Nothing beats the sweet sound of copper-jacketed lead ringing off steel targets. Here's what you need to know and the models to spend your money on for years of shooting enjoyment.
Why You Should Buy A Steel Target:
- The sound of a hit gives you instant feedback on how you're shooting.
- Many can double as pistol and rifle targets.
- Cared for properly, steel targets last for years.
- If you shoot a lot, they're cheaper per trigger pull.
- Honestly, there are few things more fun to shoot at than steel targets.
A warning in moving to steel targets: They’re addictive. Once you hear that sweet “Ping!” of copper-jacketed lead crashing into a plate of high-quality steel, you’ll be left drooling like Pavlov’s dog for more. Never fear: If the steel target bug bites you, you certainly aren’t alone.
As a terminal destination for bullets for decades now, steel targets have become more common in recent years … and for good reason: Over the long run, they’re extremely economical. Furthermore, these shooting-range gems come in every conceivable shape, size and function. From simple silhouettes to ingenious reactive targets, the sky is the limit.
With a wealth of options out there, picking the right one for your training and shooting enjoyment is difficult. But, we’ll try to streamline the process. We collected 5 steel targets that hit the mark not only in their practicality, but also in regard to longevity and pleasure they’ll add to your trigger time.
But, before we get to that, let’s look at why you might want to (read: should) invest in this kind of shooting target.
Advantages of Steel Targets
To many, a target is a target – material make-up doesn’t matter. Certainly, from preseason shooting to tramping after deer, a Redfield sighting-in target is handy. Outside of that, some would ask, what difference does the end destination of your bullet make as long as you’re shooting?
Get On Target With These Posts:
- How To Select The Best Shooting Targets For Your Needs
- Why You Should Shoot AR500 Targets
- Best Pistol Targets To Sharpen Your Handgun Skills
True enough: Range time is great, regardless of what you set your sights on. But if you dig into the matter a bit more, you’ll find that there are certain advantages steel targets hold over nearly any other kind.
Feedback: The sweet, addictive ping! of pounding away at steel targets isn’t just pleasant, it’s also practical. The sound gives you instant feedback that you’re connecting, particularly if you’re shooting a rapid-fire sequence. Opt for a reactive steel target and you’ll also add a visible confirmation if you’re on target.
Versatility: Buy the proper steel targets in the right sizes and you’ll have something suitable for both pistol and rifle work. Furthermore, they’re easy to configure when you build up a collection, and you can construct a lights-out course of fire.
Longevity: Even with a bag full of masking tape or pasters, paper and cardboard targets last but a shooting session or two – if you’re really chintzy. With proper care, a steel target’s longevity is measured in years, not sessions.
Economy: You pay more at the front end, but given the longevity of steel targets, they prove highly economical. Consider that a stack of 100 IPSC silhouette paper targets will run you about $35 and last a year or less, depending on how much you shoot. On the other hand, a 9-inch tall steel silhouette will last years for about the same price.
Enjoyment: This is subjective, but given that they’re simple to set up and plum fun to plug away at, steel targets tend to offer more shooting enjoyment. Add in some reactive steel targets and it kicks the fun up to another level.
Choosing Steel Targets
There are some factors you need to consider when taking the dive into steel targets to make certain you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
At the forefront, you need to aim at buying AR500 or AR550 steel targets if you’re shooting most calibers above a .22 LR.
We won’t go too far into the weeds about AR500 steel plate here, because we have an excellent explainer on exactly what it is, how to use it properly and why you want to buy it. But for our points here, let’s just say that it’s made to take a beating from centerfire calibers, even up to .50 BMG.
Next, it helps at the front end to figure out what the majority of your shooting will entail. You’ll save money this way. There’s no need to buy a 17-inch tall, ½-inch-thick AR500 steel gong if you plan on plugging away with your 9mm from 10 yards. Along with this, you should also think about what sort of mounting system you’ll require. The bigger the target, the more support it needs, thus the more money you’ll have to spend. But if you’re figuring on something large enough to push your rifle out to 1,000 yards, it might very well be worth the investment.
Now on to the good stuff …
Great Steel Targets From Birchwood Casey
Birchwood Casey World Of Targets Handgun Dueling Tree
If handgun shooting is your focus, a high-quality dueling tree is among the best options. And Birchwood Casey offers one of the most affordable and convenient models.
Featuring six AR500 steel paddles, the steel targets swing to the opposite side when hit. This offers visual and auditory feedback, as well as making a great option for single and dual shooters. Two really is better than one when it comes to a dueling tree.
With toolless assembly and its own stand, Birchwood Casey’s unit only takes seconds to set up, but takes hours to pull yourself away.
MSRP: $349 — Find Out More
Birchwood Casey World Of Targets Popper
As a simple, satisfying and practical way to sharpen your handgun skills, poppers are must-haves for serious shooters. Among the more affordable options is Birchwood Casey’s.
The USA-made AR500 steel pistol target stands 22 inches tall and is engineered for portability and durability. Easily set up in minutes, the target provides an ample yet challenging 8-inch wide paddle.
Best of all, boasting a hefty actuating spring, the target resets itself in the blink of an eye and is ready for another go around. Providing both visual and auditory feedback, there’s perhaps no better or enjoyable target to send rounds at.
MSRP: $299 — Find Out More
World Of Targets Steel Silhouette
If you have the space or live near public lands, a steel silhouette target is an ideal choice – especially if you’re a high-volume shooter. And Birchwood Casey has the perfect option in its 12×20-inch Silhouette.
Made from high-quality 3/8-inch steel, the pistol target takes a licking and lasts for years. Its longevity is great enough that, if properly cared for, it can prove as economical as paper targets.
Moreover, given the sweet song it sings each time it's struck, the steel silhouette is an incredible training tool by giving instant feedback. As a bonus, it's thick enough to also be a top-notch rifle targets.
MSRP: $99 — Find Out More
Birchwood Casey Steel Range Pack
As far as getting into steel targets, gongs are a staple. But, if you need to take it on the road, you'll also need a way to set it up. Birchwood Casey's Steel Range Pack has you covered, providing the gong and a way to mount it.
In addition to an 8-inch AR500 gong, the kit comes with a stand and holder to mount your target. All you need to add is a 2×4 wood post to get it in action.
If you're new to shooting steel, there aren't many other offers out there that get you shooting as quickly. To boot, the Birchwood Casey gong is multipurpose. It not only stands up to pistol fire, but it’ll work well for most centerfire rifles at the proper distance as well.
MSRP: $100 — Find Out More
World Of Targets Expert Resetting Gallery
You’ll have to put your high-powered rifles away for this gem, which is a shame. Birchwood Casey resetting gallery is about as much fun as can be expected from a target.
The .22 LR specialist features four 1.75-inch diameter paddles that topple over with some fairly precise shooting. The fifth paddle then sets the others back up again when struck to provide you with hours of shooting fun.
But don’t think punishing this target is a walk in the park. It’s easy to set up, it comes with its own stand and it’s very affordable … it might be the ultimate plinking accessory.
MSRP: $49 — Find Out More