Mike Morton remains environmentally friendly for his latest ammo test – the lightweight and lead-free Baracuda Green from H&N
I know several shooters who’ve tried lead-free pellets, only to find their performance lacklustre. But I recently tested Field Target Trophy Green in .177 from German firm H&N and found myself surprised by their performance, so thought it only fair to try another lead-free pellet from the same stable, this time the Baracuda Green in .22 calibre.
Lead is still the preferred material for making both pellets and slugs as the mass and density of lead airgun projectiles tend to make them ballistically superior to those made from other materials. However, while we are still free to shoot lead pellets at the moment, it’s useful to at least know what’s out there.
As I was about to find out, “medium” really is the key word here, but we’ll get to that later. Nevertheless, I wanted to test this ammo in the same way as I would for any other .22 pellet, and that meant starting with a visual inspection and a weigh-in.
Baracuda Greens in .22 are supplied in a tin of 200. I got taken to task by a reader in my earlier test when I said the FT Trophy Greens were a “bit dearer” than their lead counterparts.
And costing £16.95 per tin, the Baracuda Greens work out at more than 8p per pellet compared with just under 3p per round for a comparable lead alternative such as the Bisley Magnum. So they do command a premium price, but for that money you do get exquisitely clean pellets – and they’re cleanly made too.
When I put my usual trial sample of 50 random pellets over the scales, they all weighed the same, 13.2 grains, compared with H&N’s stated weight of 12.96 grains, showing superior consistency.
Pellet: Bisley Magnum
Manufacturer: H&N for Bisley (www.bisley-uk.com)
Type: Roundhead diabolo
Calibre tested: .22 (5.5mm)=
Supplied in: Tin of 200
Advertised weight: 21.14 grains
Measured weight: 21.25 grains
Uses: Hunting and outdoor target shooting
This shoot was conducted on a bitterly cold, damp day, but was completely wind-free. All shots were taken at a 1” Birchwood Casey Target Spot with the rifle zeroed at 30 yards.
While I would normally use pellets taken straight from the tin, I’d previously found lead-free pellets to prefer a coating of pellet lube, and this was how the groups were shot, with five shots being taken at each of the three targets.
I have only one PCP in .22 calibre, but it’s a very good one, a BSA R-10 SE with a Hawke Sidewinder FFP sitting up top. Like my Daystate Red Wolf in .177, this rifle is generally pretty unfussy when it comes to ammo choice, but I did run into a couple of issues.
First of all, these pellets were a very tight fit in the bore, which may or may not have affected their accuracy. Secondly, these pellets would not group very well at all when used dry. However, with the addition of the pellet lube, things improved dramatically.
With the barrel cleaned of any remaining fouling, and this time using the lubed pellets, I zeroed the R-10 and found point of impact at 30 yards was pretty much the same as the regular lead pellets this rifle prefers, probably due to a combination of the ammo’s lighter weight and higher velocity.
Having put 10 shots over the chronograph, I found these 13.2 grain pellets were being hurled out of the barrel at a very respectable average velocity of 613.6 feet per second, with a variation of just 3.8 feet per second.
I rate any variation under 10 feet per second as being good, with anything under five being excellent. Muzzle energy was 11.04 foot pounds – not bad at all for such a light-for-calibre pellet.
At 20 yards, group size was a slightly disappointing 18.8mm centre-to-centre, including a possible flyer, with me using 22mm of holdunder, but at my chosen zero of 30 yards it was a far more impressive 7.9mm centre-to-centre.
I have a theory that some pellets, just like some bullets, require a certain amount of flight time to properly stabilise, and this could be an example of that.
Back at 40 yards, the five-shot group measured 25.9mm centre-to centre, using 40mm of holdover. The group was a bit ragged, and even though it’s only slightly larger than the 23.4mm diameter of a £1 coin or the 24.5mm of a 10 pence piece, I’d feel more comfortable reducing the range when shooting this particular pellet through my particular barrel.
So while these results were a bit of a mixed bag, the real sweet spot was at 30 yards, with the lead-free Baracuda Green delivering lead-pellet levels of accuracy in a non-poisonous package. If you’re in the least bit curious about going green, they’d be well worth a try in your rifle too.