Mike Morton tests the Baracuda 18, a projectile that bridges the gap between two of H&N’s most popular pellets in .22 calibre
Whether it’s magic or metallurgy, coincidence or consistency, certain barrels simply work far better with some pellets than others. Haendler & Natermann makes some of the finest pellets in the world, with many shooters opting for the Baracuda Match or the Field Target Trophy, but now there’s a third way with the release of the Baracuda 18 in .22 calibre.
H&N describes the Baracuda 18 as being a highly accurate, hard-hitting, medium-weight pellet that’s versatile and consistent. The idea behind the 18, which has a chosen weight of 18.13 grains, is to close the gap between the heavy Baracuda Match, which weighs 21.14 grains, and the 14.66-grain FTT.
Pellet: Baracuda 18
Supplied by: John Rothery Wholesale (bisley-uk.com)
Manufacturer: H&N Sport (hn-sport.de)
Type: Domehead diabolo
Calibre tested: .22 (5.5mm)
Head size: 5.52mm
Supplied in: Tin of 200
Advertised weight: 18.13 grains
Measured weight: 18.42 grains
Uses: Hunting, plinking
Baracuda 18 pellets come in a tin of 200 and are available in just one head size, 5.52 mm. According to H&N, these pellets should be shot from a rifle with a minimum muzzle energy of 12 foot pounds. However, I’m taking that to mean any rifle that’s shooting just below the UK legal limit rather than the 7.5 joules (5.53 foot pounds) that’s allowed without a gun permit in H&N’s native Germany.
These pellets are a standard domehead diabolo, with a regular round head and a fairly long skirt. My first port of call with my test tin was to empty the whole lot onto a microfibre cloth and check for any damage to the pellets, as well as for any lead detritus.
Manufacturing processes keep getting better, and I found no trace of lead debris, while only a single pellet had some minor crush damage to the skirt.
When I put my usual trial sample of 50 random pellets over the scales, five weighed 18.2 grains, 34 came in at 18.4 grains and 11 measured 18.6 grains, giving an average measured weight of 18.42 grains compared with H&N’s advertised weight of 18.13 grains. However, this difference is very slight, and I suspect my digital scales aren’t perfectly calibrated in any case.
This shoot was conducted on a pleasantly warm and sunny, but not overly bright day, and with a gently gusting breeze blowing. As usual, all shots were taken at a 1” Birchwood Casey Target Spot with the rifle zeroed at 30 yards and shot outdoors from a covered firing point.
I decided to use my BSA R-10 SE for this test because although it’s wrong to generalise about pellets – they should all be thoroughly tested – this rifle does tend to like H&N-made ammo. Having cleaned the bore, I began my initial zero with my Hawke Sidewinder FFP, and found a couple of things. First, it took around 20 shots to properly re-lead the bore, and second, the ammo responded well to pellet lube. This is definitely not the case with all rifle and pellet combos, and so as always, experimentation is key.
With the rifle now zeroed and the bore leaded, I fired 10 shots over the chronograph, recording an average muzzle velocity of 531.8 feet per second, a muzzle energy of 11.57 foot pounds and a very pleasing variation in velocity of just 4.1 feet per second.
At 20 yards, group size was a tiny 6.5mm centre-to-centre, with me needing to use 17mm of holdunder, while at 30 yards the group expanded slightly to 7.9mm centre-to-centre, with me aiming dead-on.
The 30-yard group may look as if it’s been made up of just two pellets, but all five are definitely there. Two pellets went through one hole either side of the bull, while the fifth pellet was bang in the centre, but because the paper fibres of the target had already collapsed due to the previous shots, the final pellet just pushed its way through the bull, rather than cutting a path of its own.
With the breeze that had been blowing the whole time I’d been shooting, I wasn’t expecting great things back at 40 yards, so I was very pleased to find that even at this relatively long range my five-shot group measured only 11.2mm centre-to centre, requiring 58mm of holdover.
The fact that these pellets were clean and consistent straight out of the tin almost goes without saying these days, but I was still very pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of this ammo in the breezy conditions. As with any projectile, it’s vital to know your aim points at different distances, but the Baracuda 18 turned in some great results across the board.