Top 10 Targets (Paper and Steel)

We’ve all been there—at the range, having forgotten our targets, and forced to resort to something like a paper plate. Although a paper plate works in a pinch, it’s definitely ideal to use targets that are specifically made for firearms practice. Targets are made for everything from fine-tuning your precision rifle to specific drills and everything in between. We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 targets to make it easier for you to choose what target—or targets—to take along on your next trip to the range. We’re including both paper and steel targets, making this your one-stop list for targets to try.

birchwood casey target
These reactive targets give great visual feedback for hits. (Photo: Birchwood Casey)

Birchwood Casey Shoot N C 8-inch Bull’s Eye

This specific target from Birchwood Casey has the classic circular bull’s eye design, but it’s worth mentioning the Shoot-N-C line is offered in a vast array of styles. The Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C 8-inch Bull’s Eye is a circular target on a square sheet. The target is black and the lines separating the various rings are neon yellow. As you shoot the target, impacts are clearly marked by chartreuse rings. And because the bull’s eye has an adhesive back, you can remove it from the square sheet it comes on and adhere it to something else as needed. The target comes with a variety of black and orange pasters so it can be used multiple times.

caldwell spinner
This spinner is rated for handguns up to 44 Magnum and rocks or spins when shot. (Photo: Caldwell)

Caldwell Double Spin Centerfire Handgun Swinging Target

If you’re a dedicated handgunner, you’ll be interested in the Caldwell Double Spin Centerfire Handgun Swinging Target. This steel target features two circular targets on a steel rod so that when you impact one, the target rocks or spins. The topmost target is about two inches in diameter and the lower target is approximately four inches in diameter. Caldwell ships the spinner with neon orange stickers that can be placed as aiming points, and if you run out, you can always order more. This steel spinner target is rated for handguns up to .44 Magnum. If you’re using something like a .22 LR, the targets may not move much. The audible report and visual movement are great for honing handgun skills.

champion target
Spend a lot of time zeroing rifles? This is the target for you. (Photo: Champion)

Champion Target Redfield Sight-In Target

Spend a lot of time zeroing optics? The Champion Target Redfield Sight-In Target is designed specifically for zeroing rifle optics or sighting in iron sights. The target utilizes the recognizable Redfield layout for precision. It features four small diamond bull’s eyes in each corner and a center diamond. A grid laid out behind the diamonds makes it easy to estimate adjustments while zeroing. This paper target is non-reactive and meant to be used for precision shooting and load development.

triumph targets
These reactive targets are filled with environmentally safe colored gel. (Photo: Triumph Systems)

Triumph Systems Pop Pack Shooting Targets

Interested in a truly reactive target? The Triumph Systems Pop Pack Shooting Targets are so reactive they can’t be re-set. These targets are packets of brightly colored gel, so when you shoot one, they burst. Triumph Systems states that the gel inside the packets is environmentally safe. These targets come in packs of 10 and are adorned with differently colored shapes and numbers, meaning you can lay them out in a pattern or randomized assortment. They’re a great idea for fun shooting matches and timed events. Packs are four inches tall, 3.5 inches wide, and 1.5 inches deep. Colors include high-visibility magenta, green, and yellow.

texas walker
This target is designed to roll or walk across the ground. (Photo: Spartan Armor Systems)

Spartan Armor Systems Texas Walker

This is a fun one whether you’re shooting alone or with a friend. The Spartan Armor Systems Texas Walker is an AR500 steel welded ground target. Hitting one of the four circular ends tips the target over—if your impact is significant enough and properly placed—meaning you can “walk” the target along, shot by shot. This can be done alone or with a friend. Even better, you can get two and find out which of you can walk the target across the finish line first. The Texas Walker is offered in a small size (six inches) and a large size (nine inches).

steel gongs
This variety pack of steel gongs comes in different sizes. (Photo: Shooting Targets USA)

Shooting Targets USA 3/4/6/8/10/12 Gongs 3/8-inch

Gongs are great because you get an audible confirmation of a hit on target, which is especially handy at longer distances. The Shooting Targets USA 3/4/6/8/10/12 Gongs 3/8-inch set includes the listed sizes of steel gongs all in one package. By picking up this gong set you have a variety of gong sizes and can either stage them at varying distances or put them in a row to test your accuracy at a set range. Gongs are 3/8-inch thick SR500 ballistic steel and are rated for use with calibers up to .308 Winchester. And although they come in plain silver, you can easily paint them as desired.

self-healing target
This self-healing target can be shot thousands of times. (Photo: Caldwell)

Caldwell Duramax Self-Healing Targets

The Caldwell Duramax Self-Healing Targets are designed for repeated use. So while they’re not technically paper or steel, they’re still cool enough to recommend. These targets are made from ballistic polymer and, according to the manufacturer, they can be shot thousands of times. The targets are rated for calibers from 22 LR to 50 BMG, though it seems reasonable to assume the big bores will wear them out faster. Targets are available as cubes or balls, both of which have dimensions that make them more interesting to shoot. They’re designed to flip and bounce when they’re shot, so they’re technically reactive. Caldwell offers them in bright yellow.

texas star
The Texas Star is a target you love, hate, or love to hate. (Photo: Birchwood Casey)

Birchwood Casey Texas Star Plinking Target

The Texas Star is a target you love or hate. Birchwood Casey’s Texas Star Plinking Target is made from AR500 steel and stands four feet tall. The star has five points with each point being a six-inch circle. Circular points are white with black bull’s eye marks. It can be taken apart for easier transportation. The Texas Star works by moving as soon as you shoot it. That means the remaining points turn at increasing speeds as you try to drop all the circular targets. There’s a pattern to it and it’s possible to defeat, but it does take practice. This target is rated for handguns, rifles, and shotguns.

steel target
This target falls when hit correctly. (Photo: Champion)

Champion Targets Center Mass AR500 Pop-Up Target

Pop-up steel targets are fantastic because they both provide audible feedback and fall when shot correctly. The Champion Targets Center Mass AR500 Pop-Up Target is a basic silhouette steel target that’s 3/8-inches thick. It’s offered in two sizes: 14″x4″ and 20″x6″. Champion lists it as being rated for centerfire rifles. If you set more than one pop-up in a row you can time yourself or race against a friend to knock them all down. Pop-ups are easily re-set after falling. These targets are great for auditory feedback and also just plain fun to shoot.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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