Post Jan 06, 2016 by HMGYarbrough
Part 2, Range Day
The following day was range day. I took all four of the competitor’s targets and an HMG target system to my range for testing. I had previously outlined my plan for a systematic, comprehensive evaluation of each target so that everything was done fairly and objectively for all of the targets. My plan was to simulate use over time in a short period. Not only was I going to evaluate each target based on its individual intended use but I was to purposely test each target to failure. That being said, this evaluation was by no means meant to bash the other manufacturers.
A third independent person with no affiliation to any of the companies involved was asked to assist and grade the targets based on his own perceptions. A comprehensive outline of the purpose of our evaluations and grading category sheet was provided to him. Each target would be evaluated based on four categories; Appearance, Quality, Versatility, and Durability.
Testing would consist of 34 rds. of 115g FMJ 9mm from a Glock 19, 16 rds. of 230g FMJ .45 from a Colt 1911, 15 rds. of 115g FMJ 9MM from a 10.5 inch barreled Colt carbine, 90 rds. of 55g .223 from a 14.5 inch barreled AR, 20 rds. of 5.56 M855, 20 rds. of 1 ounce 12 gauge slugs from a Saiga, 100 rds. of 150g FMJ .308 from a M240B, and finally 2 rds. of 660g FMJ .50 BMG.
I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. Like I said, this evaluation was designed to go from intended use to failure in one day and in some ways simulate heavy use over time. Was it overkill? Not at all. I think it shows just how far I’m willing to go to prove the durability of the HMG target systems as opposed to other inferior targets on the market.
Each target was set at 50 yards as measured by a laser rangefinder. Pistol calibers were fired from 15 yards as were the 1 ounce slugs. All rifle calibers were fired from 50 yards. One target was evaluated at a time and we went through each string of fire, checked the target for damage, and moved on to the next string of fire. Once the evaluation was complete the target was moved off the line and a new one was put in its place to maintain a consistent angle of engagement as well as distance. If a particular target was damaged so that it could not be used any further it was pulled from the line.
First up was target “A”. I’ll remind you that target “A” was unsteady, had a weak spring, little movement, exposed bolt heads and sat at almost a 90 degree angle. It had to be held down with a piece of 6×6 post I had laying around before we could shoot it. It was made from 3/8” AR500. The target held up well through all of the pistol calibers but had very little movement for a 3/8” steel target. I contributed this to the design I mentioned earlier. There is a small spring in the housing behind the target face. There is what I would call a spring block to assist in keeping the spring from moving around. Needless to say the design doesn’t work well and because of the limited movement of the target face, it is absorbing most of the energy. This will quickly weaken any target system. I purposely shot a few rounds at the bolt heads and was able to shear off some of the edge on one of them. There was also an exposed bolt head on the side which acts as the pivot pit which also took a round. I was standing at 15 yards and was getting spalling back to and just past me. I measured spalling back to 18 yds. in the direction of the shooter and 10 yards out to the sides of the target. I continued to the 12 gauge slugs. The bolts began working loose and the target didn’t look as if it was going to handle much more. After completing the 20 rounds of 12g slugs I moved back to the 50 yard line and set up for the .223 string of fire. When I moved on to .223 the target held its own but spalling was still an issue at 50 yards as a few pieces made its way back in our direction. The target didn’t fare so well with the heavy rifle caliber. The 147g .308 was fired from an M240B at 3-5 round bursts. The bolts that held the target to the base loosened up even more. Several rounds made it into the spring housing and left damage in its wake. The front support had been hit with .223 and .308 rounds and had several holes through it. One round even skipped up under the target face and mangled the spring block. Not even a ¼ of the way through the belt and the target was done. I finished out the belt and walked down to take a closer look at the target. The bolts had almost come completely loose and the target system had some obvious heavy damage. We intended on testing to failure and we succeeded in this case.
Next in the lineup was target “B”. Target “B” performed as intended through the pistol calibers. As with target “A” the wood post had to be used to secure it to the ground. Spalling was an issue with the pistol rounds as we had a few pieces come back at us at the 15 yd. line and beyond. Spalling was also sent 15 + yds. to the side and straight up as well. Two 12g slugs in and the shooter paid the price for the negative four degree angle of the target face. He fired two rounds before he was hit in the stomach with a piece of lead from one of the slugs. The piece ending up being the size of a .177 caliber projectile and pierced his shirt ultimately burying itself and some of shirt in his skin. After a few more shots, our cars, building and personnel had been pelted with lead so we stopped the shotgun round after less than 10 shots. We had to perform first aid to remove the lead. The target face started to separate from its mounting plate and was bending the plate at the bolts by the time we were done hammering it with the ten 20g slugs. The bolts became loose and I also noted the face was beginning to concave and bow slightly. It handled the .223 fine and I only noted small divots. The bowing and separating from the mounting plate became worse after being hit with the .308 rounds. The 20 5.56 green tips had little effect other than leaving the typical divots. Unlike target “A” we were able to get a few shots on this target with the .50 BMG. The first shot sent it flying backwards into the berm end over end. A sizeable dent was left at the impact point and I think the mounting plate bent a little more. The second shot was placed lower on the face so that most of the energy went into the mounting plate and pivot area. Again a sizeable dent was left behind but the welds, spring and pivots held up. The failure here occurred in where the target face mounts to a plate which is attached to the pivots. The mounting plate and bolts began failing after the 12g slugs.
Target “C” was up next. When I initially put this target together I thought it had a decent chance of survival, minus some of the flaws I mentioned in the beginning. The target face was ½ inch AR500, had beefy pivots, a ¼” rubber pad between the mount and the face and decent spring. Target “C” held up well, for the most part, all the way through the evaluation. The mild steel used for the legs took a few rounds and would have to be replaced. The exposed bolt heads were hit and destroyed but the target face, pivots, and spring survived it all. If this target was going to be used for any heavy rifle calibers it definitely needs some design work to keep it from getting knocked over.
Target “D” wasn’t even tested because it ultimately didn’t meet our criteria once we received it. The website was slightly misleading and wasn’t a reactive target at all, other than falling over after each shot.
Finally the HMG target system was evaluated. The HMG target excelled through each portion of the evaluation. I know it sounds like I am partial to the HMG target, because I am. I can’t help but be a little partial, but I am being as subjective as possible and that is another reason for including the third party to grade as he saw fit. Beyond that, there was no damage to the target, target face, base, springs, etc. and there was no concaving or warping of the target face. As with the other targets there was some minor divots caused by the .223/5.56 rounds. But those that shoot steel know that speed kills and .223./5.56 will leave a mark. Especially hit with steel core from a short distance.
cont’d in part 3