Guardian Target System: Portable and Adjustable Steel Targets

Everyone loves shooting steel. The musical ping report that provides instant feedback is satisfying, and you don’t have to tear down or tape your targets, which leaves you with more time to shoot and less time resetting the range. Shooting steel targets also has great utility for long range shooters for obvious reasons, as you don’t have to use high-powered binoculars or make the long walk back to your target to confirm your hits. Steel targets are used often in competition for certain types of matches or mixed in on routine stages and can be big and relatively close for speed or very small and at distance for careful precise shooting.

Anybody who has ever set up an array of steel targets knows one thing: they are really heavy by design and usually need an equally heavy and cumbersome base or stand. Not necessarily the easiest range accessory to throw in your car and haul around with you. If you have multiple pieces of steel you want to use, its more common to set them up in their permanent location on your private range, or in the case of competitions or tactical ranges, it takes a whole crew of people to set them up in a timely fashion.

 

Taz Fabrication out of Oregon has designed the Guardian Target System to be a portable and adjustable steel target system that provides a solution to the weight and ease of setup problems, and which gives you multiple target options that can be used with the same base. The main selling points of this system is the light weight base which can be carried in/on a backpack, and the adjustability of the legs on the base which allow the target to be quickly and easily set up on uneven terrain or even hillsides.

Made out of AR500 steel, the X-pod stand is made from a single piece of welded steel, and legs are made from Aluminum which goes a long way towards keeping the weight down. Pivot points in the base of the stand allow for quick easy adjustment of the legs, which can each be set at four different angles, and the leg extensions can then be pulled out to three different lengths, covering a span of 6 ft in diamater total when fully expanded at the flattest angles.

The Guardian target plate comes in three thicknesses (1/4″ 3/8″, 1/2″) and has a handle for easy carrying. The foldable X-pod base has thinner steel and aluminum legs making it lightweight and easy to carry.

We brought the Guardian system to a private range in rural Virginia to do some testing. The compactness of the system allowed me to simply throw the whole system into my wheeled cart with the rest of my range gear, saving me from making multiple trips to my car.

The compactness, ease of transport and setup is one of the highlights of this system. We let the smallest member of our shooting team carry the x-pod base and steel target from the car to the range just to demonstrate the portability, and she managed it with ease. I chose to setup the target on lumpy mounds and hillsides in order to test the adjustable legs, and they worked as advertised being easily adjustable to stabilize on any kind of slopes or uneven ground.

Setting up the base was also very easy. Making adjustments for uneven terrain and hills might take a little longer as there is some trial and error involved in getting the steel angled exactly how you want it to deflect the shrapnel and spall safely downward, but i had no trouble getting the target perfectly angled and completely secured in place, even on the side of a hill.

a slotted tab on the bottom of the target fits into the base and is tightened down with a single large tension screw. This can be further secured with a wing nut. For extended range session this screw may have to be retightened periodically.

The steel target we received was 3/8″ thickness, which according to the manufacturer is rated for all pistol rounds and rifle rounds up to and including 30-06.

In our testing we fired almost 500 hundred rounds of 115 gr FMJ 9mm at this target from 10-40 yards over the course of a couple hours. I am confident that under normal use with common pistol calibers this target would have a long effective life span. We did not have a chance to test out any other pistol caliber types. We also fired 5 rounds of 147 gr FMJ .308 and 5 rounds of 55 gr FMJ .223 from approximately 80-90 yards. While the target was able to take the rifle rounds without any excessive movement or damage, both .308 and .223 left small craters in the steel. Based on this, i did not continue shooting rifle ammo at the target and probably will only do so sparingly in the future, in order to maximize the effective life span of this target. However if you only intend to shoot rifle ammo at this target, it can handle it safely, but be prepared to potentially have to replace the target sooner than if you were solely shooting it with pistol ammo.

For long range applications, i would also suggest that you try to avoid hitting the stand or legs with rifle ammo, as it is made of thinner steel, and you may end up having to replace the stand if you damage a critical part. One of our testers managed to miss the steel (somehow….) with .308 and punch a hole in the base. However this had no effect on function of the target system, but its not something you would want to do often for the sake of the function and lifespan of the system.

On that note, Taz Fabrication and Black Creek Armory offer a full parts replacement program, which allows you to purchase individual parts such as pins or legs, so if you do have to replace a part its an easy process. They also offer a one year warranty against any defects.

One aspect of shooting steel targets is that the lead and copper have to go somewhere when they hit the target. Steel targets are typically angled downward so that all the shrapnel and spalling goes straight down into the dirt. I was concerned that the aluminum legs would take a beating from this, and they did, however i didn’t see any indication that they would be excessively damaged to the point of not functioning. They handled the spalling with just some scarring and no structural damage. The plastic handles on the retainer pins for the legs however ended up getting shredded and losing some of their functionality, and that is one small part that i would like to see changed to another material that wouldn’t break.

Taz Fabrication offers a variety of target types that you can use with one single x-pod base, included a plywood backer for paper targets and a hay-bale stand for archery. See below for details.

X-POD
DESIGNED TO RETRACT AND EXPAND  TO 3 DIFFERENT POSITIONS. THE PILLAR IS MADE  OF A WELDED SINGLE PIECE STEEL DESIGN, WITH 4 PIVOT POINTS FOR EACH LEG FOR MAXIMUM ADJUSTMENT.COMPLETELY  UNFOLDED IT  HAS AN EXPANDED PLATFORM OF OVER 6 FT. 

MSRP -$299.00 (actually $269.99 at Black Creek Armory)

GUARDIAN TRIANGLE
THIS TARGET IS DESIGNED WITH THE  EVERY DAY SHOOTER IN MIND. THIS TARGET IS MADE OF AR-500 STEEL AND COMES IN 1/4” , 3/8”, OR 1/2” THICKNESSES

​MSRP –

​1/4″ – 68.00

​3/8″ – $89.00

​1/2″ – $114.00

GUARDIAN ARCHER
THIS TARGET IS MADE OF 3/16 PLATE STEEL AND IS BUILT  TO ACCEPT  A SQUARE BOW.

TARGET NOT INCLUDED

MSRP – $75.00

GUARDIAN MARKSMAN 
THIS TARGET  IS DESIGNED FOR THOSE TIME YOU ARE SIGHTING IN WITH PAPER TARGETS.  THE FRAME IS MADE FROM 3/16” PLATE STEEL AND ACCEPTS  A PIECE  OF 1/2” PLYWOOD WHICH IS INCLUDED.

​MSRP – $75.00

GUARDIAN SHOOTING TREE 
BUILT FOR THE COMPETITVE SHOOTER. COMPETE AGAINST YOUR  SHOOTING PARTNER OR RACE YOURSELF TO TEST YOUR ACCURACY. CAN BE PURCHACED WITH 2 DIFFERENT DIAMETERS OF PLATES AND OPTION OF 2 DIFFERENT KINDS OF STEEL.

​MSRP –

3″ A36 – $172.00

6″ A36 – #210.00

3″AR500- $202.00

6″AR500 – $240.00

GUARDIAN SWINGING GONG 
BUILT FOR THE COMPETITVE SHOOTER. COMPETE AGAINST YOUR  SHOOTING PARTNER OR RACE YOURSELF TO TEST YOUR ACCURACY. CAN BE PURCHACED WITH 2 DIFFERENT DIAMETERS OF PLATES AND OPTION OF 2 DIFFERENT KINDS OF STEEL.

​MSRP –

3″ A36 – $157.00

6″ A36 – $187.00

3″AR500- $187.00

6″AR500 – $225.00

Overall i was impressed with the target system, with the key selling points being the portability and ease of setup which make this system a little more casual in its implementation. I would recommend this target system to anyone looking for something mobile and packable that can be setup virtually anywhere in minutes. The ability to use a variety of targets including paper and hay bales for archery is a cool design and a nod to the well rounded shooter with varied needs.

You can buy your Guardian Target System from Black Creek Armory by clicking here.

Cost: 5
Durability: 3
Functionality: 5
Weight: 5
Overall Rating: 4.5

The scale is defined as:

Poor/unacceptable (1): Worse than expected, or desirable; of a low or inferior standard or quality.
Fair (2): In conformity with reasonable expectations, but in comparison to competitors is may be deficient
Average (3): Common item; item neither lacks from or is superior than a competitors item.
Good (4): The item is desirable and has qualities that excel in comparison to a competitors item
Excellent (5): Outstanding, possesses superior quality; remarkably good

Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Tactical Solutions, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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