Advice wanted for construction of a bullet trap

Hello Everyone,

We live in a rural area and are able to target shoot on our property. Our land is five acres and I would like to set an area up in back to be able to target shoot with a .22. Behind us is over a hundred acres of heavily wooded, thick swamp land. Many of my neighbors shoot on their property and the standard backstop is a huge mound of dirt. Very effective, but not very visually pleasing.

So, I have thought of building a bullet trap consisting of 1/2 inch steel plate with an internal plate set at a 45 degree angle to force the rounds downward into the sand. It seems simple enough and I’m currently researching designs on the internet. I thought it would be worth a post here to see if anyone had built one of their own and if you have are there any toss or ideas you could pass my way.

It should be noted that I plan on firing nothing larger than a .22lr at this trap. I will be using both a pistol and rifle and will be shooting either soft lead nosed or hollow point rounds. For any bigger calibers I’ll head over to the neighbors and use their dirt mound for a backstop.

A mound of dirt is ugly, but a steel plate over sand is not?
Maybe use a mound of dirt, but make it pretty and green-- by planting it with grass or a creeping vine?
(disclaimer: I have never fired a 22 caliber anything. But the idea of metal backstops which cause intentional ricochets seems dangerous. (even at a “safe” angle of 45 degrees–it’s still a bullet. )

While a steel box isn’t the best liking option, it can be made relatively small, something along the lines of 4’x3’. I plan on pitting it on wheels so I can only have it out when in use. And as far as safety, bullet traps when constructed properly are very safe. This is what is used at indoor shooting range. I even have a few friends up north who use these in their basements to shoot indoors. FWIW, having an indoor shooting range in a basement is a bit too hardcore for me.

I second using a mound of dirt, perhaps secured against erosion with a jacket of chicken wire, and throw some grass seed on it for aesthetics. It only takes one bad ricochet to screw someone up for life.

I’ve had good luck shooting into a cardboard box full of newspapers. Use one of those boxes that copier paper comes in, and place layers of newspaper in there.

The advantage of the metal trap is that you can paint it to look like an invading alien robot. A mound is always a mound.

I wouldn’t think you’d need 1/2" steel plate. For just .22s my guess would be that 1/4" is plenty thick, this if weight or bulk might be an issue.

Do you feel 99.9% confident that you will hit a 4’x3’ box? Good.

Where is the 1000th bullet going to end up?

use 1/4" and made it twice as big for the same amount.

With the steel trap, you can recover the lead. Not as easy to do with a mound of dirt. Agree that 1/2" is over kill.

Just make sure you get that angle right…

Yes, I’m certain I can hit an area that big everyone. Inches might pose a problem, but not feet. This is one reason I want to build my own. I have found a few for sale on the internet, but they are very small. Something along the lines of 12”x12". Plus, with a hundred acre densely packed area behind I’m not to worried about it. The reason I’ll be using hollow point or soft nosed ammunition is the likely hood of a ricichete is extremely low. Both types will shatter when they contact the steel.

For added safety I’ll probably surround the box with hay bales when in use. The hay bales are dense and would easily stop a .22 round. Not to mention we always have plenty on the property.

Safety is of primary concern, but a bullet trap is a very sensible way to go about it. Perhaps 1/2" is too thick, I’ll have to read up a bit more.
As someone mentioned upthread, the trap does make the collection of the used lead very easy. No need in contaminating the ground water if I can avoid it.

Now that enough serious replies have been entered, I suggest that the critical element in a good bullet trap is high-quality bullet bait.

See, you can’t bait them–that gives you an unfair advantage. Just wait until one wizzes by and use a snare.

:smack: There’s my problem…

the best bait is unbroken glass.

I have two backstops. One is a sheet of 3/8" AR500 armor plate set at about a 30° slope. It gets hit with everything from 22lr to 308. They don’t even make a mark other than removing some rust.
The other is a clay berm about 5’ high and 25’ long.
Both work well.

I’ve had a backstop on my property for 13 years. I shoot everything from .22LR to .50 BMG.

I am very uncomfortable with the bullet hitting anything “at an angle.” This includes dirt and steel. Years of experience has convinced me that the target should be positioned normal to the trajectory of the bullet. The backstop should also be designed to absorb bullets rather than deflect/ricochet them.

So… my backstop is a wall of railroad ties. It’s very effective.

Why not - aham - kill two birds with one stone and use the bullet trap to hide the swamp? Build yourself a grassy or planted berm - a nice long mound. (Grassy knoll jokes are thataway —>) Set your backstop into the berm but cover it with an angled trapdoor which has a layer of soil and grass on top, which you lift out of the way - if you’ve got the money, you could make it electric and hydraulic.

I haven’t built one, so I can’t exactly offer first-hand knowledge. But I’ve looked into it, and 1/4" is plenty thick for .22LR or .22 magnum. If you are going through the effort, I would go ahead and look into the price for thicker and/or better grades of steel, which you could then use for standard pistol calibers such as 9mm, .38 special, .357, .40, etc.

I think this link should be informative: Bullet Trap Plate Thickness

Having said all of that, I can’t imagine moving a contraption such as you describe, plus hay bales, onto and off your shooting range each time you want to shoot. I would go ahead and build a dirt mound, or a railroad tie backstop, so you don’t have to fool around so much to go out and pop off a few rounds.