Post Jan 06, 2016 by HMGYarbrough

This is a 3 part segment on the unmatched design of the HMG Reactive Steel Target System and is accompanied by video. The links to each part in the series will be included at the end.

Part 1, Target Selection

Recently, after visiting several Law Enforcement agencies and private ranges, I was able to get a closer look at the types of steel targets being purchased by these various groups. The one thing that stood out the most to me was the fact that no one had any consistency in who they bought targets from or the type of target they bought. I saw everything from homemade plates to target faces with multiple holes through them. There were targets from every major manufacturer that I could think of.  All of the targets had one thing in common though, a lack of versatility. Cost was a factor to most in choosing what targets they bought. However, with lower cost comes lesser quality and they all eventually figured that out. If money was spent on a more durable target, they found themselves limited as to what the particular target could be used for. The reason there were so many types of targets is each one had a specific purpose and couldn’t be changed, altered or made to conform to a particular training need.

Based on my observations, I took it upon myself to conduct some product research and testing. I looked into the products offered by several manufacturers and compared them to what HMG has to offer. I then decided on four manufacturers (not to be named) and purchased a reactive steel target from each of them based on similarities to the HMG target system. No one offers anything close to the HMG target system so I was somewhat limited in my choices. I based my decision on the following:

  1. Popular design (pepper popper)
  2. Price Point
  3. Reactive
  4. Similarities in design to HMG target systems

All of the targets arrived within 2 weeks of placing the order and I was eager to get started. I first wanted to judge the targets based on initial appearance. This included packaging, any signage used on the packaging, and overall look of the target straight from the box. We’ll refer to them as targets A, B, C, and D. If a company doesn’t take the time to showcase their product and deliver quality all the way down to the box it comes in, I wouldn’t expect much from the product itself.

All but one of the four targets arrived in plain, unmarked cardboard boxes. The fourth, target “C”, wasn’t even packed in box. It arrived with a strap around it and a shipping label stuck to it.  Compare that to the HMG packaging and there is no doubt what has arrived at your doorstep and from who.

On removing the targets from their respective packaging, I can say I was not impressed with the finished appearance of any of them. Spray painted, unfinished, assembly required, etc. Granted these are steel targets that are going to be somewhat abused by various shooters, but if quality and craftsmanship aren’t apart of the initial observation then how can you expect anything more once you hit the range. The HMG target system has a high quality finish and excellent craftsmanship. There are safety labels and directions on the base.  The target is ready to use right out of the box.

I set to work putting together the targets that required assembly. Of the four I ordered, two of them (A and C) required tools, one just had to be set down on the base (B) and the last required no assembly at all. Once the targets were together I had chance to look over each one of them and make a few notes as it related to overall appearance, Quality, and versatility.

Again I was not really impressed and weaknesses were immediately visible on each target. Besides the obvious exposed bolt heads and mild steel used on several of them there were other design features that made the targets unsafe. All of the targets were placed on a flat surface and the angle of the target face was measured with a magnetic angle finder. Three of the targets were at 4 degrees or less and one of them was at -4 degrees. Now, before I go any further in my evaluations I need to say this; the angle of these targets is unacceptable and if you are using them please stop now. A target designed to have the target face perpendicular to the shooter is dangerous (I’ll speak to this later). HMG designed target systems are made with a standard 20 degree angle for a reason. This angle insures the safety of the shooter and bystanders by sending the spalling down at the target instead of out or back in the direction of the shooter. The spalling goes directly to the bottom of the target face and approximately three feet out to each side. With an almost 90 degree angle, as observed on the other targets, serious injury can and will occur.

Ok, so beyond the aforementioned areas of concern, I also noted issues with the overall design of each target system. Target “A” was unsteady on a flat surface in the office so I wasn’t sure how it would perform in the field. It had a small weak spring that didn’t allow for much movement which translates into less energy absorption overall limiting the durability of the target system.  The exposed bolt heads would be damaged if hit and could shear off pieces of metal.

Target “B” was simple to put together as the top half containing the target face and spring assembly simply sat down over a 1” piece of square tubing on the base. The base was additional 1” square tubing in an “H” pattern and provided stability to the system. The target face was Bolted (again with exposed bolt heads) to a separate piece of steel which was connected to the spring assembly. At first glance I expected that the tubing carrying the weight of the target would be the first failure point.

Target “C” was assembled from the three sections shipped from the company. The target face sat up on angled legs made from flat mild steel stock and were bolted to the target system base. The base was also mild steel with the target face and spring assembly attached. Here again we had several exposed bolt heads and nuts exposed to the shooter. I thought the spring assembly and target face looked robust and sturdy but was hindered by the overall design.

Target “D” was a target face bolted to a hinge which was then attached to a flat stock steel base in a square shape. A simple design but again with exposed bolts. This target did not have any sort of spring assembly and therefore every time it would fall the shooter would have to go down range and pick it back up.

The HMG target system comes assembled in one box and ready to use. There is no set up, bolts, screws, etc. and with the target in place there are no exposed bolt heads, springs, or hardware. The only thing presented to the shooter is the target face and the AR500 target base. The target face is automatically set at 20 degrees and is adjustable.

I didn’t see any versatility when it came to the four targets. The design of each target doesn’t seem to lend itself to being versatile and the ability to change target faces seems non-existent. I can see where a replacement target face could possibly be done, but after any length of time shooting, the target will require new hardware. HMG target systems are just that, systems. Target faces can be changed in an instant without the need for tools or down time. Any of HMG’s target faces will fit on any HMG target base.

There were no options for the other targets being evaluated. You basically had what came with the target when ordered and no other accessories were offered. Although they have to be purchased separately, HMG offers elevation kits, second stage target kits, adjustable foots, five different springs, an electronic kit and many different target faces to suit any shooters needs. All of which can be used on any target system offered by HMG.

Cont’d in part 2