I’ve moved. I’m now ten minutes from a free, city-owned and operated shooting range—newly renovated thanks to a N.R.A. grant. My previous range was well-appointed: RO’s, target stands, soda machines and targets for sale. While there are no membership fees or RO’s who are convinced that even looking at the “blue line” deserves a warning, there’s no pop,  targets, target stands or clear yardage indicators. Defining yardage will be easy; I’ll simply wait for some after-hunting or holiday sale and will pick up a cheap laser rangefinder. Selecting my own target stand was a harder decision than I’d anticipated. It had to be portable enough to fit in the trunk but substantial enough to survive the early morning gusty conditions so common here in the desert southwest . . .

I’ve always been a fan of steel and reactive targets. I decided to buy a stand that could handle multiple pistols shots that wouldn’t need constant reset. My search led me to Mike Gibson Manufacturing, maker of MGM Targets. It just so happens that MGM Targets are the supplier of the steel targets used during Tuesday Night Steel at my old range. I knew the MGM’s product quality and service was spot-on. The only task at hand: choosing an appropriate target.

I eventually settled on the “Full Size IPSC Target.” It is built to the same overall dimensions as the standard cardboard IPSC target (approximately 17-3/4″ W x 29-1/2″ H). Instead of cardboard, the silhouette is made of 3/8” thick AR500 armor plate steel. The target comes with their standard tube steel “H” base and post featured on all of MGM’s IPSC style targets.

First Impressions . . .

I ordered the MGM target through Brownell’s; they drop shipped it to me directly from MGM’s Idaho digs. MGM takes pride in the fact that the targets are in-stock and ready to ship. Mine arrived at my door step via UPS Ground in about six days. Great news for those of us with no patience for shipping delays often associated with “manufacturer direct shipped” items.

Obviously, they’re heavy. The MGM website revealed that the whole target weighs about 71 lbs. The plate accounts for the overwhelming majority of the weight, making the target somewhat difficult to handle and unpack. I’m sure the UPS guy loved delivering this to me – so much so that he helped “pre-open” the box at both seams.

After cleaning up the packing peanuts littering my front porch and living room, I managed to extract the base. Although I’ve shot steel targets before, this was the first box fresh example I’d ever seen. It was almost too pretty, with clean edges, crisp white paint, and that fresh “just welded” smell. I assembled the target in just a few seconds. There was nothing to bolt together, nothing to pin – everything just “slips” into place.

At the Range . . .

While MGM’s Full Size IPSC Target is as heavy as an Ingmar Bergman movie, the setup is relatively easy to transport. But not without its dangers. If you use a large SUV or pick-up truck, you might want to “wrap” the steel plate in a blanket so it doesn’t slide around; even at 50+ pounds, the smooth plate will shift around every corner. By the same token, I wouldn’t want this to fly forward during a head-on collision, particularly if you have passengers in the back seat. [ED: Who’s the target now?] I’m making a “tray” for the target that I can secure to the trunk of our SUV.

Arriving at the range, my shooting buddy and I quickly set up in one of the open two-bench bays. We’d only brought one pistol each: an XDm-45 and an XDm-40 and an assortment of FMJ and JHP ammo, about 500 rounds total. We’d also picked up a can of $0.97 cheap-o Wal-Mart Fast-Dry white enamel spray paint for touch-ups (instead of replacing targets, adding stickers or deploying masking tape.)

Conclusions… 

The MGM IPSC Full-size target performed as advertised. With over 500 rounds of full-power .40+ caliber loads, there wasn’t a single deformation of the AR500 plate. Not that any was expected; AR500 plate is armor plate. All MGM steel targets that are used with pistol-only calibers (9mm, .40 and .45) are covered by the company’s lifetime warranty. (NB: Magnum handgun loads may void the warranty.) If any weld breaks, MGM will replace the part for free, including shipping.

I haven’t shot this target with a rifle yet—and I don’t intend to. This will be my “pistol only” steel target. Considering price, service, quality and the warranty, I’m turning to MGM for my long gun needs as well. I’ve ordered a half-size IPSC target with rifle calibers at 100+ yards.

One thing I liked about the IPSC target, versus say a regular square or circle, is the fact that you have two targets in one. During drills and training exercises, you can focus on center mass and direct your fire that way. However, when practicing trigger control or accuracy, you can focus on the “head” portion of the target.

RATINGS (out of five)

Fit & Finish * * * * *
Everything was as advertised. The welds look fantastic and the entire target from plate to base exudes quality. There is no spatter or excess slag.

Value * * * * *
I considered building my own steel target, but after researching the price of AR500 plate, having it cut and shipped, along with the expense and hassle of building a base, the MGM came in cheaper and with a lifetime warranty.

Overall * * * * *
You would be hard pressed to find a better full-size IPSC target system. Actually, if you do, please email me. I’m sure the guys at MGM would gladly put their target systems up against any of their competitors.

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7 Responses to Gear Review: MGM Full Size IPSC Target

  1. How much does one of these run, and how much do the rifle or magnum pistol versions cost? Only about 1/4 of my shooting is 9mm or .45, and everything else might void the warranty.

    • I paid $229 with no tax and free shipping! Any steel plate is going to show marks and wear down with centerfire rifle fire. I’ve seen pictures of plates that have had over 10,000 combined rounds of .223 and .308. Sure, it showed lots of wear and was in need to replacing, but at an average cost of $0.55/round, that is over $5500 of ammo to a $229 target – not a bad ratio!

      This guy made his own target with AR500 plate, and actually welded to the plate (not recommended by plate mfg’s) –> Snipershide AR500 Target

      Even at a 5000-round life expectancy, $229/5000 rounds equals 4.6 cents per shot.

      When I use paper targets, I always use the “Shoot-N-See” targets. At around $1.00-$1.50 per target, they aren’t cheap and I only get 25-50 rounds per target (I cheat, I cut them in half and stick on my own “bullseye”!). Factor in the price of sticks, a base, cardboard, etc. and I couldn’t justify NOT buying the MGM for pistol shooting. I’m currently looking at the best option for rifle shooting and am still leaning toward the Half-Size IPSC Target… I’ll keep you guys posted!

      • It amazes me how many shooters buy MGM crap. Poorly designed when it comes to high speed low drag shooting. IPSC target is back , no need to evaluate a Ar-500 target. There problem comes with Poorly built plate racks. Dueling trees. If you want the best systems , the most durable system and the most functional targets. Contact Academi- Formerly Blackwater USA. Contact targets.systems. They will still make you the best Targets made of any kind. The reason I know, I built them, sold them. And was assigned to N.SW.DG. 1990-2003 as a technical expert on firming ranges, targets just to name a few. Mike Gibson I knows as much about targets as Obama did being President. His targets are second fiddle, just like his designs. On the reviews” If a weld breaks, he repairs or replaces free. If you are having a Q/A issue, no surprise! Look at the quality.
        Light weight dumpster material.
        Out

    • Yeah I know, “only” 5oo rounds, mostly half-boxes of JHP stuff I had laying around in one of my ammo boxes. We managed to squeak out of work at 3:00, but my shooting buddy had to be somewhere at 4:30, leaving only an hour and a half to pick up the pistols, gear, change clothes, set up, and shoot. Did I mention living 10 minutes from work and a range is awesome?

      I have around 4000-5000 rounds of various ammo at the house – mainly .223/5.56, .40, .45, .44Mag, .357Mag, .38/.38+, .308, .300Win, 7mm Rem Mag, and of course loads of cheapo (but reliable!) mil-surp ammo (7.62x54R, 7.62×39, 5.56, etc); however, I don’t consider myself a “hoarder”… just prepared 🙂

  2. I stopped doing business with MGM. Had a problem with a hostage target and got the runaround. They do make nice targets. But they do some silly stuff as well. The handling of my problem was ridiculous. You will notice on their site all the reviews are perfect. You will not see mine, cause they screen them. Shame on your customer service. They need to go to school on this one

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