The day comes for many budget-minded shooters when paper targets on wooden stands just don’t cut it anymore. While paper is king when it comes to shooting groups or getting a good zero, steel reactive targets are perfect for speed/accuracy balance testing.  When the moment comes to take a shot on a deer, hog or other real-world targets, it’s hit or miss. That’s where reactive targets make fantastic training aids. Needing an upgrade myself, I was excited to try out an AR-500 steel pop-up target from Champion Targets.

The particular target I received was the 14”x4” Center Mass pop-up silhouette. This comes with the target slab, 4-legged base, two bolts and a spring. Assembly took just a couple minutes, needing nothing more than a couple wrenches. As mentioned, the target slab itself is constructed from 3/8” AR-500 steel, which is the gold standard for durability.

The target has two factors: how is it from a reactive standpoint, and how is it for durability?

Well, with regards to its performance popping up, it is excellent. 9mm from 25 feet and .223 from 25 yards only get the top of the plate to bounce back a few inches. 308 at 100 yards gets it moving much better, bringing the top of the target most of the way back to the stand.  The impact of the round doesn’t make the whole unit move much, but when the target returns forward the whole stand jumps a bit.  There are holes in the feet of the stand for ground stakes which would eliminate this, but I usually shoot at a rock pit with a nearly impenetrable ground layer. My solution is to drop a sandbag on the “saddle” of the stand.

Champion Target | Steel pop-up review
Protected spring mechanism

As far as durability, this target has taken some serious abuse with little wear to show for it.  Hundreds of rounds of 9mm, approximately 100 rounds of 223 from 25-100 yards and a few boxes of .300 blackout and .308 from 50-100 yards have resulted in only minor chipping of the steel. Even then, the chipping is limited to just two or three small places where some of the more expensive 308 rounds smacked at closer ranges. That’s pretty significant use for a 3/8” thick slab, where 1/2” is usually used for .308 and up.

While the initial jumping off price might seem a little steep at $129.95, consider that this is a reactive steel popper plus stand that should last for many years. I’d say it’s a worthwhile buy as you start building, or expanding your steel target collection.  Check it out!

Rex Nanorum