*BANG!* Shooter 1: "Did you see where that one went?" Spotter: "No. I think I heard something, but I'm not sure." This is a conversation that plays itself out frequently when shooting in poor conditions. Some days, it can be all but impossible to get a spot on bullet impacts or bullet trace. When shooting steel at close ranges, you can usually see the paint get chipped off, but this only works for the first few rounds. In these situations the guys behind the rifle are begging for some kind of a reactive target that will visually indicate a hit, beyond reason of a doubt. Today we are going to get up close and personal with just such a target. The MGM IPSC Auto Reset Target. Lets get started!
Mike Gibson Manufacturing has been producing steel targets and stands for the better part of 3 decades. It's tough to go to a large competition where steel targets are used and NOT find some of MGM's units taking a pounding from competitors. Mike, his family, and his staff are competitive shooters in their own right. So, what we've got here is a family with a background in manufacturing, fabrication, and competitive shooting making targets that will stand up to the insane round counts they put down range every year. Seems like a recipe for success to me!
The auto-reset targets are a very new addition to MGM's already impressive lineup. The IPSC style target face is 2/3 scale compared to a full size IPSC. It is 12" wide, 20" tall, and has a 4" square head. The target face also has a vertical 4" bar below the IPSC style shape. This front plate is one contiguous piece of AR500 plate.
Below you can see what the target looks like upon taking it out of the box. The "H" style bracket has a vertical steel tube that the target assembly slides over. This results in a very portable and easy to set up target. If you've ever set up a full course with steel, you understand how important this is!
The base has two holes drilled in opposing legs, one front and one rear, so you can hammer a stake into the ground to anchor the target securely. From my experiences thus far, it isn't necessary, but it is a nice addition should the need arise. Below you also see the base of the target face assembly. This slides right over the vertical support in the base. You literally just toss the base on the ground, and drop the target assembly onto it. It couldn't get any simpler.
Pictured below is the guts of what makes this target function. The hinge mechanism is very thick and robust with a fully welded design. No spot welds here folks. The bolt is secured using a lock nut and holds two springs that assist with the target reset. Between the springs are a few washers to ensure the springs stay where they belong. You will also notice a vertical stud welded onto the back side. This is the vertical support to ensure the target doesn't over-rotate. You'll notice there are no welds directly to the face plate of the target, but rather the hinge plate bolted to the target face at the bottom. We'll discuss this more later.
Here you can see the hinge mechanism when the target is in its "activated" state. The vertical support makes contact with the hinge plate to stop its downward movement and prevent over-rotation. The springs have been compressed just enough to provide the force required to reset, but are not "crushed" as you see with some targets. This ensures that the target will move freely when impacted by the bullet so as to bleed off kinetic energy as slow as possible.
The AR500 target face is bolted the the hinge plate using two bolts through the bottom of the plate. The fact that the face plate is bolted on rather than welded, ensures that the target has not been weakened by the heat generated during welding. The target plate is not welded anywhere. The location of the bolts is very convenient, as it is as far away from the intended hit zone as possible. This is much preferred to targets that have the bolts in the upper area of the target. Now in the lower right hand corner of the below picture, you can also see another defining feature of this target. The post has a piece of AR500 welded to it which ensures that you won't blow a hole through the mild steel post in the case that someone sends a round down there while the target is in the "activated" position. This is a very thoughtful and welcomed addition!
Below you see ten 175SMK's fired from my 18" 308win at 2550fps. To the right is a single 300gr Scenar fired from a 338LM @ 2750fps. All rounds were fired at a distance of 300yds. At that distance, the 300gr scenar is hitting the target with about 4,000 ft lbs of energy and traveling 2,430 fps. I went on to shoot 10 rounds total with the 338LM, and fired 25 rounds with the 308. The target got the paint knocked off it, but otherwise was no worse off than when I started.
I am very impressed with this target from MGM. The design and function of the target very innovative. You can really tell that the people at MGM care about their products at a personal level. They charge a fair price for a magnificent product. I have yet to see a steel target from any manufacturer that comes close to the workmanship that I see on this unit. The folks at MGM certainly have put their time in and it is obvious that more of their targets will need to be added to my range!
If you are interested in ordering this target, it can be found here on the MGM website. I encourage you to look around while you are there, as they have just about every target design that you could imagine, as well as some that you probably can't!