Grizzly Targets has encouraged me to be absolutely merciless to their line of laser-cut AR500 steel targets, and my secret inner vandal has been only too happy to oblige. Their newest product, the Trifecta triple gallery target, has proven to be just as indestructible as their other offerings. And much more challenging. Unless you’re shooting steel-core ammo or hypervelocity jacketed slugs, you’ll have an absolute blast connecting with not one but three reactive steel targets mounted to one easily-portable base.
Three Times The Target Plates!
The Trifecta uses three of the same 3/8″ AR500 hardened steel target plates that the AR-220 uses. The 14″ tall target plates are shaped like stylized 1/5-scale human silhouettes, with ‘head’ areas 2 inches wide by 3 inches tall, and ‘torso’ areas 4 inches wide by approximately 4 inches tall. The three targets are mounted on robust spring-loaded steel hinges approximately nine inches apart. The whole assembly weighs 35 pounds, which is 10 pounds heavier than the single-plate AR220 target because it’s got two additional slabs of armor plate bolted to it. The Trifecta gives you three times as many targets, but it doesn’t take up any extra space. It occupies about the same footprint, and it packs into about the same volume in the bed of your pickup truck.
The Trifecta’s legs and base are oriented edge-on tow incoming bullets, and they present almost no surface toward the shooter. The legs are also angled vertically at approximately 45 degrees to the incoming fire, so any bullets that do hit them will be mostly deflected upward instead of impacting at a perpendicular angle. If you do manage to hit them (which would be some pretty bad shooting) this exposes only a tiny, angled target to incoming projectiles. I’m guessing it would take several boxes of direct hits with a .308 to shoot through it. Rimfires and pistol calibers can’t touch this stuff: all they can do is smear the surface with lead and gilding metal for a nice patina.
Even if you did eventually shoot completely through one of the legs, all you need to to is unbolt the broken leg assembly and order a new one from Grizzly.
The 3/8″ thick target plates are mounted to the stand with Grade 8 bolts which attach to welded 3/8″ galvanized steel hinges. The hinges themselves are completely covered from the front by the armor plate, but you could conceivably damage the hinge if you shoot the target from an oblique angle or if you shoot into the hinge while the target is flipped back. Our three hinges are still pristine and functioning perfectly after over 500 rounds.
All of this adds up to a very resilient and durable target stand, fully equal to the obscenely tough target plates that shrug off any ballistic insults you care to throw at them.
Three Times The Fun!
The AR220 I tested last year was my first real steel target, and it proved to be a game-changer in the way I shot and practiced. It had one drawback, however: the spring-loaded target hinge took a decent fraction of a second to reset itself after being shot with anything big. Rimfires won’t knock the plate very hard, but pistol rounds give it a good shove and centerfire rifle rounds slap it solidly back against its base.
The result was that you couldn’t fire rapid centerfire strings at the AR220, because you had to pause briefly between shots while the target plate flipped back up. Shooting at the target while it’s flapping is a bad plan, because a low shot could enter the open hinge mechanism and possibly damage it.
The Trifecta solves the AR 220’s go-slow problem–and makes your shooting more challenging at the same time–by giving you two extra pepper poppers on the same stand. It’s a small portable shooting gallery. Instead of pausing between shots, you just move on to the next target and the next. We used it in action-shooting drills entertaining some corporate clients, and it proved to be a challenging target for quick revolver shooting at 10 yards.
It was even more fun mastering the cadence of slapping all three targets in a row with an AR or AK. Even with the massive momentum of a 7.62×39 round, the target plates reset quickly enough to let you shoot them from left to right and back again until you ran out of ammo. Big fun and big sh!t-eating grins all around.
We gave the Trifecta the same enthusiastic abuse that our other Grizzly targets got, and just like them it hardly seemed to notice. We blasted it with AK rounds and 12-ga slugs from twenty yards, 9mm and .45 slugs from much closer (always wear good eye pro!) and .308 Winchester FMJ from inside 50 yards. The Trifecta has taken at least 500 direct hits so far, including a few snap shots that impacted directly on the mounting bolts, and it’s still working perfectly.
The center target took several very low hits on the Grade 8 bolts, and these made the hinge action a little sticky until I sprayed it with some Tri-Flow. The minor dings in the above photo were delivered by an inexpert shooter with an AK at about 50 yards.
We did manage to score a few dings, however. This photo shows where the edge of the target got chipped a little bit when a few of our corporate guests shot at it from an oblique angle. Shooting steel from a sideways angle isn’t recommended for precisely this reason, but it’s worth noting that only 7.62 rounds could chip the edges at all, and only when firing from pretty close range, about 30 yards.
Some firing ranges completely lose their shit if they catch you shooting bimetallic-jacketed Russian import rifle ammo like Wolf, Bear, Tula or Bernaul. They claim it damages their bullet traps, but all of Grizzly’s AR500 targets eat bimetallic bullet jackets like they were jelly beans.
Just like Mythbusters, I strongly recommend that you NOT treat your steel targets the way we do. (Aren’t double standards just awesome?) We sometimes shot much closer than the recommended shooting distances for rifle bullets and shotgun slugs, but we wanted to know how the Trifecta would hold up when a shooter didn’t quite RTFM and just started blasting away at close range with whatever they had. So that’s what we did, and it held up just fine.
I trust you enough not to go all-caps on you, but I still have to say it: always wear eye and ear protection! Eye pro is always important, but it’s especially so with steel targets because you WILL occasionally be struck by tiny jacket fragments and lead bullet splatter. YMMV when it comes to comfortable/safe shooting distances, but the official guidelines are 8 yards for handguns and .22s and 100 yards for centerfire rifles. We ignored the 100-yard guideline for our ARs, AKs and .308s and generally shot from between 30 and 60 yards. I’ve been splattered enough that I won’t put rifle targets inside 30 yards unless they’re heavily angled downwards, which the Trifecta is not.
The Grizzly didn’t mind getting up close and personal with AK rounds, but we found the backsplatter to be pretty objectionable when we shot closer than about 30 yards with ARs and AKs.
Lead and jacketed lead slugs seem to have almost no effect on it, but we were careful not to shoot it with hypervelocity or steel-core penetrator bullets. Ultra-high velocity varmint rounds like the .22-250 or .220 Swift can spit their bullets downrange at 4,000 fps, and they have a strange ability to destroy hardened steel targets because they deliver so much kinetic energy to a very tiny area of the target face. 5.56mm M855 surplus ammunition should never be shot at steel targets,because it’s designed to penetrate. Some surplus Soviet 7.62x54R has steel penetrator cores, and almost all surplus Soviet 5.45×39 ammo has soft steel cores as well.
Steel-core or hypervelocity ammo will badly pockmark even the best AR500 plate, and dimpled steel targets are unsafe to use because they can splash bullet fragments directly back uprange at you. If you avoid these two armor-eating bullet types, your Grizzly target should last through many thousands of rounds.
Whether you’re shooting your Glock at ten yards, your AR at 40 yards or a scoped SCAR-H at 125 yards, the Grizzly Trifecta is huge fun and extremely durable. It lets you carry a small shooting gallery downrange in a single trip, and challenges your shooting skills with three fairly small targets to engage in rapid succession. It’s a great action pistol target at close range (at least eight yards) where the 4″ wide target plates are just a bit of a challenge when you’re running and gunning. It’s also a fantastic rifle target when you set it out farther.
The $279 Grizzly Trifecta is highly recommended for its durability and huge fun factor.
Long-Term Grizzly Target Test Update
We’ve been shooting the bejeezus out of our Grizzly targets for almost a year now. The AR-220 in the center has soaked up about another 500 hits (mostly centerfire rifle rounds at medium range) on its new target plate. Some bozo blasted it with M855 penetrators when I took it downrange at a public shooting area, and Grizzly sent me a replacement target plate last spring. Other than the heavy buildup of lead splatter on the base and the duct-taped legs (which don’t scratch the inside of my car) it still looks almost new when I give it a fresh coat of florescent paint. I usually use it at 100+ yards with scoped rifles, and at those ranges even a .308 bullet leaves no mark but a smear in the paint.
The torso target on the far right has been shot well in excess of two thousand times, with most of those hits coming from ARs and AKs and slugs from 25 to 40 yards. The target plate has countless tiny (millimeter or less deep) dimples all over its surface, but backsplatter hasn’t been much of a problem since the target plate is angled downwards rather steeply. It’s looking pretty well-used, though: at this heavy rate of shooting I’ll probably need to flip the target plate over and shoot the other side of it…but not for a couple more years. I’ll probably need new Grade 8 bolts before then, since they’ve been chewed up by direct hits from AK bullets. That fix will only cost a few bucks and a trip to the hardware store, though.
The one part of the torso target that’s proven to be more consumable than I’d expected are the 2X4s that hold up the torso plate and bracket. The downward bullet splatter hits the 2X4 almost in the middle, and the result looks like the work of a really dirty messy buzz saw. If you’ve got enough ammo, it’s possible for the lead splash and jacket fragments to saw their way completely through it in a single very heavy day of shooting. We managed to shoot it down once, but only after we burned through more than five hundred rounds of 5.56 and 7.62×39 and about thirty 12-ga slugs from 25 yards away. After taking a final 12-ga slug from my buddy’s Benelli M4, the 2X4 groaned and snapped off in the middle, and the torso plate pitched forward to the ground. The target doesn’t take any damage from falling over, but you do have to have to call the range cold and you’ll need a spare 2X4 section handy. I always bring a spare now.
These Grizzly targets have become so central to my quarry shooting trips that I never head to the hills without them. I don’t get to burn as much powder as Foghorn does, but I get to shoot a hell of a lot by any normal standard. The Grizzly line of steel targets has proven to be extremely durable, and they’ve completely changed the way I go shooting.