Testing the .20 caliber H&N Silhouette pellet
by B.B. Pelletier
The H&N Silhouette looks a lot like a Beeman Ram Jet.
Ever since Crosman stopped making the .20 caliber Premier, the airgunning world has searched for a substitute. I don't shoot the caliber very often, but all my Sheridan rifles use it, so I asked Pyramyd Air owner, Josh Ungier, what .20 caliber pellet he recommended. He said the H&N Silhouette was giving good results and invited me to test it for you.
This is not a mainstream pellet, to my knowledge. The German maker, Haendler & Natermann, is one of the top pellet makers in the world, so anything they produce is likely to be special; but, until Josh told me about this one, I had never noticed it. On Pyramyd's website, it says the pellet weighs 11.4 grains, but I found a lot of them weighed 11.3. The range stretched from 11.0 to 11.6, which is very large for H&N. They can usually keep them within three or four tenths.
The pellet is a domed wadcutter. If you've never heard of that shape, then you've never examined a Beeman Ram Jet, which is suspiciously similar to the Silhouette, except that it lacks the ribbed sides and is a trifle heavier. I suspect the popularity of the Ram Jet, which I've never tested in .20 caliber, is what keeps the H&N Silhouette profile low. Ram Jets have never been good performers for me, so the positive results of this test tell me I need to start looking at them again.
A real test with a real gun
I tested the pellet at 25 yards, shooting my old faithful Sheridan Blue Streak. The sights are open post and notch, and the rifle is 28 years old. I wear bifocals, and the norm for me at 25 yards with this rifle is a five-shot group of about one inch.
On testing day, I shot the pellet with four, five, six and eight pumps. In doing so, I discovered that my fine old rifle is now in need of an adjustment. The best velocity it gave on eight pumps was 557, when it should have been 675-700. It gave 524 on five pumps, so a pump rod adjustment is called for, because not enough pressurized air is going into the valve after pump five. There is probably too much space in front of the pump head. However, five pumps was sufficient to give me what I needed for the test.
Getting dialed in
With any airgun I'm not current on, there is a period of just shooting and getting poor results, as I refine the technique needed for that particular gun. Though the Blue Streak is an old favorite of mine, I have used it at closer ranges and never on paper targets. This was a new experience. The groups started out in the 1.5" to 2" size and gradually shrank to 1" as the sight picture was refined and I got used to the trigger, again.
Then, the light changed for the better, and I was able to pick up the front sight with crystal clarity. That was when it happened - a single group under three-eighths of an inch! Sure, it was a fluke, and, sure, I'd have to shoot 50 more to get another one, but it shows the pellet can shoot! And, that was the object of this test. The Blue Streak isn't a target rifle, after all.
Five Silhouettes went into a group measuring 0.374" at 25 yards. A lucky group with an open-sighted Blue Streak, but it demonstrates the accuracy of the pellet.
This little test seems to show that this is a .20-caliber pellet worth considering. The Ram Jet is probably the same thing, so try it, too, then buy the one with the best price.