Gear Review: CTS Target System, steel targets for pistol, rifle

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Competition Target Systems eight inch plate Pro Kit. The AR500 heavy steel plate is easily replaced, as is the bolt retainer. CTS sells all replacements on their website. Note the classy cut-branding at the top. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Ah, the sound of ringing steel.  It’s a favorite of target plinkers and competition shooters alike.  There’s nothing better than reactive targets.  While there are many target makers out there, few travel easily. Few are affordable either.  Enter CTS.  From simple hanging steel to complete systems, Competition Target Systems (CTS) has shooters covered.  Let freedom ring.

Who is CTS?

Combining high quality AR500 steel with simple, yet innovative designs, CTS has created quality products with reasonable prices. CTS is a division of Teske Manufacturing, a trailer manufacturing outfit and steel production expert based in Springfield, Minnesota.

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The components as they come out of the box from the factory. Assembly from unpack to range-time is only 15 minutes. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Though the target side of their business is a newer venture, they have the market pretty well covered with options.  They offer 0.5 inch, 0.25 inch, and 0.375 inch steel targets in round, gong, square, tombstone, and silhouette.  There are stands, hangers, and brackets and, if your wallet allows, plate rack and gallery options.  In addition, replacement parts are readily available should they ever be needed.  There’s also a three month wear-and-tear warranty and a one year craftsmanship warranty. The only thing not covered is the paint, quite understandably.

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We chose the footed base over the in-ground spike base so we could use the target in frozen winter months. The wide-base held strong with both pistol and rifle abuse. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

The individual targets are handy if you already have a range in place, but as far as we’re concerned, CTS’ bread and butter are the target kits. These provide everything the shooter needs, except for a chunk of 2×4 and that’s why we chose a Pro Kit.

Testing

Our test target was the 2×4 Base Pro Kit, which includes: a Pro Target Hanger, X-Ground base, a 0.375 inch AR500 round target and all necessary hardware.  Our target came as the eight inch model, though three sizes are offered: eight inch, 10 inch, or 12 inch.  All you need is a standard 2×4 cut to your preferred length.  Total assembly time from unpackaging to in the back of the truck and on the way to the range was roughly 15 minutes.  MSRP on our Base Pro Kit is $144.99 and everything is made right here in the USA.

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The prepared target ready for range time. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

We chose the X-Ground base over the spike base because we’d like to make use of the system in the ground-frozen winter months of the Midwest.  Though we were initially worried about the stability of the target prior to ordering, any qualms were dispelled when we felt the weight and design.  All metal parts wear a heavy-duty powder coat finish.  The target is rated for minimum shooting distances of pistols at 15 yards and rifles at 100 yards.  They rate their 0.375 inch plates capable of handling projectiles hitting under 2,700 fps up to 30.06, but according to the company’s website, “if you’re careful and drastically increase distance you can use higher calibers.”

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The top mount of the CTS system easily grips a 2×4 of any length while the spring-loaded steel hanging device helps absorb the shock of the round. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Set up can’t be any quicker, as the target remains assembled and all we did was set it out at the desired distance.  We began with a Ruger SR1911 in 9mm at 20 yards with Winchester Steel Case ammo.  Needless to say, shooting the steel was both a literal and figurative blast.  While punching paper is all fine and dandy, there’s nothing like the positive clang of bullets on steel.  The X-Ground base held firm with no wobble.

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Made in the USA, the CTS Target system accepts any length 2×4 so users can customize it however they like. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

We moved up to a vintage Colt 1911 in .45 ACP for extra wallop, but still no give in the target.  From there, we moved the CTS out to 200 yards and pulled out the big guns, this time a Noveske 22 Nosler and Weatherby Mark V 257 Wby.  Still, the target system held firm with no sign of wear other than scarring of paint on the plate.

Conclusion

While the paint may be mostly gone after 250+ rounds — basically a day on the range — the whole thing will be no worse for wear.  And even if some errant shots damage the wooden 2×4, it’s easy enough to replace.  This is not those wimpy rimfire spinners or some budget metal from the local big box store.  The CTS is a heavy duty, for-real steel target for serious shooters.  At the end of the day, my only question was why didn’t I have one of these sooner?