AR-500 Steel: A specifically formulated Abrasion Resistent plate steel that is austentized (hardened) to a Brinell Hardness rating of 485 to 585, or approximately 500. That 100 point spectrum of AR-500 steel is a lot in terms of targets, but we'll get to that in a minute. AR-500 was never designed to be shot at. It just happens to work well in that application. In the grand spectrum of all steel, AR-500 is actually just middle of the road. Mild steel and AR-400 are softer, and these steels will cup, bend, or penetrate when hit. Knife steels such as 154CM or S35VN are harder than AR-500, but with hardness comes brittleness, and these harder/expensive steels tend to crack or shatter when hit. The catch is that unless you're willing to buy in bulk the steel mills will not tighten their mixture tolerances, so some of the steel may be 495 Brinell and some may be 585 Brinell. For other target companies this results in huge variance in their products. Through extensive testing, Steel Ops has been able to establish that the optimal Brinell hardness for steel targets is about 535-575. Anything less and the plate tends to cup or bend after 1000 rounds. Anything more and the plate tends to crack or shatter near the edges and corners. However, you have to buy in bulk direct from the mill in order to get a specific Brinell Hardness. Thats what we do. A steel mill makes an MTR or Mill Test Report with every sheet they make so the exact hardness can be tracked to each sheet. These should always be kept on file and we make these available upon request. We do not accept any sheets with a Brinell Hardness outside 545-565. We also test the plate before it is processed with a third party ISO Certified Lab to verify that the MTR is accurate. The cool part is that because we buy in bulk we actually get better steel at a better price. So whats the real difference between the AR500 and AR550? For 1 round, almost nothing. You likely won't even be able to tell which is which. However, after thousands of rounds our targets hold up better than any company using lower grade steel. We offer this simple challenge any company: show us video proof that a certified piece of AR-500 out performs a certified piece of AR-550 after 1000 rounds and we'll give you a target. Its simple physics folks, better steel is better.
The T3R Target has been discontinued as June 1st, 2018. A simple lack of sales was the cause for the discontinuation, and many customers were simply choosing to purchase the T3RX rather than the T3R. There are different caliber ratings for the T3R depending on the year in which it was manufactured. T3R's from 2013 to 2015 were rated for rifle use and were 18" wide. T3R's from 2016 to 2018 were rated for handgun only use and were only 16" wide. The original Limited Lifetime Warranties will still be honored for any T3R, however if a warranty issue requires replacement of the product or if the target has been used to what Steel Ops feels is over 50% of the lifespan for the target, we will no longer repair or warranty the target. We will however offer a substantially discounted upgrade to the rifle rated T3RX (either shape). The T3RX is fully compatible with all generations of accessories including the HFR Flipper, KISS Racks, Posts, and Paint Templates. Please don't hesitate to call our office with any questions or concerns. We thank you for your cooperation and understanding.
Steel Ops uses a unique technique called Water Submerged CNC Plasma cutting. Don't let the plasma part fool you. By submerging the entire sheet under water, this process eliminates large heat affected zones (HAZ) created by normal plasma cutting, and actually re-hardens the edge immediately as it cuts. You can actually touch the steel less than 1" behind the cutting head and its cool to the touch. Other companies claim that their laser or waterjet cutting processes are the only way to go. Not only is that wrong, but that is a poor attempt to get you to pick up the tab for these overpriced machines. Still don't believe us? Come on down to our shop. That's right, we have an open door policy. You're welcome to come in and literally put your hands on our steel as it comes off our machine. In order to soften armor steel the material must reach and maintain a temperature of 400 degrees. If you can find a piece of armor at that temperature we'll buy you the plate of your choice from a competitor. Still need more proof? We send our steel to an ISO Certified Lab after its cut and have it tested within 1/4" of the cut, and every piece we've ever submitted has passed and we maintain those certifications for you to view.
So what do ther companies use? Some use a Non-Submerged CNC plasma. Avoid these at all costs. This process is cost effective but it creates a heat affected zone (HAZ) that spans about 1"-2" on each side of the cut that makes the steel soft and easy to penetrate. Some companies use CNC Laser Cutting which delivers a very precise cut and creates a low heat affected zone, however its very expensive which drives up the cost to you. Additionally the precision, though impressive, is simply unnecessary. Lets be real here, we're firing a gun at steel. Does it really matter if its 1/32" bigger or smaller? Some companies use Water Jet. This process has the lowest heat affected zone, and is very precise as well. However as with Laser it is very expensive to own and operate, the precision is unnecessary, and the operating costs result in over-priced products.
Powder Coat - We're not sure why, but Steel Ops is the only company we know of to use powder coating on our targets rather than paint. This provides a much more durable finish and protects the plates from rust for a lifetime of reliable use.
Speed & Design - We have been unable to find a full size silhouette target system that is faster and easier to set-up. If you find one we'd love to know about it. The fastest recorded set-up of our targets can be seen here.... Its also pretty hilarious.
Price - Our pricing structure is based on what it takes to make these products. Not what the market value is. We pride ourselves on charging a fair price for great products and will never charge more than necessary just because another company is able to get more. We do not mark up shipping, which is often expensive, and never charge you more than necessary to deliver a product.
Steel Armor & Target Systems
Steel Ops armor plate is certified for NIJ 0108.01 level III and comes with a "+" designation for its ability to handle M855 and M193. It has also passed NIJ 0101.06 Level III testing at Oregon Ballistic Labs however we are still waiting for the NIJ to list our product on the database. The steel is a 5mm Aegis AR-600 with a minimum hardness of 600 which is verified by an independent ISO Certified Lab. Each plate is cut under water to eliminate heat affected zones (see above). We prep each plate using a proprietary process that creates a unique bond between the steel and the ballistic coating. Other company's coatings will "blow out" or de-laminate too easily and will become ineffective after 1-2 rounds, ours does not. A proper coating should allow bullets to go in but not come back out. We don't offer "base coats" or "build-up coats". These common scams force people to pay extra for what they really need which is a FULL coating. All our plates receive a full coat which is between 188-200 mils or ~3/16". Our new GT Advanced Ballistic Coating has been exhaustively tested and while many other coatings have failed after only 2-4 rounds, our coating has proven capable of fully encapsulating over 4000 grains of ammunition on one plate. This is not just some truck bed liner. This coating was originally applied to the bottom of MRAP military vehicles as an anti fragmentation coating and bottom line - it works. Every plate we sell has been tested effective for no penetrations and full encapsulation of fragmentation for the below calibers and ranges:
9mm 124 Grain - 1300fps - ~Point Blank
M193 - 55 Grain 5.56 Lead Core - 3100fps ~10ft
M855 - 62 Grain 5.56 Steel Core - 3000fps ~10ft
7.62x39 - 123 Grain Lead Core - 2700fps ~10ft
7.62x51 - 150 Grain (.308) Lead Core - 2750fps ~30ft
.30-06 - 160 Grain Lead Core - 2700fps ~60ft
1oz 12ga Slug - 1800fps ~15ft
458 SOCOM - 300 Grain Extreme Penetrator - 1700fps ~15ft