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Ammo Testing H&N Baracuda FT pellets: Part 2

Testing H&N Baracuda FT pellets: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

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
  • Summary

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.

9.60 gn.
9.60 gn.
9.60 gn.
9.60 gn.
9.60 gn.

Head size

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.

The test

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.

lot 1
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.

lot 2
Five pellets from lot 2 went into 0.866-inches/22mm between centers at 25 yards.

lot 3
Five pellets from lot 3 went into 0.557-inches/14.15mm between centers at 25 yards.

lot 4
Five pellets from lot 4 went into 0.514-inches/13.06 between centers at 25 yards.

lot 5
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.

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.

group 2 lot 1
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!

group 2 lot 2
Five pellets from lot 2 of the 4.51mm group went into 0.37-inches/9.58mm between centers at 25 yards.

group 2 lot 3
Five pellets from lot 3 of the 4.51mm group went into 0.358-inches/9.09mm between centers at 25 yards.

group 2 lot 4
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.

group 2 lot 5
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.

51 thoughts on “Testing H&N Baracuda FT pellets: Part 2”

  1. “The EL-54 was an HW35 with an ether injector to purposely detonate when the piston went forward.”

    Wow, B.B., that’s pretty wild stuff for the 50s! That’s one thing I love about your blog:
    one never knows what one might learn…which is very cool, of course. =>

    P.S. I’d love to see a test of that EL-54…although I guess working models are in short supply.

    • Dave,

      They are around and can be obtained. The thing that’s harder to get today is the ether. The medical-grade stuff is very limited. Car starting fluid works well, but in the end all you have is a .22 air rifle with less power than many current breakbarrels. And it does so at the detriment of shaking itself apart! At least that is how I see it.


      • “…ether. The medical-grade stuff is very limited.”

        Very interesting B.B.; as you said, just check out this information below from a cop;
        and this was a while ago; it’s likely more difficult today, especially considering
        that it is used to make methamphetamine…
        I didn’t know that “ether” (sorry for the bad pun); I’m learning new things every day; thank you! =>

        “I am only looking to acquire about 32 ounces.
        All the pharmacists around here tell me they can’t find it in their catalogs.
        The wholesale chemical companies hang up on me as soon as they find
        out I am not a physician.”
        (from: http://www.science-bbs.com/142-med-pharmacy/40ec24cbfd97df3f.htm )

      • B.B.,

        Nice tight groups. Good pellets + TX200 + B.B. Pelletier = deadly accuracy at 25 yards.

        The Blue Book says the .22 EL-54 produced velocities of 600 – 700 fps without ether. I imagine with the ether detonation it might increase to as much as 850 – 900 fps, but that still is, as you point out, less power than the “most magnum” break barrels available today such as the Hatsan 135 QE Vortex in .22.

        Hey, a short test of the Hatsan 135 QE Vortex in .22 would be interesting. Everyone goes gaga over a springer shooting .30, but this is a springer that in .22 might prove to be decent at 75 or, gasp, 100 yards. I’ve read that the TX200 and FWB 124, both in .177, performed not too badly at 100 yards.


  2. B.B.

    What I get from this test is that your AA TX 200 III really like 4.51 mm head pellets.
    How about shooting them with more than average wind conditions?
    They seem like a winner.


  3. BB
    I remember you mentioning in the past about the Baracudas and the EL-54.

    And what I would like to know is what small changes have been done on the different lots of pellets.

  4. B.B.,

    Nice shooting at 25 yards. Holding their test to -12mm at 50 meters is incredible. They seem to have narrowed down the variance’s which is always good. (Maybe that is the whole point). Still, different rifles like different pellets, so it will be interesting to what you make of these in the end. If there was a single pellet that did best across the board, then all the rest would be history.

    Good Day to you and to all,……. Chris

  5. B.B.,

    100 x .0025 = .25
    9.57 x .0025 = .0239
    9.57 + .0239 = 9.594
    9.57 – .0239 = 9.546

    You came up with 9.81 – 9.48 vs my 9.59 – 9.55,… but I could be wrong as it is a work day and I am still on my first cup of coffee. -I am not legally allowed to make a post until my second cup- 😉 What made me run the #’s was that 9.81 – 9.48 seemed a bit large, but still better than most.


  6. BB
    A little off topic but something extraordinary happened to me today.
    My sister called and said she found our half brother after 30 plus years of being missing. Amazing. He was only a young kid born the same year as ‘my’ daughter. When my dad passed on he went with his mom and moved on. He used to play with my daughter as kids.
    My sister actually found one of his sons on ancestry first. He has four children, thee boys, and is 49.
    Life may take a big turn for me. I wonder if any of them are interested in airguns?

    Bob M

    • Bob M,

      Interesting. I have mixed feelings about finding “long lost” relatives, most especially since I have never met them before. I myself am getting “long in the tooth” and am not much for socialization anyway.

      Also, having had many experiences with the Federal government throughout my years, most of which left a bad taste in my mouth, I have no desire to give them a readily available gene pool to search through. Even though we need the Federal government to help keep some of this mess somewhat under control, I do not much care for them.

      • BB
        Spoke with him for over 2 hours on the phone. We think alike. I really think genes play a big part in who we are. It doesn’t help that he lives in Levittown NY, but we plan to stay in touch now. By the way, given the chance he’s outta’ NY ASAP. Just like I did and never returned to live there again ! But I may have jumped out of the pan and into the fire with CA.

        Well I received my Silver Gletcher NGT pellet version late yesterday, however I believe I am the victim of the old bate and switch game. Woe is me … Instead of the NGT ‘ as advertised’ I received the NGT RF that has a safety lever on the side.
        All kidding aside, I read that they were all going to get the safety. Just thought I might get a left over model without it. You snooze you lose 🙁 They did reduce the size of the print on this one.
        P/A straighten up that page .
        Bob M

        Bob M

          • BB
            I was referring to the print on the pistol being smaller to be clear.
            Yes my daughters now have new Uncle/ Aunt/Cousins. He was divorced and his first wife lives with two sons around Milbourn FL. Not far from Lakeland where my sister lives so a get together has already been mentioned. He lost all hope of ever finding us too. The life change back then happened too fast anyone to keep track of.

  7. Tom, you must have the .177P version of Pelletgage, with 0.005 mm increments, half the incremental size steps of the normal gage. That’s five microns instead of ten.

    So you have five lots (packed in tubes) of each nominal size – 4.50 and 4.51 mm, ten total. Your head size samples were five pellets from one lot of each size.

    The nominal 4.50 mm pellets had an average size of 4.528 mm and the nominal 4.51 pellets were 4.527 mm.

    In my view, it would be reasonable to expect that any nominal 4.5X nominal pellet tin would have only pellets that are within limits of +/- 0.01 mm from nominal. These are small lots, and small samples – but both are out of the limits I propose, and the 0.03 mm difference from nominal to measured for the 4.50 lot is poor. I wonder what H&N is doing to “bin” these. One suggestion I had heard is that they make no measurements, the swaging dice are the only determinant.

    I have also heard that H&N has automated optical measurement for all pellets. In my own measurements of head size, I have seen little correlation between the nominal size and the actual size.

    Your five shot groups were significantly better with the nominal 4.51 pellet lots. IMHO, getting 25 yard group sizes at between 1-2 MOA is very good (good gun, good pellets, good shooting). Somehow, those 4.51 mm pellets worked noticeably better, and the lot 17 stood out.

    4.50 mm lots
    lot group size, in. MOA
    38 0.583 2.2
    78 0.866 3.3
    79 0.557 2.1
    80 0.514 2.0
    83 0.328 1.3
    avg 0.5696 2.2

    4.51 mm lots
    lot group size, in. MOA
    17 0.251 1.0
    29 0.37 1.4
    31 0.358 1.4
    69 0.639 2.4
    71 0.521 2.0
    avg 0.4278 1.6

    I’m curious as to whether the lots that produced smaller patterns had better distribution of size.

  8. B.B.

    Do you know what constitutes a “lot” for H&N?

    A “lot” could be a machine shift (from the time the machine is turned on to when it is stopped) or it could be per batch of lead or something else.

    I read that the swaging machines take a while to warm up and settle in before they are producing their best pellets and that the “less than ideal” pellets are binned off and sold as economy brands.


    • Hank,

      A “real” T&E person never asks why. They only say what — as in — “we did this and this is what happened.”

      I’ve said this before — I don’t know what constitutes a lot, and for the purposes of testing, I don’t need to know. More importantly, I don’t WANT to know.

      Knowing something like that can introduce unintentional bias into the testing at a level too subtle to be uncovered. It’s the “That’s what I told them to do.” and the, “Why did they do it that way?” syndrome.


      • B.B.

        I understand the T&E perspective and can respect that =)

        I come from the design side of things where “cause and effect” rule. To achieve a specific (desired) result the better I understand the “details” the more likely I can get what I want and avoid what I don’t. I apply that to everything I do.

        That and I am a naturally curious and analytical person. …add “weird” if you like LOL! – I read the owners manual BEFORE starting and I keep a pad and pencil beside my bed to make notes and sketches of ideas that wake me up in the middle of the night.

        “Why did they do it that way?” …just need to know.


        • Hank,

          Nothing wrong with your curiosity. I’m curious about the lots, too.

          The wide difference in the measurement is what really threw me today. Jerry Cupples explained that the optical scanners just aren’t that accurate. Maybe they need to do sample tests with one of his Pelletgages? 😉


          • B.B.

            I love Jerry’s Pelletgages and have a complete set for the (.177, .22 and .25) calibers I use. Think they are an excellent accessory for serious shooters.

            I weigh/measure a 50 pellet sample from each tin to check consistency from tin to tin and use sorted pellets when looking for the golden pellet, sighting in and serious shooting (hunting). Think it is worth the time and effort to minimize the variables.


          • B.B.

            Possibly being measure with lasers. We had a laser micrometer at work for calibrating plug gages. It was stated to be accurate within ±50µ inches. I found that that to be untrue and I could measure the plugs more accurately with indicator mics and gage blocks. Never like, or trusted, that laser mic.

        • Hank,

          I too usually read the owners manual BEFORE using things. Guess we are brothers from another mother LOL. It’s funny you mention the pad and pencil by your bedside. I worked with a manufacturing engineer who did the very same thing. He came up some inventions that paid him royalties, one from GM. I always said that he bordered on geneous and insanity and sometimes he crossed over. The other thing is, he only slept about 3-4 hours a night. I joked that the only time he slept was behind the wheel. He fell asleep one time on his tractor and tipped over. He had NO people skills at all and made a lot of people angry because of what he would say to them. He had no reservation calling an idiot an idiot and could not tolerate incompetence.

          • Geo,

            I have “designed” things in my sleep my whole life LOL!

            Used to wake up in the morning to find a sketch on the pad and not know what it was for. Now I trace my thumb onto the paper on the clipboard so I at least know which way is up. =)

            Your manufacturing engineer reminds me of my father – ZERO people skills – he would get angry with “stupid” people as well.

            I know that I can be a bit “intense” so I tend to be flip to compensate. Everybody brings something to the table based on their experience and perspective – I always respect their opinion even if I don’t agree with it.


            • Hank,

              Yeah, I’m the same way too, and somewhat of a perfectionist, which can be a curse at times. There was a woman working in my department at one time. This was a quality assurance department where I was responsible for first article inspection of parts coming off the machines. I trained this woman how to do a task and then a few days later she would want me to show her again how to do it. I thought she just wanted attention and really knew how to do the task. Finally, I got fed up and told her “you know, even a dog can learn by repetition”. She didn’t talk to me for two weeks. That wasn’t all bad 😉


              • “you know, even a dog can learn by repetition” LOL!

                Sometimes what we think escapes from our mouths before we realize it =)

                Still, for two weeks respite, it might have been worth it.

                Yeah, somewhat of a perfectionist – me to, my wife calls it OCD. I just like things to be “consistent”… very consistent.


      • B.B.,

        I agree with your comments up to a point…
        T&E however is broken into DT&E and OT&E;. DT&E types get to ask way more questions of the Developers! OT&E certainly needs to stick to the Blackbox concept of testing to avoid the issues you point out.

        We have a lot of “Developers” who read/comment on your blog; some of them actually have some SKIN in the industry, LOL!

        Interestingly I think the Heisenberg Effect is in full bloom in this project.

        KISS is not evident in the manufacturer’s game plan…me thinks!


  9. Off subject.
    I mentioned the other day that I ordered a QB ar2078 stock for my Gauntlet. Well I got it yesterday. And also ordered the ar2078 trigger assembly for the Gauntlet. It has a different trigger blade than the Gauntlet and is said to be a fully adjustable 2 stage trigger. And it is. It adjust for 1st stage length of pull. 2nd stage break and pressure. It’s really a nice trigger assembly. Alot more adjustable and crisp compared to the Gauntlet trigger.

    But here’s the gun I’m talking about that the stock and trigger came from.

    And all I had to do was cut about 1-1/2 inches off the front of the stock. It bolted right on after that. As well as the trigger assembly. But the gun handles nice and the wood stock is not as heavy as the synthetic stock.

    I like it so far. And I just took the picture real quick this morning so forgive the card board I used to set the gun on.

    • Gunfun1,

      Looks way better than STOCK!

      Now just think if you had one of those conformal CF tanks out in front…just sayin’

      Enjoy hope it shoots better still for you bedded in nice wood too!


      • Shootski
        And it is actually grouping better. And it even sounds quieter when I shoot it. Feels smoother too. Like in how it feels when you hold it compared to the plastic stock.

        And yep a nice carbon fiber 4500 psi bottle regulated to the 1200 psi would be great. If they make such a bottle. In carbon fiber that is. Pretty sure they are available in metal.

        And I do got a 22 cubic inch bottle that will screw right on instead of the 13 cubic inch bottle. I wanted to shoot it this way first before putting the bigger volume regulated bottle on it.

        • GF1,

          You answered some of my questions before I got around to asking.

          The gun does look better to me. A better trigger is always well better. Did you try shooting with the new trigger and old stock? Just curious, don’t go back just for me.

          I have seen where the Gauntlet has placed well in some bench rest competitions. I did not see what mods were done to the Gauntlets.


          • Don
            And no didn’t try the trigger in the synthetic stock. The factory trigger is good. Just not as crisp as a break as the new trigger.

            I think it’s shooting better because the wood stock is more solid it seems than the synthetic stock. It always has shot good but now just a little better.

    • GF1,

      Nice job! I do like that adjustable butt pad and the cut out thumbhole/hand feature. The bottle hanging out front does look a bit funky though. Overall,… well done.


      • Chris
        And I think it makes for a better looking gun too.

        And yep on the bottle hanging out the front. If I was better at wood working I would make something up and attach it some way to the stock or even the bottle. I’m sure Hank could make something up out of wood for a bottle cover in no time. Not me. Well maybe I could if I had more time.

        But yep like it better than the synthetic stock. And the thing about it is that ar2078 stock will bolt right on a Beeman Chief with no mods at all. That’s what’s cool about the QB series guns. They are pretty interchangable. Kind of reminds me of Crosman in a way. Plus there is all kinds of aftermarket stuff available for the QB guns.

    • Very cool modification GF1, I like the look. Joe Brancato has a larger tank for the Guantlet, also the FX airguns have some carbon fiber tanks that may also fit the bill for what you are looking for as far as a larger onboard air supply, just a matter of if they can supply you with a regulator compatible with the Guantlet.

      Sweet looking upgrade for sure.


      • Mike
        Yep know about Joe’s stuff. And I do have a larger 22 cubic inch regulated bottle from MAC1 that I’m going to put on it. I got to reset the regulator though. Bought it set at 1600 psi for my Condor SS and ended up setting it at 2200 psi. So I need to set it down to around 1200 if I’m going to use it on the Gauntlet.

        As it goes I don’t have the extra time right now. But I am going to mess with the regulator on that bigger bottle and get it on the Gauntlet. But not in no hurry really. My Gauntlet is getting easy 80 shots per fill. At least it’s another option for the gun when I do get to it.

  10. Looking forward to your continued testing of these pellets.
    The lots for testing were released last year, and H&N has now released the pellets to the public. Can you aqquire a tin of the production 4.50 and 4.51 to compare to the test lots?
    Also to prove the recommendation of sub 12fpe, could you test from a sub 20 fpe rifle?
    I recently purchased 20 tins of the 4.51 and have done limited testing, been too cold for any long range.
    My results are similar to yours, the 4.51 measure 4.525-4.53 thru a PelletGage. Weights were from low end 9.35gr to highend 9.78gr. I noticed that medium weight within this range (9.60g) seemed to be ultra consistent thru my chrony. The lighter weights had dips, higher weights had spikes, seems like lighter or heavier pellets within the tins proved that head size was compromised? Weight sorting may prove better than measuring head size? Just my thoughts.
    Keep up the good work Sir, Eric J

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