Banging Away With Range Time Targets

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Range Time Targets … full-throttle purveyors of that sweet, sweet PING!

The sweet sound of PING! Once you’ve experienced it, you can’t get enough of it. Those who understand the reference surely agree there are few more pleasurable endeavors than throwing jacketed lead at a sheet of hardened steel.

Beyond basic fun behind the trigger, steel targets add visual and auditory aesthetics to range time any red-blooded shooter appreciates. In a word, shooting steel is addictive.

And useful.

Practice a lot, and steel will save you money. Need a long-term solution, treat it right and it’ll be there for years. Want instant feedback, you hear every hit. Require something dynamic, steel has it in spades.

Range Time Steel Target 4
Range Time by AR500 offers Hostage Targets (above) along with a slew of other long-term terminal destinations for your bullets.

Sure enough, there’s an upfront investment, but that cash is paid back tenfold in skill building, convenience and, yes, money saved. At the same tick, not all metallic targets are created equal—which brings us to Range Time Steel Targets by AR500 Target Solutions.

Range Time: Doing Steel Right

Based out of Rice Lake, Wisc., Range Time has kicked a toehold in the high-quality end of the steel target market. Heck, you can even find some of their specialty targets at the Navy and FBI Quantico training grounds. It's a tough game to get to this level, especially given there are plenty of pretenders stealing business away from companies that are doing it right.

But what does “doing it right” mean and why do Range Times targets stand out against discount brands you find on special at your local mega outdoor store? It comes down to the steel.

Across the board, Range Time utilizes the proper type of metal for the job, by this, we’re talking AR500 and AR550 . For those uneducated on the matter, this is the stuff you want to catch bullets.

Range Time Steel Target 3
Range Time's Gongs kit, made of AR500 steel and 3/8″ thick, the targets are stout enough to withstand pistol and rifle fire.

The “AR” here stands for “abrasion resistant,” and the rolled steel plate is utilized in a host of brutal jobs—armor, mining equipment and snow plow blades, to name a few. Given its resume, it has some attributes making it perfect as a shooting target. In particular, its hardness and resistance to impact stresses. Brass tacks, it won’t warp or gull—good things when you don’t want a bullet careening back at you.

This isn’t the case with all steel targets, so buyers beware. If it doesn’t say AR500 or AR550, good chance you’ll invest in something that won’t last a cup of coffee or will put you in harm’s way.

Taking Care Of The Little Things

Given the steels' toughness, AR500 and AR550 aren’t the easiest materials to work with, as you can imagine. This is where Range Time definitely deserves kudos. The company’s wares—from simple gongs to silhouettes—all boast crisp pleasing lines and precision-cut attachment holes.

Yeah, this is a bit of icing on the cake, a sloppily cut target is still useful. But you’re slapping down considerably more on steel than most any other option, so you might as well demand top manufacturing. Range Time gets this, and its laser-cutting process delivers it in spades. 

Upgrading The Range

I have banged Range Time’s steel previously, in particular, their IPDA/IPSC Silhouettes and have walked away impressed with their resilience. The company sent me a couple of packages to test out recently, including its AR550 Reactive Hostage Target and three AR500 swinging gongs. Both have already proved worthwhile and up to what I’ve come to expect from Range Time.

Range Time Steel Target 5
The AR550 Hostage Target Kit comes with everything to set up your own shooting range. You only have to supply a 2″x4″ for the post.

Before touching on how each target performed at the terminal destination, a brief word on what comes with each kit is worth mentioning.

Gong Kit

As it sounds, these are three 3/8-inch thick AR500 gongs, 10-, 8- and 6-inches in diameter. Making things all the easier for set up, Range Time includes hardened hangers that work in conjunction with a 2”x4” to set up a tidy row of targets. These are perfect for target transition practice, casual shooting sessions or anything else where a plain old target is required.

Hostage Target Kit

If you are unfamiliar with the setup, it’s essentially a 12″x20″x1/2″ AR550 silhouette (IPDA/IPSC size), the twist is its bright orange, 5-inch AR550 paddle that's also 1/2-inch thick. This mounts to the rear of the target and sits off to the side of the silhouette’s head, in a mimic of a bad dude’s noggin popping up behind a hostage. The bonus to this setup is the flapper is dynamic—make contact and it flips sides adding a bit of action to a shooting session.

To round things out, the hostage kit comes with a stand set up and mount that works in conjunction with a 2”x4”. Range Time offers up quality carriage bolts for mounting (sold separately), but you supply the lumber.

As a side note, you can attach the gongs to the stand via a carriage bolt, if you so desire, for a single target.

Range Time At The Range

So, if you were expecting regalement at the actual review of Range Time’s targets, get ready for disappointment. It gets pretty pedestrian from here on out. Why? Because their performance was exactly what you’d expect from quality steel—boring.

No, no … not the actual shooting and what the targets brought to the session. That was top notch, we'll get to that in a moment. But exactly how the steel performed against a hail of 9mm and .223 Remington fire.

Face it, the only way this review gets exciting is if somewhere along the line a target cracks or a massive divot is removed from its surface. That happens, we can all look at the picture, furrow our brows and mutter in knowing tones. Sorry, not with Range Time.

Range Time Steel Target 2
Impact and spall stripe some of the powder coating from these 9mm hits, but the steel itself is virtually unharmed.

With pistol and rifle fire from 10 to 100 yards, the targets came away with little more than paint chips. The steel itself was nearly pristine enough if powder coated again would likely prove as flawless as the day I took them out of the box. Honestly, pretty impressive given some 200-plus rounds rained down upon them.

Now, of course, I’ll have to invest in a rattle can or two to protect their surfaces from corrosion—plus get them looking spiffy again. But that’s a small price to pay for target systems I’m certain are up to the abuse I aim to inflict on them for years to come.

Which Target For What?

The answer to that is a solid, it depends …

The Hostage Target definitely has more of a defensive training role, offering a legitimate option to sharpen pistol skills or work with your carbine relatively close in. Doubling as a plain ol' silhouette, it opens up a wealth of drill possibilities and would like serve well for someone looking for one single investment.

The gongs, on the other hand, are all-arounders. Up close, they’re perfect for a target transition course with your pistol or a general plinking gallery with a rimfire. Move them down range and you have the excellent emulation of vital zones of most North American game to check your zero before hunting season.

All that said, the gongs serve better as secondary targets added to a dynamic main system. Honestly, the best bet is both packages for a fairly versatile range setup. Oh yeah, and plenty of ammo to pitch at them.

Brief Note On Steel And Thickness

One more factor to consider, should you go AR500 or AR550, and how thick? Again, this all depends on what you're shooting.

The Hostage Target in this review, for instance, is resilient against .223 Remington rifle fire as close as 50 yards. The 3/8-inch gongs I futzed with can shake off a .308 Winchester at 100 yards. That covers a lot of ground.

However, if you're looking at purely pistol shooting, you can save a bit of money by investing in AR500. This will stands tall against all handguns–including magnums. But if you're aiming at throwing a carbine in the mix at realalistic engagment ranges, it's definitely worth upgrading to AR550 and thickness.

Either way, Range Time's caliber chart gives you a good idea of what steel and thickness handle what cartridges. It is worth a perusal if you're in the market for a target.

Parting Shot 

Not all steel targets are equal and there are plenty of options out there that potentially have a lifespan slightly north of paper. This isn’t the case with Range Time.

Dynamic, American-made and precision manufactured, the targets are made for years of enjoyment. This puts plenty of that sweet PING! in your future.

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