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These are Steel Ops's official recommended ranges and calibers for all AR-550 steel silhouette target systems.  Users with Handgun Only targets must only use handgun ammunition at the distances below. Never shoot rifle rounds at Handgun rated targets. Shooting closer than the recommended range will void your warranty. DO NOT SHOOT AT THE "TESTED EFFECTIVE RANGES" - The "tested effective ranges" were tests done by Steel Ops to demonstrate the strength of our steel and may present a safety hazard if used. All recommended and tested ranges are for informational purposes only and we do not warranty against penetration. Results may vary depending on ammunition brand, elevation, barrel length, angle of deflection, and more. If you experience pitting of any kind move the target back to avoid damage. Always fire test shots to verify whether the steel is pitting. Do not shoot at heavily pitted or cupped steel plates.  If you do not see the caliber that you want to use listed below please contact our office before firing so we can give you a recommendation. Firing calibers not listed below without a written recommendation may void your warranty. Hostage Flippers carry a separate rating due too their assembly and function. See below.

Calibers and Ranges for AR-550 Steel Targets
Caliber Recommended Range Tested Effective *Do not use*
22LR 15 yards or more 5 Yards


15 yards or more
5 yards
.38 Special 15 yards or more
5 yards with +P
.357 Magnum 35 yards or more
10 yards with +P
.45 ACP 15 yards or more 5 yards
10mm 20 yards or more 5 yards
.204  200 yards or more 100 yards
22-250 200 yards or more
100 yards
.223/5.56 100 yards or more 10 yards
Steel Core 5.56 *Never use steel core 10 yards


100 yards or more 10 yards
7.62x51 (.308) 100 yards or more 15 yards
.30-06 300 yards or more

100 yards

.300 Win Mag 300 yards or more 150 yards
.338 Lapua 350 yards or more 150 yards
50 BMG 500 yards or more 100 yards
Steel Core 50 BMG *Never use steel core 97 yards

For Steel Ops Hostage Flippers we do not recommend Rifle Rounds other than .223/5.56, 7.62x39, or .308, and all of these should be used at no less than 100 yards.  For handgun calibers up to 10mm we recommend at least 15 yards. We do not recommend calibers larger than 10mm with the flippers. Due to the cost and nature of the hostage flipper we will not warranty the use of other calibers. Flippers are intended to wear out over time and we do not guarantee any specified round count or lifespan. If your flipper appears to be bending or pitting you are either too close or using too large of caliber. 


Use the chart below to find the recommended forward lean for your T Series Target. These angles may also assist in the function of the HFR Flipper if your target utilizes them. These are approximations and actual results may vary depending on ammunition brand, elevation, barrel length, and more. If you experience pitting of any kind move the target back to avoid damage. Always fire test shots to verify whether the steel is pitting.  Stand the target upright (plumb/level) and then lean the target toward the the shooter by the amount suggested below. Use the target to stake the posts into the ground at the recommended angle of lean. 

***We do not recommend rifle use at less than 100 yards.

Handguns 25 yards or less 12" towards the shooter
Handguns over 25 yards 8" towards the shooter
Rifles 100 yards or less*** 16" towards the shooter
Rifles over 100 yards  12" towards the shooter

In an effort to continually improve our quality control and deliver a more thorough product all armor plates manufactured after January 1st, 2018 will have a "core test sample point" on the back of the plate. This sample point will look like a small 1/16" hole in the coating on the backside of the plate located within a square on the label. You will be able to see raw steel inside this small hole. This is not a flaw and this hole is intentional.  This sample point is part of an exhaustive testing process to ensure that our coating, the steel, and the bonding properties between the two are correct.  This sample point does not in any way impact the durability, stopping power, fragmentation control, or overall effectiveness.  This is simply for us to ensure that these plates are being made to our rigorous specifications.  We are proud that we have never once had a plate not meet the quality and performance standards listed, and this is one more way to guarantee that will continue.  Should you ever find a flaw in the coating outside of the designated "core test sample point" box, please let us know. For any questions or concerns please contact our office at 970-568-1191 or by clicking here: - Please be advised that all body armor sales are final and we do not allow returns or exchanges of any kind as it is highly unethical for us to resell or redistribute potentially used or compromised plates, thus making it impossible for us to recoup the cost. All armor plate used in Steel Ops body armor is Certified for NIJ 0108.01 Level III and a copy of that certification is available upon request from verified customers. 

Since 2018 Steel Ops has used 5mm AR-600 Steel Plate for all armor. That plate is certified under NIJ 0108.01 for Level 3. This certification and testing takes place at the mill while the plate is being manufactured. Multiple test samples are taken from different points in the manufacturing process and the entire batch of armor is certified at once. Prior to the armor sheets being cut into individual plates, each sheet has a sample taken and sent to ISO Certified Independent lab for a Brinell Hardness Test verifying that the sheet meets the 600 Brinell Hardness required. During the bending process each plate is inspected and, if necessary, dye penetrant tested for hairline fractures or steel impurities.  Any plate in question is scrapped and discarded, we do not attempt to correct or repair potential flaws.  Once a batch of armor has been coated 3-4 plates from the batch are randomly selected for in-house ballistic testing where we use M193 @ 3100fps, M855 @ 3100fps, and 7.62x51 at 2750fps to verify that the plates meets the ballistic resistance listed. Prior to shipping each plate out there is a small core test sample performed. This is a small hole that is drilled thru the coating on the back of each plate to verify that the steel is the hardness required and that soft or compromised plate did not somehow slip into production. 

In June of 2020, 11 test plates were sent to Oregon Ballistic Labs for 0101.06 Level 3 as well as Special Threat testing under one of the new 0101.07 RF2 criteria.  These plates were constructed and manufactured using the same materials and coatings as all plates after January 1st, 2018.  Requirements for an NIJ 0101.06 Level 3 Certification stipulate that plates have to undergo a 10 day conditioning cycle exposing them to high and low temperatures, a drop test to concrete from ~4ft above ground, and full water submersion. The label is also tested to withstand Distilled Water, Isopropyl Alcohol, and Denatured Alcohol.  For 0101.06 Level 3 plates are tested against 6 rounds of 7.62x51 traveling at least 2750fps.  Plates must not only stop all 6 rounds completely but must also maintain a backface deformation of 44mm (~1-3/4") or less. All 10 plates passed with a maximum backface deformation of 25mm, a minimum of 4mm, and an average of 15mm (5/8"). The 11th plate was subjected to a Special Threat round out of the upcoming but unpublished 0101.07 RF2 rating system. The plate was tested against M855 (62gr Steel Core 5.56) at 3115fps out of a 24" barrel at a distance of 25ft. The plate was shot 6 times and stopped all hits. Two backface deformation measurements were taken with 16mm and 20mm with an average of 18mm (11/16").  

As of January 4th, 2021 Steel Ops has been listed on the National Institute of Justice Compliant Products List for the "XP Model" under 0101.06 Level 3.  All plate and full-size individual body armor panels manufactured after this date will carry both an NIJ 0108.01 Level 3 Certification as well as the NIJ 0101.06 Level 3 Certification.  While the XP Model is the only plate listed on the CPL, all full-size plates including the XP, Pro, and Armis are covered under the 0101.06 Level 3 certification.  This inclusion was approved and inspected by the NIJ during the application process and all plates will be sold as follows: "XP Model -Armis Cut" or "XP Model - Pro Cut" or "XP Model - XP Cut".  The NIJ allows this inclusion because all three plates share the same material, bend pattern, construction, labeling, and manufacturing methods. They are simply different sizes of the same plate.  The reason we chose to use both certifications is simply out of thoroughness. The steel plate itself holds the 0108.01 Cert for level 3 which allows it to be certified and used as vehicle and structural armor without any coating (which most customers do not know we manufacture and sell), while the finished armor plates holds the 0101.06 Level 3 Cert for use specifically as body armor in a coated configuration.  Although the 0101.06 certified plates share the exact same material and construction as previous plates, any plate manufactured after 1-4-21 will carry the NIJ Certified watermark on the body armor label, whereas plates manufactured prior to this date will list only the 0108.01 Certification.   Part of the 0101.06 Certification is mandatory participation in the FIT (Follow Up Inspection) Program. These are annual inspections that are performed by a third party at the direction of the NIJ.  The third party comes to our facility, inspects the manufacturing process, reviews quality control procedures, and randomly selects two plates from current inventory.  These two plates are sent to one of three randomly selected NIJ Certified Laboratories for ballistic testing.  It should be disclosed that follow up testing on plates does not expose them to conditioning cycles or drop tests, only water submersion.  They still must stop 6 rounds of 7.62x51 at 2750fps.  The 0101.06 Level 3 Certification is valid for 5 years pending passing grades at all follow up inspections.    

For any questions about how to use or set-up your Steel Ops product please contact us.