AR500 Steel Targets from Caldwell

Who doesn’t love the sound of hitting steel? Caldwell makes a variety of AR500 targets to satisfy that craving. 


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Why Steel Targets?

Shooting steel provides the senses with an auditory and visual input as well as instant gratification. It’s also a bit therapeutic, even if you’re not the one shooting! It’s a convenient way to shoot, especially when you are just looking to go out and plink without worrying about measuring group size. Depending upon your range set-up and access, you may be even able to leave steel outside – ready to hit at all times. Leaving paper targets out in the elements isn’t an option if you want to come back to something usable. 

Caldwell AR500 Steel Targets Overview 

Caldwell has a variety of steel targets, including IPSC, a 13” octagon, 10” coffin and 5” and 8” Caldwell C. There are three IPSC sizes: 33%, 66% and full size. They also produce one other gong, the magnum rifle gong,  we have on top of the hill.

Caldwell also offers a variety of hangers for their targets. We’ve been regularly using two of them — the 2×4 plate hanger and the T-post plate hanger.

Set-up is simple. When using the T-post, make sure the spine faces away from the target (the side with two screws). They also have a spring to help mitigate the hit and accentuate the noise and wobble. The 2×4 post is similar to the T-post hanger, and slips right over the top of a 2×4. It’s easy to replace the wood if needed. Caldwell also makes straps and freestanding target stands.

Why AR500 Steel?

AR500 steel is the most popular steel used for steel targets. It’s corrosion resistant with a hardness between 477 and 550 BHN. This hardness prevents dents, pockmarks and damage to the target. There is a balance, however. If a target is too hard, it will be too brittle and break. 

Each target also has a pistol and rifle velocity chart on the back of each. Paying attention to bullet velocity is key. Some rounds can still go through a steel target. For example, a 22-250 traveling at 4,000 fps will pass through one of these targets. A larger bullet moving at the same speed will likely dent the steel, but its greater surface area will allow more area for the energy to dissipate over. Caldwell lists the following velocities: 


Keep in mind, if you have a muzzle velocity over any of the specifications above, you can move the target out further and use a ballistic calculator to find out what the best cartridge/distance combination is. Between 2600 to 2900 fps will give you surface texture, but won’t punch through. 

Ultimate Reloader Steel Arena 

We recently created the Ultimate Reloader Steel Arena. I set out a variety of targets at different distances and went to work with the Henry 30-30 Model X.

We also added a suppressor – as we’ve previously discovered with the CMMG Banshee and other guns—shooting subsonic suppressed on steel is a special kind of fun. (Try saying that ten times fast!) 

Adding the Caldwell Ballistic Precision LR Target Camera adds another dimension to the experience — allowing you to see where you are hitting. We actually appreciated the yellow coloring as it was easy to see both on the range and through the target camera. Using a 223 trainer, we were able to hit the 5″ C target at 550 yards. 

Torture Test Progression

We decided to work our way up – shooting a variety of guns and calibers at different steel targets. Our test included 22 LR, 9mm, 300 Blackout, 30-30, 308 WIN, 5.56 Full Auto and 12 Gauge #4 Buck (3”).

Using a slow-motion camera, we could consistently watch the steel wiggle and wobble with each shot. In other words, we had fun, finding anything and everything we had to shoot at it.

Shotgun blast on Caldwell Steel Target

Moving forward, Gavin is considering mounting a steel target inside a tire to allow for easier relocation, while I’m looking forward to moving them further out. 


Whether you have property or not, steel targets can be a good investment. They are reusable and can last a long time when taken care of. They are also versatile and moveable. You can take them on a camping trip, vacation, or set them up in your yard or at a range. As Gavin says, having steel targets can be a great way to make friends, or enemies if you use a 22-250. 

Get the Gear

Find the various sizes of Caldwell targets and hangers direct from Caldwell

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Travis Fox

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