23 September 2011

DIY Steel Rimfire Target

Here at the Academy, we've got what's probably the greatest metal shop at any undergraduate institution - and it's better than some graduate and commercial shops too. Mills, lathes, drill presses, sanders, grinders, sheet metal tools, MIG and TIG welders, oxy-acetylene torch, water jet, heat treatment ovens... the list goes on.

I decided to take advantage of some of the tools and make myself some steel targets. I completed the first one today, and I'll test it this weekend.

My target had to do three things:
  • Deflect bullets downwards
  • Swing to absorb energy
  • Not cost a lot (ideally, free)

I met all three requirements using scrap metal, a band saw, belt grinder, drill press, oxy-acetylene torch, and MIG welder.

After cutting 8" octagons with tabs out of 1/4" steel plate, I ground the edges to make sure they wouldn't cut me or catch any bullets. Then I placed the tabs in a vice and used the torch to heat the metal to red-hot. Once it was soft, a hammer bent the targets over to the 90 degree angle.

I cut a 2" wide strip from the same scrap steel, and began drilling 5/8" holes in it on the drill press. Once the holes were drilled and the 2" squares cut, I ground the edges and corners and headed down to weld. With the tabs mounted, I found some 1/2" steel round stock, cut it, ground spikes into the ends, and welded it into the upside-down U shape.

The plate angles downwards when it's hanging, and swings easily. The whole project cost me about five hours.

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