Every so often here at the Loadout Room we like to take a look back at a product or piece of kit that has really stood the test of time. A little over two years ago I used my own hard earned cash to purchase a 3/8″ thick steel target from a company known as Renaissance Steel Research to test and evaluate. In the last two plus years many things have changed including the company’s name which is now known as Defense Targets. The name change isn’t the big point of this story, what is the main point that in the last two plus years I have managed according to my shooting log books to put just over 6,000 rounds into the target I received. Now in some circles that isn’t a ton of use but to me that’s a substantial amount of pounding this 3/8″ AR500 plate steel has taken. Our readers want to know how has it held up ?
I mentioned the target briefly but if you our reader want to know how it held up we should tell you the exact model target I’ve been abusing. The target we selected was the Ready-Ship-Target or RST as the company commonly refers to it as. This target is unique in a few ways. First the target at the time shipped from the factory in a USPS Flat Rate Box, which means it falls under the USPS guidance of “If it fits…It ships”. What that means is that if the item is under 50lbs and fits in the box it ships for the ridiculously low USPS rates. This was important to me being in Alaska where shipping kills must of our fun ideas. I will be honest and say I don’t know if this is the only target that Defense Targets offers this type of shipping with, but at the time it was a huge factor for me. It appears as if the product line has grown substantially so they might have expanded shipping options.
The RST like I mentioned previously is 3/8″ thick and is designed to offer shooters an IPSC standard A/B and part of a C strike zone. It’s exact measurements are 9.5″ x 20″ overall length combined with a 5.75″ wide top section. The current RST uses the same base as the original one I have been using. This base allows shooters to use either a 2″ x 4″ piece of wood to hand the steel target while still giving shooters the options of using 1″ x 2″ lumber to hang paper targets. There is an old saying if something isn’t broke, don’t try to fix it. Defense Targets has followed that saying exactly.
The Use and Abuse
Since I keep a shooting log I am able to tell you confidently that I have used 15 different calibers against this target. We shot the Defense Targets RST with everything from .22LR all the way to full powered .30 caliber cartridges including the 7.62x54R and .303 British. All that lead thrown at this target and aside from a few poorly placed shots around the edges it has help up marvelously. I made sure I only shot it with full metal jacket and hollow points over the last two years, many times I had idiots who wanted to try their steel penetrators against it. I have no idea why people who claim to be friends don’t see a problem with intentionally damaging another property, but that is another issue entirely.
I would like to add that this target has withstood fully automatic fire from submachine guns such as the MP5, Beretta PM12, and Soviet PPSh- 41 as well as fire from heavier guns like the DP-28 chambered in 7.62x54R. The fact it can take that much full auto abuse and not have any significant issues aside from a ton of chipped paint is amazing to me. After each range session I would inspect the target for cracks splits or indentations and finding none scrape off the paint remnants.
A few minutes with a rattle can of the cheapest spray paint Lowes or Home Depot had on sale during any given week and the Defense Targets RST was ready for more abuse. This has led to my garage having an awesome collection of spray paints in all the usual cheap colors such as safety orange, surf blue, john deere green and yellow, red and even once lime green. Nothing but the best for my targets here in Alaska.
Improvements and Thoughts
I have had a few years and lots of range time with this target and I have noticed just a few things about it that I would personally like to see changed or added to the target. To say that the things I am listing are problematic would be a leap, I would say these are things that might be nice to add for he shooters sake. The current RST set up has no ability to keep the 2″x 4″ lumber from moving around or very tight in the base. This is usually fixed by pushing an old door shim between the wood and the base plate opening. There are other companies on the market that have a bolt that threads into the base to add pressure against the wood and secure it. In a perfect world it would be nice if there was a way you could move the target as one unit instead of three parts. Dragging three parts of a target a few hundred yards down range can be annoying.
Buy it Again ?
That’s the question everyone ultimately wants to know, would I use my $185.00 again to buy this target and ship it all the way to Alaska ? Absolutely I would do it again in a heartbeat if I didn’t have a steel target and wanted one. The staff at Defense Targets is a Veteran Owned and Operated outfit that delivers great products at an amazing price point. The product line continues to expand and evolve to suit the needs of shooters everywhere. In fact the newer generation of RST Targets features an improved top bracket that allows the addition of a 6″ diameter head shot plate that swivels from side to side when hit. Innovation, simplicity and reliability at an affordable price point makes this target or any target from Defense Targets a great purchase.
We hope you enjoyed this check in on this steel target, which was one of the first ones that we tested here at the site more than two years ago. If you follow the Defense Targets Facebook page you can see the new designs and maybe catch when they run specials for holidays like 4th of July and Memorial Day.
Photos by author