Is It Safe to Shoot Steel Targets With FMJ Ammo?

FMJ Ammo, 9mm brass. Photo by Jay Rembert.
Category: Guides

Is It Safe to Use FMJ Ammo to Shoot Steel Targets?

FMJ ammo is generally considered safe for shooting at steel targets, provided certain factors are taken into account. The ballistics of FMJ rounds, characterized by their lead-core and copper jacket, play a role in mitigating potential risks. When a FMJ bullet impacts a steel target, it is less likely to ricochet or cause dangerous fragments due to its composition. However, it’s important to emphasize that safety should still be a top priority, and proper precautions should be followed.

To ensure safety when shooting FMJ ammo at steel targets, several factors should be considered. Firstly, the steel target itself should be of proper quality, constructed from hardened steel designed to handle the impact of FMJ rounds. Regular maintenance and inspection of the target are crucial to identify any potential wear or damage that could affect its performance and safety.

Additionally, the design and setup of the steel target can enhance safety. A reactive target system, such as a swinging or spinning target, can help absorb the impact of the bullet and minimize the risk of ricochets. Setting the target at a suitable angle, such as a downward pitch, can further redirect any potential fragments or ricochets downward, increasing safety for the shooter and surrounding areas.

While FMJ ammo is generally safe for shooting at steel targets, it’s important to note that frangible ammunition is considered the optimal choice for shooting steel targets. Frangible rounds are specifically designed to disintegrate upon impact, reducing the risk of ricochets or dangerous fragments. This makes them highly suitable for shooting scenarios where safety is a paramount concern.

What ammunition should I be using with steel targets?

When it comes to shooting steel targets, different types of ammunition offer various advantages and considerations. While FMJ or ball ammo can be suitable for shooting steel targets, there are other options worth exploring.

FMJ ammo or ball ammo can work well with steel targets due to their reliable feeding and stable flight characteristics. They provide good penetration and are commonly used for target shooting and training purposes. However, it is important to note that FMJ rounds do not break apart upon impact, which can lead to potential ricochets and a higher risk of bullets bouncing back unpredictably. Therefore, it is crucial to take safety precautions, maintain a safe distance, and use appropriate targets specifically designed for shooting with FMJ ammo.

Frangible ammo, on the other hand, is often regarded as the best choice for shooting steel targets. Frangible bullets are designed to disintegrate or break apart upon impact with a hard surface, such as steel. This disintegration significantly reduces the risk of dangerous ricochets, as the bullet fragments into smaller pieces upon hitting the target. Frangible ammo offers enhanced safety while still allowing shooters to enjoy the satisfying feedback of hitting steel targets. It is particularly advantageous for close-range shooting scenarios or in environments where the risk of ricochets needs to be minimized.

When engaging in steel target shooting, it is essential to avoid using certain types of ammunition. Steel core, armor-piercing, or green-tip ammo should be strictly avoided for shooting steel targets. These rounds are specifically designed to penetrate hard surfaces, and they do not easily break apart upon impact. Consequently, using them on steel targets increases the risk of dangerous ricochets and can cause damage to the target itself, if not outright destroy it.

By selecting the appropriate ammunition, such as frangible rounds designed for shooting steel targets, and adhering to safety guidelines, shooters can enjoy a safer and more enjoyable shooting experience while minimizing the risk of accidents or damage to targets.

What is FMJ ammo?

Full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets are a commonly used bullet design in the firearm industry. They are named for their construction, which consists of an outer shell made from one metal, often copper or brass, and a softer interior core typically made of lead. This combination of materials gives FMJ ammo its distinctive properties and characteristics.

The outer metal jacket of an FMJ bullet serves several purposes. It provides structural integrity to the bullet, preventing deformation during feeding and firing. This helps ensure reliable cycling and accuracy in semi-automatic firearms. The jacket also helps to reduce barrel fouling by minimizing the amount of lead residue left behind after firing.

Inside the jacket, the lead core provides the necessary weight and mass for the bullet. The lead is relatively soft compared to the outer metal jacket, allowing the bullet to engage with rifling in the barrel and stabilize during flight.

The term “FMJ” is widely used in the firearm industry to refer to this bullet design. It is a shorthand way of indicating the construction and characteristics of the bullet. Some individuals also use the term “ball” to describe FMJ ammo, referring to the round shape of the bullet.

What is FMJ ammo used for?

FMJ bullets are commonly used for a variety of applications, including target shooting, training, and military use. Their design provides reliable feeding, consistent performance, and good penetration capabilities. However, it’s important to note that FMJ bullets do not expand or fragment upon impact, which can limit their effectiveness in certain self-defense scenarios or hunting activities.

Overall, the FMJ bullet design, with its combination of an outer metal jacket and a lead core, is a widely recognized and utilized option in the firearm industry, offering shooters reliability and performance in a variety of shooting applications.

Why is FMJ ammo not allowed at ranges?

Certain shooting ranges may have encountered situations where shooters have used non-recommended ammunition or engaged targets at unsafe distances. To address such concerns and ensure a safe shooting environment, these ranges may implement specific measures. These can include checking the ammunition used by shooters or requesting them to sign a waiver.

Ranges that have experienced incidents or observed unsafe practices may exercise caution by examining the ammunition being used. By inspecting the ammunition, range personnel can verify its compliance with range guidelines and safety standards. This step helps prevent the use of inappropriate or potentially hazardous ammunition that could pose risks to shooters, bystanders, and the range itself.

In some cases, ranges may also request shooters to sign a waiver. This waiver is intended to emphasize the importance of adhering to range rules and regulations, particularly regarding ammunition and shooting distances. By signing the waiver, shooters acknowledge their understanding of the range’s safety protocols and assume responsibility for using appropriate ammunition and maintaining safe shooting practices.

Is it a good idea to use FMJ bullets with steel targets?

When shooting steel targets, it is generally preferable to use softer rounds that are more likely to break apart upon impact. Frangible ammunition is considered the best choice for this purpose as it disintegrates upon hitting the target. However, it can be challenging to find and tends to be expensive. On the other hand, bullets with armor-piercing or steel core properties are not recommended for shooting steel targets as they do not break apart easily and can cause damage.

FMJ ammo, however, is a great option for shooting steel targets. It has the advantage of breaking apart upon impact, ensuring safety during shooting sessions. Furthermore, FMJ rounds are readily available in the market, making them convenient for shooters to obtain.

To ensure safety and longevity of the targets, it is important to choose high-quality steel targets. Grizzly steel targets, for example, are made from certified AR500 and SR500 steel. These targets are designed in collaboration with military and law enforcement agencies, making them reliable and durable. Grizzly steel targets are available in reactive configurations or with both reactive features and a downward pitch, further enhancing safety by directing bullet impacts toward the ground.

When using FMJ ammo with Grizzly steel targets, it is crucial to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. By adhering to these guidelines, the targets can withstand thousands of rounds without compromising their performance or integrity.

In summary, using softer rounds like frangible ammunition is ideal for shooting steel targets, but FMJ ammo is a suitable alternative that offers good performance and availability. Choosing high-quality steel targets like Grizzly Targets ensures both safety and durability.