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Air Guns Rubber mulch trap: Part 2

Rubber mulch trap: Part 2

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Setup
  • What kind of penetration?
  • First conclusion
  • Sub-1 crossbow
  • Scope off
  • Expectations
  • Second conclusion 
  • Summary

Today we complete the test of the rubber mulch pellet trap and this time we use real rubber mulch!

This time I used real rubber mulch!


I set up the same box that was used in Part 1 and I put the same divider in the middle of the box. I filled the box with real rubber mulch and I had to buy a second bag to fill the box all the way.

On the front of the box I circled the five holes from the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets that were shot from the .22-caliber RAW HM-1000X and from the .22 long rifle rounds, so everything in today’s test could be as close to the last test as possible. I stood five feet from the box and on the same level, so the flight of each projectile was as straight as I could make it.

I filled the box to the top with mulch but did no special tamping down or packing. After the box was filled I just closed the flaps down upon each other.

rubber mulch box flaps
No tamping of the mulch. I just folded the box flaps shut.

rubber mulch box new groups
I circled the old groups. The new groups are five JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets on the left (yes, there are 5 shots there) and 5 .22 CCI long rifle standard speed on the right.

What kind of penetration?

The divider is in the center of the box to determine how deep things go. After shooting both 5 pellets and 5 .22 long rifle rounds, I pulled the divider out and looked. None of the pellets had touched the divider, which means that rubber mulch that isn’t packed tight can stop a 43+ foot-pound pellet in less than 5 inches. The holes in the divider from the last test where I used wood bark mulch are all surrounded by a black stain. In that test both the pellets and the long rifle bullets made it through the divider.

It appears that all five of the .22 long rifle bullets went through the cardboard spacer this time, though none made it to the back of the box.

rubber mulch divider
None of the pellets touched the divider this time, but all five long rifle bullets passed right through. None of them made it to the back of the box.

First conclusion

The rubber mulch pellet trap is effective for all pellet guns. It’s quiet and not messy and you can make one for under $10 if you have the right size box (which is a 12-inch cube). I had to spend another $7 for a second bag of mulch because my box is wider than it needs to be.

When the trap box gets too shot up, you can turn it around. With your cube you get at least 5 sides. Maybe you don’t want to use the top with the flaps, though that side would also work and that makes a total of 6. When all the sides are shot up get a new box and fill it with the mulch. That stuff doesn’t wear out.

And the last plus is this trap also works for BB guns. So it’s cheap, clean, quiet and works with most anything. What more could you ask for?

Sub-1 crossbow

Because a reader asked for it I also used the Sub-1 crossbow in today’s penetration test, though I was pretty sure I knew what would happen. Arrows have a way of penetrating deep.

After three years of sitting around the first thing was to clean the Sub-1 bow, paying particular attention to the arrow rails that the bowstring rides on. Then the string was waxed and the rails were lubed, which they must be after every ten shots.

Since last I used the Sub-1 three years ago I had forgotten exactly how it works. It has a dry-fire prevention step that I forgot about, so when the bow was cocked the first time the safety remained on. I had to read the manual to rediscover that the bottom arrow fletch has to push back on the anti-dry-fire mechanism in order to then be able to take the bow off safe. You have to load an arrow to make the crossbow ready to fire. That’s a good thing because crossbows should never be dry-fired. Also, this device keeps the safety on while you load an arrow, because that bowstring can remove parts of fingers if you should come in contact with it when the bow fires.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear

Scope off

I had also removed the Sub-1 scope to use it when I tested the Onyx Tactical crossbow. So the first thing was to see where the scope was, now that it was mounted back on the Sub-1. At 15 feet the arrow landed within a half-inch of where I aimed it offhand and then at 17 yards I put 4 arrows into one inch — but not at the same time. The Sub-1 is so accurate that I pull the arrow out of the target bag after every shot. Don’t want no Robin Hoods with these expensive arrows!

No I did not use a broadhead on the box. I shot a target or field point. The box is a target trap, after all.


I was pretty sure the arrow would pass through the box and stick into the target bag behind it, so for safety I set it up that way. I shot offhand from about 17 yards back.

rubber mulch box for arrow
I put the arrow bag behind the rubber mulch box to catch the arrow if it should pass through.

The shot stunned me! The arrow was stopped by the box, alone! 

rubber mulch box with arrow
The crossbow arrow was stopped by the rubber mulch box.

rubber mulch box back
The arrow just pushed out the back of the box slightly (arrow). The other two holes are left over from last time where one of the .22 bullets pushed out the back of the box (on the left) and one other bullet pushed out the back even more than the arrow did this time.

Second conclusion 

This trap is even more effective than I gave it credit for. I will still use it for just BBs and pellets, but if I ever get in a jam with a bow I know it can do the job.

The bottom line in this case is the bottom line. My crossbow arrow target bag cost me $75 and that’s also about what I paid for my steel bullet/pellet trap. This box trap cost me $14. I think I see a difference.


This series was short but it was a good one. Not only did we get to see the effectiveness of rubber mulch, we also got to test it against conventional bark mulch and see that there is no comparison.

And on top of that, I just got a clean, quiet pellet trap that can handle anything I throw at it.

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.

28 thoughts on “Rubber mulch trap: Part 2”

  1. BB,

    The crossbow bolt failing to pass through the rubber mulch trap was a surprise. Especially in comparison with demonstrations on YouTube showing that an arrow can pass through a sandbag. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNo5yDI7A1M


    PS: Section Summary 1st paragraph 2nd sentence: “Not only did we get to see the effectivness (effectiveness) of rubber mulch, we also got to test it against conventional bark mulch and see that there is no comparison.”

  2. Hi everybody,

    I noticed something some days ago…

    I have two types of Feinwerkbau 300S era diopters. One with the fastening screw on the right and one where it is on the left (see picture).

    The former doesn’t fit on regular 11mm rails without modification. It’s too loose. The latter does, however. It stays put on the HW35 (which is old, but young enough to have an 11mm rail, not the weird 13mm rail).

    So I went ahead and ordered an assortment of Weihrauch front sight inserts including two ring ones. While I was at it, I also ordered a new rear iron sight with selectable notches as I found the notch on the old one too shallow to align the front sight properly.

    Pretty cool, isn’t it? Saves me from buying one of these things that are reasonably priced here, but about double the price in Germany:


      • BB,

        the really funny thing about that is how some dealers here sell this both as a “Gamo” and “Weihrauch” sight. The only discernable difference between them is that the “Weihrauch” variant is € 20 more even though the unit seems to be exactly the same 🙂


        • Stephan,

          That FWB diopter is WAY better quality than the AV one.

          I have an old FWB diopter with the screw on the right. I could not get it to stay in place on an HW30S.

          Have you tried the 18mm clear iris in your HW35? It will just fit in the end of the front globe on the HW30S. They are so much better than the old style metal sights.

          You would not happen to have an extra left handed FWB sight laying around somewhere would you? 😉

          • RR,

            nope, no diopters to spare, sorry 🙂
            I suppose you *might* be able to make one with the screw on the right work if you put one or two extra washers under it so you can tighten it more.

            I haven’t seen the AV/Gamo/Weihrauch diopter in real life but I always thought it wouldn’t be the same quality as vintage FWB ones. It seems to be stamped metal whereas the FWB sights seem to be cast metal. I suppose it’s ok for US$ 49,- but a bit pricey at more than twice the price which they ask for here.

            I haven’t used any clear front sights yet, but I have ordered some stuff from FWB, including two clear sights for the 300S, so we’ll see what difference that makes.


        • Stephan, I have a feeling that the peep sight sold by P.A. gets rebranded a lot. I have had three. All came in a box marked “Air Arms.” The first one was returned because the aperature started wobbling. The replacement has been OK on my low-powered Umarex Embark, but I think it is starting to wiggle a bit, now as well. The last one I got won’t grab the rail on either my Beeman R7 (HW 30S) or the R9 (HW 95). They both walked back under recoil. I think it is the combination of a less than properly fitting “claw” and that it only has one screw to tighten it down. I currently have an Airforce peep sight on backorder from P.A. You get what you pay for.

          • R.G.
            I have had two (still do) and three friends also use these. I have been using mine since 2010 and can’t fault the quality at all. In fact, I prefer it to the Williams that I replaced with it.

            Did anyone else happen to notice that the price for the front and rear sight separately is $75, but the price bought as a set is $150? It isn’t a typo. That is how I bought my second set,, the first came with my Crosman Challenger.

          • Edlee, does your aperature (the disc with the little hole in it) wiggle at all? Mine wiggles just a bit up and down with slight finger pressure. Not significantly from left to right. I’m keeping my eye on it (Ha). I may try to have a local gunsmith drill and tap my 2nd one for a scope stop pin for use with the R7 and R9.

        • Currently the sight is running 149.99 , the AR2078 comes with the sight set for 199.99. Both of my QB style C02 target rifles have the same sights and they work great .

  3. BB,

    That is most interesting to know about it stopping a crossbow bolt. I have a Barnett that I have not yet tried. I recently bought a target bag for it so I could shoot it. I myself never use a trap with my shooting, but after this I may have to get me some rubber mulch to try with my crossbow.

    P.S. You have not forgotten about past blog tests you were supposed to finish, have you? 😉

  4. BB,
    these are impressive traps. I know my 14″ square will stop 7 rounds of 90 grain Hornady Critical Defense 380ACP out of my LCP2 at about 5′. That was right after I made it. (An observation, not a recommendation.) For the price and for how quiet they are, it is about perfect for me.


    Edit, of course it goes without saying that it has stopped every pellet that I have shot at it. I don’t know how many pellets that is, but it’s not an insignificant number.

    • Captain Bravo,
      I was looking to get a piece of steel to built a trap for in my garage so I could shoot my .380 in there with a nice safe backstop. Hence, your data point about it stopping Hornady Critical Defense 380ACP ammo (yes, I am familiar with that ammo) is great information; this trap is much cheaper to make than a steel-backed trap! Thank you.
      Take care,

      • TDM,
        If I was going to shoot it in my garage, I would check it pretty regularly to make sure it wasn’t getting close to the back. Based on everything I had read on these stops, both here and other sites, I had no doubt that it would stop the bullets. But I had just got the pistol and the bullet stop, and it was the handiest thing to shoot at. In hindsight, I wish I had taken it apart to see how far they did penetrate.

        • CB,
          Oh, I didn’t mean shoot it in my garage on a regular basis; I just meant to do as you did, run a magazine through it every now and then; I could do that outside, and shoot into a dirt mound by the pond. But the .380 is pretty loud, and my neighbor works third shift and sleeps all day; my garage is pretty well insulated, so it would really cut down the sound. But it would be a pretty infrequent thing, and, as Roamin Greco pointed out, I could always use a piece of steel as a back up. 🙂
          Thank you,

  5. B.B.,

    That’s a bargain for an effective bullet/pellet/arrow trap. It’s obviously been awhile since you bought your bullet trap. The cost from Pyramyd AIR is now around $115 including shipping:


  6. Just adding a cautionary comment on these traps:

    I built one for long term use and do love it. It is build as a solid wood frame with a replaceable cardboard front to retain the mulch – I just make new ones from cardboard boxes. I did put a steel backing plate in it. It gets a lot of use, as I dump out the contents and shake out about 8-10 pounds of pellets roughly every 4 to 6 months, then put the old mulch back in and it is ready to go again.

    One of the things I really expected to be the case, but did not pan out, was that I was expecting the muclh would sort of constantly “resettle” a bit after every shot – that would allow one to shoot to (and hopefully hit) the same POA while benchrest shooting without having pellets “tunnel” through the trap, as happens with duct seal type traps.

    Sadly, that was not the case. If I shoot to the same spot repeatedly, I will eventually hear the pellet hit the steel backer plate as the last line of defense after about 8″ of rubber mulch. The higher the energy the sooner it happens. At about 45 FPE and at 21 yards, it generally takes about 7 shots to hit the plate, but it has done it in 4 on occasion. At about 30 FPE it is more like 9 or 10 shots. Under 20 FPE it does not seem to happen, but I suppose it could at some point.

    So I think a simple box of rubber mulch is probably okay for offhand shooting where one is much less likely to repeatedly hit the same spot (at least that is true for me 😉 ). But if you are using one for benchrest groups then you best have a good backstop in use as well for safety.


    • AlanMcD. Wow, so the more powerful guns need a greater depth of mulch, and need a bit more maintenance. Even with low powered airguns like mine, I have seen the same tunneling effect, although I was testing a very small box to see if it would penetrate. After 750 shots basically in the same spot, the wadcutters did not penetrate even 6 inches. In my bigger box, which is a plastic tote stood up on it’s side, when I lay it back down to replace the cardboard under the lid, I run my fingers over the mulch, and that is enough to fill in the tunnels for the next session.

      For what it may be worth to others, I think if you go the cardboard box route, it would be worthwhile to rotate targets around the face of the trap so that pellets push the mulch around, filling in old holes. Also, it might be good to rotate the box around too. Using B.B.’s box as an example, if he taped up the top, he could flip the box on its side, upside down and so forth, and that might redistribute the mulch within.

      Finally, your experience exemplifies that one should always use a proper backstop, even with an effective trap.

      Keep on shootin’!

    • Alan,

      I keep some spare rubber mulch around, and pack it into the hole, then seal up the hole by taping more cardboard over it. I think a vigorous shake can also redistribute the rubber mulch to fill the hole. It’s the irregular shape of the mulch that sometimes keeps it from falling into the void without some outside help, so different brands of mulch might behave different depending on the properties of the source tires and the size of the mulch, etc. etc.


  7. Last week I had to go to the Big Box lumberyard for plug and play LED tube bulbs and thought what the heck buy some rubber mulch. Love my new trap. The box is roughly 12″x16″x10″ deep, placed a pine board in the back of the box, stuffed it tight and wrapped with duct tape, bye bye Duct seal. Thanks for the tip.

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