Target Stands – A quick review

Durability, portability, affordability. Pick two.

As a purveyor of fine AR500 rifle and pistol targets, I also build expensive target stands. Most customers don’t buy my target stands, because they are portable and durable, but pretty damn expensive due to the welding and AR500 use.

So, I’m here to talk about stands you can build yourself, achieving the affordability goal. You’ll have to decide if you want portable or durable, since you only get to pick one of the two. This writeup will deal with just the portable affordable target stands. If you can figure out how to make them durable, affordable, and portable, message me, let’s make a deal.

Many of the designs herein are ones that have been posted on in the past by fellow gunnitors, who I have asked permission of to repost. If you see your pictures, and I haven’t asked permission, let me know and I’ll fix it, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got you all.

The Shepherd Hook – can be purchased at your local garden shop, or made at home with a vice and some rebar. I made this one out of ¼” piece of rebar, using the target itself as the jig, after clamping the rebar to a bumper.

Portable, but any rifle round will destroy the rebar, and successive hits will rotate the target away from the shooter. Super cheap, and takes basically no time to build or set up.

The Rebar Ground Stand (credit to /u/recklessredneck) – Take a piece of ⅜” or heavier rebar, a vice, and a cheater bar, and bend that sucker up. OP used s-rings crimped with channel locks to mount his targets (which he bought from someone other than me, the jerk). Semi-portable (lugging that looks like a bitch), but it won’t rotate when you shoot it. Direct hits to the rebar from a rifle will end the fun for the day. Super cheap, little time invested.

The Steel A-Frame(credit to /u/zanemasterx) – Welding required, which may or may not be affordable to you. Flat bar and round stock used to build a versatile A-frame to hang targets off of. Quick to set up, with no fasteners, with a bungee across the top. However, as with many affordable and portable targets, a single rifle round can ruin your day. Can be built with scrap most welders have laying around, or for probably less than $30 worth steel from a local hardware store.

Single point standSalute Targets single point style, sorry for the shitty photo, my others have gone missing. Designed to hold a target using a 1.5×2.25” tab on the bottom of the target. Expensive, and fairly specialized, but in theory could be made at home. Won’t shred when you shoot it, made of AR500. Available in both portable and static version.

Hook and socket

Welded hook to go into a socket. I hate this style. Any time you weld on an AR target, you risk ruining the temper and the whole point of AR steel is that it’s tempered. Socket piece is on a piece of rectangular tubing which slips on a 2×4. Uses a matched 2×4 H-base.At least the hardware is hidden from the shooter, 2x4s are cheap. Available from GT Targets. Wouldn’t recommend it for rifle targets, due to the welding on the target.

2×4 single point(credit /u/eclypse). A stupidly simple 2×4 setup. Looks like it uses maybe ten linear feet of 2×4 (about $4) and a handful of screws. Utilizes the square hole on this target properly to hold a carriage bolt, which means with the wingnuton the back, you need exactly zero tools to assemble this in the field. Assembly time is going to be longer than the rebar setups to cut up all the 2x4s to fit, but this will take a lot of stray rounds before it needs a new $1 worth of 2×4 upright. A+ would review again.

Of course, no collection is complete without my design. The base is angle iron and holds 2x4s for sleepers and uprights. You can use a 2×4 across the top, or get a top plate for it, made of AR500. Designed to have carriage bolts run through the topper to suspend your targets.  Spendy at $115 for a 20” wide base and top plate, but has held up to machine guns and arfcommers, in Nevada, which says a lot.  Requires no tools to set up in the field.

There ya go. There are a ton more designs out there, including a bunch I didn’t feel like dealing with right now for permanent range setups using 4x4s and railroad ties. I’ll get those another time.

Feel free to post your own designs here, lemmi know in advance if you don’t want me to include them in future collections.

How to choose the correct steel for your shooting needs

How to choose the correct steel for your shooting needs

Or: Why shouldn’t I just get the thickest steel plate I can find and use it for all my shooting?

Let’s get cost out of the way first. As steel is ultimately sold by the pound, the thicker the steel, the more you are paying for the same target surface area. The thicker the target, the more weight you have to move to and from the range if you don’t have the luxury of having a permanent range to use, and you’ll need to use a sufficiently heavy stand to hold the target for you to shoot. Therefore, it behooves you use the thinnest steel that will safely and reliably handle your long term shooting needs.

Secondly, a discussion of modern commercial steel. The typical steel you’ll likely find laying around is referred to as Mild Steel, or A36. It is easily welded, cut, formed, and drilled. It has a Brinell Scale hardness of 120-180, typically. It is the backbone of modern society, and can be bought in your local hardware store, picked up as scrap from local shops, and salvaged from various sources. It is also completely unsuitable for use as a safe, long lasting firearms target for anything other than small caliber, relatively low velocity, rimfire platforms such as the 22LR and 17HMR.

In thicknesses less than 3/8”, modern handgun calibers such as 9x19mm, 40S&W, and 45 ACP will leave dimples, rapidly causing an unsafe shooting surface on mild steel. 

3/8″ mild steel test plate

Magnum handgun calibers will leave deep dents, and may even penetrate the relatively soft mild steel. At 100 yards, centerfire rifle calibers such 308 will fully penetrate 1/2” mild steel, and lesser calibers will leave deep craters.

1/2″ mild steel vs 308 and 7.62×39 @ 100 yards

To get enough mild steel to stop rifle rounds at 100 yards, you’re looking at about 40 pounds of steel per square foot (one inch thick), and a surface that will rapidly be a moonscape of jagged edges, pits, and ricochet inducing odd angles. As I stated, mild steel is completely unsuitable as a firearm target .

Heavily abused 1/2″ mild steel plates

Abrasion Resistant (AR) steel comes in various hardness (typically 400 and 500, Brinell Scale) and thicknesses. AR400 and AR500 steel is commonly used as wear plate on construction equipment, dump trucks, mining process equipment, and farm equipment. It is, effectively, the same thing as mild steel, but with better quality control, and a heat tempering process that hardens the steel through its entire cross section. AR400 is generally less expensive than AR500, and is therefore more commonly available. It is, alas, too soft to handle centerfire rifles at 100 yards, pitting visibly.

3/8″ AR400, pitted by 5.56×45

3/8” AR500, on the other hand, will readily stop non-magnum rifle calibers at 100 yards with little to no visible damage to the steel. Happily, for our purposes, AR500 plate can take a real pounding.

Note square mounting hole behind blown out right carriage bolt.
3/8″ IPSC Metric 50% Scale, MOA Targets (lead smears and ~2mm pits from 5.56×45)

At 200-300 yards, 3/8” AR500 is sufficient to stop magnum rifle calibers without damage. It is suitable for all standard magnum and non-magnum handgun calibers at 12 yards (including 500 S&W, with minor crushing of the plate surface and your hands), shotgun slugs at 50 yards, non-magnum rifle calibers at 100 yards, and magnum rifle calibers at 200-300 yards. Simply put, 3/8” AR500 will do the job for most shooters out there.

A quick diversion back AR400, which I so callously discarded as too soft. While 3/8” mild steel is unsuitable and weighs 15 pounds per square foot, it turns out that relatively inexpensive ¼” AR400 steel is useful. ¼” AR400 will readily stop standard handgun calibers such as 9x19mm, 40S&W, and 45 ACP, and is only 10 pounds per square foot. For non-magnum pistol shooters, who will never have a rifle on their range or are just getting into shooting steel, ¼” AR400 is a very practical answer to the age old question of “what am I going to shoot at today that I don’t have to clean up?”

So why would you ever buy ½” AR500 or 1” AR500 steel? For the average shooter, it is overkill to go to ½” AR500, and nearly comical to go to 1” AR500. However, for those with limited distance on their range and magnum rifles, it is helpful to step up to ½” for magnum rifles at less than 200 yards. ½” AR500 will wear longer than 3/8” AR500, and it resists deformation from repeated impacts. These features of ½” AR500 make it useful for law enforcement, public and private ranges and clubs, and other high volume shooters. 1” AR500 is pretty much exclusively used for 50 BMG.

MOA Targets LLC offers targets in ¼” AR400, and 3/8”, ½” and 1” AR500. We have the capacity to design and produce targets up to 60×120” as a continuous piece. We can make custom targets of virtually any size, shape and thickness. Our current product line includes both static, gong style targets and kinetically activated “reactive” targets. Feel free to check out our product line at

Tl;dr- Here’s a flow chart

tl;dr of the tl;dr chart - use 3/8" AR500

What Is M.O.A.?


What is M.O.A?


“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.”


                                                               -Wyatt Earp


Last post we interviewed Mitch Gerlinger, Owner of M.O.A. Targets, and titled it “Who is MOA?” This week we discussing WHAT is MOA. If you’ve never heard the term MOA and are curious, this is your lucky day. MOA stands for Minute of Angle (or minute of arc). Minute of angle is the mathematical formula used to express the measurement equal to 1/60th of a degree on a full 360 degree circle. At 100 yards, one minute of angle (so 1/60th of a degree) works out to 1.047 inches (1.047” or 0.2908 MilRad, or 2.908 cm @ 100m), which is BASICALLY one inch at 100 yards. So what does this all mean? Well, it means that if you’re shooting one MOA off at 100 yards, your bullet will hit the target almost one inch off its mark. We now have a way of measuring the angle we need to correct for when we are at the shooting range.


Have you ever been at the shooting range, maybe trying to sight in your rifle, and you look at those little dials on your scope and have no idea what you are supposed to do? This is where Minute of Angle comes in. Typically, if you have a quality scope, you should be able to look at your manual, or at the scopes top turret, and it should tell you what each click will equal in Minutes of Angle (commonly it is one click of the scope per ¼ MOA). This means that for every MOA off you are you will need to click your scope that direction four times. Since we know now what one MOA is at 100 yards and we know what each click of our scope equals in MOA, we can now accurately sight in our rifle.


Let me give you an example: If my grouping hits three inches low at 100 yards I know I need to adjust my rifle scope UP three MOA. If my rifle adjustments work out to one click per ¼ MOA I now know that I need to adjust my scope UP by 12 clicks. ( 3 inches X 1 click ¼ moa = 12 clicks for an adjustment of three MOA) Now, this is not always the case at different distances. At 200 yards you will, most likely, not simply have a two inch difference in where your bullet hits the target. This is due to the fact that all projectiles, even bullets, fall at an ever increasing rate (thanks gravity). As a general rule a standard bullet will be traveling at a high rate up to 100 yards and will be able to maintain a relatively straight trajectory. Beyond this distance the bullet will begin to drastically slow down and give gravity more time to work its magic, thus causing more drop on the bullet. Due to this drop, we cannot simply say that for every 100 yards your bullet will drop one inch, but we can use the MOA formula to figure out how many MOAs we need to adjust at different distances. Let’s say that we are now shooting at 200 yards and our bullet hits four inches low. Well, we know that one MOA at 100 yards is about one inch, so one MOA at 200 yards will be two inches. Now we need to ask ourselves “how many MOAs at 200 yards will fit into the inches the bullet dropped?” well, four inches divided by two inches= two MOA. So we need to adjust UP two MOA.


As you can see, this simplifies being able to adjust at many different distances. If I am shooting at 300 yards and my bullet hits 12 inches low I know that one MOA at 300 yards is thre inches. 12 inches divided by three inches = four MOA and so on…and our targets make it very easy to measure for MOA. For example, our 6 inch targets are six MOA width at 100 yards, or one MOA at 600 yards..


So why is all of this important? Well, simply put, accuracy counts. I know, I know. Sometimes it is fun to go out with the buddies with their awesome firearms and just blast lead into the landscape.We all do it from time to time, and that is perfectly fine, assuming you can get the ammo to do it. But when it comes down to good marksmanship, accuracy counts. Minute of Angle is an amazing tool to help you with your accuracy. Imagine not having to spend so much time sighting in your rifle because you don’t quite understand the process but, rather, being able to use the MOA formula to get on target and have some fun HITTING your mark. We want you on target…We want you on OUR targets.


Check out more of our targets here.

Josh L


Who is MOA Targets? (an interview)

Today we will be introducing you to Mitch Gerlinger, Founder of MOA Targets, and he will give you a little bit of insight into what makes MOA Targets a wise choice for range targets…

Hello, Mitch. First, Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where you grew up, education etc.

Howdy! I grew up in the great state of Jefferson, AKA northern California, in a family owned steel fabrication business. I went to Chico State and earned a degree in Geology, and moved to Reno, Nevada about ten years ago. I currently work in the environmental consulting industry, mostly doing hazmat stuff. I’ve been an active shooter since I moved to Nevada, having bought my first firearm, a GLOCK 26, about three months after moving here.

Being a shooter in Nevada, I’ve learned quite a few lessons on targets and shooting locations. Mostly, target stands are pretty difficult to jury rig and still keep upright, and the best shooting locations are generally either too flat, or too populated. With that in mind, my target stands are designed to be easily transported, don’t require staking down, and can be used on rough terrain.

What are MOA Targets? What do they do?

MOA is the acronym for Moment (or Minute) Of Angle. It’s a math term, which boils down to a rule of thumb. For every one hundred yards to the target, a minute of angle will be a circle approximately one inch in diameter. At 100 yards, that’s one inch, at five hundred yards, five inches, and so forth. I named my company MOA Targets as a nod to precision shooters who like to use AR500 steel targets so they can hear the impact, and not have to go mark a target or break out the spotting scope.

What makes my targets special is that they are cut on a 4,000 Watt CNC laser table out of AR500 spec steel. This steel is the industry standard for rifle targets, and is pretty much a “forever” target for pistols. I’ve spent a lot of time (and money) shooting things up over the years, and I’m applying that experience here. Wherever practicable, I use square holes for mounting, and I don’t weld on the targets. Welding can create soft spots where the temper is lost. Likewise, cutting methods such as oxy acetylene and plasma can leave soft edges due to heat soak while cutting. Using a laser minimizes the heat soak. On 3/8” targets, our flagship line, the heat soak is generally less than 1/8th of an inch from the cut edges.

What is the difference between AR500 steel and other targets? What are the advantages to using AR500?

AR500 steel is the industry standard for rifle targets, and has a Brinell hardness rating of approximately 500 . Mild steel, which is what most people have laying around, has a hardness around 120. Pistol rounds will readily dent ¼” mild steel. ¼” AR500 won’t show any effect from centerfire pistol rounds at 12 yards. Magnum may mar ¼” AR500 at 12 yards.

Dented, pockmarked, and penetrated steel can throw spall and cause ricochets. Don’t shoot damaged steel.

What kind of client are you hoping to attract?

I’m interested in the paying kind of client, mostly. That being said, I’m first and foremost a shooter and a do it yourselfer. All of my targets, stands, and accessories are designed with the do it yourselfer in mind. Any product that requires welding to use is available as both a weld kit and a finished product. All products come unpainted, as you’re just going to shoot the paint off, so there’s no point in me selling you paint and my time.

I’m also interested in talking to creative people who want to come up with new target designs.

And why should they choose you over other AR500 target manufacturers?

Well, for folks in Northern California and Northern Nevada, I’m a shoe in because I’m local, and I’ll meet you for lunch to deliver targets if need be. I can deliver by the individual piece, or by the truck load. I have access to a full freight delivery system for the West Coast, and can get you what you need in an affordable fashion.

For folks who are outside my immediate operating area, I offer multiple shipping methods, and some of the best prices in the ‘Verse.

Do you take special orders for different shapes and/or sizes? Or we get what we get?

If your desired target can fit on a five by ten foot sheet of steel, I can make it. Send over your design and let’s talk. If you don’t see something on the website that you’d like to see, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do. I was in business exactly five hours before I got my first request for a custom target system by a law enforcement agency. That system has been developed and tested, and will be going into production very shortly.

Any closing remarks? Something you want to say to potential clients out there?

It’s a little known fact that a moa is also an extinct flightless bird from the South Pacific. Since you’ve now read that, it’s a slightly little more known fact.

Thanks, Mitch, for taking the time for this interview. Please take some time to check out MOA Targets products and don’t forget to like us on facebook here


Josh L