I shoot a lot of steel. It’s fun to hear it ring, but it is even more enjoyable to see it move. Gongs are the least expensive way to add some motion to your target and support it at the same time. ShootSteel.com has a great setup that handles this with ease.
Recently my range time has gotten shorter and shorter. I need to get in, get done and get out quickly. Setup and teardown time often determines what target system I choose to shoot. When ShootSteel.com sent us one of their 36″x36″ Gong Stands and 10″ AR500 target, the first thing I wanted to see was how quick I could set it up. It actually took longer for me to cut the tape and unpack the boxes than it did to setup the stand and hang the gong.
The 36″x36″ Gong Stand comes very well packed. The legs and crossbar came in a heavy cardboard tube. The brackets came wrapped and padded in a separate box. In the past I have received steel and stands that were poking through the side of their shipping container. That was not the case this time. The black powder coat finish on all parts was in great condition. The laser cut 10″, 1/2″ thick AR500 round target was packed separately and taped down to a board inside the box. It came unpainted (as most steel gongs do) and in excellent shape. The various chains and hardware was also included in that same box, but in their own zip-lock bags. Nothing is worse than getting a split box and wondering if all your hardware is still there.
Setting up the 36″x36″ Gong Stand was a breeze. Directions were included, but not needed. Assembly is very straight forward. Just make sure you slip the hangar brackets on the crossbar before you pin the leg brackets on. I found that the easiest method of assembly is to put the hangars on, then attach the leg brackets to the cross-bar. Attach the legs to one side, then the other. Hang the gong last.
The legs and crossbar are held together with clevis pins. This is a very quick and easy method that does not require any tools. Everything fit well and all holes lined up properly. It was snug enough that the stand didn’t flop around, but still tore down easily.
One of the key design points on the ShootSteel.com Gong Stand is that the crossbar has spacers welded to it. No fussing with PVC pipe or hose spacers that are necessary with rebar stands. The beefy hangar brackets butt against the spacers and keep the chains separated. This hangs the gong at the center of the “V” and keeps side to side swinging to a minimum.
ShootSteel.com included their chains and quick links to hang the AR500 gong. The chains are Grade 100 steel which is advertised to have a higher abrasion resistance than your average hardware store chain. These are some beefy chains. I am sure they will hold up to years of service. The quick links were a nice touch and will allow us to swap out gongs quickly.
We setup the Gong Stand and 10″ gong at our 380 yard line. Our test rifle was a Remington 700 .308 dropped in a Kinetic Research Group X-Ray chassis. I proceeded to send ten 175gr. Sierra Match King bullets into the gong at a rapid pace. In some lesser stands, we have been able to turn them over. No problems with the ShootSteel.com Gong Stand. Impacts caused a nice swing back that quickly calmed down. Even off-center hits were quickly stabilized and ready for the next impact.
ShootSteel.com also sent us one of their Magnum Auto Poppers. The Magnum Auto Popper is rated for up to .338 Lapua Magnum cartridges at 200 yards or more. The Magnum Auto Popper target face is constructed of laser cut, 1/2″ thick AR500 steel. We have tested auto poppers in the past from a variety of sources. 3/8″ or 1/2″ is the norm for these kind of targets. What is not normal is that ShootSteel.com decided to use 3/8″ AR500 for the BASE of their target. If you have “that friend” at the range, and he sends a shot low with his .300WM, he isn’t going to break your target.
The spring on the Magnum Auto Popper is a stout stainless steel affair. It returns the target to full upright position with authority. It was strong enough that I was a little worried it wasn’t going to “pop” for the little .308. As it turns out that was no problem at all. The .308 didn’t exactly “slap down” the Magnum Popper, but it did move it enough to be visible to a spotter or shooter.
The Magnum Auto Popper includes a nice set of legs that raise it approximately 6″ off the ground. The legs are equipped with stake holes. Staking down the target is recommended for magnum calibers, but we found that it was not needed with the .308 or smaller cartridges. It absorbed those hits like a champ.
Both products from ShootSteel.com performed flawlessly. Try as I might, the only thing I can find to pick on is the cost. The 36″x36″ Gong Stand retails for $150.90. The 10″ AR500, 1/2″ thick target runs $55.00. The Magnum Auto Popper has a retail price of $199.00. If you are used to shooting whatever you find lying around, that might seem rather expensive. However these are high quality, laser cut steel targets. You get what you pay for, and these are no exception. The price is on par with comparable products from other steel manufacturers.
ShootSteel.com has a wide range of products for different budgets. We look forward to checking out more of their products in the future.