H&N Slug HP
Can slugs excel in a sub-12 foot pound rifle? Or outshoot a standard pellet? Mike Morton seeks answers with the new H&N Slug HP
H&N Slug HP
While slugs managed to stage a massive revival a couple of years ago, it was just that: a revival. Slugs are nothing new to the world of airguns, with boxes of slugs from the 1940s or 50s sometimes turning up on the trestle tables at my local car boot sale. So why did they fall into decline and why did they come back? I believe manufacturers simply found diabolo pellets to perform better in the air rifles of the day, which often had muzzle energies far lower than today’s legal limit. But with advances in technology, FAC air rifles are now well established, reopening the doors to slugs. Just like the H&N Slug HP.
This new ammo line is in .177 calibre, and H&N is offering the slugs in three different weights, these being 13, 16 and 20 grains, with the ones on test here being the 13 grain variety. In terms of UK airgun shooting, two rules generally hold true: slugs perform best from FAC-rated air rifles and .22 is generally the minimum calibre to run FAC air, in terms of air efficiency if nothing else. Ever wanting to break down barriers, I thought it would be useful to test these little slugs and see if those rules are still valid, and if so, what type of shooter might benefit from shooting slugs in this calibre and from a sub-12 foot pound air rifle.
It’s almost getting boring these days talking about the quality of airgun ammo from high-end manufacturers like H&N because standards are now so high. Indeed these hollowpoint slugs were beautifully formed, with zero lead detritus left in the tin of 350 when the contents was tipped out onto a microfibre cloth. Weight consistency was excellent too, with a random sample of 50 slugs yielding one weighing 12.6 grains, 48 coming in at 13.0 grains and another single slug weighing 13.2 grains, giving a measured average of 13.26 grains compared with the tin weight of 13.00, which was very good. Construction was great as well, with the hollow being cleanly formed and the base of the slug being slightly dished and with an almost polished appearance.
Name: Slug HP
Supplied by: John Rothery Wholesale (bisley-uk.com)
Manufacturer: H&N Sport (hn-sport.de)
Calibre tested: 4.5mm/.177
Head size: 4.54mm
Overall length: 5.9mm
Supplied in: Tin of 350
Advertised weight: 13.00 grains
Measured weight: 13.26 grains
H&N Slug HP – test conditions
This shoot was conducted on a mild, overcast and wind-free day. All shots were taken at 1” Birchwood Casey Target Spots from a covered firing point with my Daystate Red Wolf. My usual test regime is to shoot at 20, 30 and 40 yards, but in this case that proved far too far.
There are some regular .177 pellets that actually weigh more than these Slug HPs, but the difference is the amount of surface area that comes into contact with the rifling, this being far greater with a slug than with a pellet, meaning an increase in friction. This was so much so that when doing my initial zero at 30 yards, the slug dropped a massive 115mm from the rifle’s normal point of impact. So I decided to reset the test distances at 15, 20 and 25 yards, this time with a 25-yard zero.
H&N Slug HP – downrange
Having fired 10 shots over my Shooting Chrony F1, I ended up with an average muzzle velocity of 517 feet per second, a variation of 12.6 feet per second and a lower than usual muzzle energy of 7.87 foot pounds, all of which I again put down to the increased friction in the bore due to the greater bearing surface.
At my revised minimum distance of 15 yards, my five-shot group measured just 6.8mm centre-to-centre, with me applying 8.5mm of holdunder due to my 25-yard zero. At 20 yards the group size was marginally smaller at 6.6mm centre-to-centre, using 9.4mm of holdunder, and at 25 yards it expanded to 13.3mm centre-to centre, with me aiming on. These were certainly very pleasing results considering I was shooting slugs from a legal-limit rifle.
One thing I failed to do due to time constraints was measure retained velocity, and hence energy, at distance, but I would expect these bullet-shaped projectiles to have outperformed a regular pellet in that department.
So what did my test prove? H&N’s 13 grain .177 Slug HP is indeed a viable pest control round in sub-12 format. While I’d love to repeat this test with an FAC rifle – where I’m sure this little projectile would really come into its own – it was still great fun. And that’s one of the reasons I shoot: for the simple joy of it.
H&N’s Slug HP will no doubt prove to be an excellent hunting round when shot from an FAC rifle, but at shorter distances, it performed wonderfully from a sub-12 foot pound airgun too