RD1

The armless, legless, bullet hole-ridden white dude you see above is 30 lbs. of recycled rubber target shooting action from Rubber Dummies. These 3-dimensional torso targets are expected to survive a good 4,000 or more hits. They provide for more realistic self-defense training than flat paper targets are capable of, and are quickly and easily “reset” so fresh bullet impacts are clearly visible (a la “Shoot N See” type targets). I picked up a single target starter package in late summer, and so far. . .

It’s been great. However, I admit I did have some reservations.

The Rubber Dummy is a pretty realistic human target. To be honest — and I’m sure I’ll take heat for this in the comments — I very rarely shoot at human proxy targets. That includes printed ones. USPSA/IPSC targets and their squared, vague torso silhouette shape is as close as it regularly gets. I’m not really a tactical sort of a shooter. Yeah, I’ve taken a handful of defensive pistol courses and I carry a pistol for self-defense purposes and wouldn’t second guess using it if needed, but most of the shooting I do is for recreational enjoyment rather than for self-defense practice.

It’s obviously pretty silly and it didn’t cross my mind even once when ordering the target, but upon taking him out of the box I felt a slight hesitancy at setting him up and shooting him. Maybe it was the weight of the target or the realistic size and shape, but I think it was mostly the decently defined facial features. It probably wouldn’t have crossed my mind if he didn’t have a face.

But that was before finding him in the guest bed with my wife . . .

RD14

After that, it was off to the woods for some target practice!

On The Range

Rubber Dummies says this guy will last 4,000 to 5,000 rounds, and the “self-healing” rubber compound “allows the projectiles to pass through with minimal deformation and degradation to the Dummy.” The #1 thing you aren’t supposed to do if you want this target to last as long as possible is to shoot it with hollow points or wadcutter (flat nose) bullets, as they act like cookie cutters and will remove a plug of rubber on their way through, ruining that whole self-healing thing.

Naturally, on my first trip to the range with RD here I had a few boxes of HP 147 grain 9mm with me and a couple boxes of flat nose .40 S&W, plus some FMJ .223. It all went into the dummy.

But before we get to how he’s holding up, one of the coolest features of this target is how clearly visible bullet impacts are and how quick and easy it is to reset the target. By simply using a can of white primer spray paint, which is included with the starter kit along with a stand for the dummy, you can cover up the impacts in no time flat. When a bullet hits, it flexes the black rubber and the white paint flakes off.

RD9

It’s easily visible from a long distance away, and the spray paint reset method is shockingly fast, easy, and effective. The way the paint adheres to the rubber and dries near-instantly is awesome. In fact, for whatever reason it even worked very well in driving rain on a wet target, as seen in the video above (pro tip: stand upwind).

In the photo above, there’s a .223 bullet hole just barely visible in the center of that paint-free impact zone. Even at close range, they just zip right through without doing any real damage. On the backside, it’s basically impossible to find the pin pricks from the .223 rounds. Most of them, that is. In the thicker parts of the target some of the rounds clearly tumbled and this did create large exit wounds.

RD11

The perfectly round hole near the middle is from the molding process. The gashes are missing chunks of rubber thanks to the .223 bullets tumbling. In the thinner parts of the target, nothing like this happened and, again, I can’t even find the bullet holes. Suffice it to say that for maximum target life I’d either keep .223/5.56 away from the thick sections of the target (which still leaves most of the torso fair game) or shoot ammo that doesn’t tumble in it. For the record, I was shooting 55 grain FMJs out of a 16″ barrel with 1:7 twist.

9mm hollow points and flat nose .40 created nearly identical, clean holes in the front of the target.

RD2

On the back, they actually appeared smaller. In the thick areas:

RD4

In the thin areas:

RD13

Interesting that the bullet impact effect on the paint was pretty similar between all of these calibers. Here’s a photo with the 9mm and .40 S&W holes painted over, and fresh impacts from .223 showing:

RD8

Impacts from only 9mm from when the target was new (plus missing paint areas due to shipping then bouncing around in the back of my rig):

RD5

More near-invisible .223 holes surrounded by painted-over 9mm hollow point and .40 flat nose holes:

RD6

While there is no audible feedback like the loud ring of hitting a steel target, there is instant and obvious visual feedback. This is actually more precise, as many times I know that I hit the steel target, of course, but don’t have any real idea where on the steel target I hit. That isn’t an issue here unless you’ve gone many rounds without resetting (painting). Additionally, the target does physically react with various wobbling and slight rocking movements upon impact.

RD-stand1

On that note, the stand that’s included with the kit is simple and stable, and easily disassembles for travel. There’s a large, flat base into which the extension pole (standard 3/4″ threaded pipe) threads, and then the dummy mount part threads onto the top of the pole. The mount is made from 3/8″ AR500 plate and has two spikes that insert into holes molded in the bottom of the dummy. If needed, the base has 1/2″ holes drilled in all four corners so it can be staked down. Quick and easy.

Training Use

Rubber Dummies can be shot up close and personal. They are true no-ricochet targets as long as you’re keeping it above the metal stand. Or perhaps you’ve eschewed Rubber Dummies’ stand and have made your own from wood or have set him on the ground or something else.

This ability to fire at point blank range allows for realistic self-defense training. The target’s composition and weight means it can be struck with hands, feet, a baton, etc, or even stabbed. It’s pretty dang dense, though, so don’t hurt yourself.

RD7

Most importantly, however, is the fact that Rubber Dummies are 3-dimensional. This allows for meaningful training when shooting at oblique angles. The tendency with paper targets is to aim for the X, even if you’re shooting at it from off to the side. However, in an actual self-defense shooting against a person (or animal), putting a bullet into center mass doesn’t mean hitting the sternum. To reach the vital organs from an angle, the target likely has to be hit increasingly more towards its side.

While the Rubber Dummy doesn’t quite have the front-rear depth of a real person, it provides significantly more realism in this regard than any flat target can. I have definitely been appreciating the ability to draw and shoot at the Rubber Dummy from various angles, as it’s likely a facet of my self-defense training that hasn’t been fully fleshed out. So to speak.

Oh, the starter kit comes with “kill shot” packets, which are little baggies filled with red paint (or the like) that can be easily attached to the back of the target with thumb tacks. When hit, they provide a blood spatter effect for further visual confirmation of well-placed hits. I get it, but I didn’t go there.

Conclusions

Rubber Dummies combines all of the best features of various types of target systems into a portable, easy to set up, economical package. The no-ricochet target provides instant, accurate impact feedback that’s easy to reset. While $129.99 for a target isn’t cheap up front, it’s very affordable over a few thousand — up to 5,000 — rounds. It’s a heck of a fun target to shoot at, too, although for fun time on the range I wouldn’t mind something without a face.

RD3

Of course there is also definite, meaningful value in training with 3-dimensional, life-sized targets. These would make great additions to self defense courses, shoot houses, and the like. For anyone who owns a firearm(s) for self-defense, the Rubber Dummies are top notch training aids that can be part of all sorts of drills and scenarios.

The $199.99 starter kit is definitely the best deal, as it comes with everything necessary to get shooting — Rubber Dummy target, stand, spray paint, kill shot packets — and shipping is included. Which is saying something because it’s a ~45 lb package. A Rubby Dummy on its own runs $129.99, but shipping is 20 bucks.

Ratings (out of five stars):

Fun Value * * * *
Better if it didn’t have a face. But a reactive, “Shoot N See” type target that works at any range from point blank to the next county is always a good time.

Training Value * * * * * 
Top notch for all sorts of tactical and/or self-defense training.

Value Value * * * *
Fairly large up-front investment, but it could end up costing less than paper targets over the course of a few thousand rounds.

Durability * * * * 
I’m past 500 rounds through my Rubber Dummy and it looks good as new with the exceptions of the small holes from the 9mm hollow points and .40 S&W flat nose rounds — both of which RubberDummies.com specifically says are the worst things for these targets — and the missing chunks from the handful of .223 rounds that tumbled in the rubber. I’ve seen the 4,000+ round thing corroborated from other sources and I don’t doubt the target is fully capable of that, especially if you’re shooting FMJ ammo in small-ish diameter calibers that don’t tumble prior to exiting the rubber.

Overall * * * *
Great stuff.

44 Responses to Gear Review: Rubber Dummies

  1. Like they do for arrow targets, I’d love to see one of these rubber dummy targets in the size and shape of deer and pigs.

  2. Dont get me wrong, I love my wife to death. But dont you think driving him out to the woods and shooting him 500+ times was a bit harsh?
    😛

  3. “in the guest bedroom” lol.
    Seriously though: your hesitation is an indication of your humanity.
    Someone who shows no hesitation to shoot a human target is either an ideal soldier or a sociopath- possibly both.

    • I’m neither a soldier or a sociopath and I would prefer the target to be as realistic s possible. Also, I think that anyone who spouts off about other people being soldiers or sociopaths is a buffoon.

      • It is precisely because we’re not murderous sociopaths that we want our targets to be be realistic, with simulated faces. It reminds us of the horrible reality of what we are prepared to do. This is not a human face, this is a rubber torso and head shaped target. Only Prince Randian, the Human Caterpillar is remotely shaped like that, and he had defined features. In contrast, the target presents part of an amorphous shadow-person. The time to hesitate before making the kill is not when your sights are on the deer or on a man who is trying to kill you in combat. You need to make the decision ahead of time and mentally confront and prepare for the act ahead of time so that you do not hesitate when you have only a moment to act and no time to think. If you’ve never shot a face before, it could give you pause. Targets like these force people to think about the reality of lethal force. If you carry a gun for defense, are you prepared to shoot someone evil in the face? If it makes you uncomfortable shoot a face-like object like this target, you might want to think about your readiness to kill a living, breathing person. To prepare to succeed in a fight to the death, a level of commitment is appropriate.

    • “an ideal soldier or a sociopath- possibly both.”
      Sociopathic personalities are extremely rare in the military, and far more rare than in the general population. Everything in the military is done in teams. It is pretty much impossible for those abhorrent personalities to work together in a team environment under stress and constant observation. There’s no “alone time” in the military, and it’s hard to hide.
      You are far, far more likely to find those kinds of personalities in the civilian world than the military.

  4. Good review.

    Hope the divorce works out OK. You showed him who’s boss.

    No issue about your hesitation. Humanity and thoughtfulness are good.

  5. Shooting at realistic lifelike targets. How could this possibility be used against gun rights orgs? Not even the remote-est bit creepy. The first person who uses black paint rather than white paint gets thrown in boiling oil.

    The ones that the range near me sells are at least painted to look like zombies.

    If you are going to do this, make it a little less mass murder psychopath creepy by paining it so it looks like no live target anywhere.

    • They’re always demanding more training. Here’s your training. They’re always worried that your average citizen, even in defense against a mass shooting event, will miss too much and cause more damage than he/she prevents. Here’s your training. If you want to train to hit paper targets, paper targets are great. If you want to train for self-defense, this sort of thing has huge advantages.

      • Aside from the correct size/proportions (which you can get from an appropriately designed paper target), I am not sure I see the advantages.

        I would not say that shooting 3D archery target improves my hunting. What improves my shooting is muscle memory so that when an 8pt buck is 17 yards from my stand and the adrenaline has kicked it, shooting is a reflex. In real situations, people/animals are moving, and adrenaline is a factor. Now, training that simulates *that* might be worth it.

        Otherwise, I think I’d say the same think I say about paper targets: The shooter will be well prepared to hit a stationary rubber dummy at some predetermined distance.

    • It’s just a tool. Haters are going to hate, regardless. There’s nothing different in principle between this and mannequin torsos used for CPR training or full sized ones used for lifeguard water rescue training. This tool and this training saves lives.

      Self-defense is serious business. To the extent that use of more realistic training tools/techniques can improve performance, the more valuable these products are. Their legitimacy is derivative and an extension of the valuable purpose of self-defense preparation itself. Their use is not delegitimized for being realistic any more than the actual firearms are so for being real.

  6. Don’t understand the hesitation to shoot a human SHAPED target, after all bad guys are shaped like humans too. It is a sad fact that the predators who survive off the people they perceive as targets have devolved into vicious creatures that are only stopped by application of ballistic force.

    • “I wish it had eyes, without a face”

      … Got no human grace?

      That might make me want to …steal a car and go to Las Vegas…

  7. I have to agree about shooting human shaped targets. I just don’t see the value. If you can hit what your aiming at it doesn’t matter what shape it is.
    I typically shoot a plain 8.5×11 sheet of paper with or without a simple 3″ target printed in the center.
    This is all you really need for training or practice, if you want you can stack one on top of the other.
    the IDPA “A” done is an 8″ circle, the USPSA “A” done is 6×11, both fall into a 8.5×11 piece of paper quite well.
    If you want to practice head shots, staple a second one above the first.
    No need to practice or train with anything else especially if you are consistently within an inch of the 3″ target in the center.

    • John, there are a lot of advantages to shooting a target that does not have a uniform shape, is 3 dimensional, and does not have any obvious “shoot here” target reference points.
      I would rather you attempt some challenges yourself than to go through the many, many advantages here. But if you ever get a chance, take a target like the one JeremyS has listed and put a baggy t-shirt on it. Now fire center mass, right at the “sternum” and while you walk around the target, or even just perpendicular to the target. Try to drill right through the center of the target even when you are to the side of it. The number of rounds you miss, by how much, and how often you hit the shirt but not the body, might surprise you.
      Now, put an X on the shirt, the same kind you would on your target, but put it on the belly. Same drill. How many times did you shoot the X instead of the sternum? Change the color of the X. Change the tightness of the shirt. Put a hat on and try to drill the area from the top of the lip to between the eyes. Take the hat off and try again. Most people find their point of impact drastically changes with target reference points, some of which have little to do with anatomy.

      • jwtaylor,

        I understand your point, and I do try when possible to verify my practice/training methods. I may at some point in the future try some of what you have suggested if only to verify my own practices.
        However I would like to point out that most of what you have suggested over complicates the simple premise of shooting “center mass” as apposed to “center chest” particularly with this target. If you are shooting at a standing human being as this target is supposed to represent and you aim “center mass” and not “center chest” you will almost always go through the heart if you hit your intended target area because it doesn’t matter which way the target is facing if you are aiming “center mass” and not “center chest”. This target is missing half of its “mass” making it impossible to practice/train aiming “center mass” you can’t aim at the center of something when half of it is missing. So with this target you have to actually aim center chest and compensate from there. I agree that hats, x’s, shirt pockets can create distractions and possibly draw your attention and therefore your aim but training on a 3 dimensional target like this can actually make this worse as it trains you to look for “landmarks” for a target area rather than simply aiming “center mass” if your only focus is “center mass” no matter what you are shooting at the “distractions” don’t really matter.

  8. Would it be wrong to attach a picture of your “X” over the face of this dummy. I mean it would take the realism out of the dummy’s facial features. Just spit balling

    • “Would it be wrong to attach a picture of your “X” over the face of this dummy…”

      I can visualize someone printing up shrink-wrap vinyl pictures of politician’s faces for the head of that thing…

  9. There is definite value in shooting humanoid targets… If you’re trying to become more effective in combat. This is the reason the military switched from bulls eyes to green silhouettes. The switch combined with several other training methods caused firing rates in combat to shoot up by about eighty percent. For target and recreational shooting, bullseye targets are perfect.
    Bottom line, the more realistic you can make your training, the better off you will be if (God forbid) “it” happens. Your said you hesitated in shooting the target because it appeared human. Maybe this was in jest, and I laughed at you finding it in bed with your wife, but imagine that hesitation multiplied by a thousand because it’s a real human you’re staring down.
    Also, read up. On Killing and On Combat by Ret. Col. Dave Grossman are great reads for those who plan to defend themselves and perhaps their families with deadly force.

  10. Personally I would rather just use paper targets depicting someone aiming a gun at me. Easy to attach shoot N C stickers for to vital areas for visible feedback, and pretty inexpensive. That is one of the main things I use in self defense gun training. In the real world I would only be shooting at a bad guy aiming a gun at me, not at a helpless limbless torso guy.

  11. It seems it would be a bit hard to know you registered a hit after a few mags of hits without stopping to repaint. Perhaps this target, but suspended from a frame with straps/belt so movement registers hits as well?

    • It does move when it gets hit (how visible that is depends on caliber and distance, of course), but repainting seriously takes like 5 seconds and you don’t have to wait for it to dry. It does that almost instantly. Quick spray, walk back to the shooting line, and get going again. How many rounds you can go before losing the ability to see where the next one hits also depends on how accurate you are. If they’re all going into a 5″ circle then you can assume they’re continuing to hit there even if that area is totally paint-free. When you launch a flyer, you’ll see it in the white field of the rest of the target. If you’re all over the dang place to begin with, then it’s really hard to tell what’s going on and you’ll lose the ability to recognize which impacts are old and which are new. But even in that case, if you hit it, it does move enough that you’re like 95% positive that you did, in fact, hit the target.

  12. I’m with some of the commenters above, I’d love to see these shaped like a deer.

    That said, I wouldn’t mind having a couple of the human shaped targets but I would feel self-conscious setting one or two up at a public range. I don’t mind taking shots at them and I think they would be great for self-defense training but I can just imagine the looks I would get while using a carbine on a pair of these.

  13. cool idea, but if i whip out this target at the range and start shootin im probably going to be asked to leave.if ur gonna use it make sure u dont have an audience.

  14. What with nothing going on down there below the waistline, I can’t see how he was much of a threat to your marriage.

    • He wasn’t a threat to me in any way. Another reason for slight hesitation at pulling him out of the box with the intention of pumping him full of bullets. It was mentioned above, but basically the RD is a relatively realistic human target without any sort of relatively realistic threat to the shooter. That kinda makes me the bad guy haha. What kind of monster guns down an armless, legless dummy? 😉

  15. For the people wanting animal shaped targets like this, Zombie Industries makes bleeding wolves and bear shaped rubber targets. They seem be of different rubber formula than this man shaped model, maybe somebody can do a comparison of which rubber lasts longer. Because theres different rubbers for different people. And not every rubber works the same.

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