Don’t Shoot Steel Targets With A Rifle From Up Close!

          This is why we don’t shoot janky, non-swinging steel targets up close with our AR-15’s. We get ricochets. Its very important we know the condition of the targets and the ballistic capabilities of our guns. Also please note that the top picture is not an image of the steel target in question. It is merely a representation. A steel target of this condition is perfectly fine to shoot at given you are at least 25yds away when using a rifle chambered in .223 Remington.

          The below picture shows the remains of a bullet after it ricocheted back at me and a friend. I fired the shot from my 16 inch barreled AR-15. The ammo I was using was Wolf Polyformance .223 Rem., so the jacket shown above is just copper plated steel. The remains of the bullet transformed to a malformed cylinder with openings on both ends.

The jacket of a Wolf Polyformance .223 Remington bullet after rebounding from a soft steel plate.

          We had shot at this (probably homemade) steel target with a snub nose revolver chambered in .38 Special and nothing out of the ordinary happened. The impacting rounds just “splashed” against the target and the target plus its stand just rocked back a little as the individual round targets were either rusted in place or the “attaching mechanism” was tighten like no one’s business. When I decided to shoot my AR I asked if I could fire at his steel gong target stand thing.

          He certainly wasn’t an expert on metallurgy or physics but I assumed he knew what the steel target could take. I was no more than 30 yards from the target. I think I fired two or three rounds when all the sudden we heard a small object bounce off the vehicle behind us and to the right. It wasn’t moving very fast, maybe about sling-shot speed, but it came close to hitting the guy I was shooting with. Needless to say I stopped shooting upon the initial reaction of my friend when the jacket hit something behind him. He found it and  it was actually quit warm. I nabbed a picture and we checked the target. It had a crater in it than had that lead-smeared look.

          Moments before pulling the trigger I had a thought that shooting the target would result in bouncing bullets but the urge to shoot steel, which gives immediate feedback upon a hit, won out. I don’t think I’ll make that choice again.