To be honest, I was not too thrilled to be asked to review a set of targets. It’s not nearly as exciting as reviewing the newest combat carbine or high-speed pistol. So I reluctantly dragged 100+ pounds of steel to the range. Once we arrived and set up all our gear, I asked my range partner to time me while I opened and assembled the Hill & Mac Gunworks reactive steel targets so I could report on the time and difficulty of assembly. My shooting partner started his stopwatch, and I got to work. And then I discovered the first of several surprises that day: When I removed the HMG 8″ round pistol target, it was fully assembled. All I needed to do was loosen the (very nice) canvas lashing strap, and the target stood up straight on its own, almost as if it was eager to get to work. And get to work we did.
The quarter-inch thick steel target was robust, truly built like a tank. In fact, the thick, matte OD green finish was reminiscent of an M4 Sherman. The weight of the target, the sturdiness of the build, and the clean but simple lines were reassuring, to say the least. The welds were clean, and the olive-and-white finish was uniform and pleasing to the eye, which is telling as to HMG’s attention to detail – obviously, time was spent to make these targets not only function well, but look good. This is a gratuitous plus for a piece of gear that is designed to be abused.
The pistol target we received was a lollipop-style 8″ circle. The HMG targets rest on a thick steel triangle that lays flat on the ground. The target portion is attached to the base of the triangle, and stands up with the assistance of a spring mechanism attached to the frame. The springs that hold the target up also allow it to “react” – when the target is struck by a bullet, it will bow backwards (or just tilt a few degrees, depending on where the target is struck and how hard it is hit) then quickly pop back into place. The clean, white target surface will also show a black-and-silver mark where it was impacted, which is almost a shame because, like I said, the finish out of the box is quite good. The visible reaction to a hit is a great complement to the pleasing “ting-ting-ting” ringing of lead on steel.
As you can tell, I quickly got over my apprehension about reviewing a target. This was fun.
I set up cameras to capture the function of the target, including a GoPro only feet away from the target. Shrapnel was very limited, relegated only to what we were calling the “zone of death” – a straight line in the ground parallel to and below the target, where nothing survived.
We were not worried about catching pieces of jacket when shooting 10 and 15 yards from the HMG target, as it seemed to deflect all material downward, minus the hull of the bullet, that might gently bounce off the surface of the target and land a few inches away (watch the pistol video very closely to see what I mean). Not only were these fun and well-made, but safe.
By the time we were finished with the pistol target, its formerly pristine, ivory finish was flecked with black and silver scars. Surprisingly, though, the target was still smooth to the touch. A new coat of paint, and you’ve basically got a new target. These are built to last.
Satisfied entirely with the pistol target, we moved to the rifle target. This beast came equipped with an IPSC-style torso silhouette and weighed substantially more than the pistol target. This was probably necessary, considering the additional durability that a rifle pounding demands.
The rifle target was simply a more robust clone of the pistol target, with the same general build, design, and excellent finish quality. The chief differences are the heavier base and the 1/2″ thick steel target plate, instead of the pistol target’s 1/4″ plate.
We truly abused the rifle target, smacking it over and over with 7.62×39 from a Saiga SGL-21 and a 16″ AR at relatively close ranges of 25 and 50 meters, sometimes with very rapid fire from the hip. The AK rounds did virtually no damage to the target at any range, while the much faster 55gr 5.56mm/.223 rounds would make the slightest impression at 25 meters. The rifle target was not as “reactive” as the pistol target, but that’s probably the nature of the beast when you need 1/2″ of plate steel to stop the intended round. That said, the twang of bullets striking steel rang loud and clear, even through ear protection, across the range – you know when you are hitting these targets…and it feels good.
In conclusion, I can say that the Hill & Mac Gunworks reactive steel targets not only impressed me with their quality, but made a believer out of me. Spending an afternoon plinking these reactive targets with my same old gear was as fun as shooting paper with something new. Now if only the editors could send me that shiny, new battle rifle plus another HMG target, my entire weekend would slip away.
While I’ve told you about the surprises I encountered while putting these through the paces, pricing for these was about what you’d expect: not cheap. The pistol target we received is $499, and the rifle target is $599, but that’s the price you pay for quality. If a shooter had the means to leave these in place on a range, the convenience of having a durable and always-ready reactive target would pay for itself, not to mention that these are a blast. If you are in the market for a reactive target, do have a look at Hill & Mac.