All posts by Chief Guy in Charge of Stuff

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.

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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.

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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.

50

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

20140519_104434
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.

20140519_111739

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.

20140519_104350
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.

Pitting vs Denting – How projectiles affect steel targets

This is a follow up to my previous post How to choose the correct steel for your shooting needs. There are two primary ways that steel is affected by bullet strikes, pitting (cratering in the extreme) and denting. Pitting is material removal from the strike face, caused by super-heating the strike face. Think of an asteroid hitting the earth.

And the biosphere gets to big blue screen of death
Big badda boom

The asteroid is insignificant in size related to the earth but it’s moving pretty fast. That kinetic energy is converted largely into thermal energy when the strike occurs. The thermal energy weakens steel surface enough to eject some of the steel. It also affects the temper of the steel, weakening it to allow future damage. High velocity, low sectional density (small diameter), and hardened projectiles such as steel core and armor piercing all tend to cause pitting of steel targets. Varmint rounds tend to be small diameter and very high velocity, and can cause pitting and cratering far exceeding what you’d expect for something used to shoot rodents.

1/2″ Mild steel

Harder steel target surfaces resist pitting better than softer surfaces. For our purposes the Brinell Hardness scale  (HB) is used for relative hardness. Per wikipedia, pine wood is about 1.6 HB, lead is 5-22 HB, depending on alloy, copper is 35 HB. Mild steel is 120-180 HB in my experience. Hardened tool steel, similar to what is used for AP core ammo, is 600-900 HB. Pure tungsten is 2570 HB.

For target purposes, I use 400 HB (pistol) and 500 HB (rifle) abrasion resistant (AR) steel. Why abrasion resistant? Because at the 400+ HB hardness, typically the material is sold as industrial plate steel for uses that need abrasion resistance. It doesn’t hurt anything for our use, and it’s what’s available at a reasonable price.

While the difference between mild steel and AR400 is pretty significant, the difference between AR400 and AR500 is less so, but still notable. It’s enough that you don’t want to use your AR400 pistol targets for rifles until you get several hundred yards out. The difference between AR500 and AR550 is barely perceptible. At 2570 HB, tungsten targets might last you forever, but it has a scrap price of about $15/lb (steel scrap is about $0.10/lb right now). Tungsten is about twice as dense as steel (0.54 lb/cubic inch as opposed to .28 lb/cubic inch), so an eight inch diameter, 3/8″ thick tungsten target would weight over 10 lbs, and probably retail for over $600.

Denting or deformation is caused by exceeding the strength of the material. Total energy is useful if you want to cause denting or deformation. Heavy projectiles tend to dent targets, as opposed to pitting them. They tend to be slower than their light projectile cousins, the 168 grain .308 (2700 fps) as opposed to the 55 grain .223 (3200 fps). Thicker targets resist denting and deformation better than thin targets.

3/8″ AR500 target impacted by 50 BMG at 50 yards

Impact velocity, projectile hardness, projectile mass, and angle of impact are your factors that affect your targets, assuming the target isn’t the variable. The softer the projectile (no steel jacket, steel core, or AP), and the further away you are from the target, the longer that target will last. Total energy of impact decreases as you get further away from the target, due to drag in the air reducing your impact velocity. Angling the target reduces the energy absorbed as well. Make sure you always angle the target in a safe direction.

In a practical sense, here’s what all this information means to you. If you’re getting pitting on your target, going to a thicker steel won’t help. 5.56×45 M855 is going to pit AR500 at 100 yards, even if you upgrade to 1/2″ or 1″ steel from your current 3/8″. The only way you’re going to stop the pitting is to stop using steel core M855, move target further away, or go to a harder target.

If you’re denting your target, you’re in luck. You can go to a harder target (assuming you’re using mild steel), a thicker target (if you’re using a rifle), or simply move further away. It’s unlikely that you’re using a projectile that’s too hard or too fast if you’re denting instead of pitting the target. It is, however, possible to dent and pit (crater) a target at the same time. If you manage that, you’re doing something terribly wrong. That, or you need a medal for your creativity.

tl;dr – Hard targets resist pitting, thick targets resist denting

Mild steel targets vs AR500 steel targets on a pistol range (observations and photos)

I stayed at a buddy’s place this weekend, and he’s got some steel from me on his home range. One plate is an old piece of mild steel I scrounged for him, the other was an early prototype target for his department (he’s a deputy in CA).

I took the opportunity to take a couple photos and write down my observations, because I typically never have mild steel on my ranges. If I’m going to shoot pistols, I’ll downgrade to 1/4 AR400.

The targets have been up for about a year. It’s a pistol range, but occasionally a rifle sneaks onto it. When something other than a non-magnum pistol caliber is used on the range, he’s careful to make sure it only goes at the AR500 target. As a result, the mild steel target is holding up very well, but the difference between the two is obvious when you look at it close.

I’ll probably be swapping out his mild steel target for more AR500 this summer, before the surface turns into a moonscape.

1″ mild steel rectangle on left is approximately 15×20″. The target on the right is an IPSC Metric less the D-zone, in 3/8″ AR500. Hung with 1/4″ chains against a railroad tie backstop (basically no swing).

As of May 5, 2014, targets have been hung for about one year. A total of approximately 2,000 rounds fired down range, the majority of which are 40S&W.

Closeup of mild steel plate. Visible impacts are all 9mm, 40S&W, and 45ACP. On this private range owned by a law enforcement officer, pistols are used as close as seven yards. MOA recommends no closer than 12 yards for pistols due to concerns of lead and copper jacket splashing back.
Closeup of AR500. Visible impacts are from 5.56×45 at 75 yards and 357 mag from a 16″ barrel (lever action) at 25 yards.

Places paint has been removed and repainted with no impact mark are from 9mm, 40S&W, and 45ACP. On this private range owned by a law enforcement officer, pistols are used as close as seven yards. MOA recommends no closer than 12 yards for pistols due to concerns of lead and copper jacket splashing back.

There ya go. Thought you guys might enjoy this. As always, use common sense. I personally wouldn’t have mounted these the same way that my buddy did, there isn’t enough forward angle, it’s against a hard backstop so it can’t swing, and he shoots at it closer than I recommend. Plus, ewww, mild steel target?

 

A month of trade shows

In the past four weeks, I’ve attended two gun shows and two agricultural trade shows (whaaa?) as a vendor for my home based steel target business, MOA Targets. I spent a total of eleven days staffing the shows, and about 2500 miles traveled, and three states. As I’m still in my first year of business, this was the most concentrated bit of promotion I’ve done to date, and was largely done to show off my new long range reactive target, the Mozambique. Here’s my analysis.

Crossroads of the West Phoenix January 18-19 – in a metropolitan area of 4.3 million people, this show was the weekend after SHOT, and was considered a small one. It was about the size of what is billed as the Big Reno Show (which I’m used to doing), which brings in folks from all over the west coast. Sales were better than normal for me, despite not being local and not having a very diverse onsite inventory, due to travel. Two local competitors, neither of which have a web presence, were present. Decent amount of cards handed out, but less than average. Many of the same vendors that attend the Reno Crossroads shows were here. This was my first ever show outside my normal stomping grounds of Reno, NV.

Colusa Farm Show (NorCal) February 4-6 – The annual farm show is the big happenings in fertile Colusa, CA. A largely outdoor show, it covers the several acres of the local fairgrounds, and is focused on commercial agriculture, mostly nut orchards and rice. At a population of less than 6,000 (county population ~22k), this show is a whole different scale than the Phoenix one a couple weeks earlier. That being said, considering my booth cost me nothing, it was worth doing just to get my product in front of folks that might never make it to a gun show. Plenty of farmers and ranchers shoot, and a decent amount of cards were handed out, no sales at this show. Interestingly, while there were less people at this show than an average gun show, I estimate I talked to a larger percentage of the farmers than I do gun show folks. Apparently, I was a big enough deal to make the local paper, so I’ve got that going for me.  No other firearms industry vendors were present, that I noticed.

World Ag Expo (SoCal) February 11-13. The annual World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA is similar to the Colusa show, but much larger and more trafficked, with the promoters estimating 1500 vendors and 100k paid attendees at this largely outdoor show. While once again I had no sales, I spent the majority of the show talking to interested folks, and handing out cards with wild abandon. I learned something important about California shooters at this show. With no more 50 BMG sales allowed in the state, long range shooters have taken to 338 lapua strongly, and there is a lot of interest in products that are suitable to use with the round. The NRA and the Elk Foundation also had booths at this show.

Silver Sage Gun Show, Bourbon Square Casino Feb 14-16. The final show of my tour, this was held in the hallway and meeting room of a small casino in Sparks, NV, my home turf. This was the first show at the venue, and with a total attendance of about 500, and less than 50 tables, it was the smallest by far. Poorly advertised, and mostly viewed as a potential failure, this show was actually pretty decent. I had better sales than I have at some larger shows, and while I didn’t hand out many cards, it was to a higher percentage of the attendees than normal.  Most importantly, every attendee was given two tickets for free beer, and many of those tickets ended up with me, so I drank for free all weekend. Only local vendors were present.

My conclusions based on these four very different shows, three of which were outside my normal area of operations, is that it’s worth getting out of your normal area for an occasional show, but it’s tough to measure the return on investment. Looking at the analytics for my website, I didn’t see much of a bump in traffic from any of these shows. Total sales from the two shows that included sales were average for what I would get in Reno, but included significant travel in one case. The Phoenix show nominally paid for itself, assuming I work for free. The farm shows may yet bear fruit, but for the short term only pencil out if I work for free. The local show, which was the smallest, most poorly attended, and vaguely depressing show I’ve ever done, at least left me with free beer and lunch money.

tl;dr – starting a small business is hard, but generally involves more beer than a real job