A while back, I was looking for steel targets to set up on my property, and randomly came across ShootSteel.com (note: I have no affiliation with them, other than as a customer). They have reasonably priced steel targets made of AR500 steel in various sizes, shapes and thicknesses. I picked up a few of their round targets in 3/8″ thickness, which is supposed to be good for most handgun and rifle cartridges (up to 308 Win).
If you’ve shot at softer steel targets before, you might be skeptical that a 3/8″-thick plate would stop rifle cartridges, but having put hundreds of rounds into my targets, I can attest to their resistance to 223 rounds. I’ve shot my plates with steel-tipped M855 (5.56×45 62grain) from a 100 yards, which barely made a dimple on the plate. ShootSteel.com recommends shooting rifle cartridges from a minimum distance of 100 yards, but I’ve also shot my plates with 55gr M193 from as close as 25 yards, which also left no more than a dimple. I also haven’t observed any ricochet with 223 — as far as I can tell, the bullets just explode into tiny fragments upon impact, and most of the fragments spread sideways. (This may not be the case with other bullets/cartridges/targets, so, needless to say, take appropriate precautions when shooting at any hard object.)
For two-holed targets, heavy chains are probably the best way to hang these targets. I made the mistake of hanging my targets with some nylon rope which didn’t work too well, mostly because the 3″ and 5″ targets are light enough to get blown around like a kite in a hurricane when hit. Using heavy chains should help weigh them down.
For single-holed targets, ShootSteel.com also sells dedicated hangars that can be bolted onto a 2×4. I liked the idea of these more stationary mounts, but I didn’t feel like shelling out $16, so I improvised a similar contraption using a few dollars’ worth of materials from the local hardware store (see pics below). All you need is a bolt (I used 3/8″ bolts), couple of washers, a nut (nylon nuts would work best), and a spring. The one downside of this type of mount is that the spring may dampen the “ring” you hear on impact.
All in all, I’m very happy with the targets, so I give them two thumbs-up. I’ll be getting more plates to set up around my property for sure.