Category: Bullet Traps

MATCH™ (MODULAR ARMORED TACTICAL COMBAT HOUSE)

Action Target’s Shoot House featuring Auto Target Hit Sense Technology.

Action Target’s MATCH™ is a 360°, live-fire, ballistically safe, shoot house designed for teaching and learning close quarter skills, like room clearing and hallway navigation, with realism and safety.

AutoTargets enhances training and the shooting experience. Each lift unit can be placed as a stand-alone target, or daisy-chained from a single air supply. Because AutoTargets is portable, it can be placed in any configuration or incorporated into any terrain. It is effective in shoot houses, Hogan’s alleys, and other close quarters combat environments, as well as open- eld, long distance training courses. A pressure sensitive target version is also available for use with non-lethal ammunition projectiles.

AutoTargets

MATCH™ (Modular Armored Tactical Combat House)

Portable Bullet Trap

 

Bullet Trap Comparisons, Pt. 2

Building a shooting range can be a daunting task. There are so many different things to consider and decisions to make that it can become a little overwhelming. One issue that seems to confuse potential range owners the most is bullet containment. Without a doubt, bullet containment is the most important aspect of every indoor and outdoor range. Proper containment of fired rounds means safety for your employees and customers, but with so many different types of bullet traps available on the market that promise to do this or that, choosing the right system can be hard. The purpose of this article is to provide accurate information and valuable education by examining various bullet trap theories, technologies, and applications in an objective manner.

The following information represents the views and opinions of Action Target based on our experience and observations. You are encouraged to conduct your own research and speak with other users about their experiences with the various bullet trap technologies presented.

Rubber Lamella Trap

Rubber Lamella Trap 1With this trap, tightly grouped rubber curtains or lamellas are hung from a support structure to create a bullet stopping barrier. As bullets pass through the layers of rubber strips, their energy is dissipated until they come to a stop. A steel plate is mounted at the back of the trap to block rounds that make it through the lamellas.

Because rubber is destroyed every time you shoot into it, the rubber strips are quickly shredded under any kind of moderate to heavy use. One of the most quoted features of rubber traps is that bullets don’t fragment on impact like they do on steel. This is true until bullets start impacting other bullets already embedded in the rubber.

Regardless of the application, the use of a rubber bullet trap introduces a very real fire hazard that must be considered and dealt with appropriately

The benefits of a lamella trap include its small floor space requirement, and the ability to capture some bullets whole.

Weaknesses include high maintenance costs, fire hazard, messy appearance, and the restriction of low volume shooting only.

Vertical Rubber Granule Trap

Vertical Rubber Granule Trap 3Another European design uses a large steel chamber filled with chopped rubber and a penetrable rubber sheet across the front the keep the rubber granules in place.

The trap works the same way a sand berm works, except the sand is replaced by granules of chopped rubber and the face of the trap is vertical. Like the rubber lamella trap, the front skin of the rubber granule trap is permanently damaged each time a bullet is fired into it.

As larger and larger holes are created in the front skin, rubber granules can spill out and large bulges can develop as the structural integrity of the trap is compromised. Regular patching and repair is often required to keep the granules in the chamber.

As the granules settle, areas of dangerously low density can form at the top of the trap causing rounds to pass through the rubber and escape out the back. To clean the trap, bullets must be mined and separated from the rubber then disposed of properly.

The benefits of a vertical rubber granule trap include its small floor space requirement, the ability to capture some bullets whole, and reduced lead dust levels.

Weaknesses include massive ongoing maintenance, service costs, fire hazard, and the restriction of low volume shooting only.

Rubber Block Trap

Rubber Block TrapThe rubber block trap is similar in concept to the rubber granule trap, except the rubber granules are molded together to form a solid object. The rubber blocks are stacked on top of each other to create a wall that serves as the bullet trap. When a bullet is fired into the blocks, it is stopped and stored within the block itself. Like all rubber traps, the blocks are damaged with every shot and large holes can quickly develop, severely limiting the trap’s ability to stop bullets. As the holes get larger, the blocks get weaker and the whole wall tends to collapse under its own weight.

The benefits of a rubber block trap include its small floor space requirement and the ability to capture some bullets whole.

Weaknesses include UV breakdown, significant ongoing maintenance, fire hazard, and structural collapse.

Wet Funnel Trap

Wet Funnel Trap 1The wet funnel trap incorporates gently sloping steel plates that reduce bullet fragmentation on impact. As bullets hit the plates, they are directed to the narrow end of the funnel and enter a deceleration chamber where their energy is dissipated.

While the upper impact plates remain dry, the lower plates are constantly flooded with a water and oil mixture that is intended to lubricate the steel. The water is continually recycled as it flows down the plates and into a holding tank where it is electrically pumped out and again sprayed on to the plates.

On indoor ranges, some wet trap owners report that the increased humidity can leave an oily film on the rest of the range and may cause HEPA filters in the ventilation system to clog. They have also discovered that frangible ammunition can cause problems because the powder created by disintegrating bullets mixes with the water and hardens into a cement-like substance that requires an extremely difficult cleaning process.

It has been recommended to treat the water with chlorine to prevent algae in warm climates, and antifreeze to prevent freezing in colder climates. These substances combine with the water, oil, and lead, and can create a significant hazardous waste problem.

The benefits of a wet funnel trap include the durability of steel, reduced bullet fragmentation, reduced lead dust levels, and the ability to handle larger calibers.

Weaknesses include its higher cost, large floor space requirement, water treatment chemicals, increased humidity, problems with frangible ammunition, maintenance of the electric pumps and filters, and its nonmodular construction.

Vertical Funnel Trap

Vertical Funnel Trap 2Instead of a continuous horizontal funnel, this trap uses a series vertically oriented funnel boxes to gather the bullets. As with a horizontal funnel, bullets are deflected by the impact plates into a deceleration chamber at the back of the trap where they are collected and stored.

The angles of the impact plates are not as severe as a venetian blind or escalator type trap, but they are more severe than other modern steel traps so bullet fragmentation on impact can still be an issue.

As individual chambers are mounted next to each other, vertical edges that run from the top to the bottom of the trap are created. These edges can pose a significant ricochet hazard. Additionally, the individual chamber design prohibits any cross-lane shooting and greatly limits the flexibility and functionality of the trap as a whole.

The benefits of a vertical funnel trap include the durability of steel, easier lead collection, and a smaller floor space requirement.

Weaknesses include bullet fragmentation, no close-range shooting, and no cross-lane shooting.

Rely on the Experts for Help

There are hundreds of things to take into consideration when building a shooting range, but your top priority should always be safety. Before anything else, make sure your range is going to be safe for your customers, your employees, and the environment. If you are considering building a range, talk to the Action Target representative in your region and he will be happy to help you find the right equipment to fit your needs and budget.

VIDEOS: The Biggest Bullet Trap in the World / Michael Bane Endorses Action Target’s Rimfire Steel

Industry film company Panteao Productions recently stopped by Lotus Gunworks in Jensen Beach, Florida, to film in the first indoor double-decker shooting range Action Target has ever built. Take a tour of one of the most extensive firearms selections in South Florida and the only indoor range to feature a two-story steel funnel bullet trap. Watch it here:

Panteao Productions, known for its in-depth firearms training videos, will be coming out with a new Make Ready DVD in the near future on .22 rimfire training featuring the expertise of TV host Michael Bane and 30-year IDPA and USPSA veteran competitor Tom Yost. To film the training video, Panteao Productions exclusively used Action Target’s new Rimfire Steelcart Small target line and even filmed a brief endorsement from Michael Bane. Watch it here:

Bullet Trap Comparisons, Pt. 1

For many years, bullet trap technology has been mired in confusion, misunderstanding, and misinformation. The various approaches to bullet containment and disposal have become as diverse as they are numerous. The purpose of this article is to provide accurate information and valuable education by examining various bullet trap theories, technologies, and applications in an objective manner.

The following information represents the views and opinions of Action Target based on our experience and observations. You are encouraged to conduct your own research and speak with other users about their experiences with the various bullet trap technologies presented.

Sand Berm

Sand Berm 1The sand or dirt berm is the oldest and most basic type of bullet trap. It uses the mass of the berm itself to stop and store bullets, and on outdoor ranges it can literally be the side of a mountain. On indoor ranges however, some type of structure or barricade is used to support the berm and hold back the sand.

On ranges where qualification or other events where tightly grouped shooting patterns are common, concentrations of lead called hot spots can form behind the targets causing subsequent shots to ricochet and bounce back toward the shooter. In order to recover spent bullets, the berm must be mined and the lead separated out. A certain amount of the sand will be contaminated and must be replenished each time the trap is cleaned. Sand and dirt berms are coming under increasingly harsh environmental scrutiny due to high lead levels in the ground around the trap and the tendency of the lead to seep into surrounding ground water.

The benefits of a sand berm include low cost, relatively low maintenance, and the ability to use any kind of ammunition.

Weaknesses include potential environmental hazards, expensive mining, and hot spot ricochet.

Pit and Plate Trap

Pit and Plate Trap

With this application, a steel plate is used to redirect bullets into a bed of sand. The steel is often called a “smash” plate because the acute angle—in this case, anything greater than 25 degrees—causes bullets to smash into small pieces on impact before they are scattered on the sand below.

Because the lead fragments rest mostly on top of the sand, this trap must be cleaned frequently by mining the lead from the sand and disposing of it properly. Under moderate to heavy use, a thick lead build-up can develop in the back corner of the trap causing bullets to be deflected back toward the shooter.

The benefits of a pit and plate trap include lower initial cost and simple installation.

Weaknesses include bullet fragmentation on impact, lead build-up, ricochet, and high maintenance.

Water and Plate Trap

Water and Plate Trap

The water and plate trap is similar to the pit and plate trap, except the sand is replaced by a large trough of water. Bullets still fragment into small pieces after impacting the smash plate, but with this system, they splash into the water and sink to the bottom of the trough. To retrieve the lead, you must shovel or scoop it from the water and dispose of it properly. The water in the trough must be replenished due to evaporation, and the evaporation can cause increased humidity on your range and problems with your ventilation system.

The benefits of a water and plate trap include lower lead dust levels and no ricochet off other bullets.

Weaknesses include bullet fragmentation on impact, maintenance of the water, and the limitation to indoor use only.

Venetian Blind Trap

Venetian Blind Trap 1

This older application uses a series of angled steel smash plates to redirect bullets to the back and bottom of the trap. Some versions of this trap have the smash plates mounted loosely to help absorb some of the bullets’ energy, but the acute angle of the plates can still cause significant fragmentation. To keep bullet splatter from bouncing back at the shooter, rubber curtains are often mounted across the entire face of the trap.

Because rubber is destroyed every time you shoot into it, these curtains must be replaced or patched frequently to maintain their effectiveness.

The benefits of a venetian blind trap include the durability of steel, no sand or granules, and a small floor space requirement.

Weaknesses include bullet fragmentation on impact, splatter and ricochet, no close-range shooting, and maintenance of the rubber curtains.

Escalator Trap

Escalator Trap 2

This is another old-fashioned steel trap that uses steeply angled smash plates to stop bullets and direct the fragments to an open collection area. Some manufacturers recommend that the impact plates be coated with oil to provide lubrication and reduce fragmentation. This oil can be washed away into the surrounding soil if the trap is not protected from the elements in outdoor applications.

The same system of protective rubber curtains may also be necessary with this trap due to the acute angle of its steel smash plates.

The benefits of an escalator trap include the durability of steel and no sand or rubber granules.

Weaknesses include bullet fragmentation on impact, no close-range shooting, maintenance of the rubber curtains, and poor lead storage and collection.

Rely on the Experts for Help

There are hundreds of things to take into consideration when building a shooting range, but your top priority should always be safety. Before anything else, make sure your range is going to be safe for your customers, your employees, and the environment. If you are considering building a range, talk to the Action Target representative in your region and he will be happy to help you find the right equipment to fit your needs and budget.

 

Myths About Wet Steel Traps

Wet Steel Trap 1As with anything else in life, the ability to make an informed decision is based on the quality of the information you receive. The purpose of this article is to explore some of the claims associated with using water on steel funnel traps.

This information represents the opinions of Action Target based on the experience and observations of our range consultants and engineers. We encourage you to conduct your own research and speak with other users about their experiences with the various bullet trap technologies presented before drawing your own conclusions.

CLAIM #1: You can use any type of ammunition on a wet steel trap.

It has been reported that frangible ammunition may cause problems with wet funnel traps because the powder created by certain types of disintegrating bullets can mix with the water and harden into a cement-like substance resulting in an extremely difficult cleaning process.

CLAIM #2: Wet steel traps eliminate lead dust on your range.

If a bullet strikes an area on a wet steel trap where the water and oil mixture is flowing (like on the bottom plates), the amount of lead dust generated at the trap on initial impact may be reduced. But if the bullet hits on the upper plates where no water is present, lead dust can be generated much the same as on a trap where no water system is in use. Also, lead dust containment systems such as water are meant to deal with lead on the bullet trap itself. They typically have little or nothing to do with emissions at the firing line or other areas of the range.

CLAIM #3: Wet steel traps capture all pullets whole and eliminate splatter and ricochet.Wet Steel Trap 7

The gently sloping angles of steel funnel plates do help prevent bullet breakup on initial impact, but bullets can also fragment into small pieces once they enter the rear chamber and strike more steel surfaces inside. Also, many designs include a vertical edge at every seam where two chambers meet and are attached to each other. Deflectors are typically used to protect these vertical edges, and bullets can fragment more significantly if they strike these deflectors. Our observations would indicate that the degree of bullet fragmentation is mostly related to the velocity of the bullet. Slower pistol rounds may be able to be captured more whole when using a primary decelerant or lubricant such as water, but faster rifle rounds tend to disintegrate whether the water is present or not.

CLAIM #4: Wet steel traps are more environmentally friendly.

A doctor’s first and fundamental responsibility is to do no harm and to not make a difficult situation worse than it already may be. The same can be said for a bullet trap. Because lead disposal is already difficult enough for most shooting ranges, the last thing we thing a bullet trap should do is to complicate the matter by mixing the lead with other substances such as water, oil, chlorine, or antifreeze.

CLAIM #5: Wet steel traps function equally well indoors and outdoors.Wet Steel Trap 9

Referring back to claim #4, it can be much more difficult to contain all potential contaminants generated by a wet steel trap on an outdoor range. Rain, snow, ice, wildlife, leaves, twigs, and other clogging debris can complicate matters when operating outdoors.

CLAIM #6: One piece welded funnel plates are better than modular funnel plates.

If everything is welded together on site, you can end up with a bullet trap that is much more difficult to service or repair should anything go wrong. Long, continuous sheets of plate steel can be more prone to stress fractures and cracking than shorter, modular plates. That is one reason why bridges and overpasses are often formed by bolting together multiple modular pieces. When modular funnel plates and joint systems are properly designed, you get a strong and maintenance-friendly bullet trap that requires no sacrifice of safety or performance.

CLAIM #7: Funnel plates mounted at a 12 or 13 degree angle function significantly better than funnel plates mounted at a 15 degree angle.Wet Steel Trap 6

If a 12 or 13 degree slope is better than a 15 degree slope, then isn’t 11 better than 12? Why not drop to 9 degrees? Or 7? Since every degree you go down can increase the cost and the front-to-back size of the trap, there is a point at which you can reach the point of diminishing returns. All other factors being equal (steel hardness, bullet trajectory, etc.), our high speed video tests do not reveal any significant difference between impacts at 12 or 15 degrees. Although it is possible to install an Action Target trap with plates mounted at either 12 or 13 degrees, we believe 15 degrees to be optimal for most uses.

CLAIM #8: A 30-inch diameter in the circular deceleration chamber is better than a 26-inch diameter.

Following the same logic, why not use a 40-inch diameter? Why not 50? Again, it is important to weigh multiple factors such as performance, cost, and space. Action Target believes that the most important thing about a chamber is that it effectively contain rounds, that it have a good service life, and that it can be easily serviced if and when the need arises. We believe our chamber design achieves these values in an optimal way.

CLAIM #9: Wet steel traps don’t require much maintenance.Wet Steel Trap 8

Regular maintenance should be expected with any bullet trap, regardless of the materials used. Just like anything else, range equipment must be properly cared for to keep it working.

The wet steel trap designs we have seen include a water pump, spray nozzle, and filter systems that should be regularly maintained. Potential debris like cardboard, paper, wood, and shotgun wads can certainly be a problem if they are introduced into these systems. Lead should be removed from the collection system and disposed of properly. And we recommend you account for any exposure the lead may have had to water, oil, chlorine, or antifreeze. Water sources should be maintained and you should deal with any potential sources of flooding or leaking. In some cases, an external settling pond or a drainage tank with a waste trap may be needed to keep contaminated water from entering the sewer system. Finally, you should consider any additional effect the potentially higher humidity may have on your ventilation system and any HEPA filters.

 

NOTE: None of the photos used in this article are of Action Target bullet traps.