When it’s raining lead, these steel targets perform

MGM steel targets have been shipped worldwide and are routinely used in military, law enforcement, domestic and international shooting competitions.
When it’s raining lead, these steel targets perform

A selection of MGM Targets include (l to r) the MGM Spinner, Sportsman Auto-Popper, Colt Speed Auto-Popper, Evil Roy, and a coyote target plate for the Evil Roy.

Targets are required for all shooting activities. Target types vary considerably, from paper to clay to polymer to steel. For high-volume shooting it is difficult to find a better target than steel. High-quality steel targets can last for thousands of rounds when used properly, and they may be left in place indefinitely in certain applications such as private ranges.

Many companies make steel targets, but few companies, if any, are as innovative and dedicated to quality as MGM Targets, Inc. MGM steel targets have been shipped all over the world and are routinely used in military, law enforcement, domestic, and international shooting competitions.

But do you know why MGM Targets is so prolific?

Founded in 1992 as Mike Gibson Manufacturing by the man of the same name, MGM has been making and selling steel targets for a long time. Headquartered in Caldwell, Idaho, the company is a made-in-USA, red-blooded American family business. Mike’s son Travis is very active in the company, and Travis’s son Wyatt and wife Tracy get involved in special events. Travis and Wyatt are very active in the competitive shooting community, frequently winning or placing high in 3-gun competitions. Travis uses his experience to design and modify target systems, so MGM targets are conceived of and constructed with the high-level shooter in mind.

The Gibson family’s hard work ethic and dedication to doing a job right the first time come through in the quality of their products. MGM either invents their own designs or modifies those of others to enhance durability and value.

They’re Everywhere!

By one estimate, more than 1 million MGM targets have been produced. Given the materials used and the thoughtful product design, it is very likely that most are still being used today.

Shooting competition match directors choose MGM targets because of their legendary durability. Generally speaking, match directors despise having to temporarily stop a match because a steel target couldn’t weather the lead storm. Worse still, is having to throw out a stage or segment of a competition because of a broken steel target. Those who shot that stage well will be disappointed because match equipment affected their placement. Others who did not get to shoot that stage will be upset because their match has been shortened. Nobody is happy.

The author demonstrating the fast portability of the Evil Roy target system from MGM Targets. The target plate is removed in seconds, the system is picked up by the vertical bar, and the legs automatically collapse for transport.

MGM steel targets are designed to take the abuse of high-volume competitions. MGM is very active in supporting the shooting sports, and they sponsor 3-gun competitions, Precision Rifle Series matches and other shooting competitions both in the USA and abroad. If your customers have participated in any major shooting competition it is extremely likely they have used an MGM steel target of some type.

Good Steel, Smartly Built

Cheap targets use cheap steel and are dangerous. Some lower-end steel targets show signs of use after one outing. Steel of inferior quality pits quickly, and it is this pitting that creates danger. Bullets impacting pitted areas fragment and ricochet unpredictably. This writer has experienced firsthand the pain and injury of such ricochets off of steel targets (from another manufacturer). All steel targets will eventually show cratering and other signs of wear. Durability is directly related to the type of steel used as well as other factors.

MGM centerfire targets use 3/8-inch steel with a hardness rating of 500 Brinell, which is roughly equivalent to 52 on the Rockwell C scale. Sometimes this is referred to as AR500, a term that is thrown around quite liberally in the industry. MGM requires their steel to be certified to be at least 495 Brinell, and in testing has found averages in the 510 to 522 Brinell range. Some MGM .22LR targets are AR400 and ¼-inch thick.

Besides the steel, two factors affecting longevity of steel targets are cutting and welding. Both activities create heat which weakens the hardness of steel. The impact plates of MGM targets are cut with a laser, water-jets or high-definition plasma, thereby minimizing the effect of heat as compared to cutting with say an oxyacetylene torch. In addition, MGM utilizes hardened bolts rather than welds whenever possible for target construction. Bolts may be replaced relatively inexpensively, whereas welds weaken steel targets due to the heat involved.

That’s No Bull

MGM stands behind their steel targets with a “No Bull” guarantee.

“We have two different parts to our guarantee," says Travis Gibson. "On targets shot with a pistol (we have a lot of them that can be used for pistol, rifle and shotgun), they are guaranteed forever. No questions asked. If anything ever breaks on it, we’ll replace the broken part or give you your money back, no questions asked. The “No Bull” part of the guarantee is this: If in the first two weeks of buying your target you don’t feel like you got your money’s worth, we’ll replace it or give you your money back, no questions asked.

"We feel that we have, without question, the most durable target systems available for any amount of money," Gibson continued. "Very rarely do we have anyone ask for a replacement target or for their money back. I’d say in 25 years we’ve probably had less than 20 people ever ask for a refund or a new target. We stand behind our products 100 percent and are continually improving everything including the design, the way we fabricate the target systems, even the way we package the targets. We want to make sure that when a customer buys an MGM target, it will last long enough that their children will fight over who gets it when they die.”

Innovation and quality are at the heart of MGM Targets. Many target types have been around for decades. MGM evaluates the designs of competitors and modifies them to make a more durable, higher value product. MGM is so confident in their product quality they have had an open challenge to any other target manufacturer for a head to head comparison. They only stipulate that a third part must oversee and video the testing, the targets must be apples-to-apples and the video must be posted on the websites of both companies. To date no one has taken the challenge.

Full Product Line

There is no question that MGM targets occupy the high end of the steel target market.

MGM's targets are created with quality components to withstand years of use.

However, in order to satisfy the lower end of the market, MGM has recently begun to produce less expensive offerings. These are usually sold under the Sportsman product line. This line of targets arrive unpainted and have less features than standard MGM targets. The price points are lower, so it is worth considering stocking some of the Sportsman line to have a full suite of products.

Upselling a customer who has success with a Sportsman target is possible because they will have experienced the quality of MGM targets at the entry level. Savings to the customer can be substantial. For example, a Sportsman Auto-popper Hex Colt Speed Plate retails for about $80. The Colt Speed Plate Auto-popper with legs retails for about twice that amount. Both are made of Brinell 500 steel, but the Sportsman arrives unpainted, unassembled and without legs. Similarly, MGM offers several types of plate racks at varying price points.

At the low end the MGM Steel Challenge plate rack retails for just $299. This system is also known as the “plate rack in a bucket,” because that is how it arrives to the end user — in a bucket. The customer supplies a few 2x4 boards for support legs and a crossbar. The plates move when hit but they do not fall like those in normal plate racks.

The next level of this product line is the MGM Sportsman Plate Rack, which retails for about $940. It features falling plates and a rope pull reset mechanism. A step up from there is the MGM Deluxe Plate Rack, which is a staple of major 3-gun competitions. It retails for about $1,650. Finally, two additional rows of targets can be added to the Deluxe Plate Rack to provide a total of 18 racked targets. This add-on retails for just over $1,300. With a product offering this deep there is something for every level of purchaser.

The latest innovation from MGM targets is the Evil Roy target system. This system offers fast set up, super portability, modular targets and quick tear down — all without tools (patent pending). Targets are adjustable for height and may be presented either 15 degrees forward or 45 degrees forward.

The former is for normal long-range use, whereas the latter allows for close engagement. The targets may be locked at a given angle or allowed to rock back upon impact. Target types range from traditional hexagonal to coyote, buffalo and more. There is even a cardboard target holder attachment. The system weighs only 24 pounds plus the target plate and can be picked up and moved in seconds. The Evil Roy system retails for $299, and alternate targets retail for about $80.

Producer Support

MGM Targets has two types of dealer programs: stocking dealer and drop-ship dealer. The company is aware of the issues that plague many brick and mortar shops, so they created the two programs to give dealers flexibility. New marketing collateral, special monthly dealer sales, rebate programs and co-marketing initiatives will be rolled out in 2018 to better help retailers satisfy their unique customer bases.  New point of purchase displays and an e-commerce dealer portal at MGMTargets.com are currently in production for 2018 rollout as well.

As every range facility is unique, MGM offers consultations to make sure the specific needs of each facility are met. Range personnel can reach MGM Targets at (208) 454-0555 then follow the prompts to Sales or simply email sales@mgmtargets.com. New programs such as trade in and club affiliation discounts will also be available in 2018.


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