Testing H&N Baracuda FT pellets: Part 2
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- The Baracuda FT
- Head size
- The test
- Start 4.50mm heads
- Discussion of the 4.50mm head
- 4.51mm heads
- Discussion of the 4.51mm head
- Discussion of today’s test
Part 1 contains much of the background information for this test. Today I will add some more, to round out your understanding of the pellet I am testing.
The Baracuda FT
The Baracuda FT is a departure from the standard H&N Baracuda that was developed in the 1950s expressly for the Weihrauch Barakuda EL54 rifle. The EL-54 was an HW35 with an ether injector to purposely detonate when the piston went forward. It only shot round lead balls, because it blew the heads out of all diabolo pellets until the Baracuda pellet was created. The Baracuda pellet had a very thick head of pure lead that resisted the additional pressure from the ether explosion.
The Baracuda FT uses the aerodynamic shape of the Baracuda in a lighter pellet. I was told they weigh 9.57 grains, nominally. That’s compared to the 10.65 grains of the regular .177-caliber Baracuda. As they are produced, they are held to a weight tolerance of +/- 0.25 percent. For a 9.57-grain pellet that’s a top of 9.81grains and a bottom of 9.48-grains. Several readers asked me to weigh some, so I did. Here is what 5 pellets at random from lot 900038 weighed on my electronic powder scale.
Note: Reader Yogi provided the following.
“Should be 1.0025 and .9975.”
So, I multiplied by that and got this — 9.5939 for the high and 9.546-grains for the low.
And here is what I actually got.
Several readers asked me to measure the head sizes of both groups of pellets with a Pelletgage, so I did. I used the gage that measures down to one-thousandth of a millimeter. Here are the sizes I got.
4.50mm on package. Lot 900038.
4.51mm on package. Lot 900069.
According to the literature that came with the pellets, each lot is tested at 50 meters and must group 5 into a maximum of 12mm and 20 into a maximum of 20mm, all measured center to center. The gun they use isn’t mentioned, but I think it must be a premium PCP. All batches are hand-sorted and inspected before packaging.
Finally, this pellet is recommended for guns that shoot at a muzzle energy of up to 12 foot-pounds/16 joules. Today I will test them in my TX200 Mark III that shoots them at an average 802 f.p.s. That’s 13.67 foot-pounds/18.54 joules. It’s not that much more than the recommended 12 foot-pound limit, but now you know what it is.
In the last test with the Beeman R8, I was testing them at an average 569 f.p.s. which is an average 6.88 foot-pounds/ 9.33 joules.
I shot 5-shot groups with each lot of pellets. I shot indoors from a sandbag rest, with the rifle rested directly on the bag. My TX200 shoots best that way. The distance was 25 yards. The temperature was 67 degrees F.
Start 4.50mm heads
I will show all the groups and then discuss them at the end.
This is lot 1 of the 4.50mm heads. This group of five measures 0.583-inches/14.81mm between centers at 25 yards. The coin is an American dime that measures 17.9mm across. The number is from the label on the tube of pellets. It correlates to the lot number of this pellet head size, so I can track things.
Five pellets from lot 2 went into 0.866-inches/22mm between centers at 25 yards.
Five pellets from lot 3 went into 0.557-inches/14.15mm between centers at 25 yards.
Five pellets from lot 4 went into 0.514-inches/13.06 between centers at 25 yards.
Five pellets from lot 5 went into 0.328-inches/8.33mm between centers at 25 yards.
Discussion of the 4.50mm head
Some lots stayed together and others did not. Look at the difference between lots 2 and 5. Lot five is a very good group for 25 yards. Let’s remember — this pellet is recommended for air rifles that develop 12 foot-pounds/16 joules and LESS. The TX is pushing this pellet out at 13.69 foot-pounds!
It’s clear there are difference between these five lots. I’ll have more to say after the next test. Now let’s see what we get with the pellets that are supposed to have 4.51mm heads.
Now we will move to the other pellets — the ones with 4.51mm heads. Other than the head size, all test conditions remained the same. These pellets were also packaged by lot number and will be discussed that way.
Five pellets from the first lot of the 4.51mm group went into 0.251-inches/6.38mm between centers at 25 yards. That is phenomenal!
Five pellets from lot 2 of the 4.51mm group went into 0.37-inches/9.58mm between centers at 25 yards.
Five pellets from lot 3 of the 4.51mm group went into 0.358-inches/9.09mm between centers at 25 yards.
Five pellets from lot 4 of the 4.51mm group went into 0.639-inches/16.23mm between centers at 25 yards. Here we have two distinct groups — three on the right and two on the left.
Five pellets from lot 5 of the 4.51mm group went into 0.521-inches/13.23mm between centers at 25 yards. Four pellets are in 0.319-inches between centers.
Discussion of the 4.51mm head
As I shot this part of the test it seemed like the TX200 liked the 4.51mm heads better. But here is how it really went. Two of the first group (4.50mm heads) are superior and three of the second group (4.51mm heads) are superior. The smallest group was shot with the 4.51mm heads, but the second smallest was shot with the 4.50mm heads. Of course I did not measure any of the pellets’ heads with the gage before shooting them, so some correlation may have been lost.
Discussion of today’s test
I shot this test with a rifle that is slightly more powerful than H&N recommends for this pellet. But if you compare this test to the test shot with the Beeman R8, the results are roughly equivalent.
Lots 29 and 31 did about the same in both rifles, and both were on the good side of average. Both rifles had a best pellet (but not the same one) and it gave a group size of 0.258-inches and 0.251-inches, respectively. Remember, with the R8 the best group was with the 4.50mm heads. With the TX200 it was with the 4.51mm heads.
Now that I have shot two tests we can begin to say certain things about these pellets. First, they look pretty good — both for air rifles under 12 foot-pounds and for those slightly over. My next two tests will be with rifles that are under 12 foot pounds, but let’s remember what we have seen today.
We also see there are dramatic differences between the lots. All these pellets are the same except for the head sizes and the lots, so this difference shows just how much of a difference a small change can make.
We are making good progress with this test. Two more to go. Thank you for your patience while do this. I feel it is just as important as testing a new airgun.