Tag: splatter

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.

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.

 

The Truth About Steel and Steel Targets

With more and more companies and individuals manufacturing steel targets, the water has become increasingly muddy where accurate information is concerned. With technical data provided by the American Iron and Steel Institute in Washington D.C., this report is designed to cut through the recent hype and establish a basis of fact for accurate evaluation and comparison.

What Is Steel?

Steel MillSteel is an alloy metal composed of iron and varying amounts of carbon and/or other elements such as chromium, nickel, tungsten, manganese, and so on. Steel with specific properties and characteristics is created by adjusting the overall chemical composition or by altering the various production processes such as rolling, finishing, and heat treatment. Because each of these factors can be modified, there is potentially no limit to the number of different steel recipes that can be created. Currently, there are over 3,000 catalogued grades or chemical compositions of steel available. Steel can utilize a wide variety of alloying elements and heat treatments to develop the most desirable combination of properties.

Steel Hardness and Quality

For steel targets to be functional and safe, they should be made of high quality through hardened steel that has a Brinell hardness number (BHN) of at least 500. The steel must also provide sufficient strength, toughness, and impact resistance. The Brinell hardness test depends upon the resistance offered to the penetration of a carbide steel ball (1.6 mm diameter) when subjected to a weight of 12.6 kg. The resulting hardness value is computed as the ratio of the applied load to the area of the indentation produced. This test is accepted as a worldwide standard for measuring the hardness of steel.

Truth – There are 2 Factors that Affect the Hardness of Steel

The first is the amount of carbon and other alloying elements in its chemical composition, and the second is the manner in which the heating and cooling of the steel is manipulated. These factors are determined at the most fundamental level, and affect the finished steel as a whole.

Truth – Steel Hardness is a Critical Issue

Steel Deflection
[Left] Hard steel with a flat surface will create a predictable splatter pattern. [Right] Soft steel with an uneven surface will cause unpredictable and unsafe ricochet and splatter.
The hardness of the steel is critical because only a smooth surface will generate predictable splatter patterns. Steel that is not sufficiently hard can develop pits, craters, dimples, and other hazardous deformations. When a bullet hits one of these deformations, it is impossible to predict where the splatter will go, thereby creating an unacceptable
training environment.

There are many steel mills located around the world, but only a select few are able to produce steel that is hard enough and of sufficient quality to be safely used for steel targets and equipment. Action Target has a list of major producers of Steel that meet quality specifications. Each of these companies may have minor proprietary differences in their production methods, but they all must make sheets of hard steel in essentially the same way. Nevertheless, some suppliers of targets and shooting range equipment attempt to muddy the water and create perceived differences in steel quality where none exist. One particularly misleading claim refers to a certain company’s use of through hardened steel as opposed to merely surface hardened AR500 steel allegedly used by everyone else. We state the following with all possible force:

1. Action Target uses only high quality, through hardened steel with a Brinell hardness rating of at least 500, and we use it in every one of our ballistic steel products.

2. Action Target can also provide through hardened steel targets and other steel products with certified Brinell hardness ratings of 550 and even 600.

3. Despite the inaccurate claims, AR500 steel is NOT surface hardened. It is through hardened. Witness the quotes listed below from steel suppliers around the country.

Chapel Steel – AR500 is a quenched & tempered, through hardened, wear-resistant grade of abrasion resistant steel plate used for severe impact. (SOURCE: http://www.chapelsteel.com/ar500-ar500f.html)

Heflin Steel – Heflin REM 500 abrasion resistant plate is a premium grade wear plate, ideal for extreme abrasion coupled with resistance to impact. REM 500 plate is through hardened up to a 3″ thickness for maximum hardness and abrasion resistance.

Benco Steel – AR500 is a through hardened steel with high hardness for use where there is severe impact and abrasion.

(These companies are steel suppliers, not manufacturers or producers. They buy steel from the actual manufacturers like HARDOX / SSAB, and then re-sell it to their own customers.)Stacked Steel

4. Any statements contrary to those above are simply untrue.

Be careful not to get caught up in the “more is better” mindset. Just because a Brinell hardness number (BHN) of 500 is good, it doesn’t mean a rating of 700 is better. While you must use steel that is hard enough for the task, going overboard only impacts your checkbook and not the product durability. For example, ballistic tests have shown that the performance difference between steel with a 500 BHN and steel with a 535 BHN is so small that you can’t tell the difference with a bullet but only with a gauge. Also be aware that you can actually use steel that is too hard and too brittle for ballistic training purposes.