Grizzly Targets IPSC Torso & Base Review
The is no doubt that paper targets have their place at the range, but my favorite targets to shoot are made of steel. There's something about the sound of a bullet making contact with a steel target that seems to bring a sense of accomplishment. I've also found that I will shoot more when shooting steel targets because of the fun and gratification. I take new shooters to my range all the time and love to see the smiles on their faces when I let them blast away at a steel target. For all these reasons, I try to add a couple of steel targets to my collection each year and my first new target this year is Grizzly Targets IPSC Torso & Base Target. A couple of things I look for when deciding on a steel target are hardened steel, grade 8 fasteners and something that comes with a stand. Grizzly Targets meet this criteria, so I had to get one for a review. As with any quality steel target that comes with a stand, they are not cheap. This IPSC Torso & Base Target is listed at $255 plus S&H at the Grizzly Targets website. The good thing about quality targets is that as long as you don't overly abuse them with steel core ammunition or shooting high power rifles too close, they should last you a lifetime.
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 Grizzly Targets website on 4/6/13 and gives the Key Features and Specifications for the Grizzly Targets IPSC ABC Zone 700 Target. The , and are my way to keep up with details that I have covered in this review with either photos, commentary or both.
The Grizzly Targets IPSC Torso & Base came boxed as shown below.
When I opened the box, shown below are the two items inside which were the base and target. My first impression was "wow, they galvanized the heck out of these parts." Since I keep my targets up year round in the weather, the benefit of 100% galvanized parts should help them to last a long time. I'm sure that once I start shooting the targets, the galvanizing on the front of the target will be blasted away. The two parts shown below had a combined weight of about 46 pounds.
All you need to setup your target is to provide your own wooden 2x4. In the photo below, I show a short 2x4 so that target assembly will still fit on my photo bench. Most likely you will be looking at using one about 4 feel long. I suggest getting an 8' board and cutting it in half so you have a spare in the event you shoot up the first one.
Assembly is quick and easy. Drop the 2x4 in the base, then put the target holder over the other end and you have a fully assembled target.
The 2x4 fits nicely inside the steel tube without too much looseness.
The stand is designed so that the post is offset to the rear. This keeps the center of gravity of the target assembly near the center of the footprint of the stand. The stand shown is one of their demo stands and their new stands now have holes in the outside tubes to allow you to drive spikes into the ground to help secure the stand.
When I flipped over the stand, I noticed two holes at each end of the bottom support. My guess is that these holes allowed the inside of this tube to also receive the galvanized coating.
The photo below shows the plate and two carriage bolts that fasten the plate to the target holder.
The plate measured 0.381" thick which is basically 3/8" plate plus the galvanized coating. The plate is laser cut from from AR500 steel. AR500 is an abrasion resistant steel plate that offers outstanding wear and impact resistance along with fatigue and corrosion resistance. The hardness of AR500 plate is between 477 – 550 Brinell Hardness Number (BHN) with a minimum surface hardness of 477 BHN and a core hardness 450 min BHN. In terms of strength, a BHN of 496 has an approximate tensile strength of 253 ksi (reference conversion chart). To put this in terms of normal steel (A36), AR500 is 3.2 to 4.4 times stronger than normal steel. This strength is critical so that the plate doesn't deform under impact. Maintaining a flat plate is important because the flatness has a somewhat predictable splatter/fragment paths, but a plate full of craters can send bullet fragments in unpredictable directions.
The plate measured about 23.5" tall and 11.75" wide.
The height and width closely matched the IPSC metric target outline for zones A, B & C combined which was 60cm tall and 30cm wide (23.62" x 11.81"). Although the flat plate matches that of the IPSC zones ABC, when hanging from the target hanger, the outline has a shortened appearance because the plate hangs with the front tilted forward at approximately a 33° angle. The figure below is my attempt to show you the difference in visual profile of the tilted target versus a flat vertical IPSC zones ABC. The photo of the tilted target below was taken looking directly into the target from 20 yards to minimize photo related distortion. The tilted target has an appearance that is ~3.8" (16%) shorter than a target in it's vertical position. I have two main thoughts on this. The first is that the aggressive tilted angle is more important than meeting the exact height of a standardized target. The second is that it would be nice if Grizzly Targets could offer this target in a tilted corrected version for those who want to practice with a standard dimension profile target.
On the back of the target, you can see how the target hanger allows the target to pivot. This should help give the target a nice ringing sound when hit, along with the potential for a little movement. Since the target is attached to the target hanger with bolts (not welded), you have the ability to flip the plate around and shoot the back side so you can start with a smooth surface again if needed.
The critical bolts that attach the target to the plate are Grade 8 1/2" x 1.5" carriage bolts.
There is a square laser cut hole in the plate for the head of the carriage bolt to engage. Although these bolts are as good as they get, I recommend going ahead and picking up a couple of extra bolts to have on hand just in case.
This photo shows the back of the target and another view of the target hanger assembly.
These next photos give you a good look at the assembled target. Again, I used a short 2x4 for photo purposes and you will most likely use one about 2 times the length shown. The side view below gives you look at the "spring board" effect you get from the target hander. This should help to allow vibrations in the plate which should help give the target a nice sound.
At this point and not having shot the target yet, I like the Grizzly Targets and can't imagine my opinion will change. The stand seems very stable and the component should be able to last a lifetime in an outdoor environment. The target hangs at an aggressive 33° angle which should allow me the to use the target at closer pistol distances without too much worry that something will come flying back towards the shooter. Grizzly Targets states, "As far as distance to the target one must use best judgment. We "recommend" a minimum of 20 yards for pistol, but that's no guarantee". Although 20 yards seems a little conservative, the key to shooting steel at close ranges is to make sure you are wearing eye protection. USPSA completion rules (section 2.1.3) state, "Whenever metal targets or metal hard covers are used in a course of fire, precautions must be taken so that competitors and Match Officials maintain a minimum distance of 23 feet from them while they are being shot." My general rule of thumb is a minimum of 10 yards on a tilted plate in good condition while wearing eye protection and there is still no guarantee that you will be splatter free.
For range testing, I setup the target at two shooting events (Shoot-A-Ramas) I have each year. The first event was with 19 of my coworkers who range in shooting skills from beginners to highly skilled shooters. The second event was a family outing and the ages were 8 to 55. I didn't try to keep count, but within these two weekends, we shot well over 1000+ rounds at the Grizzly Target. I had the target setup on a 4 foot pressure treated 2x4 as shown below. The night before I setup the target, I had my 2x4 sitting outside in the rain and the wood did swell making it a tighter fit into the target and base than the original dry woods. The dead grass was thick and matted, so the target would rock slightly, but the base footprint was big enough that we never knocked over the target even with 12 gauge slugs. I must admit that I have knocked over other torso targets in the past and was surprised to see how well the Grizzly Target took the impacts of the slugs.
The target surface held up great. You can see on these next two photos that there were no significant dimples in the surface, which is a testament to using AR500 steel plate. By the time I took these photos, I had already repainted the surface with white paint several times.
The photo below shows the splatter pattern on the post and the ground behind the post. Actually, due to the angle of the plate, the splatter pattern minimized the amount of splatter that hit the base which helps to keep the galvanizing on the base in place.
Clearly, the post is going to take some abuse over time. Between hitting the post with a low shot and normal bullet splatter, changing out the 2x4 will be needed at some point. You can also flip the 2x4 over to get more life out of the same board. Remember that this photos is after putting 1000+ rounds into the plate. Ignore the bullet splatter on the sides of the post. That was from another torso target that I had setup about 6 feet away from the Grizzly Targets Torso.
After 1000+ rounds, the back of the plate looked just like it did when we it came out of the box.
This next video shows some of the range testing on the Grizzly Target and will give you an idea on the sound the target makes when hit. The photo shows the target rocking side to side when hit with 12 gauge slugs. This was due the ground not being level and thick matted grass. If the target were on flat ground, I feel it would have rocked a minimum amount.
The Grizzly Targets IPSC Torso and Base Target seems to be a well made target that has already proven to be able to take some real abuse. I like the target & base combination and all I needed to do was provide a single 2x4. At some point the 2x4 will need replacing due to the bullet splatter wearing away the wood, but 2x4s are cheap and replacing is easy. The AR500 steel plate holds up just like you would expect and the large tilt angle (~33°) makes me feel better that bullets will not come back at me when shooting at closer ranges. The galvanizing on the target and stand should help reduce corrosion allowing this target to last a long time sitting out on the range. As I mentioned, like any other quality steel targets, they are not cheap, but if you don't overly abuse them with high power rifles at close range or steel core ammunition, they can last you a lifetime and are worth the investment. If you are looking to add a steel target to your range, make sure you checkout Grizzly Targets.