Baracuda bites back

Mike Morton tests the H&N Baracuda FT to see whether this Field Target pellet deserves a podium place in a variety of shooting disciplines

H&N spent a long time developing the Baracuda FT, with pre-production samples being tested extensively by shooters in a number of different countries.

With their reports handed in, the H&N Baracuda FT was refined and is now in production, being offered in a choice of two head sizes.

While it’s marketed as a Field Target competition pellet, this domehead diabolo is well worth considering for hunting and other types of competition as well.

The shape of the Baracuda FT is in part inspired by the company’s stalwart Baracuda Match, with a more pointed head than usually found on a typical domehead.  The lead alloy used to make these pellets is relatively hard, which does help protect them during transit and storage, but hard pellets sometimes don’t flare to fit the bore upon firing as well as softer projectiles. 

However, H&N has given the FT a fully hollowed-out skirt with an extremely thin wall to assist the expansion of the skirt, a phenomenon called obturation.

An objective test should be carried out with no preconceived ideas, but I couldn’t help but expect the FTs to perform well. 

Part of that confidence was born out of my own experience with the pre-production pellets – as well as what I found in the tin with the production samples. 

H&N says these pellets are “hand-sorted quality”, and I had no quibble with this, finding no damaged pellets and a negligible amount of swarf in my tin of 400.

And out of a random sample of 50 pellets, no fewer than 48 of these weighed 9.8 grains, while two weighed 9.6 grains, giving an average weight of 9.79 grains. This compares with the pellets’ advertised weight, which was 9.57 grains. 

My scales may not be perfectly calibrated, but they nevertheless do illustrate how consistent these pellets are, with 96 per cent of the sample pellets weighing exactly the same.

Test conditions

This shoot was conducted outdoors on an overcast day with almost no wind. As usual, all of the shots were taken at the centre of a 1” Birchwood Casey Target Spot, regardless of distance, to show how much their flightpath alters at range, with the rifle zeroed at 30 yards. 

The pellets were loaded straight from the tin, and five shots were then taken at each of the three targets.

The lead alloy is quite hard, but the skirt is deep and has a thin wall, helping it expand to fill the bore

Downrange

I chose to use my Weihrauch HW 100 for this test, with the rifle shot off a bipod and a heavy-duty rear shooting bag, rested on a bench. Once the barrel had been cleaned and the barrel leaded, which took around 15 shots, it was throwing them over the chrono with a variation of 4.7 feet per second over a 10-shot string.

At 20 yards, the Baracuda FTs delivered a minuscule group with a centre-to-centre measurement of 4.8mm. Due to the set-up of my scope and mounts, my chosen zero of 30 yards and the weight of the pellet, the average point of impact was 10mm higher than my point of aim.

Baracuda FT pellets are sold in tins of 400 in .177 calibre, and in a choice of two head sizes – 4.50mm and 4.51mm

At 30 yards, the five-shot group had widened to a similarly tiny 5mm, measured centre-to-centre. So far, so good (very good in fact), but what would happen when the range was pushed back to 40?

At 40 yards, I didn’t get the one-hole group I had been hoping for, with one errant pellet going slightly high, but the group still measured only 10.3mm centre-to-centre, and there was an average drop-off of 24mm from my point of aim.

A common yardstick of accuracy is to see if a group fits under a £1 coin, which has a diameter of 22.5mm, or the slightly larger 10p piece at 24.5mm. The Baracuda FT exceeded these expectations, coming in well under the size of an 18mm 5p piece at all distances.

In nature, barracudas feed on various prey, and in airgunning, the Baracuda FT is capable of exactly the same – FT targets, HFT knockdowns and live quarry alike. 

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