Let’s admit it. Shooting paper targets can sometimes be boring. That’s one of the reasons there’s a market for reactive targets. Well what’s the greatest “reaction” one can have? Explosions come to my mind and I came across the biggest boom out there available to the commercial public. The folks of Gryphon Energetics were kind enough to share their “Thundershot” solution to reactive targets and they proved to be one of the most exhilarating products I’ve had an opportunity to review.
Most shooters are generally familiar with exploding targets. Many of them consist of two inert compounds that when get mixed together form a product that will explode when hit by a high velocity object like a bullet. Thundershot falls into this category (technically called binary explosive targets) with some unique twists. Before I go into further depth I have to warn the reader to respect binary explosive targets. Use common sense. Check your local laws and range rules. Be especially concerned about creating secondary projectiles or being too close to the target. Basically, use at your own risk.
Each package of Thundershot comes in its own square plastic container. The square container has a screw top that once opened reveals a sea of small white round pellets. Inside is also a foil package consisting of a gray dust. Preparing the target is clean and easy. Tear open the foil package. Dump it onto the white pellets. Screw the top back in and shake and roll until the white pellets look gray. The target is ready to be shot. According to the manufacturer, setting off Thundershot requires a supersonic round.
One can see in this picture what unmixed (left) and mixed (right) Thundershot look like.
The closest recommended distance is 100 yards and you have a 3”x4” target to hit if you keep Thundershot in its original container. Packaging is pretty clever. The label that wraps around the plastic jar in that each side is a different color, black, blue, pink and yellow. You can also the target jar on its side which gives one a perspective of the clear 3”x3” bottom or round white jar cover. This allows one to set up multiple targets and differentiate between targets that is if an adjacent target doesn’t knock the others over.
I traveled to a friend’s remote property to shoot Thundershot targets. My primary local ranges don’t allow explosive targets. Be sure your range allows the use of exploding targets and keep the target off the ground to minimize secondary projectiles to be uber safe. I shot several Thundershot targets with an AR15. The concussion was a huge surprise. I tested a Thundershot container balanced on a couple of 2”x1” of an existing target stand holding a USPSA target and cardboard backer. The explosion made the target disappear and shattered the top two feet of the 2”x1”.
On subsequent set ups I poured half of prep’d/mixed Thundershot containers into red solo cups and had very satisfying booms. (Find some cheap plastic square jars if you want to try this.) I don’t believe the laws allow you to do this in Canada, but you can in the US and it helps stretch your experience. Pictured is the shattered top of a 2”x1”. Conducting these exercises showed me what an advantage Thundershot has over other binary explosive targets in its square container. Binary Explosives work best when the round travels through the whole solution versus a glancing blow. Flat faced targets facing you ensure a round will travel through the whole solution versus just a portion of it when you hit a glancing shot on a round cylinder like a solo cup. Glancing shots off a red solo cup didn’t ignite the Thundershot. I did not conduct any of my evaluations with a pistol round and the manufacturer states that .22LR, shotguns and most pistol calibers won’t detonate Thundershot.
Thundershot is marketed as the strongest binary explosive target and I believe them. Here’s a video with the results of varying amounts of Thundershot being set off on top of some 10-gauge mild steel plating. It’s also extremely convenient and clean. Besides ensuring one maintains a safe distance be sure to use all mixed Thundershot before leaving the range. It’s something Gryphon Energetics recommends and is a good idea. The compound won’t be ignited by flame or softer strikes but I wouldn’t want to take the chance.
Explosive targets do require some forethought and special considerations. I’d be very leery of using it in conjunction with steel targets (some steel targets have holes in them for a second steel target or flap) unless it was offset by some distance from the target to avoid damaging the target or creating shrapnel. One also must pay special attention to where you employ this target. Again, obey range rules. Be considerate of fellow shooters and neighbors. I think Thundershot easily lends itself to competitive type shooting as well as precision shooting. No matter what, no one can contest that it’s exhilarating to hit your target and create an explosion.
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.
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