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.

Tired Streak
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.

26 thoughts on “Testing the .20 caliber H&N Silhouette pellet”

  1. The Beeman Ram Jet and the Beeman Field Target Special (which is very similar to the Ram Jet in shape) are the two that do best in my Diana 34.

    I also read somewhere that the idea behind the domed semi-wadcutter design is that these are designed for Silhouette shooting. The dome gives more weight for knock down power and the ridge will catch the edge of the silhouette if the shot is a glancing blow.

  2. Hi BB,

    Sorry, this is off-topic… just an update on my earlier question. I sent my broken RWS scope to Umarex (I think they are the RWS US distributor), and they agreed to replace the scope at no charge, no questions asked. I will place the scope on a light recoil gun and go with Leapers for my RWS model 54, as you suggested.

    Just wanted to compliment RWS on their customer service. The scope may be weak, but at least they replaced it.

  3. BB as long as your on it….why would a co. put ribs on the tail of a pellet? It seems it would slow spinn and reduce accuracy. as well a increase the effect wind would cause on the spinning projectile. Is’t that why they leave stiching high on baseballs…to catch air and allow curveballs and sliders?

    what could possably be the good of it?

  4. turtle,

    I understand that the dimples on a golf ball actually reduce the drag and make it go farther. Do you suppose the ridges on pellets do so, too?

    I don’t really know, and it may take me some time before I can find the rifle person to ask.


  5. B.B.

    Wanted you to know that I solved a problem with my 1377C through your blog. Pyramydair and Crosman had no advise for me. The barrel was loose and twisted under pressure. I read your review from last year and all follow up. Somebody else had same problem and solution. Crosman should pay for your space.
    Question: upgrading 2240 and 1377 with steel breeches, etc. It was recommended, since I am right handed, to put on breech with opening on left. Do you agree? Also, what kind of optic would you mount? Want to do justice to pistols.

    Bill D.

  6. When I replaced my breech I was presented with the same question of which side to put the bolt on (I am assuming this is the real question as the “opening”, as you say, is centered on top of the breech, it’s not really on the right or left side). I too read somewhere someone said righties should put bolt on left so you dont have to change hands to load, but I noticed most everyone had their’s on the right side. Well I followed the flock and put mine on the right also, and I’m glad I did. There’s not much I can do well with my left hand alone and putting a little pellet in a breech (especially under a scope) isn’t one of them, which is the bad side of not having to change grip hands to load. Personally I would much rather change hands and not drop my pellet.


  7. The phenomenon of the “lucky group” is something that I’ve been thinking about lately, and I would like to get opinions about. Should a lucky group be considered one in which a person shot better than his normal abilities, or is it one in which the various margins of error just happened to combine to work in his favor. To describe the second instance in other words, the degree to which I am “off” target as a shooter can either be worsened by how innacurate a gun is for a particular shot if its innacuracy leans toward the same direction as my own error as a shooter, making me even more innacurate, or it can help me, making up for some of my innacuracy if it’s own error is in a contradictory direction as mine. Which do you think better describes the “lucky group”?


  9. Bill D.

    Well, you have some advice from an owner that’s hard to beat. The reason for the left-hand bolt is so you can cock with your off hand. But the 2240 is not a rapid-fire gun, so I suppose it doesn’t make much difference.

    As for an optical sight on a handgun, I like dot sights better than scopes. They are faster to acquire, and with a handgun, that means a lot.


  10. Lucky groups,

    The answer to you question is to shoot 10-shot groups. Five shots is only an approximation of what a gun can do, and a “lucky” group can sometimes happen with just five. With ten shots, the chance of luck is so small as to be insignificant.

    That’s why those three-shot groups people show are crap. Three shots is advertising hype.


  11. bb,

    I saw that you said you are going to do a review on B40. I will definitely wait for that. But if you have to choose between B40 and RWS 48, which one would you pick and why?

  12. Dear BB Pelletier,
    Thank you for your help on my question with the right type of airgun to practice firearm skills.
    BB and Turtle, the grooves on a pellet are left by the tool which forms the skirt onto the pellet. The pellet is squeezed and rolled between three wheels somewhat similar to a tubing cutter. Cannelured bullets and cases have them too. One of the wheels is toothed in order to get traction. Recall that Crosman pellets are cast and are not grooved.

    I have a question about the blue streak and similar Benjamin 392. Do you know what weight of pellet the velocity was determined with?

  13. B.B.

    Ok, I’ve been considering buying a pcp airgun for a while. I’ve always used spring-piston and multi-pump before. I’m looking at an Aiforce Condor. I was just wondering, is there anything that isn’t so great about this rifle? In other words, is there anything that you don’t like about it. I was also looking at a hand pump for filling it, only dive store around here is over a half hours drive away. I was looking at this,


    Would I need any accesories to hook that up to a Condor’s airtank? I saw a few pumps that were made for the airforce guns, but I wanted a pump that I could use for future airguns as well. Thanks for any help, I’ll probably have more questions later.


  14. Lama,

    The AirForce pump is identical to the Logun pump. They’re both made by FX of Sweden. The thing that makes the AirForce pump better is it comes with the adaptor to fit their tank. But I believe Pyramyd may be out of the AirForce pumps, so it’s a mute point.

    When you order, have the sales rep tell you everything you need. They are highly trained to do that.

    The Condor is a fine rifle. It can be dialed way down to SS power or up to more power tna any other air rifle in .22 caliber.


  15. This is anonymous the pellet groove commentator. I was hoping for a comparison between the .22 and the .20 in that gun. The site SEEMED to imply the guns got basically the same velocity with pellets which weigh the same, which would be a real advantage for the .20/5mm. Do you happen to have some .22 data for the 392?

  16. BB…A fantastic five shot group like the one shown is not luck in my life…Great three shoot groups can be luck…But great 5 shot groups, l have to realy work hard for…Nice reward for all that pumping.

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