The FN Barracuda revolver – initial impressions

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A new toy just arrived at the shop: an FN ‘Barracuda’ revolver in .357!

The Barracuda was FN’s only foray into the revolver market; they were produced for a few years during the 80’s. Various “authorities” say the gun was made by Astra and marketed by FN, others hold that it was made by FN and later licensed to Astra. Frankly, from my examination of the construction techniques and general build quality, I’d venture to say that it was made by Astra – and that’s not bad, as Astra is a good manufacturer in their own right. A small quantity of new-in-box specimens were recently unearthed and brought into the country.

The gun has a 3-inch barrel and fixed sights, the rear having a slightly unusual profile reminiscent of the Dan Wesson Model 14 – sort of “humpbacked.” Surprise: the barrel is pinned and the chambers are recessed, just like Smith & Wessons of days past. Another S&W-like detail are the four screws holding one the sideplate, with a fifth screw in front of the triggerguard. The cylinder yoke is held in with a push-button arrangement, very similar to Korth practice. Size is somewhere between a “K” and an “L” frame, and uses “L” frame speedloaders (not “K” frame, as is usually reported.)

The grips, of very nice walnut, show a definite resemblance to the checkered wood grips Colt supplied with Detective Specials in the 1980’s. The grips are well-fitted to the gun; my only complaint is that they’re a bit shallow (front-to-back) for my tastes. Trigger reach, even for my small hands, is quite comfortable for a “service” sized arm.

One thing I could do without is the hooked triggerguard, but it does lend an interesting profile to the piece. I’m also not a big fan of the serrated trigger (Jerry Miculek notwithstanding), though I’ll admit this one is less painful than most of its breed.

Fit & finish is pretty good, but the interior is quite crude – on a par with Rossi arms, at least in terms of parts fitting. Metallurgy, though, appears to be better than expected.

The action is fairly smooth for a factory gun, but not very consistent in its travel. Single action breaks with almost no creep and just a touch of overtravel; double action has near zero overtravel, similar to a Colt action. One nice touch is the user-adjustable pull weight; on my sample, double action weight could be varied from approximately 11-1/2 pounds down to 9-3/4 pounds. I might add that my analysis and measurements were done with the gun “as is”, from the box – the action is bone dry, and I expect things to improve considerably with a little lubrication.

After I get the chance to range test it, I’ll be getting into the internals to see what can be done to improve this gun.

Unfortunately I didn’t find out about these in time to snag one from the distributor, so I had to content myself with paying retail. (Ugh. I feel so violated!) Still, for the $300 it cost, it really is a good deal – and with only 400 imported, it’s not likely that another will show up next to you on the firing line!

Pictures and an in-depth test will follow in a few weeks. Stay tuned!

-=[ Grant ]=-


About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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