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.)
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.