When I was young, I shot at pop cans, empty shotgun hulls and cartridge cases, and even at apples in a tree. I enjoyed this because those targets were reactive; I knew when I hit them without having to walk downrange. As I got older and progressed to centerfire rifle cartridges and targets that were a lot farther off, I began to appreciate steel targets for the same reason—and they also provide audible feedback.
A shooting buddy of mine had a friend make us an 8-inch plate out of T1 steel. He said it would stand up to anything we could shoot at it. It was, after all, thick enough to give us that impression. After a month or so of whacking this plate with everything we had, we were shooting one day with a .308 Winchester and a bullet ricocheted back and hit me in the leg. Needless to say, that was the last shot we fired at that target.
Steel targets can be a tremendous training asset because of the visual and audible feedback they offer, but all steel is not created equal. Steel is an alloy metal composed of iron and varying amounts of other elements. Adjusting the composition and/or production processes alters steel properties. There’s no limit to the number of different steel recipes that can be created. For steel targets to be functional and safe they should be made of high-quality, through-hardened—not surface-hardened—steel that has a minimum Brinell hardness (BHN) of at least 500.