Bullet Trap

OK, I am somewhat old school, sporting grey hair. Many moons ago, I and we began a search for a bullet trap to fit our budget, even though we have our own private range, and at the time of this post, it is muddy and has been cold in southern Idaho. The snail type of trap is an old concept. Ballistic rubber has emerged, and now there is several inexpensive ballistic rubber traps on the market. A little more background…Sig sent an email before xmas advertising one heck of a deal on .177 pellet guns. We have never owned one, but thought would be interesting for training. Shooting in our house, garage, etc., is a novel concept, with no noise, smoke, etc. Now we needed a pellet trap, and of course there is several on the market. HOWEVER, no matter what brand, there is still some pellets that ricochet outward. Therefore an investment occurred, and of course, we will redesign and integrate some reaction, type, targets, into the new pellet trap, yet to be built. Getting back to the snail trap…years ago a great fellow instructor from western Idaho gave me the plans to build a snail trap that had the correct angles to the deceleration chamber. A bullet trap concept to be able to shoot in our shop, (pistol calibers)on concrete, shop door open, with a heater purring in the background is exceptionally comfortable. After locating the plans that I filed away, we finally built a prototype. Overkill to say the least, and very unnecessary heavy. The mrs and I shot at least 300 initial 9mm rounds, (using splatter type paper targets) and the design works perfectly, at 15 to 50 feet (we will experiment with more distances, but thought 15 feet was close enough). ALSO perfect with .177 pellets, .22 pellet and rimfire. The cost so far was $100 in material, and a few bucks for our welding wire and shielding gas.(Mig process) Now the quest is to build a smaller, 45 pound snail trap, with a one foot by one foot opening. The sound of a bullet hitting steel gives one the instant gratification of a target hit. One of the issues with ballistic rubber is the fact that a 1 inch or 2 inch outer face panel will eventually deteriorate with several rounds, and need replacing. Many have also built traps with rubber mulch, sand, etc., etc. Sorry for being wordy, but thought would shed some light on an old, now new project.


Very cool… probably something my hubby would love to build! Are plans available where we can get them? Wed love to learn from your experience.


A quality air rifle is a thing of beauty. I’ve got a couple old Dianawerk models that will launch a .177 at 1100 FPS and hill hit an aspirin at 15 yards every time from a rest (scoped-I can’t see an aspirin at that range otherwise😊). They are a beast on squirrels and similar varmints. My Dad used to live in town and used his for groundhogs in his garden. A headshot and they dropped😏. Fun and cheap shooting👍


Many years ago, at my first job after college, I worked at a company that made firearms training equipment. I designed a handgun (not rifle) bullet trap. It was probably what you are calling a snail design, and was about 12" square. This was to be the company’s first foray into the commercial market, everything up to that point had been military or LEO. The design worked great. 9mm, 45ACP, 357, it worked great with everything we tried. We never brought it to market thouugh, for liability reasons. it was just too small.

Stewart, interesting story! I thought possibly, about building steel targets, and steel target systems, and thought that idea would compliment our firearms training. I have built several steel targets we use on our small range. There are several target builders and suppliers on the market and net, and therefore I would be a “me too.” I also had this very wild idea to build a semi trailer with shooting stalls, ballistic rubber, etc. I don’t think my return on investment would pay off in a lifetime. I thought about building a trailers with pneumatic targets. Years ago, I searched the net for bullet trap plans and ideas, from ballistic rubber to steel. I sifted thru many, many, ideas and concepts. A fellow firearms instructor gave me the plans to some he built, and of course they were filed somewhere not to be found. Last week, the plans miraculously appeared, and we got the wild idea to build one. Was a snowy, rainy day, so the weather was a good excuse for some fabrication. Wish I was a computer wiz and a wiz in cad. Took the plans, scaled them down and built the design out of wood. Of course I have a tendency to over build projects, and “mr. snail” turned out good, but heavy. If you have any words of wisdom on this subject, I and we would be open to suggestions. You could send me a personal message if you like. Here is a link to a pneumatic trailer I found on ebay

SKIdaho, like I said, it was many (30+) years ago when I designed that bullet trap. The company I worked for was bought out by a competitor and I was let go. I have not worked in the industry since. Here is what I do remember. The 2 front angled plates, upper and lower were 3/16" or 1/4" armor plate. The side plates and scroll, or snail as you refer to it were not armor plate, just cold rolled steel of some type. I don’t remember the angles. I know the lower plate was quite shallow, with the scroll hidden under it. The entire assembly was welded together, except for a removable catch tray.

It was designed to be sold commercially, so it could not be too large or heavy, and it did work well. The concept just wasn’t very good. Whoever thought shooting handguns in your garage, basement, or backyard was a good plan didn’t think it through very well. If you are shooting somewhere that requires a bullet trap, it needs to be a fully contained solution, like the trailer you linked to.

A small bullet trap serves no purpose. To be safe, it still needs to be backed up by something. A berm, ballistic rubber, something. The only purpose I could see for it is to limit the damage to a ballistic rubber wall. The bullet trap catches most of the rounds, and the rubber catches the misses.

Like I said, I am long out of that industry. What I used to know is now very dated. Hope this helps.

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I’d like to find a durable bullet trap to be able to recycle lead easier than mining a berm.

In my spare time, which there is not enough of, been redesigning the bullet trap, of my bucket list of dreams. Been shooting with different calibers, and multiple distances. Working very successfully. And no holes in the back of my shop. However I think we will install some ballistic rubber, as a background catcher. Good suggestion Stewart.