Earlier this year I reviewed a Grizzly Targets IPSC Torso & Base Target and have continued to put it through some real punishment. That target has held up well and I expect it will last a lifetime. Recently Grizzly Targets has released a new target system and I was excited to get the opportunity to review their new AR500 Trifecta Reactive Target System. This new target utilizes three "Pepper Popper" style targets that are spring loaded to stand back up after taking a hit. They are all integrated into a single stand and the target plates are made from AR500 steel so they will give you years of shooting practice and fun. Quality steel targets are not cheep, but I feel they pay for themselves many times over when you consider their longevity and fun. The instant reactive feedback promotes increased range time, increased opportunities for competition and lots of smiling faces (at least for those hitting the targets). The MSRP on this target system is $279 and considering you get three folding popper targets integrated into a single target system, I feel like this is a reasonable price for a quality steel target system.
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 9/27/13 and gives an Overview and Specifications for the AR500 Trifecta Reactive Target System. The , and are my way to keep up with details that I have covered in this review with either photos, commentary or both.
By the time the target arrived via UPS to my home, the box had taken some real abuse. Knowing that inside the box was a sturdy steel target, I didn't worry too much about the outside, but I bet the UPS guy probably had some real concerns about the condition of the contents when he dropped the box off at the front door.
When I opened the top of the box, the three popper targets immediately popped up ready for action. Actually I was surprised to see that the target came fully assembled.
After pulling the target out of the box and taking a close look at the construction, my first impression was that the Trifecta Target System is a quality product. Some of the key features that stood out were 100% galvanizing, grade 8 bolts, thick hinge mounts and smooth operation.
The target system measured 23" wide and 20.5" tall and comes with the Grizzly Targets stickers on each popper. The stickers make for a great look, but after a few shots on each popper, the sticker will soon be gone. Each of the three popper plates measured 14" tall, 4" wide across the circle portion of the target and the plates are 3/8" thick. The popper plates are 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. If for some reason you need to replace a popper plate, they are sold separately from Grizzly Targets for $39.
The stand is made from 1/4" steel plate (probably A36 or something similar) and since the profile of the stand is such that you are looking at the thinnest section, with the deepest section being along the bullet path, bullet impacts should produce minimal damage to the stand.
The stand measured 20.5" in depth with the rear legs farther from the target face to prevent the target from tipping when shot.
Overall, the galvanizing was a thick coating on all of the parts, with the thinnest portion being on the popper targets themselves. Since you are going to blast off any finish on the popper targets, a coating on the target plates is really just for cosmetic purposes. Although I didn't take one off and try, the plates can be flipped front to back in the event you crater the front side of the target.
I was impressed to see that the mounting plate and hinge parts were made of 3/8" steel and welded securely to the stand and with large 1/4" fillet welds. I would be shocked if this hinge line ever failed.
The bolts used to secure the target-to-hinge and at the hinge line are all grade 8 bolts which provide for the maximum strength and hardness in the event you have a stray shot hit that low. The nuts also include some type of locking feature to prevent them from working loose over time. The torsion spring flips the target back up after being hit. With the target in the up position, the spring is under very little torsional force and when the target is fully back, there is plenty of spring force to pop the target back up.
The horizontal portion of the stand is attached to the legs via galvanized carriage bolts on each end. The grade on this bolt is Grade A which is similar to that of a Grade 2 bolt. The further you get away from the point of aim, the less you have to worry about strength in the target. Since the other nearby bolts are a higher grade, I think it would have been a nice touch to go ahead and put a higher grade bolt here also, but honestly I don't think it is needed. Time will tell.
The laser cut feet have a tab bent so they can easily attach with the upper horizontal bar. It wouldn't surprise me to see the target assembly shipped with these feet not attached. Assembly would be very simple by the user and the box size to ship the target would be more manageable.
This next photo show that the popper targets can actually rotate all the way down to touch the ground and I will be curious to see how far they will rotate during the range tests and with different caliber firearms.
For my range test, I shot both rifles and pistols at the Trifecta Target System. For the rifles, I shot .223 from 50 yards and .308 from 80 yards. For the pistols, I shot both 9mm and 45 Auto from about 10 yards. I feel that the greatest use of this style target is for shooting rifles due to the slim profile of the popper plates. I'm sure that there are some shooters that could easily handle the 4" width at 10 yards with a pistol, but I feel most shooters would prefer a larger torso style target for pistols. Shooting the plates with the rifles was very fun and the multiple popper targets inspired shifting between plates and attempting to increase firing rate. Using this target is a great way to train and have lots of fun while doing so. You can see the video of my range test below.
These next two photos show my daughter setup to shoot the target with Remington 700 SPS Tactical Rifle chambered in .308 Winchester.
The target is setup at about 80 yards away and is shown in the photo below by the red circle.
These next two photos show the target at the end of my initial range test. The target held up very well. One thing I found during my tests is that you will need to check and tighten the bolts holding the popper targets to the hinge line. Since the ground was relatively soft in the location where I placed the target when shooting the .308 Winchester, the target didn't have a tendency to shift out of position too much. Potentially if you are on harder ground, the target may shift some as you are shooting high power rifles at closer ranges.
The Grizzly Targets AR500 Trifecta Reactive Target System is a great addition to any shooting range. The target seems to be well built and my range tests show that it can withstand some abuse. The cost of the target seems to be very reasonable considering you are getting three self resetting popper targets integrated into a single stand. If you are in the market for a rifle target that inspires training and competition, you should consider this target when making your selection.