First Gear | Gotta-Haves: Lightweight And Heavy-Duty From MGM And Robar

posted on April 3, 2016
Don Jones

Mike Gibson Manufacturing 

We’d submit there are few things in practice-type shooting as satisfying as the “ping” of a steel target. Handgunners and rifle wonks alike, we think, would argue it’s the only thing that comes close to powdering a clay pigeon with a shotgun. Sublime. 

Photo credit: Frank Winn

Steel has many purely practical advantages, too. The easy number one is durability: It doesn’t take long to need new paper (over, and over, and over again), and the cost adds up faster than you think (trust us, we’ve taken a sharp pencil to this equation). Second is stability under less-than-ideal conditions (wind, precipitation, etc.). Third is range time efficiency: Even a very modest selection of sizes and shapes will give you a huge variety of practice modes with nary a run downrange to interrupt. Then there’s dual mode hit confirmation. Though certainly is not required, a squirt of paint now and again keeps the target faces fresh—and easily variable by color— in addition to that oh-so-satisfying ding. Especially for new shooters, it’s hard to beat: lots of shooting, very little target “dressing.” 

No mystery then, why we ask our friends at MGM to keep us in their loop, which lately resulted in the arrival of their 1/2 IPSC silhouette plates. It doesn’t take much imagination to see what we like here: The reduced size simulates many aspects of shots at greater distances (the “math” says 4x, we think it “feels” more like 3x), letting you increase the challenge if you have plenty of room, or simulate plenty of distance in closer confines. 

Fabbed from hardened 3/8” AR500, these are tough, superbly challenging pistol or rifle targets. The provided stand and hanger are joined by a 2x4, which you can cut to fit the situation or regulation (for Steel Challenge, say), as well as to keep any misses well down in your backstop. For pistol, they’ll enforce real discipline on trigger actuation: 15 yards is the recommended minimum engagement distance, and if you limit yourself to “A”/”C” hits and speed, real “A”/”C”s will shortly be second nature on a full-sized target. 

Photo credit: Frank Winn

But rifle is where we especially enjoy these. When the 400- and 600-yard ranges are well used, it’s amazing how often we get the 200-yard range to ourselves. We’ve done this with our rounds and other MGM steel before; now, out will come the “halfers.” If COM hits start to seem easy, a dab of paint will force better focus. Or a slash of hard cover. Or a second one as a no-hit hostage. Our favorite is to spread two or three, and force a progressively greater body shift and wider swing over the bipod. Do this with a pal and a “par” time on your timer, and the hootin’ and hollerin’ aren’t long in coming. 

Two cautions with steel, as much fun and as incredibly rugged as they seem: Know your ammo (certain things like XM193 should never be shot at them), and always, always, always wear eye protection. 

IPSC targets are also available in reactive 2/3 and static full sizes. Also take a peak at MGM’s excellent steel target FAQ here

Visit MGM at 

Robar Companies 

In our own defense, we formalize a First Gear rule: We only stop talking about a given outfit when they stop sending us good stuff to tell you about. Until then, repetitions are fair game. 

So here we are with Robar. Again. 

Photo credit: Frank Winn

If America’s 1st Freedom is the official journal of choice with your NRA membership (remember you get to pick, and change if you like), you may have a hint as to why: Our December review of their PolymAR-15 Ti (reprised in digital here) pretty well lit us up. It’s a 4.6-pound, well sub-MOA, M4-type Stoner variant that we didn’t want to send back. If they weren’t such decent folks, perhaps we could have nurtured a hint of real irritation as we bid it adieu. There was no actual crying, but … 

Any such juvenility would have to end now, however: If the expedient of simply ordering a Titanium (or the very slightly heavier, steel-based C, L, P, R or SC versions) was for some unfathomable reason not appealing, you can now get the polymer core of Robar’s lightweight wonder and DIY. 

That surprised us a little, frankly, but General Manager Freddie Blish (USMC, Ret.) was quick to set us straight: “Robar is happy to sell the PolymAR-15 upper & lower as a set with the X7 Assembly Tool for those customers that enjoy building their carbines or just want to use components other than the ones used by Robar to build their PolymAR-15 carbines.” Hmmmmmm; we think we detect a sly Marine at work. We already suspect these guys know something we don’t—hardly a first—but guess there’s only one way to find out for sure. At any rate, our order is in. 

If the idea of a polymer heart to America’s favorite rifle daunts and tantalizes you, take a look at another no-glitches Robar touch—a thorough video on installing a barrel and comp/brake to your polymer upper using their provided custom tool (preserve that warranty!). 

We’ll have a report before long. 

Visit the Robar Companies at Upper/lower kits (including the X& assembly tool) start at $279.95


Dianna Muller
Dianna Muller

Shooting Straight with Dianna Muller

You may remember Dianna Muller from when she testified before Congress in 2019. Many seemed surprised by her strong statements, especially coming from a retired police officer.

The Statistical Truth About the Impact of Constitutional Carry

Self-defense is a natural right and constitutional carry is spreading. Despite what the Biden administration argues, armed citizens are not the problem. The statistics back this up.

What Firearms Have “Common-Use” Protections?

The text of the Second Amendment is explicit, and since it is a right, the people, not the government, decide. Yet, gun-control activists are still intent on attempting to define exactly what "arms" are protected by it.

2022 NRA Annual Meetings And Exhibits In Houston, Texas

From entertainment to special events, it’s all happening in the Lone Star State, where NRA members will gather at the George R. Brown Convention Center May 27-29 to celebrate freedom and honor those who have served our country.

On Freedom’s Frontlines

In Ukraine, a vivid and inspirational example of the need for the right to keep and bear arms could not be more apparent.

The Armed Citizen® May 20, 2022

True stories of the right to keep and bear arms.

Get the best of America's 1st Freedom delivered to your inbox.