February 7th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

When it comes to typical range shooting and training, almost nothing beats the ring of a steel target when that bullet hits it’s mark. So while punching paper for those clover leaf groups is cool, practicing techniques like body armor drills is much more useful with proper steel. I started doing my research on quality target kits about six months ago and came up with a few solutions: today we take a look at the Complete Target Solutions – AKA CTS Targets – ABC ZONE AR500 Silhouette.

I. Introduction:

Before we dive in, I think it would be useful to talk about steel and its use in firearm targets. Despite what Hollywood action movies tell us, not all steel is created equal when it comes to bullet resistance. So without getting into the weeds of metallurgy and materials science – steel composition, manufacturing processes, heat treating and other techniques all contribute to a steel’s hardness. Again, as an oversimplification, hardness in terms of steel refers to its resistance to deformation when an amount of force is applied.

Levels of deformation (indentation) are what target (and armor) manufacturers use to determine what rounds in which their targets are rated. When it comes to centerfire rounds, that is commonly called AR500 steel, a trademarked designation. There are other levels of steel used in the manufacturing of targets – AR400, AR300, etc, some of which are used on rimfire-only targets.

A. AR500 Steel:

  • AR500 refers to the hardness of steel on the Brinell Scale. Using a 10mm* steel or tungsten carbide ball at 3000 kilograms of force, the indentation hardness is tested and measured. The 500 in AR500 is referring to a 500 on the Brinell Scale – the higher the number, the higher the hardness. * 10mm fans will love this little fact. 

B. SAFETY BRIEFING – (Read the CTS FAQ here):

  • Eye protection is a requirement for all shooters and bystanders.
  • Steel Shooting Rating: Overall guidelines for minimum shooting distance is 15 yards for pistol and 100 yards for rifle.
  • 3/8” thick plates can handle projectiles hitting plate under 2,700 fps up to 30.06 but if you’re careful and drastically increase the distance you can use higher calibers.

Long story made short, when shopping for steel targets, always read the manufacturers ratings for ammunition calibers, types, and standoff distances. Failure to heed the warnings can result in injury or death to the shooter or bystanders.

II. Unboxing And Setup:

I was extremely impressed with the way CTS fit all the steel pieces, neatly wrappped into a compact shipping pack. Being nearly indestructible metal, it would have been easy to toss the whole kit haphazardly into a box and send it on its way. But the CTS Target ABC Zone Silhouette showed up in a normal size shipping box packed like clever origami. Heavy, but normal.

The ABC target kit came complete in three basic sections:

  • The Silhouette
  • The Pro Hanger
  • The X Ground Base

You’ll need to provide the following tools and supplies:

  • Box wrench set/socket set/channel locks.
  • 2×4 approximately three feet in length

Estimated setup time: 20 minutes

CTS TARGETS

Hardware installation for the Pro Target Hanger

The proper use of most steel targets involves the angling of the target face down towards the ground slightly in front of the target base. This ensures that the bullet deflection is down and into the soft dirt or sand rather than another angle that could cause dangerous ricochets.

In the case of the CTS Target, the Pro Hanger is held at a distance out and away from the stand, with an attachment point 2/3’s of the way up the silhouette. The kit also includes a heavy-duty spring that acts as a dampener as well as keeping the target face slightly forward.

Assembly:

1. Run the bolt through the hole in the target face.

2. On the back, drop on the heavy duty green spring.

CTS TARGETS

Hardware installation for the Pro Target Hanger

3. Now drop on the Pro Hanger

4. And thread the nut onto the bolt

CTS TARGETS

Hardware installation for the Pro Target Hanger

5. Now align all four parts of the X Ground Base so that the “claws” are curving into the ground and the bolt holes all line up with each other.

6. Thread the bolts through the two right side “feet”, through the stand and then through the left side feet.

7. Tighten the two X Ground Stand bolts as needed

CTS TARGETS

2×4 X Ground Base – Installation

8. Drop a 2×4 into the ground base and use the finger screw to hold it in place.

  • The height of the 2×4 should be about chest high, but know your range, if you are shooting on a downward slope, you may want a shorter setup and the reverse for an upward slope.

9. Drop the hanger on to the 3’ 2×4 and use the finger screw to hold it in place.

10. You’re done.

The included instructions were complete, although minimal – but honestly, if the pieces showed up without any guidance at all, most competent shooters could still assemble the kit without issue.

III. Observations:

The CTS kit is very well made, with precision cuts, rounded edges and powder coating to prevent corrosion. The hardware is not off-the-shelf big box, but instead grade 8* bolts, which is important because they hold static loads, endure dynamic impact forces and possibly direct bullet impacts. If I had to guess, the complete setup weighs in at about 50lbs, divided in half (top and bottom) for transport, is heavy but manageable.

Credit: Bolt Depot – Proof Load, min. Yield Strength, min. Tensile Strength

Everything else was straightforward and intuitive, making it time to ring the bell.

CTS TARGETS

CTS TARGETS: ABC Zone Rifle Steel Silhouette

CTS TARGETS

Pro Target Hanger

CTS TARGETS

Pro Target Hanger

CTS Targets

2×4 X Ground Base

CTS Targets

ABC Zone Rifle Steel Target

CTS TARGETS

ABC Zone Rifle Steel Target

As expected, 9mm bullet impacts only removed the powder coating. My hope is that CTS will allow me to keep the ABC Zone Silhouette target for a few more months so that I can bring you a long term report on resistance to rifle rounds and other calibers.

IV. CTS TARGETS ABC ZONE SILHOUETTE- Conclusions:

From the packaging to delivery, to set up and shooting, CTS does an excellent job of presenting the shooting community with a high-quality steel target. Obviously, there are a handful of other steel target manufacturers to choose from and we might get a chance for some comparisons, but as it stands, my CTS  experience was overwhelmingly positive and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their products.

Specifications, details, and pricing are listed below,

CTS TARGETS: ABC ZONE RIFLE TARGET – $114.99

CTS competition grade AR500 targets. Designed for the competitive shooter and weekend plinker alike! This laser cut, heavy duty, reversible target is designed for years of use The ABC Zone target is adapted from the standard IPSC silhouette to cover only the A, B and C scoring zones. Made of 3/8” AR500 steel to last and with an audible feedback that will not disappoint. Simply apply a fresh coat of spray paint for a new target every time.

Features:

  • 3/8” AR500 Steel Construction
  • Laser Cut for Improved Hardness Retention
  • IPSC A, B and C scoring zones
  • Proudly Made in the USA
  • Dimensions: 12”x24”x3/8”
  • 24lbs

CTS TARGETS: 2X4 X GROUND BASE – $74.99

The CTS X Ground Base is an excellent option for those looking for a wide, sturdy base for their steel targets. This stand is great for the shooter looking for a mobile target set up or has ground not suitable to pound spikes. It pairs perfectly with our 2×4 Pro Hanger for an ideal steel setup.

Features:

  • Heavy Duty Powder Coat Finish
  • Thick Mild Steel Construction
  • Proudly Made in the USA
  • Accepts Standard 2×4 Lumber
  • Dimensions: Approx. 22”x25”

CTS TARGETS: 2X4 PRO TARGET HANGER – $39.99

The CTS 2×4 Pro Hanger is the perfect accessory for your CTS targets. The hanger is designed to hold a steel target at a slight angle to deflect bullet splatter downward. The spring assembly helps absorb some of the energy of your bullets reducing wear on your target. Pairs perfectly with the CTS Spike Base or Ground Base.

Features:

  • Holds Target at Slight Downward Angle
  • Heavy Duty Powder Coat Finish
  • All Steel Construction
  • Proudly Made in the USA
  • ½” Grade 8 Bolt
  • Steel Spring for Impact Absorption
  • Includes:
  • Hanger, grade 8 bolt, steel spring, lock nut and set knob.



Coupon: CTS was nice enough to give TFB readers a discount on your entire CTS order. Use TFB15 at checkout when ordering

Posted in Product Reviews, Rifles Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

May 5th, 2015 by AmSJ Staff

 

Mike Nesbitt Take two

The author Mike Nesbitt tried his hand at the Matthew Quigley shoot for the first time in 2014 and will be back again this year shooting a heavier rifle chambered for the .44/90 Sharps cartridge.

 

Story by Mike Nesbitt

The annual Matthew Quigley Buffalo Rifle Match is really some doin’s! Hosted each June by the Forsyth Rifle & Pistol Club of Forsyth, Mont., it isn’t the longest distance match or the most “critically scored,” but nonetheless, there’s nothing else quite like it, and for a match like Quigley, it pays to be ready. (By not being critically scored I simply mean they count hits rather than 9’s, 10’s, or X’s. A hit is one point, and those are hard-to-get points.)

3

The road at Quigley. Traders and campers on the right, shooters on the left.

Quigley is a huge  event, very well attended by all types of shooters, and the inspiration for this long-range match, of course, came from Tom Selleck’s character in Quigley Down Under, the 1990 movie about an American sharpshooter who responds to an Australian’s help-wanted ad, but finds the job morally wrong. We can easily say that the shooting in these matches is almost as good as portrayed in the film.

The rifles used in the Quigley match can be any traditional single-shot or lever-action rifle with a caliber of .375 or larger. That means the good old .38-55 is just about the smallest cartridge you’ll see on the firing line. Bullets must be made of cast lead (gas checks are OK) and the powder charges can be black powder, black powder substitute, black powder/smokeless powder duplex loads or smokeless powder. Even though there are no restrictions for the powder used, Quigley is referred to as a black-powder shoot and most shooters actually use it.

One of the Quigley rules is that shooters must use the same rifle for all distances and targets. Those distances, include shooting offhand at the 350-yard target as well as a seated 805-yard shot over cross-sticks, among others.

8

Dakota Dick Savage takes an offhand shot at “the bucket.” All other targets are shot from the sitting position.

1

Two of the author’s favorite Sharps rifles; a heavy .44-90 (top) and a .44-77 (bottom).

Last year, I chose my C. Sharps Model ’74 chambered in .44-77. The 400-grain bullets worked very well for me, and the 70 grains of Olde Eynsford 2F sends those bullets out of my 28-inch barrel at about 1,370 feet per second. It shoots well enough to give me good scores at 200 yards and it is enjoyable enough to shoot from the shoulder. But 200-yard shooting won’t even get you started at Quigley, since the distances begin with offhand shooting at 350 yards. I needed some long-range experience very badly. In order to get just that, I entered into a few black-powder cartridge-rifle silhouette matches. That was a whole new world for me and very fun! Why I waited so long before trying the silhouettes, I don’t know, but I certainly learned a few lessons! With my newfound education on shooting silhouettes out to 500 yards and copious notes, I was ready to try Quigley, or at least I thought so.

6

The author tries a shot at the 350-yard “bucket” target while Don McDowell “spots” the shot through the scope.

 

It all seemed too soon when my partner Allen Cunniff and I drove into the Quigley camp. We were immediately met by “Dangerous” Don McDowell, who was our guide and took us under his wing. He showed us our camp area and then took us down to the firing line to sight in. He made sure we were registered and suggested that we shoot in his same group.

4

Sighting in can be done throughout the week preceding the actual match; however, once the match starts, that’s it! One reason is simply because the firing line is too busy. Highest compliments must be extended to the staff for the administration of this fine event. They run more than 600 shooters through the course of six targets in about six to eight hours. Each shooter is assigned to a group and those groups are broken down into squads for firing in relays. The target course is doubled, meaning there are two of each target. This allows 12 squads to be shooting at the same time. Hits are recorded by scorekeepers who have earphones and receive an electronic signal when the target is hit.

Nesbitt Using Crosssticks

The author takes a practice shot using cross-sticks with the .44/90.

All shots are taken from the sitting position using cross-sticks except for the bucket target, which is shot offhand. Eight shots are fired at each target, making Quigley a 48-shot match.

Each shooter has a spotter who watches for hits or misses and can suggest changes in sighting elevation or windage. McDowell was my spotter for every shot I fired. Getting at least one hit per target was a small goal that I had set for myself. That goal, I admit without shame, was not met. I just couldn’t get a hit on the bucket. Folks who were watching could see that my shots were close enough to show that I was trying. McDowell, who also shoots a Sharps .44-77, exclaimed, “If you were using a .45, you would have hit it!” As “Dakota” Dick Savage, a shooter who finished in the top 10 at Quigley in 2012, said in reference to getting scores that were lower than what was hoped for, “Well, that’s Quigley.”

2

The Buffalo target that sits at 805-yards is the farthest target in the Matthew Quigley Buffalo Shoot. Sometimes you can hear the bullets hitting the steel targets. But considering the bullet’s time in flight plus the speed of sound for the noise of the impact to get back to you, that impact won’t be heard until four to six seconds have passed.

Our group started with the large octagon, which means we didn’t take shots at the 805-yard buffalo, the furthest target, until last. This was the target I had looked forward to the most. My first shot, McDowell told me quietly, was right in line but just over its back. With that information, I dropped my rear sight down only about five minutes of angle, and fired again. That time, McDowell whispered, “Good hit, right in the white spot at about 1 o’clock.” My day had been made and I got two more hits on the buffalo with my following six shots.

Sometimes you can hear the bullets hitting the steel targets. But considering the bullet’s time in flight plus the speed of sound for the noise of the impact to get back to you, that impact won’t be heard until four to six seconds have passed. That seems like a very long time.

Ed Tilton. Two time (2013 – 2014) Matthew Quigley Buffalo shoot champion and first-ever back-to-back champion.

You can visit the Quigley match online at quigleymatch.com and read all of the details, including the individual scores. Last year over 600 buffalo-gun shooters gathered from 36 different states and three other countries. Ed Tilton from Columbia Falls, Mont., has won the last two shoots with a Model 1874 Shiloh Sharps chambered for the .45-90 cartridge. The record score was shot in 2004 by Al Loquasto with 46 hits out of the possible 48. The long-range course at Quigley has never been “aced.”

5

Don McDowell “Spots” while his wife Carol shoots at a long-range target. Several ladies shoot at Quigley.

For me, the whole experience was simply outstanding, including the obvious brotherhood between shooters. I was talking with Tilton after the match and compared scores, my 11 hits to his 45. He said that my scores would certainly climb and his could only go down, then we’ll meet somewhere in the middle. My personal goal is to get closer to the middle this year.

Mike Nesbitt Quigley Shoot

This year (June 2015), Nesbitt will use his heavy Sharps 74 in .44-90 for the competition. (BJ LANE)

I’m getting ready for Quigley again. This year I’ll use my heavy Sharps 74 in .44-90, shooting heavier bullets than my .44-77. The .44-90 weighs 13½ pounds and has an aperture front sight with a spirit-level which should have a better advantage over the silver-blade sight on my .44-77. I thought about using my Highwall in .40-70 SS, but to me Quigley is a Sharps shoot; in the movie, Selleck’s character uses a Sharps 1874 rifle chambered for the .45-110 cartridge with long-range sights.

The .44-90 will be used in some of our short-range matches before going to Quigley and maybe at some silhouettes matches too, although it’s too heavy for NRA rules. For ammo, I’ll take at least 100 rounds using 465-grain bullets over 90 grains of Olde Eynsford 1½ F.  This way, a lot of shots can be fired for sighting-in before the match gets started. I’m practicing my offhand shooting with this heavy rifle too, and with a good body-rest, it isn’t too heavy to hold.

June 20-21 will see the 24th gathering in southeast Montana, and getting ready for it is time and shots well spent. ASJ

 

Note: For other great images from BJ Lane on the Matthew Quigley shoot, you can visit them at bjlanesimages.com.

Posted in Black Powder Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,