often purchase steel targets to practice on outside of organized matchs. Standard shapes such as the NRA Steel Silhouette series (chicken, pig, turkey, and ram), have a long history of use and are available in a multitude of sizes and thicknesses.

CONCLUSION- Used properly, steel targets are a safe, cost effective, and highly effective way to train with firearms. Used improperly, you’re liable to hurt yourself (or someone else) and ruin some expensive steel in short order. Read the directions, use common sense, and have fun.

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QA/QC testing MOA Steel with 5.45x39mm.

A while back, an MOA customer contacted me with a “Is this normal?” type question regarding 5.45x39mm leaving pits on AR500 steel. I shoot quite a bit of 5.45x39mm myself, but all of it is milsurp 7N6 steel core ammo, which should not be shot at steel targets. The customer in question had been shooting a variety of 5.45, none of which was steel core. To answer the “Is this normal?” question, he kindly returned one of his targets to me and included a box of each type of ammo he was using for testing.

After being used by customer with 5.45x39mm rifle and 7.5mm French thingie.
After being used by customer with 5.45x39mm rifle and 7.5mm French thingie.

MOA started cutting a QA/QC target out of each sheet of AR500 used in making targets, to act as a test bed a couple months ago. It also provides a great excuse to have more targets for the MOA range. The Customer Target is from an older, pre QA/QC batch. AR steel is through hardened, not surface hardened. The hardness should be consistent throughout the sheet. However, as this is the real world, and the testing is destructive. Each batch is tested, not each sheet, and not each section of sheet. Pitting on factory steel is not uncommon, and softer and harder spots can exist. Additionally, the method used to cut the steel can affect hardness. MOA Targets uses a 4,000 watt CNC laser to do the cutting. It makes nice, smooth cuts, and has a heat affect zone (HAZ) typically less than 1/8” on 3/8” AR500. Torch cutting will have a far larger HAZ, as will plasma. Water jet has no HAZ, but is much, much slower.

QA/CQ control target
QA/CQ control target

For control, three known standards (known to me, anyhow) were used as well as the various 5.45 loadings. Controls were 7.62x51mm DAG milsurp with a 150 gr lead core nickle washed steel jacket projectile, 5.45x39mm milsurp 7N6 with a 52 gr steel core copper jacketed projectile, and 5.56x45mm XM193 with a 55 gr lead core copper jacketed projectile.

Photos from the testing can be found here.

The QA/QC target from a recent 1/2” AR500 batch was used for the test, as a standard to test the Customer Target performance against.

All testing was conducted at 100 yards on MOA’s private range.

Test ammunition, provided by the customer, included Wolf 60 gr, 69 gr, and 55 gr loadings, and Silver Bear 60 gr, all lead core with a copper washed steel jacket. Additionally, Hornedy 60 gr VMAX was provided, which is lead core with a copper jacket and a polymer ballistic tip.

At the conclusion of the test, it was evident that both the QA/QC and the Customer Target performed well within expected spec, but that the QA/QC target (from a more recent batch) appeared to be harder.

And that’s how we do science at MOA Targets.

PS: For the curious, the customer will be getting his target and ammo shipped back to him, along with some “Thanks for helping out with science” steel from MOA.

MOA has it’s first sponsored shooter

Recently, MOA was approached by a young shooter just getting into the competitive field, specifically long range shooting. MOA has considered sponsoring shooters before, but has declined to do so historically. After shooting along side Bella, age nine, this weekend, we think we’ve found our match.

More correctly, she out shot the MOA founder, so it was decided that she could only help our reputation. Please welcome Bella to the MOA Minions.

Bella lives local to MOA central, north of Reno, Nevada, and has been shooting for several years. She’s currently rocking a pink Cricket rifle, a youth single shot 22LR chambered firearm. She competed at a local rimfire match this past weekend, and did quite well. We were shooting at NRA Hunter Pistol (50%) scale targets at ranges of 40-107m.

The stations included chicken at 40m (standing), pig at 60m (sitting), turkey at 77m (prone), and ram at 107m (shooters choice of position). Bella scored 19 of 40 possible points.

Local rimfire matches are scheduled once a month, typically April – November. Centerfire long range matches happen all year round, as so various pistol and 3-gun matches. Bella has expressed interest into entering new fields of competition as her skills grow, and MOA intends to be there beside her to grow with her.

For those of you who have considered going to a match and have never done so, consider this. I went, and got beat by a 9 year old girl, and we all had fun. There’s worse things in the world than realizing you’ve been outshot by someone who hasn’t grown into short pants yet.

1″ AR500 Steel Targets – MOA Target’s Answer to 50 BMG Shooters

MOA Targets has a confession to make. We’re really, really conservative with our steel ratings. We state our minimium distances based on industry-wide standards to ensure safety (12 yards for pistols, 100 yards for rifles), and to minimize damage to the targets (distance varies by caliber and target thickness, see target descriptions on website for details).

Until a few days ago, we had not personally tested our steel with 50 BMG. As a result, we rated our 1/2″ AR500 for 1,200 yards, and our 1″ AR500 for 600 yards. After some pretty extensive testing, we’re ready to update those numbers.

Our test platforms were McMillan and Barrett bolt action 50 BMG rifles, each utilizing Hornady 750 grain A-MAX ammunition.

Our testing began at 800 yards, and the range was decreased after each stage of the test until failure of the target (pitting or denting) was noted. Pitting is caused by excessive velocity, denting is caused by excessive energy distribution. Steel core or jacket can cause premature pitting, holing, or cratering of the target. More information on pitting vs denting available in a previous blog post.

The targets were produced by MOA Targets for this test. We used a CNC plasma cut 12″ diameter 1″ thick AR500 target, with one 1.25″ mounting hole ($191, free shipping) and a 4,000W CNC laser cut 10″ diameter 1/2″ thick AR500 target, with two 0.42″ square mounting holes ($55, flat rate eligible). A well used laser cut MOA full size IPSC Metric in 3/8″ ($187) was at the line as well, so we tested it, just for drill.

Targets were mounted on a 36″ MOA Battle Born stand and top plate, using MOA chain hang kits. An old floor mat was used to stabilize the targets and reduce swing.

800 yards is a really, really long distance.

At 800 yards from the line, target results were:

1″ AR500 – no pitting of the target surface, or deformation.

 

<– 1″ AR500 hit at 800″ –>

 

 

 

 

 

 

Due to target hanging malfunction (I screwed it up), we failed to engage the 1/2″ AR500 at 800 yards. The 3/8″ AR500 took perceptible but minimal damage. No pitting, but there was detectable deflection of the plate, observable from both the target surface and the back of the plate.

Based on the 800 yard results, we discontinued tested the 3/8 AR500, and moved in to 400 yards to continue the test.

At 400 yards, we observed slight deformation of the 1/2″ AR500, and no pitting or deformation of the 1″ AR500. For comparison, we put one round of Singapore milsurp M33 steel core ball ammunition into the 1″ AR500. Minor (3-4mm) pitting of the plate surface was observed using the M33 ammunition at 400 yards. No denting or deflection was observed. For safety reasons, MOA does not recommend using any steel core or jacket ammunition on steel targets, ever, and considers the warranty void if magnetic ammunition is used on a MOA target.

Turns out, that Battle Born Top Plate is pretty important. Using a 2x4

At 300 yards, we changed the setup a bit, and hung each target on it’s own stand, but had run out of Battle Born Top Plates on the MOA Skunkworks range. Turns out they’re important.

At 300 yards, the 1/2″ AR500 target displayed notable deformation, and testing discontinued on 1/2″ AR500 target.

The 1″ AR500, however, was a different story.

From right to left, 300 yards, 200 yards, 100 yards.
1″ AR500 MOA Target, 12″ diameter, 1.25″ mounting hole. Tested with 50 BMG.

At 300 yards, the 1″ AR500 showed no pitting, target surface deformation, or backface deformation. So we moved in to 200 yards.

At 200 yards, the 1″ AR500 showed no pitting, target surface deformation, or backface deformation. So we moved in to 100 yards.

At 100 yards, the 1″ AR500 showed no pitting, target surface deformation, or backface deformation. So we called it a day, because we didn’t see any need to test the safety guidelines, and 100 yards is as close as rifles should ever be fired at steel.

Conclusion:

MOA will be updating the website and flow chart  to reflect the results of these testing activities. Hence forth, 3/8″ AR500 will be rated for 1,200 yards with 50 BMG, 1/2″ AR500 will be rated for 600 yards with 50 BMG, and 1″ AR500 will be rated for 100 yards with 50 BMG. We’re still super conservative, but now we’ve got field testing to back it up.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope the information is helpful. Please keep MOA Targets in mind for all your target needs.

Showdown – MOA’s new modular, portable dueling tree

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Standard four paddle Showdown

To date, a dueling tree has been the most requested target by MOA customers. So, after about three months of development and testing, we’re pleased to announce they are ready for purchase. The new target, model name Showdown, is built on the simple yet time tested design of “shoot it, and watch the bullet do the work”. There are no wear parts, no springs, and no welds on the paddles. The pivot points are welded into bolt on strips.

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The Showdown is built out of 1/4″ mild steel angle iron, AR400 pivot points, and comes standard with four 3/8″ AR500 paddles. Six inch diameter paddles are standard, but four inch diameter “challenge” paddles can be swapped at no charge. 1/4″ AR400 rimfire paddles are available as well.

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Rear view, showing weld strip and pivot points

The standard Showdown is rated for standard non-magnum pistols. The limiting factor is the trunk, not the paddles. To use with magnum handguns and centerfire rifle, the simple expedient of bolt on 3/8″ AR500 armor for the trunk gives you the ability to shoot intermediate and hunting loads at 150 yards, magnum rifle at 250 yards, and 338 Lapua at 350 yards, all using the same target system.

Showdown is available as a complete product ready to shoot, a weld kit, and a do it yourself version, where you get the laser cut parts, and provide your own angle iron for the trunk, and build your own base, after welding the whole thing up.