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.
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:
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.
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:
You’ll need to provide the following tools and supplies:
Estimated setup time: 20 minutes
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.
1. Run the bolt through the hole in the target face.
2. On the back, drop on the heavy duty green spring.
3. Now drop on the Pro Hanger
4. And thread the nut onto the bolt
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
8. Drop a 2×4 into the ground base and use the finger screw to hold it in place.
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.
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.
Everything else was straightforward and intuitive, making it time to ring the bell.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.