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Aaron77's picture
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Joined: 08/19/2011
Posts: 45
Gong wisdom

I plan on getting more proficient shooting this summer, and getting my kids better as well and so I've been considering some type of steel gong set up as we graduate up to longer shots. Just wondering what width steel to be looking for. I've read accounts that 3/8 isn't thick enough. We're shooting 7mm08, 30.06 and 300WinMag. Thanks for any wisdom.

buffybr's picture
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Location: Montana, USA
Joined: 11/15/2007
Posts: 314
Steel Gongs

I once set a piece of 3/8" steel against a stump in my backyard and shot it with a 52 grain hollow point bullet from my .22-250.  The bullet put an almost 1/2" diameter hole completely through the steel plate, however, I later found the copper jacket of that bullet imbedded in the siding of my house next to where I had been sitting when I made the shot.

I think most commercial built steel targets are made from A 500 steel which is hard, but kind of spendy.  These are good for most lead bullets from pistols, but jacketed rifle bullets will put craters in them.

The steel gongs that we leave up at our club range are 1 1/2" thick and they are completely cratered from hundreds of rifle bullet hits.

A steel scrap yard is a good source of cheap pieces of steel.  Most of it is mild steel, so the thicker the better.

Some of my own gongs are made from railroad tie plates which are 1/2"+ thick, but they are mild steel and jacketed rifle bullets will easily penetrate them from hits out to 300 yards.

Make your steel targets so that they hang with top of the gong closer to the shooter than the bottom.  This makes the bullet fragments ricochet down into the ground and not into the air or back at the shooter.  Fragments will still ricochet to the sides.

I don't shoot at my pistol gongs at less than 20 yds or my rifle gongs at less than 100 yds.

 

groovy mike's picture
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my experience

buffybr wrote:

I once set a piece of 3/8" steel against a stump in my backyard and shot it with a 52 grain hollow point bullet from my .22-250.  The bullet put an almost 1/2" diameter hole completely through the steel plate, however, I later found the copper jacket of that bullet imbedded in the siding of my house next to where I had been sitting when I made the shot.

...

railroad tie plates which are 1/2"+ thick, but they are mild steel and jacketed rifle bullets will easily penetrate them from hits out to 300 yards.

 

Buffy your mistake was not letting the gong swing.  You wont get the bullet coming back at you if your gong swings instead of being solid against something like your stump.

My experience with RR tie plates differs from yours.  Cartridges from 30-06 and 7.62x54R on down to 22 will not penetrate them if they are swinging targets (for example hung on a chain).  Even 30-06 mil surp AP ammo will only penetrate about 50% of the time.

375 H&H will however plow straight through them.

buffybr's picture
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Location: Montana, USA
Joined: 11/15/2007
Posts: 314
gongs

groovy mike wrote:

buffybr wrote:

I once set a piece of 3/8" steel against a stump in my backyard and shot it with a 52 grain hollow point bullet from my .22-250.  The bullet put an almost 1/2" diameter hole completely through the steel plate, however, I later found the copper jacket of that bullet imbedded in the siding of my house next to where I had been sitting when I made the shot.

...

railroad tie plates which are 1/2"+ thick, but they are mild steel and jacketed rifle bullets will easily penetrate them from hits out to 300 yards.

 

Buffy your mistake was not letting the gong swing.  You wont get the bullet coming back at you if your gong swings instead of being solid against something like your stump.

My experience with RR tie plates differs from yours.  Cartridges from 30-06 and 7.62x54R on down to 22 will not penetrate them if they are swinging targets (for example hung on a chain).  Even 30-06 mil surp AP ammo will only penetrate about 50% of the time.

375 H&H will however plow straight through them.

Mike, that plate that I shot with my .22-250 was over 20 years ago.  That was also the last one that I've shot that did not swing.

Most of my gongs now are hung with chains or with straps made from truck mudflaps or old conveyor belt.  I just made a couple of 8" diameter gongs for 25 yd pistol shooting that sit on top of the target frames at our local range.  I welded a 2"x4" piece of 1/4" steel on the back of the plates, near the top.  It has a 1/2" hole in the center that fits over a 3/8" bolt welded to the top of a 1" diameter steel rod that fits into holes in the top of the target frames.  These gongs don't swing, but they angle down, and are loose on top of the rod so they do have some movement when hit.

The RR tie plate that I shot holes through was hung from straps at 300 yards, and I shot it with 168 gr Hornady BTHP bullets from my .300 Weatherby.  The muzzle velocity is 3300 fps.

 

groovy mike's picture
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Sounds good

Sounds like you have got it just about perfected

Critter's picture
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A number of years ago a

A number of years ago a friend of mine wanted me to build him a swing gong/target holder that was portable.  I didn't have any steel plate but I did have a nice piece of 14" I beam that I cut a 8" circle of steel out of the center of.  I then drilled and placed a rod into it and then mounted it to a pivot where it should swing.  The steel from that I beam was around 5/8" thick.  The first time that we took it out I only had my .54 caliber ML, so I loded up a 400 some grain round ball stepped off 50 paces and took aim.  At them boom of the rifle the smoke screen appeared but we didn't hear any ringing.  I took a look at the piece of steel and I had cratered it with that lead round ball.  It didn't go compleatly through but it did it's best.  Even to this day we are not sure if it even swang the metal enough to let the round ball bounce into the dirt but from the look of the crater it didn't. 

Since that time we have shot that same piece of steel with numerious .44 magnums, .357 magunms, 9mm's, .22.s and a few others without the same results that the good old .54 did to it.

I think that if I had it to do over again I would take a good look at what is available comerically instead of trying to make one myself. 

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Location: Neveda
Joined: 07/22/2008
Posts: 179
I have also decieded to do

I have also decieded to do other than paper shooting this year

if you have 22 ammo this is a great way to work on markmanship

as for the Steel. i have AR500 targets that i shoot all the time with 

223,243,260,7-08,308,06,308 Norma mag and 338 win mag

from 100 yds and out.

What is fun is shooting out of date Fire Extinguishers and the steel gongs

I purchased my AR500 from MOA Targets (he is online) nice guy

http://youtu.be/eTyOpA2BdvU

this was Saturdays fun

 

V/R

Mike

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