“To Steel or Not to Steel”


This Week’s Tips or Tricks…




Q:  You’ve got your reloads, but now you need something to shoot at…are steel targets really safe and really worth the cost???


A:  If they are AR500 or better quality…absolutely!!!


When it comes to shooting AR500 Steel Targets, our customers always start with the same old talking points from that “YouTube” disaster video that their buddy shared with them or that time that they knew “this guy” who decided to build his own ‘steel targets’ and it didn’t work out so well for them or the targets.


AR500 is a very strong, impact resistant, extra-hardened steel which is ideal for target shooting whether it be at the range, at home, or out in the pasture!  In order to use AR500 Steel Targets properly; however, there are some key elements that you need to pay attention to and consider the following before buying:





The thickness of your AR500 Steel Targets selection will dictate the strength, longevity, and caliber limitation(s) that your steel will have.  When selecting AR500 targets, the thicker the steel means the heavier, longer lasting, and larger the caliber you will be able to fire at that target(s).  When selecting your target(s), always start by assessing what the largest possible caliber you may shoot either now and/or in the future and then select your target(s) based upon this criteria.  AR500 targets are an investment such as that of an automobile and you have to make your purchase based on your needs, not just your budget!  You wouldn’t want to buy that ½ ton pickup just because it’s cheaper and then complain about how the suspension and frame are now wrecked because you tried to pull a gooseneck trailer loaded down with over 20 tons of cargo just the same as you don’t want to invest in AR500 Steel Targets that are only rated for handguns and expect to shoot a .338 Lapua at it!  If you buy cheap steel and exceed the limits of the product, its lifespan and safety will rapidly deplete and you’re not going to be pleased with the results!





If you only shoot handguns, it may not make much sense in most cases to spend that extra money to get that heavier Rifle rated 1/2” AR500 Steel Target vs. the 1/4” or 3/8” Handgun Only rated one you are looking at right now. Now if you shoot a majority of rifle and some handgun or even a 50/50 split…then it will be your wisest investment to purchase the heavier Rifle rated targets and then you can shoot both rifle and handguns at the same set of targets without any fear of damaging your targets.


 Warning: please do NOT attempt any of the following demonstrations you are about to read or see in the video as these actions can be extremely dangerous and should ONLY be conducted by properly trained and qualified professionals!


Based upon all of the customer questions and response that we have had so far, we decided to show you just how durable and safe these targets are when used properly and safely.  To begin this torture test, we took one of our manufacturers 3/8” Handgun Only rated (non-magnum) AR500 Steel Targets and we subjected it to the abuse and torture testing of 9mm, .40 S&W, and AR-15 .223 rounds ALL from within a range of just 5-10 yards of the target and we have the video to prove it!!!  Additionally, as an extreme abuse and WAY over the top torture test, we put the final “cherry-on-the-top” sort of speak by subjecting this very same AR500 Steel Handgun Only Rated Target to the punishing abuse of a .300 Winchester Magnum Rifle firing 168gr. Berger VLD Hunting rounds at over 3,000fps at a distance of just 100 yards….(remember that’s a MAGNUM Rifle round on a Handgun ONLY rated target folks!)…and here are the results:




9mm, .40S&W, and .223 Torture Test Results @ 5-10 yards…


-9mm 115gr. FMJ and .40S&W 180gr. FMJ rounds at 5-10 yards only displayed paint flaked away from metal, a smooth surface with no pitting, denting, or penetrations.

-AR-15 55 gr .223 Varmint Tipped rounds at 5-10 yards were slightly more abusive (as we knew and expected at this extremely close range) but still only displayed very light splatter and scuffing of the surface, but with no pitting, denting, or penetrations.





.300 Winchester Magnum Torture Test Results @ 100 yards…


Now the “what were you thinking!”  The .300 Winchester Magnum extreme torture test results were exactly as we expected, but for those who haven’t shot steel targets before we wanted to illustrate exactly how the “improper” use of AR500 Steel Targets will lead to damage, rapid deterioration, and will greatly shorten the useful life of your AR500 Steel Targets when “improperly” used such as in this case of firing rifle rounds, and from a high velocity MAGNUM cartridge to boot, at an AR500 target rated for Handgun ONLY (non-magnum) use by its manufacturer.


-Visible surface damage

-2/16” to 3/16” surface pitting in the targets at the point of bullet impact

-The rear of the target shows clear signs of “bulging” due to the thinner thickness of the target not being able to fully handle the Magnum cartridge higher velocity and excessive energy delivered onto this Handgun ONLY rated steel

-However, in the overall concern of the safety of the AR500 steel target, we still did not see an issue with penetration of the steel target even with this high velocity .300 Winchester Magnum round.  Now, it must be pointed out here though that if this target were to be continually subjected to this same excessive torture and extreme abuse, you can fully expect and be nearly guaranteed that this target would eventually fail from being repeatedly “softened” by these over-velocity and over-energy impacts from the improper use of this particular AR500 Steel Target with a Magnum Rifle round.  Additionally, worth pointing out here, if you were to do something REALLY stupid like fire .338 Lapua or even a .50 BMG round at this target…you can fully expect that there WILL be penetration, so know your target(s) limitations and stay within those limitations to ensure you get the safest and longest use out of your AR500 Steel Targets!!!






See Our Complete AR500 Steel Target Torture Test Video…


To view our complete AR500 Steel torture test video, please click on the following YouTube link:





Do you have a Tip or Trick regarding reloading that you would like to see posted?  Please send us your Tip(s) or Trick(s) and we will see about getting them posted!




Written By:  Kyle R. CEO of Broken Box R LLC


Copyright © 2015 Broken Box R LLC – All Rights Reserved