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.

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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.