I’m a big fan of shooting steel. Reactive targets are a lot of fun and great for improving real world shooting skills. That’s especially true of plate racks, forcing shooters to aim at and shoot multiple targets. I’ve been on the look-out for a relatively small-length system that can be easily transported. I ran across TMG Target Systems at the last SHOT Show and it’s just the ticket.
TMG is a recent offshoot of its parent company, Threat Mitigation Group, a personal and corporate security firm, located 30 miles outside of Buffalo, New York.
The plate rack target system is 48″ long x 40″ tall x 36″ wide and weighs in at about 80 lbs. Hinged on the top, the target plates swing upward when hit. A cam locks them in place. When the shooter hits the center target its upward movement releases the cams, allowing all the targets to fall back into place. Lather, rinse, repeat. No manual reset required.
TMG offers two systems: one for pistol and small rifle and one for larger caliber rifle rounds. The pistol plate rack consists of four targets and one reset target, each measuring 6” in diameter. The targets are built to handle up to 7.62 caliber ammunition at 100 yards. 9mm is the minimum recommended handgun caliber to get the targets to swing properly, without unsafe ricochets.
The Long Range Rifle Target System is 60″ long x 40″ tall x 36″ wide and its weight is approximately 85 lbs. It features two 12-inch targets and one reset target. TMG’s website says that the System can handle most large caliber rifle rounds at 100 yards and out. I asked them to clarify what they meant by “most large caliber rifle rounds.” Their response: “up to and including 338LM.”
Both versions are made of low carbon steel, 1.5-inch, 14-gauge, box tubing. My sample system was finished with textured truck bed paint. Going forward, TMG will be finishing them with powder coating, for increased adhesion and longevity.
The targets themselves are made of 3/8-inch, star 555 ballistic plate from Buffalo Armory. The ammo recomendations are a bit conservative; TMG wanted ensure durability and take into account the fact that some customers may shoot them with larger calibers than recommended. Don’t do it. Too powerful a round will dent the metal, increasing the likelihood of unsafe ricochets.
Our demo pistol and small rifle versions came in pre-made assemblies; the plate rack, holding the reaction targets and cam system, the reset target, which is separated from the rack for reduced shipping dimensions, two leg sets, a cam guard and locking pins.
Being a typical male Neanderthal, I didn’t bother to read the directions. Fortunately, the assembly process was simple enough for a caveman; it took me about three minutes to figure it out and set it up. No swearing or Band-Aids needed.
The leg supports have three positions, one folded for easy transport and two for use. One leg support position is for pistol, and second, slightly wider stance, providing additional stability for small rifle use.
Once the legs are locked open, the target’s cross member simply slides into the opening on the top on each leg. A locking pin on each side holds the cross member in place. The center target, used for the reset, is installed by removing the cotter pin, and placing the target on the clevis pin and refitting the cotter pin. Lastly, the cam guard slides over target cross member and is pinned in place on both ends. Easy peasy.
No tools are needed beyond a knife to open the shipping boxes. It took me more time to type out the installation process than it took me to set it up. (Note: I suck at typing.) The instructions—yeah, I finally did read them, but not until the assembly was complete in order to retain my man card—states that WD40 should be used on all cams and moving parts. After a couple of spritzes in all the right places, it was time to open fire.
The primary use of the target system will be with my 9mm carry gun. The test ammo I used is my standard practice fodder, Winchester white box. The target system worked perfectly.
Weak hits won’t get ‘er done. Hits too far off center or high also don’t impart enough energy to lock the plates back. That’s a plus; it makes the shooter hit more accurately for the desired results. Ammo with increased energy, such as .45ACP, will be more forgiving.
TMG sells the pistol and small rifle target system for $960, plus shipping (about $80-$100, depending on your location). That’s not small change, but a lot less than competitors. Given the lack of fortification on the structural elements, it’s not sturdy enough to be used and abused on a constant basis at a gun club. For club use, the structure would require ballistic shielding to protect against poor aim. But this system is great for its intended use, a private range or for personal use at a club, and I found it fit my needs perfectly.
Specifications: TMG Target Systems Mechanical Reset Targets
Pistol Short Range Target
Length: 48 inches
Height: 40 inches
Width: 36 inches
Plate Size: 6 inches
Weight: 80 pounds
Rifle Long Range Target
Length: 60 inches
Height: 40 inches
Width: 36 inches
Plate Size: 12 inches
Weight: 85 pounds
Ratings (out of five stars):
Function * * * * *
Works exactly as designed, giving instant feedback with no time wasted re-setting targets.
Easy of Assembly * * * * *
Zero swearing, no instructions required.
Durability * * * *
Four stars for personal use. It would get five if all the structural components were protected against bullet strikes. I wouldn’t recommend this for a gun club due to the abuse it would see.
Overall * * * * *
The TMG Target System is an innovative design that’s well built and does exactly what it advertises.