Ricochet or Deflection Risk off Steel Targets

Discussion in 'Practical Precision--PRS, NRL, ELR' started by 6brbb, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. 6brbb

    6brbb

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    I thought I would post this question here as PRS, NRL, & ELR predominantly is on steel targets.

    My question is … is there a genuine risk from ricochets when shooting at AR500 steel targets from distances of 600 to 1000 yards (with bullet speeds at point of impact at least greater than speed of sound)?

    My opinion is that the risk is incredibly low to non-existent.
    - Firstly, the bullets always disintegrate on contact with a hardened plate (AR500).
    - Bullets don’t arrive from the horizontal but rather are dropping at an angle dictating that any edge deflection is likely to also be down and not up!
    - Any edge deflection would likely partially destroy the bullet causing any defected parts of the bullet to not go far (and also in a down-wards direction)

    [Note we are talking about long range shooting – not short-range Pistol or AR rifle]

    Our shooting location also have a very tall (30-foot high) dirt back berm (hill) immediately behind our steel targets. The question however has been raised is there a risk to stock on surrounding hills to the sides and behind the steel plates.

    Am keen to have observations and views from others. Thanks
     
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  2. Pres100

    Pres100

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    In my experience bullets don’t disintegrate after hitting a steel plate, but rather deform. You can see this by looking on the ground near the plate, find them and hold it in your hand. Many are close to the actual weight that they left the gun.

    I do agree that there is pretty minimal risk to the firing line from a ricochet at 600 or 1000 yds, but in some cases, a ricochet could impact something and someone that is not on the firing line.
    In regard to competitions, there may be liability and insurance worries for the range?
     
  3. Rtheurer

    Rtheurer

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    I shoot on steel quite a bit. I have to respectfully disagree with the above that full weight bullets are found or close to full weight bullets slightly deformed. I always look and there is only small shards of copper and lead even out past 1 mile. I have not found one intact bullet that hit the steel.

    Just my experience.
     
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  4. fantastic

    fantastic

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    Shooting steel at night through PVS-14's you can see a spark from the bullet impact. Sometimes I can see it with the naked eye when I do night fires on my range. I have heard of what that guy is telling you but I have never witnessed it. But I guess it is possible if there is a spark.
     
  5. jpretle

    jpretle Silver $$ Contributor

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    Not only risk of deflection, but also potential to start fires.
    I have seen it happen---twice.
     
  6. steve_podleski

    steve_podleski

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    +1
     
  7. Laurie

    Laurie

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    'Falling plate' comps used to be very popular in the British military as well as among civilians. These were just propped up on gallery range sand backstops. Distances would usually be short - not above 300 yards - and this practice probably dated from the 19th century.

    After the UK MoD became subject to the same Health & Safety Act as civilian organisations that placed both civil and criminal responsibility onto managers / officers for deaths or injuries after many years of being exempted, things changed to put it mildly and plate shooting was one of the new no-nos. So for the last 20 years or so, they're banned unless inside a 'plate box', essentially a shallow bunker usually made out of old timber railway sleepers ('ties' in US terminology). It also means we can't have any metallic silhouette ranges or competitions. Our NRA has also adopted these rules for gallery range certification / inspection.

    We are now seeing some new long-distance upland ranges in unpopulated areas that use plates alone avoiding the costs in creating target pits. Risks must be tiny, but we have 'right to roam' legislation here that can see members of the public turn up in all sorts of out of the way and not particularly safe areas even if they've been exempted from RtR public access. There'll be a helluva of a stink if some hillwalker is ever felled by a ricochet.
     
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  8. Hoodoo

    Hoodoo Site $$ Sponsor

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    This really all depends on what type of steel you are using. If it's really soft mild steel, you are more likely to find larger and more intact bullets laying near the plate. With high quality AR500 steel, they are more likely to disintegrate and break apart.
     
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  9. Rtheurer

    Rtheurer

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    Agreed. but in todays age of high quality and competitive market of AR500 I would not know why a guy would use mild carbon steel. But a very good point. There are so many disadvantages to Mild steel from Pocking or davits/ deformation by impacts to the density and how it Rings in sound so you can hear the impact,and thickness required for type and distance of caliber... AR 500 or equivalent is the hands down winner. Plus there are all sorts of companies offering plates now that the price is competitive bringing down the overall cost.
    ( I should say I have one monster piece of Mild that I got for free and shoot it at 1000yds or more. still... no large projectile pieces on that plate)
    Russel
     
  10. Dud

    Dud

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    I was just reading about some steel target manufacturer testing the durability of their plates. They shot large calibers at 100 yards and small calibers at 50 yards, including a Dillon mini-gun firing thousands of 7.62x51.

    Evidently the steel survived that and with the angled mounting that most target stands use, all bullet fragments were directed downward.

    Maybe if you hit the top of a plate it might bounce up and back but that should be very rare and there is no way it's going to fly very far after that.

    If you listen to an anti, they will try to tell you that a .22lr is dangerous at 4 miles. Reality is a lot different but ranges have been shut down by assholes who buy property near them and then they get a bullet from somewhere and claim it hit their house from the range...

    I know shooting steel with pistols around 10 yards can produce ricochet that gets back to the firing line. I saw one shooter get cut by a jacket fragment that way but eye protection and a pair of jeans should prevent any serious damage being done by that. He was wearing shorts and got hit in the shin. A band-aid resolved the issue.

    At long distance, a rifle bullet has velocity and energy that's similar to a handgun up close (unless it's a big magnum you're shooting) so I would expect the ricochet potential to be about the same, it might cut a person 10 yards away but they shouldn't be there.
     
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  11. FTRinPA

    FTRinPA

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    IMHO in the scenario you described, your risk of a bullet deflection with enough energy to cause damage is not zero, but pretty damn close. A bullet that impacts the target (especially at 600 or 1000 yards) or dirt backstop will not go anywhere. The risk could come from bullets skipping well before the target and missing the backstop, or rounds completely leaving the range thru ND/AD or incorrect DOPE.
     
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  12. Eternal Student

    Eternal Student

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    I absolutely agree. I would be more concerned bouncing a round off the ground with a miss.
    JMO
     
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  13. jhunter

    jhunter

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    I have seen Bullets jump over berms after being left short of the target/berm. The initial skip gives the bullet an opportunity to continue up and over a berm. Bullets do frag on steel. Bullets that Miss targets and get soaked up by the berm sometimes do not frag at all. If the ground is soft enough you can find bullets near the target that weigh the same as when they were shot, but these did not come in contact with the steel.
     
  14. NorCalMikie

    NorCalMikie Gold $$ Contributor

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    Was at the pistol range when the guys were doing the refresher course for CCW. Guys shooting 40s at the berm. I was sitting on the bench in the back when a BIG FAT chunk of lead hit the wall right next to my head.:eek::eek::eek:
    I packed up and went outside the shooting area.;) Seems like someone got hit in the leg too.

    There's a YouTube video of a guy shooting a 50 at a steel target and the bullet comes back and nearly takes his head off.:eek::eek::eek: That would be enough to make you forget the guns take up basket weaving.
     
  15. fantastic

    fantastic

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    If you've ever had a bullet pass by the side of your ears...ricochet is one of the things you'll always be careful of...Speaking from experience.
     
  16. Dgd6mm

    Dgd6mm Silver $$ Contributor

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    I had one hit me in the corner of my mouth when I was fifteen. I've been very mindful of ricochets since.
     
  17. 338 dude

    338 dude Silver $$ Contributor

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    As you said the direction of bullet is generally downward unless you were shooting some type of solid bullet possibly or something with the steel core it will disintegrate and not travel very far
     
  18. golong

    golong

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    Based on the range you are describing, you are more likely to unintentionally torch one off over the berm than have a problem from the plate impact or skipping a bullet off the ground. Assuming you are not talking steel core, plates that are hung properly have minimal side deflection. It takes something with juice at or above a 338 Lapua closer than 500 yards for the AR500 to not eat the bullet on the face of the plate. Once you go bigger (375 Cheytac, 50 BMG) you have a different set of problems.

    I have seen steel core rounds poking out of AR500 at 1200.

    I have never seen a supersonic, lead core bullet, fired from something at the minimum distance supported by AR500 survive. It is the 'splash' that comes from the bullet exploding on the face of the plate that we look for as the first indication of a good hit.

    The word of caution I will add is not all AR500 is as advertised. Some of the stuff being sold out there is junk.
     
  19. rammac

    rammac

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    :rolleyes:
     
  20. Dud

    Dud

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    In very dry places, fire can happen, especially if you're shooting steel with a .50 with API bullets (armor piercing incendiary) or tracers.

    I've seen one tracer that didn't light until it hit the dirt, then it flared up and nearly set the target stand on fire.

    Steel core can cause sparking when it punches a hole through steel. I've never heard of that actually starting a fire at an outdoor range but I think I heard of it igniting a ground rubber backstop at an indoor range. If I remember properly, I think it just started smoldering and was easily extinguished.

    I think fire might be possible with lead core and brass solids but very very very rare.

    I shoot in very dry areas so it is a concern but very very minor if you're not steel core, tracers or incendiary.
     

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