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Safe backstops and bullet traps

by B.B. Pelletier

Many of us shoot our airguns inside the house, garage or barn and need to stop our projectiles from damaging what’s behind the target. Today, I want to talk about what works, what doesn’t and why. My sermon today is in the form of a repentant sinner, because I’ve made most of the mistakes I’m telling you to avoid.

The difference between a trap and a backstop
A bullet trap is designed to stop whatever is shot into it. Targets are hung in front of the trap, and it’s expected to stop all bullets/ammo/pellets/BBs that enter.

A backstop is often set behind the trap to stop the bullets that miss the trap. If there’s a trap, the backstop is only called upon occasionally; but sometimes there’s no trap — just the backstop, in which case the backstop, alone, has to stop everything.

Starting with BB guns
When I was a boy, the most popular trap for BB guns was a trash can or wastepaper basket filled with crushed newspapers. It worked, but not for very long, so let’s talk about that. Crushed newspapers are great padding for packages. The newspapers have enough resiliency to keep the contents of the package firmly in place — unless those contents are very heavy. And the same crushed newspapers will stop BBs from low-powered BB guns — like Red Ryders — for a short time.

But — and this is important — even a Red Ryder will eventually shoot through the crushed newspapers when one BB after another impacts in the same spot. And, if the BB gun is more powerful, it doesn’t take as long to tear through. Red Ryders shoot at around 300-350 f.p.s. But some powerful BB guns like the Remington AirMaster 77 top 700 f.p.s. They’ll rip through crushed newspapers in one-tenth the time it takes a Red Ryder to get through. When you’re making a BB trap, consider both the length of time you’ll be shooting at the trap as well as the potential velocity of the gun doing the shooting.

A better way to stop BBs is to provide a backstop that has some give — like a piece of wall-to-wall carpet. When the backstop moves, it robs the projectile of a lot of velocity, which prevents bounceback — the bane of the BB gun. And wall-to-wall carpet has a very tough base that seems impervious to steel BBs at Red Ryder velocities. I know of clubs that have made BB gun ranges with large sections of wall-to-wall carpet that not only stop the BBs but which hang to the floor and are folded into a trough at the bottom to funnel all the BBs into a container, simplifying cleanup. A backstop like that and a large powerful magnet makes cleanup an easy chore.

Of course, you can buy a commercial BB trap that will do all I’ve described. Crosman’s model 850/852 trap is perfect for low-velocity BB guns and works for low-velocity pellets, as well. The only problem is that Crosman has them made in China, and sometimes they’re out of stock for a very long time. The UTG pellet & BB trap is very similar and will do the same things. It costs a few dollars more, but the supply is more regular. Both of these traps have “ballistic curtains” that absorb the energy of BBs at low velocity. A thin steel backplate ultimately stops the projectile. Of course, you’ll want to put a larger backstop behind this trap for those few projectiles that miss the trap altogether.

This Crosman 850 BB trap has stopped thousands of BBs and pellets. Notice how the ballistic curtains have been torn up from all the shots.

For the more powerful BB guns — those with muzzle velocities over 400 f.p.s. — I don’t like carpet. Like crushed newspaper, it’s possible to shoot through it if you keep hitting in the same spot. For those guns, I prefer an actual trap filled with duct seal and use the carpet as a backstop behind the trap. The few BBs that hit the carpet won’t hit in the same place, and it should work fine. If the range is to be more permanent, however, put some plywood behind the carpet and keep an eye on the carpet and replace it as needed.

On to pellets
Pellets are made of lead, mostly, though there’s a movement to use other metals that are less toxic. Lead absorbs energy when it deforms against a hard target. Up to 600 f.p.s., lead continues to flatten out until a spent pellet has become a flat round disk with just a trace of the skirt still visible. At velocities above 600 f.p.s., lead starts to break apart upon impact. First, it breaks off in large chunks traveling at low velocity. As the impact velocity continues to rise, the lead fragments get smaller and travel faster. Above 700 f.p.s., they’re traveling fast enough to break lights up to 15 feet away from the trap.

This pellet was flattened at 600 f.p.s. or less, You can still see the pellet’s skirt, including the rifling that’s engraved into both it and the head that is flattened.

This pellet was moving faster than 600 f.p.s. when it hit and has started to break apart. It’s a smaller caliber than the first pellet, but the breakup happens in the same way regardless of size.

You don’t want to use a lightweight pellet trap for pellets that move at higher velocities! They’ll even punch through steel plates if they’re thin enough. For pellet guns, some thought must be given to what kind of trap you use.

I use three traps in my work. One is the BB trap already mentioned. Regular readers of this blog know that I shoot several hundred rounds each week. Often one test involves from 100 to 200 shots. So, my traps (I’m not talking about backstops yet) have to be up to the task.

Heavy Duty Bullet trap
For all my most powerful airguns, I use a Heavy Duty bullet trap designed to stop a .22 long rifle bullet. I bought mine about 20 years ago and I thought $45 was a lot to pay. Today, you’ll pay over $75 for the same thing, but it’s the last bullet trap (of that type) you’ll ever buy. My trap has seen hundreds of thousands of pellets and bullets over the years — and except for the paint, it’s still as good as new today.

My workhorse heavy-duty pellet trap hides behind the cardboard facer. The white backer board behind is half an inch thick and will stop pellets with up to 50 foot-pounds of energy.

This is the trap I use when I shoot 25 yards inside the house, and over the years I’ve missed this trap a couple dozen times, so I learned long ago to back it with something strong. I use a board of white synthetic material that Edith gave me years ago. It’s supposed to be a special board she bought over 15 years ago for kneading bread dough, but it warped just enough that it twirls and moves freely on the countertop during use, so now it’s mine. Since I started using this backer board with the steel trap, nothing has slipped past.

The final trap I use is the one that blog reader Jim Contos gave me. I wrote a special blog describing how to build one for yourself. Jim gave me this trap after I reported shooting through my homemade silent pellet trap that I’d used for many years. After cleaning the trap and replacing all the duct seal, I was testing a Beeman HW100 S FSB, which is a 26 foot-pound PCP rifle. Within just a few shots I shot clean through the duct seal and the steel plate behind it! I’ve used this trap for a very long time and with some powerful airguns. What was different this time was the lack of a wadded mass of lead pellets to help slow the pellets that were shot. So they sailed right through the trap!

This is what happens when a 26 foot-pound pellet rifle hits two-inches of duct seal in the same place repeatedly. There’s a thin steel plate between that plywood back and the duct seal, and the pellets zipped through it!

I don’t back this trap with anything. because I use it only for chronograph testing, where the muzzle is a foot from the trap. I haven’t come close to missing the trap in over 25,000 shots!

How large should the backer be?
Make the backer large enough to positively stop all rounds that are shot in the direction of the target. If you’re the only shooter, maybe the backer can be smaller; but if your range will ever host other shooters of varying abilities, make it bigger. When we lived in Maryland, I often let others shoot on my basement range. I used a 3/4-inch plywood backer that was 4 feet square. Even then it was just enough to stop all the wild shots. Not everyone waits to sight the gun before their finger moves to the trigger!

Let’s review
So, you always want to stop your projectile positively. Sometimes that’s done with just a target backer, like a piece of wall-to-wall carpet. Other times, you use a trap to stop the projectile and put the backer behind it in case you miss the trap.

Shooting safe is imperative, because there’s no room for error here. How you stop your projectiles makes all the difference between a safe home range and a serious accident or injury. This is one area where you always want to err on the safe side!

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

105 thoughts on “Safe backstops and bullet traps”

  1. Great tips! Once again it’s like you were reading my mind as I was talking pellet trap yesterday on the CAF!
    Since I only use low powered airguns I gave a thick foam sold for stoping arrows, not the big 100$ cubes, it was just a large (24X24) piece of shiny, high density foam, I tested it at close range with a few different pellets and rifles and nothing went thru, at close range a high powered .177 rifle a visiting friend had was able to get out the other side but that’s the only one, it makes a nice WHACK sound when you hit it and the pellets seem to never travel in a straight line reducing the chances of hitting another pellet that’s already caught inside. It was around 30$ at a Canadian Wallyworld, it’s my outside target, inside I use a gamo rocker and the Crosman you showed in this report.
    Targets you can reset by shooting at them are the best for me.

    I have a question, if I were to build myself a silent pellet trap using the putty you mention here, do I have to dig the old pellets out or can I just shoot it time after time after time? I could only use it for low powered rifles and pistols…


    • J-F,

      If you build a silent trap with duct seal as a backer eventually (10,000 pellets?) you will want to dig the stacked pellets out and replace these crevices with parts of pugs of duct seal. Not shooting in the exact same place (aligning your targets differently) will prolong the necessity of this exercise.

      If you’re shooting “low powered” pellet guns consider getting cardboard boxes (wine boxes?) and stuffing them with old clothes and then affixing your targets on the exterior of the boxes. I’ve used similar boxes stuffed with old clothes, bed sheets, newspaper, etc. for a long time. Don’t overstuff the boxes so they bulge and make your targets bow since it’s unnecessary to stop a low velocity pellet and makes affixing targets difficult.


    • J-F,

      I shot my homemade silent pellet trap about 25,000 times before I cleaned it. When I finally did the pellets were bouncing back out of the trap at me.

      But after I cleaned it was when I shot through it. So “season the trap with several thousand pellets before you start shooting it with higher-powered airguns.


      • I just might build myself one then, I always had the impression you had to clean it more often.
        Can it be left outside? It would look better then that big white square against the green of the backyard.


        • J-F,
          I have always cleaned the pellets out of my duct seal trap. I was afraid of bounce back if too many pellets were embedded. Sounds like that doesn’t happen in BB’s experience. I am getting more and more reluctant (read lazy) to do that. First, it is time consuming if you wait too long, second it does weaken the trap, whereas, if you leave the pellets in, it strengthens the trap to a point as BB described. Due to cleaning, my trap is very weak in the spot that gets the most hits. I need to fortify that spot with new pugs.

          I vow, as of right now, after reading this post, I am not going to clean the duct seal any more. I will see what the consequences are. I will keep it in place for a additional back stop protection and for larger targets and the more powerful guns. I am going to put metal traps in front of the duct seal. I am spending as much money on traps, over time, that could have been spent on a TX200. 🙂 Okay, I exaggerated.

          I like to save my spent pellets and melt them into lead molds, outside, where there is plenty of air circulation. The duct seal, paper shreds, etc. becomes slag when melted, but isn’t any problem.

          With the 850 trap, it will be much easier to retrieve the pellets. I might pop for the Heavy Duty one some day.


      • So , this stop and trap a real gun bullet .22 caliber without going through it ? ? question i assume it stops a pellet the shoot at 1500 fps 20grain = 100 foot pound energy ? ? and will it stop alloy pellets? I am looking at buying > Stoeger Arms X50 Breakbarrel Air Rifle Combo … I shoot in my at my house in my Garage Also , i live in a city so i don’t want the law at my house from me doing target shooting..

        • Tony,

          You are not clear about your question, byt yes, a Champion bullet trap is made to stop .22 long rifle bullets. I have shot hundreds into mine with no effect.

          That’s what it is made for.

          No pellet made can travel 1,500 f.p.s. That is pure fiction made up by marketeers. And a 20-grain pellet cannot come even close t=o that speed. So your question is moot.

          This trap will be very safe with a Stoeger Z20.


    • Well, this is uncanny. Day before yesterday I was in our new Bass Pro Shop and saw one of these Crosman 850 traps and bought it to see how it works. Works great. Very easy to hang targets on it with tape. It does require a cardboard cover on the front which does get shot up pretty quickly but that is something you’ll need for any target if you want nice clean wadcutter holes. I haven’t tried just hanging a target off the frame with no cardboard backing but it looks like it could be done and be similar to the way BB is hanging targets on his Heavy Duty trap.

  2. For indoor shooting I’m a huge fan of the champions/outers bullet trap. I’m amazed that this isn’t talked about more on airgun forums since it’s indestructible. Silent traps filled with electric duct seal are ok but require maintenance.

    Let’s not forget the LE backers that were first mentioned by rocket scientist jane. Great backers for higher powered guns and can also be used if a thrift store quilt is hung in front to capture ricochets when shot indoors for mid/low powered airguns:


    B.B., Anxiously awaiting the Friday topic. Give Mac my kind regards.


    • Kevin: Thank-you for posting that link on those mats. I didn’t know about those, and was thinking of using horse stall mats from tractor supply for the same purpose ,but they are much thinner. Used a rubber bed mat from one of my old work trucks for years for the same purpose, but it has rotted out.
      BB:I’m also awaiting Fridays blog topic. Shooting outside here has ceased temporarily for me due to a nor eastern that left a foot of heavy wet snow on the ground here. It will be sopping wet here for a week or more after this mess melts latter in the week.

      • KA,
        If the guy was shooting at the exact target you show in your link please note that that target has rubber blocks that are backed by 3/8″” AR500 rifle grade steel. The block I bought ( 2’x2’x2″ ) does not have the steel backing. Without the steel backing .22 rimfire will penetrate it at 10m.

        I think one of the purposes of the rubber it to prevent ricochet of those bullets that penetrate through to the steel.

        Here’s the one I have:


        Make sure it is backed by steel.

        • I can see where bounce back would be an issue with these and a lesser powered pellet gun. Yes, the $1500.00 5 block stand thing comes with the steel plate. Still, I was impressed by the visual of the guy blasting away at a target so close with a bolt action rifle!! They claim it handles a .338 magnum and that’s plenty a powerful shot!


    • I must caution you all about the LE backers. At 10m they create serious bounce back with lower powered airguns. My IZH-61s and Bronco, to mention a couple, will bounce back. My .177 Taoln SS and .22 Marauder will embed. My .22 rimfire will penetrate 10m.

  3. Unfortunately, I do not have these problems with stopping pellets. I do not have a wife who will let me shoot in the house. She has suggested setting up a range in the garage and that could happen sometime in the future, but I would not be able to get a full ten meters there as I can in the house. Maybe if I start writing about airguns she will let me do it.

  4. I have one of the Champion traps and one nice feature is that it is easy to recycle the lead for casting bullets.

    The thing I don’t like is the loud “clank” when .25 cal pellets hit the trap; it gets old after a while. A large bag of grass seed or dirt laying on the back of the trap really quiets it down.

    Paul in Liberty County

  5. I have blown some holes in BB and pellet traps. Too much power in the first place does it. Hitting it too hard too many times in the same place does it too.

    What would be ideal would be to have a motorized trap right behind the target holder that keeps moving the trap around a little all the time, and a heavy stopper behind that .

    The setup I have in the basement now is like this…
    I have a shooting bench with a rest on it, a chrono right in front of it, and a duct seal trap on the far side of the room. There is also a sheet of 16 guage steel suspended right behind the trap.
    The trap is suspended from the cieling so that the center is the same height above the floor that the rifle barrel will be on the rest, and level to the floor. The chrono is set up level and at the right height that the pellets fly about 4″ over the screens.


  6. I use a retired pair of railroad rail locating plates,behind a bow target.Behind that is an inch and a half of plywood,then a massive tree.Nothing I have can’t be stopped by it.Inside I use a big aluminum
    commercial skillet,filled with 20lbs of pug seal.No big bores inside though,as I found big dents in the back of the skillet.The aluminum deforms,cast iron shatters……I broke a skillet using only a stock 2240 from 20 yds.

  7. I made my pellet back stop out of lead. The pellets just sticks to the lead plate making no sound at all. When the plate gets too many shots I melt it again in the oven and the pellets become part of the plate making it thicker. Mine is half inch thick now. Try it you folks, you will never buy another pellet trap. Best regards form Argentina.

  8. My set-up is similar: for repeater/action BB guns I use a paper target pinned to a cardboard backer hanging from a piece of carpet. Since i’ve blown through the carpet I now have a piece of wood as the backer to that with the carpet stapled to it. For pellets I replace the paper and cardboard target with a steel trap with resettable targets (Daisy-made). BB range is about 12ft and pellet range is but 9 yds (small, cluttered basement).

    • Since i’ve blown through the carpet I now have a piece of wood as the backer to that with the carpet stapled to it.

      I’d suggest a layer of foam between the carpet and wood… It is the flex of a hanging fabric stop that absorbs the impacts (the energy is spent “slapping” the carpet). With it stapled to a solid wood, the impact is now being absorbed by flattening the fibers of the carpet against the wood.

  9. I have 2 different traps I made. One was to take a sheet of about 1/8″ x-ray room lead and fold it 4 times into a square. I then used a plywood backing and 2X4 frame. I have been shooting into this for years and it’s now a couple of inches thick.

    The other was to take a metal baking pan and lay a thin piece of sheet metal in the bottom. Then I melted some new and used candles in it until it was about 2″ thick. I got mine free from yard sale throw outs. As they built up they made a nice layer buried in the wax. When I have to many holes in the wax I just put it out in the sun and it melts flat again. I also have been using that for years.

  10. I have the Champion pellet trap. That thing is built like a tank. I’ve probably got 10,000 pellets at it. Other than replacing the clip that holds the target in place (yeah.. hit it a few times) and the paint missing, there is not so much as a ding in it. Well worth the 70 or so bucks I paid for it.

    I’ve heard some folks using conveyor belt material (I assume salvaged from scrap yards) for backing; very heavy rubber and stops pellets dead in their tracks.

    • Lucky you… I’m not sure of the name on mine, but same design, rated for .22LR at reasonable distances…

      My .22 RWS mod54 put a distinct dent in the “reservoir” (the curved metal at the bottom front). Granted, the distance was around 30 feet, not 75 (Estimate: trap was on back wall of parking stall; stall is long enough to hold a Jeep Cherokee and an Aprilia Scarabeo 500 (maxi-)scooter nose in (~12 ft + ~6 ft), shooting position was back wall of drive way (wide enough for two cars to pass with a few feet clearance — ~6 + ~6 + 3)… So, about 33 feet, but take up the 3 feet with trap and barrel length…

      Scope was obviously sighted for a longer distance so pellet was still on ascending part of trajectory. Smashed through a marker pen being used to add weight to the target paper, and created a nearly dime sized indentation (the paint spatter is more quarter sized).

  11. I have the bullet trap from Pyramid and it is fine because if it stops a .22 them any air gun will be safe to use.The important thing is even with the trap it is a good idea for the back stop to be at least one or two feet on either side for insurance when shooting indoors.I used to live in rural PA and I was able to shoot in my back yard, but here in Florida it’s a little more built up.So most of my shooting is inside.I went to Home Depot and made a stand with two by fours that holds the bullet trap with the back drop behind it and I hang the trap in the middle so if a shot goes astray it will hit the sides
    and not my walls.I put casters on the bottom so it is movable and it folds when not in use.When I shoot bb’s I stagger rug samples back to back and slightly slanted so the bb’s and pellets fall in the pail.

  12. I use a rimfire trap that my wife gave me as a Xmas gift 15-20 years ago and the backer is one of the heavy mudflaps from a big truck that I spotted on a hiway median and reversed course to salvage after an epiphany concerning it’s use for me. It’s ideal! Tom

  13. I have been using a box of drywall mud from Home Depot, or your choice of hardware store. $7.00 and it holds a LOT of pellets, seals up over night, and is disposable when the time comes. Heavy, yes, but it stops everything I shoot at it with, even rimfire at a distance. Not sure how it would hold up for the 1000 shots a day guy, but for 100 shots it works good, and can be rotated if one side is getting shot out too bad. Though lately I have been considering using another style of trap, so as to be able to collect the spent lead.

    I REALLY like Marcelo’s trap! Thanks Marcelo for sharing that!


  14. B.B.,
    1) I’m sure glad no one in the neighborhood was shooting a Remington Airmaster 77; they weren’t the brightest or the most compassionate bunch.

    2) The trap I most like is one I saw around 1971. I was made of heavy steel for at least .22 long rifle. It was like a barrel turned on its side, but the barrel was warped to have an opening in which to shoot. The projectile would follow the arc of the barrel. The barrel arc became tighter so when the projectile reached the end of that arc it simply hit the back of the barrel and continued to travel in a circle until it lost all energy. There may be some drawback I am unaware of, but if I had this I expect I would use it for everything from bb’s to .22 long rifle.

    4) The gang has given me information to consider and as always I very much appreciate what everyone here has to offer.

    5) Feeling pretty good; I hope this means I am have good reason to feel good.


    3) Marcelo Cerdán, what a wonderful idea. I have had a couple of lead bricks for many years. I have fired three or four pellets at one of the bricks and have seen how the pellet becomes part of the brick. And as you say, it does so silently. I have considered how the lead could work as a trap but never thought it through. Great job, Marcelo.

    4) I currently am allowed to shoot only outside. I have a couple of 2×12 boards to which carpet samples are nailed (the kind you can use as door mats) 2 thick. Then nailed to that is a little Gamo trap. It has taken a beating but it has worked so far. I do need to get something better, though. Out to 30 yards I have been able to place almost all shots into the trap (that’s a six inch square so the groups may be nothing to write home about).

    • Wish I could shoot anything out doors, but in my area even a sling shot is illegal.

      Yesterday I finally picked up a pistol for the first time since surgery. As I wrote a while back I did start shooting a rifle, but it turned out that was a premature bad idea, so I laid off again totally. It feels good to shoot again, but my arm and wrist are just *weak*! I don’t know when I’ll get the strength back to shoot a 60 shot string.

      But I did keep 10 shots inside the 8 ring once I got warmed up and before the arm got tired, so not too bad after a 6 week layoff.

      Prognosis still looks good, but it’s now clear I do need follow-on radiation. It’s the difference between a 95+% cure rate and a 70% one.


      • Pete, good to hear from you. I know what you mean by *weak*. I have become frustrated with the need to atrophy, but I know I can get more fit once I have healed sufficiently. I regret that you need radiation, but I am glad your prognosis is so much greater.

        I live in an unincorporated area. Occasionally, my neighbors who have more land shoot firearms. As long as they shoot them safely, I am unlikely to mind. The only thing I am sure of regarding the airgun is that I need to insure that the pellet does not cross the property boundary. I only shoot in one direction because that way has a storage shed just in case I ever cross that line. The other way there are children who play and I shall never shoot in that direction no matter how good I think my precautions are.

        Well, here’s a toast to our health and to improved groups.


      • pete…
        Have they told you what the effects of radiation will be? Or what the aftereffects will be?

        Been there, and for a 50-50 chance only. I got the whole works.


        • Hi, Ken and TT,

          Doesn’t matter here in Fairfax County, VA. The mere act of shooting is illegal. Of course the cops have to know about it — and my problem is the neighbors. Our closest has 2 dogs and 1 younger kid. She’s paranoid about everything outdoorsy. We have deer and foxes and woodchucks and of course ‘coons living in the yard. Which is a benefit, as far as I’m concerned. They’re all fun to look at, and their young ones a hoot to watch. But neighbor is always worried that they’ll hurt her kid or her dogs and keeps calling animal control to remove them (to their credit, animal control tells her ‘no’). A gunshot would send her through the roof.

          I think the other neighbors would feel about the same.

          TT, this radiation treatment is likely to be a bit different. The cancer was deeply in my cheek just in front of the ear. The volume that needs irradiation is about a 2 cm x 0.5 cm cylinder. Standard therapy would irradiate about 10x that, just because it’s not well focused. The Cyber Knife would get just a couple of millimeters outside the boundary and stay the hell away from the tongue and brain. I’m told I’ll have a sore throat for a few weeks after and a red cheek for 6 months, but will not experience the usual nausea nor any chance of a burned tongue. I also won’t need to have a couple of dental crowns removed for fear they will scatter x-ray where it doesn’t belong.

          And treatment only lasts a week, 60 minutes at a crack. So wha’s the down side? For this cancer it’s still somewhat experimental, and there are only a couple of papers studying its effectiveness. Both done by my doc and his team and showing “no statistical difference” with standard. Well, statistical estimates are tongue in cheek: there are only about 135 cases per year in the whole country! The 7 or 8 top specialists see only about a dozen each; most radiation oncologists see only one or two, so they truly have no useful experience.

          I’m a high energy and nuclear physicist. I’ve spent my whole career avoiding the radiation that goes with my business, so yes I have a damned good idea of the potential side effects and am trying harder ‘n hell to minimize them. Oddly, scarily, this kind of tumor is caused by radiation, and I’ve no idea how I got the dose. Of course, it’s statistical and a weak effect, so you cannot tie it to any specific event — but I am talking to my old colleagues from grad school and so on. Now, of course, the gland is gone, so treatment won’t cause a recurrence.


          • Pete, it sounds like your neighbors would freak out even if you could legally shoot your airguns on you own property. I feel fortunate. I also don’t hunt on my small tract of land. I will have to do that elsewhere. I realize some folks have issues with critters on their property (Edith, I do understand your situation) that we don’t have. Currently there are two dogs and four cats (the dogs have a large fenced in area and the cats roam free). Two cats recently disappeared. I miss them.

            Dr. Gary Kraus, the neurosurgeon, also a treatment called Gamma Knife (I think it is the same as CyberKnife).

            Pete, I look forward to being able to use the gym on campus again (just some appropriate exercises and levels of difficulty) and hopefully regain my pre-surgery fitness at least.

            Here’s hoping you have a swift recovery and begin hitting the center again soon.


  15. I made two pellet/bb traps, one using carpet samples which I get for free from most any carpet shop, the other using a circuit breaker panel lined with duct seal. Since it’s cold in my cellar all winter, the duct seal stiffens, and bbs will ricochet off of the surface – no such problem with the carpet. To solve the bb problem, I hang a thin piece of cardboard (the cardboard from a 6-pack of beer works fine) beneath the target. RC

  16. Hm, I’ve violated most of the rules here although not in a way to jeopardize safety. My first trap was the Crosman 850. I’m sure it does well with what it was designed for but not from magnum spring rifles (B30) at 20 feet or tens of thousands of rounds from my IZH 61 and Crosman 1077. A check showed that the ballistic curtains had been completely ripped apart so that there was nothing left but a few shreds. Not being anyone’s fool, I loaded up with trap with duct seal. But after a time, I found that repeated impacts had completely separated the steel plate backing from the rest of the trap and was simply hanging on the mass of duct seal.

    I finally went with the .22 LR trap and all is well. But I’ve found that repeated shots from the B30 will blow large holes clear through over an inch of duct seal. Water will wear down anything and so will a pellet gun with continuous firing.

    B.B., what is the difference between the trapdoor mechanism and the falling block design? The trapdoor looks like a block is falling out of the way. Given the way that the Martini Henry was used in the movies, and I’m guessing the 1873 Springfield as well, it doesn’t look like trigger adjustment played a big part. In fact, you might want a heavier trigger to prevent setting the rifle off prematurely while you are shaking in fright and waiting for your turn to fire a volley.

    Fred PRoNJ, heard bad things about the Remington LR ammo. What you want is Wolf Target Match Ammo. The stuff is cheap, and with it, I have shot test type targets in my Anschutz–10 shots into a dime at 50 yards. The Wolf also does great in my Ruger Single Six which has trouble with some other ammo because of its semi-target chambering. The Wolf is the last word!


    • Matt,

      A Trapdoor breechblock is hinged at the front and swings up from the rear. So the block swings up rather than down. It also ejects the cartridges with vigor.

      It’s a weak action but a very reliable one. As long as you use the right ammo it will function for centuries.

      The Martini Henry action is much stronger and more refined. It is very rugged as well, and should last a long time.


  17. BB,

    COMPLETELY off topic here. I’d like to submit a pic for the Big Shot of the Week contest. However, I refuse to sign up for Facebook. I don’t twitter either. I don’t like being quite so “connected”. Is there any other way to submit?


  18. My bb and pellet trap is a HEAVY water pipe cut in half and painted with a bolt in the back to prop it up. So if you shoot it with a bb it rolls down and below my target.

  19. This is such a great blog.

    I can’t believe all the great ideas that were shared today about pellet traps. Some ingenious ideas.

    Thanks guys.

    B.B., you hit another one out of the park. Thanks.


  20. I have bragged about this many times before but I feel drawn to do it yet again.

    My older brother works in a metal shop. I emailed him a photo of the Champion trap /product/champion-heavy-duty-metal-trap?a=1026 and asked him if he could build me one like it in his spare time with scrap metal. Not long after receiving it, I decided to put it to the test.

    I unloaded two mags of .22lr into it from my Walther P22 with nary a scratch. Then I decided to see if it could handle 9mm FMJ rounds. I shot 3 times. The two that hit the flat part of the back created two VERY slight dents. The one that hit the slanted portion did nothing. There was no duct seal or any padding of any kind at the time. Yes it was very stupid of me to try such a stunt, and yes I let the cats outside first.

    I keep trying to talk my brother into selling these things. However, it weighs so danged much it would cost more to ship than to buy.

  21. Hi – I did not read all answers and maybe someone already mentioned this – ground up tires make a good backstop. One of the local ranges uses this for handguns to rifles. Granted, it is a thick. It is just piled in the stalls and makes a 45 degree angle “wall” that bullets contact. Ground up rubber can be purchased at Home Depot. Just a thought if has not already been noted.


  22. Your link to the Crosman 850 trap now links to the model 852, which is labeled on your website as only a “Pellet Trap”. In fact the description clearly states “Do not use this trap with BBs, .25-caliber pellets or steel-tipped pellets”. I notice other websites describe this trap as the “Crosman 850 852 Pellet & BB Trap” and don’t include the BB prohibition as does yours. What’s the deal?

    • Dave,

      The “deal” is this report was written in 2012, when the Crosman 850 trap was still recommended for BBs. Crosman has since changed their minds and now markets the trap under a different model number for pellets, only.

      Things change with time.


    • Dave,

      Crosman’s 850 trap was for pellets & BBs. Their 852 trap is for pellets only. Here’s the info from Crosman’s site:


      The above does not say you can’t use it with steel BBs, but I believe that’s what’s written on the back of the trap. I’ll ask our tech department to take a look at the warnings on the back of the trap & let you know if it confirms that BBs are not allowed.


  23. BB,

    Please post to your blog with how the “things change with time” argument played out in court after someone sues PA for injuring themselves based on your outdated recommendations – which could easily have been corrected or at least deleted.

    Edith made the correct response to my question, without resorting to sass. Unfortunately she didn’t follow up as she promised.


    • Dave,

      I checked our files, and I see that you posted this comment on 9/15/13:

      Submitted on 2013/09/15 at 12:36 am
      Your link to the Crosman 850 trap now links to the model 852, which is labeled on your website as only a “Pellet Trap”. In fact the description clearly states “Do not use this trap with BBs, .25-caliber pellets or steel-tipped pellets”. I notice other websites describe this trap as the “Crosman 850 852 Pellet & BB Trap” and don’t include the BB prohibition as does yours. What’s the deal?

      I failed to respond to a comment after I discovered the answer, which was given to me much later than expected. By that time, I’d forgotten that I also needed to answer an inquiry on the blog. That’s what happens when you’re old 🙂 However, the product description on Pyramyd Air’s site is correct.

      I read Tom’s answer, and it was just an ordinary reply that he would have given to anyone. There was no sass.


  24. Good morning BB I’m sure this probably doesn’t quite fit this article but it’s as close as I could find to ask this question. I have a range of 33 feet set up in my basement. I share the length of it with my wife’s wood shop (not at same time) as we now have grandchildren and my wife is making more things for them,I would like to give her more room and move my range to different area of basement. This new area would be between 15 and 18 feet. I shoot mainly replica bb guns and a couple pellet rifles Gamo Silent Cat being most powerful,1077,Crossman pellet pistol,the rest are replica bb guns. Will this space work,in your opinion? I wasn’t sure about the pellet distance. I saw an article where you stated you have 16 feet.
    Thanks for any help you or anyone could give me on this. Giving up the space is the best move but I want to keep a range.

    Have a blessed day

    • Ellicott,

      Welcome to the blog Ellicott! It’s up to you to make the range work. In my case I’m limited to about the same distance as you are. I use iron sights and a very small target, I use the rubber eraser of a pencil as a stamp for the dot I place on the card I shoot at. What are you using as a bullet trap though and what is your backstop? The Gamo Whisper Silent Cat is a powerful one to use at that short distance. It will chew through plywood and chipboards in short order. More readers can respond if you post in the latest blog. There is no hard rule that you have to post about the topic on the current blog.


      • I have a backstop of 4×4 feet with an old steel road sign sandwiched between two pieces of 3/4 inch plywood as my backstop with cardboard lining it to dampen the sound. I also have a target solely for bb that I used an old stand up bookshelf plywood backed and cardboard lined and on that I have several duct seal targets that I move around. Thanks for the response I am open to any ideas.
        Have a blessed day Siranko


      The distance will work, but it won’t put the pellet rifles under much stress. I only shoot BB gun at 16 feet. I shoot pellet guns at a minimum of 33 feet, but it can be done closer. You will have to resight any scoped guns you have and they will be too high at other distances.

  25. Thanks so much BB. I am mainly still using iron sights but am looking into a couple bug buster scopes as I believe they can be set down to ten feet,my older eyes aren’t as good with the iron sights anyways. My backstop is set up to handle most anything I can throw at it in air gun arena.
    Most of the replicas I like are bb anyhow so that’s ok too.

    Be blessed

    • Ellicott,

      I am fortunate to have a nice long range in my basement of 17 yards. I too share the basement with my wife and grand daughter. They have a treadmill and both use it regularly. My basement is not partitioned off so I can move things around to accommodate everyone. I just make sure that when I shoot no one else is in the basement. It’s nice to have a good distance to shoot because there are many circumstances that prevent me from shooting outside. There’s always something like heat, wind, rain, snow, and other things to contend with outside. Then also, I have to carry all my gear upstairs and set up outside, and then take it all back down again, too much work to do all the time. You have a nice backstop though. I made a standing backstop with a box filled with duct seal. My Urban still tears it up pretty badly though. I have read that making a backstop using the rubber mulch as a filler works really well too. I only shoot pellet rifles so my backstop can be smaller. Mine is only large enough to hold a 8 1/2″ x 11″ target that I print out on my computer printer. My suggestion would be to try to keep as much length as possible for your range.
      And welcome to the blog too 🙂

        • ELLICOTT,

          Welcome too. I use a 1/2″ OSB box, 100% framed with 2×2 inside and a 1/8″ steel plate in the back. I shoot powerful .22 and .25’s into it with the muzzle no more than 3′ from the front (chrony work). The steel plate is backed with foam rubber pads and dampens the noise well.

          The front is hinged and has a 9×12 cutout in the front that I hang a corrugated cardboard target backer on.

          The nice part, open the door and scoop up the lead,…. and bb’s. No bb’s bounce back through the cardboard.

          To go further, you can add a swinging rubber matt in front of the steel, about 2-3″ ahead. I did.

          To go further, I also use 4×4 hardwood pieces for shooting the high power stuff that close. Soft wood will shred right away. A .25 will mash that steel eventually, so the hardwood is sacrificial. My long indoor range is 41′ and the pellets mash flat on the steel and fall right to the bottom. Duct seal is too big of a hassle and then,…. what do you do with it? My lead I just give to a re-loader fellow that also cast.

          My box is 20″ wide, 24″ tall and 12″ deep. I have 2 and both work 100% perfect.


            • Geo,

              Get a sheet of 1/2″ OSB, about 16-20′ of 2×2’s, 1 1/4″ drywall screws and have at it. Hinge the entire front, simple hook latch for the door. Cut a 9×12″ cutout in the front panel and use binder clips for holding the box cardboard backers.

              The box is a mini crate that was already made and the steel plate, which is full size,.. is just sheared scrap from work. The 1/4″ matt is from work as well as the hardwood 4×4’s. The hardwood is held together as 1 large panel.

              The 2×2’s just hold it all together. I did add some handles to the sides as it weighs a fair bit when done. Mine, (2), stay up 24/7.

              I do not do pics,… but you are a very smart fellow and get the idea I am sure.

              The main points,… steel inner back, thick enough walls that nothing can punch back though, no duct seal needed, easy open front, easy lead recovery, easy target hanging. Swinging matt and hardwood are additional upgrades,… all homemade. 😉 For 5-20 yards,… only the steel plate is needed. HP, close work,… I would use the hardwood as a steel buffer.


  26. Thanks for the ideas Chris! I have used cheap dollar store welcome mats to hang to deflect bbs inside my target/traps,couple layers of thick carboard will deaden the sound too on targets with steel. I mostly shoot all bbs into duct seal or old copy paper boxes from work stuffed with plastic store bags/newspaper or old rags.

    Have a blessed day

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