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Ammo Baracuda pellets then and now: Part 3

Baracuda pellets then and now: Part 3

Baracuda three pellets
From the left we have the original Baracuda pellet upright and lying down, then there is the Baracuda 18, with the Baracuda 15 on the right. Looking inside the skirts you can see where the weight is and isn’t.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Some history
  • The test
  • H&N Baracuda Match with 5.53mm head
  • Baracuda 18s
  • Baracuda 15s
  • Discussion
  • Summary

I am testing the traditional 21.14-grain Baracuda pellets alongside the new Baracuda 18s and Baracuda 15s, to see whether there is any significant difference. Today there was a huge difference, plus I have something astounding to tell you.

Some history

I tested these three pellets in the Air Arms S510XS back in December. Each group was 10 shots. Read about it in Part 2.

In that test the Baracuda 15s were the most accurate, followed by the 18s with the traditional heavy Baracudas bringing up the rear. But all three pellets were accurate.

At the end of that report I said I wanted to test the three pellets in a spring-piston rifle next, and so I selected my most accurate, most reliable springer. Today I tested these same pellets in the Sig ASP20.  It’s too bad Sig abandoned this air rifle, because when they developed this one they hit it out of the park.

Their sidearms have great success with law enforcement and with the US military, so things are going well for the company, but I don’t think they appreciate what a rare thing their ASP20 was. It was the Glock of the airgun world! That remark may sound like a finger in Sig’s eye but I meant it as a compliment. Glock changed the world for modern sidearms, and whether you like them or hate them you can’t deny their success. I am a 1911 man, and yet even I have to acknowledge that the Glock design is far more rugged than the all-steel pistols I favor.

My ASP20 is a .22-caliber model with a wood stock. It has Sig’s Whiskey3 ASP 4-12X44 scope mounted on it.

The ASP20 is the finest spring-piston air rifle since the TX200 was created. It has an American-designed trigger unlike anything else on the market and it has a Keystone breech that ensures perfect lockup every time. I have more to say about the rifle but let’s get on with today’s test.

The test

I shot a 10-shot group with each of the pellets. I shot from 25 yards with the rifle resting directly on a sandbag. The ASP20 is so smooth you can do this. Since I hadn’t shot the rifle in over a year I first fired five test shots to warm up the gas piston  and the rest of the rifle. Also I wanted to confirm the rifle was still zeroed. It was.

H&N Baracuda Match with 5.53mm head

First up were ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 5.53mm heads. This is the same pellet I shot in the S510 in Part 2, but I noted that they loaded into the Sig breech very hard. Ten pellets went into 1.565-inches at 25 yards. That is a poor group for this rifle or for any rifle at 25 yards. Strangely, five of the 10 pellets made a 0.355-inch group, which was more like what I expected. Clearly either something is wrong or this rifle does not like this pellet.

Baracuda heavy group
What an odd group! It measures 1.565-inches for the entire group, with five of the 10  pellets grouping in 0.355-inches. Either something is wrong or these 21.14-grain Baracuda Match pellets with their 5.53mm heads are not right for this rifle.

Baracuda 18s

I’ll show you the Baracuda 18s next. Ten of them went into 0.536-inches at 25 yards. No funny business. That’s a lot more like what I was expecting! So the rifle is shooting okay. More of that to come.

Baracuda 18 group
Now that’s more like it! Ten Baracuda 18s went into 0.536-inches at 25 yards.

I will also note that the Baracuda 18s loaded easier than the heavier pellets. According to their tin they have 5.52mm heads. These days we are just fortunate to get pellets when we order them, but if this shortage business ever ends I suppose we will be able to buy the head sizes we want.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear

Baracuda 15s

This is the latest Baracuda pellet. You can see in the top photo that they are shorter and have thinner skirts. But are they any good? Well, they gave the smallest 10-shot group with the S510. How about with the ASP20? Once again they gave the smallest group of the test. Ten pellets went into a 25-yards group that measures 0.402-inches between centers.

Baracuda 15 group
There is what I wanted to see. Ten shots in a relatively round group that measures 0.402-inches between the centers of the two widest shots.


The ASP20 can still shoot! And here is something that is a little curious. When I broke it open to cock it the first time, the barrel went all the way down without resistence. Either all the gas had leaked out of the piston or I had cocked the rifle long ago and never fired it. There was a pellet in the breech, so I fired it. It hit the target below where I aimed, so I reckoned the rifle was still good. I then fired four more shots just to check the sights, though I didn’t adjust the scope at all.

How long had the rifle been cocked? Well, not less than five months but more likely over a year. I really don’t know.

I am not making any claims for gas springs/gas pistons. I’m just reporting what happened.


The new Baracuda 18 and 15 are premium quality pellets. No doubt they will sometimes be less accurate than the traditional heavyweight Baracudas, but in the last two tests they were more accurate. I still do want to test them in a lower-powered spring-piston rifle, just to see.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

20 thoughts on “Baracuda pellets then and now: Part 3”

    • Bill,

      He did use his Air Arms S510 XS which produces around 25-33 foot-pounds. He shot it with the power set two clicks down from maximum for all three pellets. That produces good power and also conserves air. The original HW Barakuda 54EL claimed a 15-grain .22 caliber ball to 1,000 f.p.s. (/blog/2006/05/weihrauch-barakuda-el54-ether-injection-air-rifle/) which comes out at around 33 foot-pounds, which is quite close to the maximum power the Air Arms S510 XS produces. The HW Barakuda 54EL is an HW 35 with an ether injector attached on the right side of the compression chamber tube.


      • Siraniko,
        I should have been more specific because what I had in mind is more than ~30 fpe. The heavy Baracudas seem to have great success with 50-70 fpe in airgun hunting.

        • Bill,

          In that case Tom’s AirForce Condor which can do about 40 fpe needs to get out on the range. I can’t think of any airgun with Tom in .22 caliber that produces more power with accuracy.


    • Bill,

      I understand where you are going. It has been my experience with the heavy Baracudas you usually need a bit of umph to do well with them, but as I have quite a few low power sproingers, I am most interested in what the 15 and 18 will do. I also have a Maximus, which is not a real powerhouse either.

      Yes, that big honkin’ Baracuda has indeed done well with higher power airguns, but JSB has eaten H&N’s cake when it comes to lighter fare. I have one sproinger that really likes the H&N Field Target, but they do not make that one anymore. Nothing I have is crazy about the H&N FTT and RWS makes a much better wadcutter.

      H&N has to reexplore the lighter pellets.

  1. Thanks for this test. I reviewed your 25 yard tests from your ASP 20 detailed tests previously. The 15 gr accuracy is approximately the same as your best groups back then. So I will buy some when they are back in stock. The 21 gr test would probably improve with the 5.51 head instead of the 5.53. But as you know the gun does best in the 13-16 gr range.

  2. BB, I think you want to sort your heavy ‘cudas, and to that end, all things being equal, is weighing the best bang for your buck as far as getting more consistant groups? I am going to sort my bb’s assuming lighter ones are smaller, and heavier ones are bigger, because they are round shaped in appearance. I am not sure about the scales sensitivty yet. 5.51 head sizes should also be lighter than 5.53 ones are right? I use the magnet to recycle my ammo now. Besides, who puts 50K rounds through their sidearm anyway …?
    The ASP is another one that got away.

  3. B.B.,

    I’ll get this out of the way first; I certainly am glad I own the SIG ASP20 .177 in wood and a .22 in the synthetic furniture.
    Folks those are my only Adult Spring Piston Airguns!
    I have been firmly in the DARK SIDE since three decades ago just for reference. I have never truly enjoyed shooting Spring Piston Power Plants and did have many fine examples handed to me to try to overcome my deep aversion.
    I was cured of at least some of it and am working with my two ASP20 to get out of the Ten Step Group.

    On a more serious note;
    Tom, how did you seat the three different Baracudas?


    • shootski,

      I seated them as deep as possible, which means flush with the end of the barrel. I had to use the scale of my Swiss Army knife to seat some of them.


      • BB

        This is for Shootski, you and all owners of ASP20 rifles.
        There is a multi year warranty by Sig in place. Sig honors this and quickly repairs when something needs fixing. Sig Sauer Customer Service number is 603-610-3000. Choose option #1.


        • Decksniper,

          Thank you Deck.

          I bought both of mine and W3 scopes directly from SIG when they were still in stock or returned from distributors. All my wife’s and my other SIGs are purchased from the MCX (Marine Corps Exchange) to support the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) efforts.
          Thank heaven one of our more recent Presidents didn’t get the chance to kill that benefit off completely with his Anti Gun policies! For a time you couldn’t buy ammo or magazines at the MCX; what a travesty!
          SIG Customer Service said they would honor the 5 year warranty and even beyond as long as parts remained available.


          PS: everything is still working fine on both of them. I didn’t worry about keeping them cocked for an overnight and now with B.B.’s apparently leaving one cocked for weeks or months I feel even more comfortable locking it up for the night ready to go!

  4. Yes, seems FM also erred by not getting the ASP20/W3 combo in .22 when it could be had. But one never knows when opportunity may knock on the door – or the wooden stock. 🙂 Happy for you all who are enjoying your prized ones!

  5. New baracudas are similar to JSB Exact pellets. There is a visible trend recently for long range pellets design… seems that the balistic coeff. is quite best for this shape and mass distribution. I know this old type and it needs pretty much power to show it’s potential. Not so good for 16J-level powerplant.

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