Grizzly Targets Trifecta Torture Test – Range Report

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Garand clips - We tested this target at 50 yards with an M1C Sniper Garand and 96 rounds of Greek surplus military ball ammunition.

We tested this target at 50 yards with an M1C Sniper Garand and 96 rounds of Greek surplus military ball ammunition.

By Paul Helinski

Grizzly Targets
http://www.grizzlytargets.com/

Torture test – The Grizzly Targets Trifecta is a 3 paddle auto-reset target made of 3/8” AR500 steel, in Tampa, Florida.

The Grizzly Targets Trifecta is a 3 paddle auto-reset target made of 3/8” AR500 steel, in Tampa, Florida.

Steel targets are the backbone of competitive shooting sports. Once a club invests in a good set of steel targets, it opens up a great deal of income-producing events that you just can’t do with paper. If you go to the range on a Sunday afternoon, you will also see individuals shlepping heavy steel target sets sometimes, because dinging steel is much more rewarding than punching paper, and because you can get a lot of fun in while the range is hot, with no need to go down and change targets. The problem with steel is that it is expensive, so buying it right the first time is critical. There are a lot of target companies, and Grizzly Targets, out of Tampa, Florida, contacted us to test one of theirs, a $279 three-paddle auto-reset called the “Trifecta.” Grizzly laser-cuts their targets out of AR500 steel and galvanizes the final product. They claim that the targets “can withstand almost anything,” so we decided to give it the ultimate torture test, within reason. AR500 steel isn’t made to withstand a .50BMG or even a .338 Lapua, so that wouldn’t be fair. A .30-06 is probably the most popular rifle caliber of all time, so we chose the M1C Sniper Garand that we made back in the Garand series from a commercial Springfield Armory gun. It beat the target up pretty well, but at no time did the target cease to do its job, so you be the judge.

 

Bolts side – These are grade 8 bolts, extremely hard and brittle. That has its plusses and minuses. If it can withstand a hit, great, but if it can't, it makes them very difficult to cut off when damaged.

These are grade 8 bolts, extremely hard and brittle. That has its plusses and minuses. If it can withstand a hit, great, but if it can’t, it makes them very difficult to cut off when damaged.

Bolts – My immediate reaction on receiving this target was that the bolts were extremely exposed to errant shots, which always happen.

My immediate reaction on receiving this target was that the bolts were extremely exposed to errant shots, which always happen.

The key to this test was to simulate abusive misses. We used 12 Garand clips, at 8 rounds each, 96 rounds total at 50 yards. This isn’t a ton of abuse for a steel target that can see thousands of rounds just over one match. That is assuming that the 96 rounds are shot at the target portion of the target. What you’ll find though is that a certain percentage of shooters, over the course of even one match, will not hit the ideal target area, and will instead do damage to the working components of the target. All but two clips were fired at places other than the top paddles on this target, and for what it’s worth, the paddles didn’t sustain any damage at all. However, after repeatedly battering the middle of the posts, the bottom of the posts, and the bolt area, you can see that if you buy a Grizzly target for casual match shooters, you probably will have some maintenance after a match.

One of the problems with this target is that the Grizzly website doesn’t give you any specifics about the target whatsoever. There are no suggested calibers and distances. There is no information as to what type of steel the base is made of, and no guidelines as to what to be careful with shooting and not shooting. It doesn’t help anyone to say that the target can stand up to anything, when it clearly can’t. We all want to support products made in America by Americans, and the Grizzly target isn’t a bad product, but when you go out and spend almost $300 of your hard-earned money on a target, it would be nice to have some basic instruction as to how to not ruin it.

Bolts-base – The base, which could very well be made from mild steel and not AR500 (the website has no hint even) was damaged significantly from direct side hits.

The base, which could very well be made from mild steel and not AR500 (the website has no hint even) was damaged significantly from direct side hits.

Bolt broken – This bolt needs to be replaced, but the horizontal bolts pose much more of a problem.

This bolt needs to be replaced, but the horizontal bolts pose much more of a problem.

Test bent – The nuts have been shot off of these bolts and the bolts were bent without breaking. That means they can't be pulled out, and cutting a #8 bolt is not a lot of fun even with a wheel.

The nuts have been shot off of these bolts and the bolts were bent without breaking. That means they can’t be pulled out, and cutting a #8 bolt is not a lot of fun even with a wheel.

If you plan to shoot pistol calibers only, have no fear in buying any of the Grizzly targets. They have a really cool campsite setup that will add up to probably a lifetime of fun without ever breaking down, but if you want to shoot rifles, even at distance, beware that this target is going to fail on you with errant shots. We decided to use a .30-06 for this test, but in our experience .223/.556 is just as brutal on targets because of its blinding speed and heat transfer on solid hits. For the record, I did suggest to my contact at Grizzly that they make a deflector plate to go over the bolts, but though they are working on a solution it would be expensive to make a cover plate out of AR500. The bottom line is that the target never failed, but it was close to doing so, and it could be done a lot better.

 

 

Test-shot – Outwardly the target seems to have survived, and indeed it never did stop functioning. But our focus was to create as many errant hits as possible, to duplicate what the law of averages would do to the target after really just one match.

Outwardly the target seems to have survived, and indeed it never did stop functioning. But our focus was to create as many errant hits as possible, to duplicate what the law of averages would do to the target after really just one match.

Bolts done – 96 rounds of .30-06 isn't a joke for any target, but we have some AR550 targets that have taken hundreds of rounds of .30-06/.308 and Russian Nagant rounds and hardly have a divot.  At the competition level, we don't think Grizzly Targets is ready for prime time, though they do have a lot of adoption at both civilian and military ranges.

96 rounds of .30-06 isn’t a joke for any target, but we have some AR550 targets that have taken hundreds of rounds of .30-06/.308 and Russian Nagant rounds and hardly have a divot. At the competition level, we don’t think Grizzly Targets is ready for prime time.

Hitting the paddles in the middle to lower extremity bowed them significantly as well.  Every edge hit made a divot and/or removed steel from the edge.

Hitting the paddles in the middle to lower extremity bowed them significantly as well. Every edge hit made a divot and/or removed steel from the edge.

Test-other – Even this ricochet off of the bottom of the paddle took a chunk out of the base.

Even this ricochet off of the bottom of the paddle took a chunk out of the base.

 

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • LHTwist January 7, 2014, 3:00 pm

    Great review! Consumers need more honest tests like this instead of those skewed toward protecting advertising dollars.

    An acid test to be sure, but nothing more than would have resulted from a couple years of normal use.

  • Roger December 16, 2013, 8:03 pm

    If the width of these targets at the base were increased to cover the exposed hinge bolt and if the hinge point were welded to the target this would eliminate all exposed nuts and bolts. This doesn’t seem particularly difficult or costly.

    I’ve been looking at Action Targets and it appears to me that they make most if not all of theirs with no exposed hardware at all. I think that is the key.

  • Forager December 9, 2013, 10:29 pm

    To be fair, most other brands of 3/8″ AR500 steel targets are only recommended for centerfire rifle shooting at 100 yards or more. For shorter distances or heavy calibers ( .50 cal MG, .338 Lapua, etc.) at 100 yards or more only 1/2″ or thicker AR500 steel targets should be used.
    Grizzly’s mistake was not setting any distance/caliber restrictions. Hopefully they will do some research and add a disclaimer for distance and caliber as most other target manufacturers do.

  • Rob December 9, 2013, 10:04 pm

    Not trying to be rude but I’ve used a lot of different steel targets and AR500 steel is not rated for 30-06 at 50 yards. It doesn’t matter who made the target, quite simply the steel can’t handle it. Minimum distance should be 100yards plus for high velocity rifle.

  • Grizzly Sales December 9, 2013, 9:11 pm

    Wow, that is one hell of a test. Fyi we have been in the process of creating an add on shield for this product, for facilities that are going to give it a ton of abuse (a few ranges have asked for this- the customers love it, but it takes a lot of abuse) should be in production soon. Will solve any issues with repeat hits to the reactive mechanisms and bolts.

    I’m glad you went to town on this, its a real testament to the quality of our stuff that after 100 rounds at only 50 yrds away with 30/06 aimed for maximum destruction that the thing was still functioning at all.

    For those who are looking for instructions on how not to ruin a target, we prefer the tried and true advice of “don’t shoot at it” 🙂

    That being said, thats the joy of torture. If you have the means available, you will always get what you are looking for.

    Great review, and thanks for giving this thing the beating of a lifetime.

  • Dean Rothermel December 9, 2013, 5:59 pm

    Having been a commercial target builder for over ten years none of what is being discussed comes to much of a shock. The cost of making a target some what Murphy proof is prohibitive. Because no matter what you do somebody will tear it up. Sometimes they go out of there way to figure out a way to do it. Which is pretty much what you guys did because of time issues. However you are right in doing so. We always put some kind of guard in front of hinges and bolts. We also offered two grades of targets, so if you chose to buy pistol targets, instead of rifle targets, and shoot them to pieces, that was your problem! The average John has no clue how powerful his centerfire rifle is, unless they watch a lot of U-Tube, or have played around with steel. They think the cheap targets they buy at Wally World will stand up to anything “cause they are made of steel”. Can’t believe there varmint rifle shot through a 1/2″ piece of steel, totally amazed! One other thing we always recomended shooting rifle targets 100yds and beyond. I recall one customer, a power plant security team that trained as close as 15yds with AR’s. It scared the crap out of us to supply them with steel, it just seemed like a law suit waiting to happen. Keep up the good work.

  • Bob December 9, 2013, 1:38 pm

    I think Action Targets may be a better bet:

    http://www.actiontarget.com

  • Craig December 9, 2013, 12:37 pm

    Have you tested the Larue? I would be interested in hearing how that does.

  • Dan December 9, 2013, 12:23 pm

    Thank you so much for this review and for your others. You have integrity and report the truth (the whole truth) – something most other gun/gun stuff reporters don’t do. I appreciate it and you’ve certainly saved me from making bad purchases in the past (and have steered me in the right direction on purchases that I have made). Hopefully Grizzly will learn from your report and market a better product in the future.

  • Marc December 9, 2013, 11:41 am

    I realize this was a testing session, however, 30-06 at 50 yards? I have more than twenty steel targets and the only ones that are fired at that close are with handguns for IDPA or USPSA training. I am not a all surprised that any steel target would bend or gouge with a 150gr hunk of lead striking it approaching 2800fps. A more reasonable (and fair) test would be at say 200 to 250 yards, but that’s just my opinion.

    • Administrator December 9, 2013, 11:51 am

      The point is that we can’t test the target over the time period you would expect it to last. Therefore we put the potential errant and/or abusive shots over the use of a normal target up front.

  • F.W.Davison December 9, 2013, 10:36 am

    Good review! I’ve had that same problem with other targets. Some pistol target/stands are totally destroyed after one trip to the range. The target itself holds up fine but, the various components of the stand can’t take any hits even from 9mm. I am thinking about building my own out of either wood or angle iron. The wooden stand might take a few more hits plus it would be easy to cut off the damaged pieces.

  • Ed Ghiglieri December 9, 2013, 9:32 am

    Nice review. Looking at the target my idea to fix it would be a double layer of steel as a bolt guard. Of course this would increase the price.

  • Pcn December 9, 2013, 7:37 am

    You mention that you have targets that faired much better. What brand are they? That would be vert helpful to rhose looking to purchase targets.

    • Administrator December 9, 2013, 10:37 am

      Unfortunately don’t know because they were bought from a friend. You can’t go wrong with Action Target though.

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