Ricochet or Deflection Risk off Steel Targets

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

  1. Centuriator


    Jul 8, 2012
    I've been shooting steel plates for years, and intensely so in many handgun and carbine classes, and occasionally a piece of spalling will catch me in the face, nothing serious, but...it does happen and that's why you quickly realize: eye-pro is a good thing. I've had it happen far more often with handgun rounds, than 5.56, etc.

    If the steel plate is not high quality, thick hardened steel, this is where the problems really start, when a plate become pitted badly then is when you can have real problems with rifle rounds. I saw a guy shoot a pitted plate with his AR and a huge piece of spall flew off it and past him and completely shattered his rear window on his truck.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  2. fyrewall


    Oct 28, 2017
    I shoot steel.

    I have observed sparks flying off and down from steel at night that might make for fire danger so the area under the steel has to be weed free. I have put out burning debris under bullet traps.
    Plates should be free swinging or pivoting back or not rigidly fixed to deflect bullet fragments down or off to some safe spot - never seen any intact bullets or even fragments - just dust at impact.
    Bullet strikes on hard, soft or mild steel make for flying debris enough to pit the chains holding the target and deep craters on mild steel.

    At my range somebody propped up a 3/8 - 1/2 inch thick mild steel plate at 300 yards at 60* - 70* from horizontal and if some penetrating 5.56 bullet hit it on a secondary bounce there could be a ricochet that could go up and off to one side and land on either of 2 ranges at each side of the side berm. Somebody fortunately tossed the massive heavy plate behind the backer berm.

    I shoot handguns at a 1.5 inch thick and 10 inch round piece of swinging aluminum using soft plated lead bullets at low velocities and have not experienced any stuff coming back at me (yet) - just shallow divots. The term "spall" is a good description of this - all sorts of stuff could come flying back. Upon shooting a mild steel plate at 10 yards with a 125 grain .357 jacketed load some steel "spall" about 1/32 " thick by 1/4 " long, crescent shaped got me just under my ball cap, about 1 inch above protective eye wear - stuck out from me like a thorn - no more zippy handgun loads at mild steel. The steel pop up targets are hardened and apparently are more resistant to this.
  3. 426nut


    Aug 18, 2013

    This one.
  4. 243winxb


    Feb 6, 2006
    Avoid plates with pock marks at any & all distances. 20191007_090951.jpg

    My 8" target.
  5. BountyHunter

    BountyHunter Gold $$ Contributor

    Nov 29, 2004
    At Fort AP Hill VA we had multiple bullets come back across the firing line, go another 300 meters AND then go thru the metal walls of a warehouse. Closest target to the firing line was 250 meters so they went back 180 degrees for minimum of 550 meters and then thru a wall. They were found on the floor still warm by workers that heard them hit. We did not have any rocks, metal or concrete down range before or after that we could find. People like to think that the bullets break, or just go poof, but not so much. the Army did doppler radar tests and found they went more like the old fireworks fountains: up, back, left, right and every which way and much further than expected. That is why Army and Marine range fans changed from the old V shaped snow cone.
  6. Capt. Oblivious

    Capt. Oblivious

    Jan 15, 2013
    I have been part of 10s of 1000s of bullets being shot at steel from 300y past 1600y and have never seen one come back let alone stay intack after hitting a steel plate. Handguns are completly different and i dont shoot where they are using handguns to shoot at any steel, i dont care how the steel is setup. I hit my son standing behind me in the stomach with a rickhocet from my 357 from around 60y and i will never forget that moment that piece of lead/copper came whizzing back past me and hit him in the stomach.
  7. Ballisticboy


    Aug 16, 2017
    What has been done or seen before is only relevant to safety when trying to calculate the chance of a certain event happening, it does not mean that something cannot happen. For example, a private boat outside the official safety trace had never been hit by a 4.5" shell, until the day it happened. It all comes down to are you happy with a one in a million chance of something happening or do you want an absolute safety trace? When it comes to gun safety I lean towards the latter. If it is your life or the life of one of your family, what chance are you willing to accept?
  8. wwbrown

    wwbrown Silver $$ Contributor

    May 25, 2009
    I believe this is a spoof, hard to imagine almost identical path after the bullet has lost so much energy both before it hits the steel and the energy it loses during its impact with the steel. In addition I would imagine the bullet would be quite deformed. I think it is deformed as an armor piercing bullet would have done just that pierced the plate and not ricocheted.

    Just my 2 cents,

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