Action Target Tactical Torso Target Review
Each year I try to add more steel targets to my shooting range and last year I added the Action Target Rimfire Sport Dueling Tree. I was impressed with the quality and operation of this target and everyone that has shot the target loved the reactive nature of this rimfire dueling tree target system. When I started looking to add another steel target to my range this year, I wanted something torso-ish in shape, but at the same time I wanted something that would be reactive. I have been eyeing the Action Target Hostage style targets, but that wasn't exactly what I was wanting (yet...). Fortunately, in July of 2012, Action Target came out with a new PT (Portable Target) Tactical Torso target that features two swinging plates that simulate the lethal head and center mass zones. This was exactly what I was looking for because this style target has several benefits. It helps the shooter focus on these critical zones, it gives reactive feedback, and the torso plate still gives you an idea where you are shooting outside of the two zones so you can focus on correcting your shooting techniques.
Although Action Target recommends this target with a 3' tall stand, they offer the ability to order the Tactical Torso target in four different stand heights; 1, 2, 3 and 4 feet. They are all the same price regardless of the height selected and you can see the product details and order a target directly from the Action Target website.
Like all quality steel targets, they don't come cheap. MSRP on the Tactical Torso is $299, but considering you get two reactive zones, a decent size torso plate and a stand, that price doesn't seem too bad when you also consider this target will probably last you a lifetime. Shipping and handling is another price you will have to consider and with the Tactical Torso target system weighing in at about 60 pounds, shipping costs can be significant depending on where you live.
During my reviews I like to compare my results to the manufacturer's claims where possible so the following text in colored italics was taken directly from the Acton Target website on 11/25/13 and gives the Key Features and Specifications for the PT Tactical Torso. The , and are my way to keep up with details that I have covered in this review with either photos, commentary or both.
The Action Target Tactical Torso target I received came in two boxes. The larger rectangular box contained all the components of the target except the post for the stand. Hence, the other box contained the post. My guess is this dual box configuration allows Action Target to ship out the correct post for the height stand you order and it also helps keep the box sizes reasonable. In my case, I received the 3 foot height stand, so all that was in the flat box was the 3' post.
Inside the boxes were the following items:
Assembly of the stand is simple and easy. The two 1.75" bolts are used to attach the two feet to the post. All you need is a couple of 3/4" wrenches.
Although it may be obvious, the feet need to be attached so that the post is elevated for stability like shown in the photo below. Also note that the end of the post that has the two bent edges should be attached to the feet.
Next you attach the torso plate to the top of the stand with the other two bolts. The important point here is that the torso plate should be on the side of the post that has the bent section running the full length of the post. I also placed the bracket on the side of the post that is in the same direction of the bent section. I'm not sure if it really matters, but is seemed like the right thing to do. Because the hole sizes are slightly oversized, I also let the torso plate tilt as far forward as possible when I tightened the bolts.
Installing the swinging plates was also very simple. Basically you can slide the pivot plate into the brackets at the top location and drop the swinging plate into the slot on the pivot plate. For the bottom swinging plate, I had to put the swinging plate inside the pivot plate slot and then fed the pivot plate into one side and then the other side of the brackets.
The total target assembly I received was about 59.4" tall and the 3' stand put the bottom of the torso plate about 36" from the floor. The triangle cutout measured 2.9" tall and 2.9" wide. The rectangular cutout measured 6" tall and 4" wide.
The torso plate measured 24.5" tall and 13" wide. Since the plate is tilted forward at a slight angle, this tilt gives the appearance of a 23.4" tall plate when looking from the front. The head portion of the plate sticks up 6" and is 6" wide.
The torso plate, swinging plates and pivot plates are all made from 3/8" AR550 steel. AR550 is an abrasion resistant steel plate that offers outstanding wear and impact resistance along with fatigue and corrosion resistance. The hardness of AR550 plate is between 525 – 570 Brinell Hardness Number (BHN). In terms of strength, a BHN of 543 has an approximate tensile strength of 279 ksi (reference conversion chart). To put this in terms of normal steel (A36), AR550 is 3.5 to 4.8 times stronger than normal steel. This strength is critical so that the plates don't deform under impact.
The hinge mechanisms are actually very clever and simple. The rear hinge brackets are made from 3/8" AR500 steel. The hinge brackets are welded to the back of the torso plate and these brackets have the swing stops incorporated into their design to limit the rotation of the swinging plates. The beauty of this hinge system is that gravity resets the plates so they are always ready for the next shot. The photos below show the plates in the full down and full up positions.
The bottom of the torso plate has the mounting bracket welded to the plate. The photo below is mainly trying to show that Action Target has done a nice job with the 1/4" full perimeter fillet welds. I don't have any experience yet with welded AR500 or AR550 targets, but my thoughts are that Action Target is a reputable leader in the steel target industry and they would have done their homework on the proper process of welding these materials.
For range testing, I shot the Action Target Tactical Torso with 9mm, 45 Auto, .223 Rem and .22LR. Overall I put about 300 rounds of centerfire and about 35 rounds of rimfire ammunition into the target. I wouldn't consider this target to be optimized for rimfire, but I was very surprised at how well rimfire ammunition made the upper swinging plate move. The bottom plate moved very little with rimfire ammunition unless you hit the plate on the lower edge. I would consider this Tactical Torso to be perfect for handgun and centerfire rifle applications as long as you limit the rifle to 100+ yards and less than 3000 feet per second ammunition (per manufacturer's recommendations). I did shoot the target with FMJ .223 Rem from about 50 yards and did get some very little dimples, but nothing I consider to be too bad.
My son and I took turns shooting the target and had a great time. One thing you will quickly learn is that the upper 3" triangle zone can be a real challenge with a handgun at 10 yards. I think the main purpose of this style target is to challenge you to be better and the black painted background of the torso plate clearly shows you that you are not hitting the swinging plates and that you needed to step up your game. My son's trigger control still needs a little work, but I clearly still had my share of stray shots and he was giving me a hard time about it.
These next two photos show a couple of action shots from the rear and how the 9mm round will clearly flip the swinging plates to their fully up position. The top swinging plate has a very quick action (flip up, flip down) due to the smaller mass and inertia of this plate. The lower larger plate had a slower swinging action.
There were times when hitting the torso plate in the head area, but not the upper swinging plate, would cause the upper swinging plate to move so much that you might mistake the movement for a hit. I was able to get a frame from the video showing this case. Each time the upper plate did this, the plate would would seem to pop up, rotate slightly and then drop back into place without issue. Because of this, it was difficult at times for the shooter to confirm the top plate was a hit versus just moving due to a local impact.
Since both the swinging plates and torso plate are made from AR550 steel, I tried to get a close-up photo of the swinging plates as an example of what the bullet impacts were doing to the target. The 9mm and 45 Auto didn't make any type of indention in the steel. The .223 at 50 yards did make some very small dimples and you can see some of them inside the red circle below. This is typical and I have seen the exact same thing on my other steel targets. In my opinion, I think the plates performed great and if these dimples bother you, then stick with the 100 yard minimum range for centerfire rifle ammunition.
Over time, if you don't refresh you paint, the swinging plates and torso plate eventually become the same basic color and this makes it harder to distinguish between the reactive zones and the torso plate. This is easily cured with a can of spray paint. Since the swinging plates can be easily flipped from one side to the other, you can paint both sides and flip them for a fresh surface.
You can see my video review showing the items covered above, plus lots of plate swinging action by watching the YouTube video below.
The Action Target Tactical Torso Target is a great investment for any shooting range. It combines the ability to train on a torso steel target with two reactive zones that can challenge even some of the best shooters. It was easy to assemble and the AR550 steel should last a lifetime provided you don't abuse the target by shooting it too close with rifles or use any steel core ammunition. The stand was sturdy and seem to support the target well. The price seems to be fair considering you get a torso plate, stand and two reactive zones. If you are in the market for a steel torso target that can challenge you abilities, I highly recommend considering the Action Target PT Tactical Torso.