Archive for March 2009

The IZH-46M.

To ready the 46M for shooting, grasp the grip in your right hand and grab the end of the cocking handles with your left. Pull the cocking handle away from the grip until it extends well in front of the muzzle. When the cocking handle reaches the limit of its travel, the bolt will pop open. Next, return the cocking handle to its original position. This pressurizes the action.

The IZH-46M with the pump lever fully extended.

The breech ready for loading.

Slide a pellet into the rear of the barrel and press the bolt down until it snaps into place. The 46M is now ready to fire. Raise the pistol, alight the sights, take the first stage out of the trigger, and squeeze. With a pop, the pellet goes downrange. Velocities with light pellets are nearly 500 fps. An earlier model, the IZH 46 (no M), had a shorter pump tube and typically produced velocities 50 fps slower with pellets of the same weight.

The best part of the Izzy is the trigger. It is crisp, clean, and adjustable to below a pound. For the price, I know of no other air pistol that delivers a trigger as good, and I believe you’d have to spend much more to do better.

To get ready for the next shot, pump the action again and go through the same routine. I shot a season of 10-meter air pistol competition with a 46M and never had a mechanical problem or failure of any sort.

This is Steve Ware's IZH-46M configured for Unlimited Standing Silhouette. Photo courtesy of Steve.

But as I indicated in Part I, there is a lot more you can do with an IZH-46M beyond 10-meter air pistol. Steve Ware has twice won the IHMSA Unlimited International Championship with an IZH-46M, and once he won the Pan American Unlimited Standing Championship with an IZH. He likes it because it is economical, accurate, not dependent on SCUBA tanks or CO2 caplets, and can be adjusted to a sub-one-pound match trigger with just a screwdriver.

Charles Cammack uses his IZH-46 for air pistol benchrest competition in the New Mexico Senior Olympics Dona Anna County. For the last four years, he as qualified to shoot in the state summer games and has won several gold and silver medals in both the county and state games.

Larry Bowne uses this IZH for silhouette and pistol field target. Photo courtesy of Larry.

Larry Bowne uses his IZH-46M for both air pistol silhouette and field target competition. It’s quite a treat to seen him dropping field targets at the Easter Field Target Competitors Club in Wappingers Falls, NY, with the same model pistol that I used for 10-meter competition.

Bowne uses a custom scope mount made by Fenton Sandlin, an experienced silhouette shooter. Sandlin’s custom intermounts for the IZH have built-in droop that compensates for the height of the scope and the trajectory of a low velocity pistol. (Another way to mount a scope or red dot on the Izzy is to use the B-Square #17900 IZH-46 Weaver Adaptor Rail.)

After trying a lower power scope, Bowne mounted a Bushnell Trophy 6-18 scope with a scope knob that is calibrated out to 55 yards. His IZH-46M shoots JSB 8.4 grain exacts at 440-450 fps. He experimented with lighter JSB Express pellets, but found the heavier 8.4 grain pellets more stable for shooting groups at longer distances. Using this setup, Bowne has knocked down field targets with a 1.5 inch kill zone at 40 yards, which is impressive indeed. (This is not hearsay, either; I have personally seen him do it.)

If it seems like I am very keen on the IZH-46M, you’re right – I am. It is darned-near a do-it-all air pistol. The trigger is excellent. The accuracy is superb. You don’t have to worry about recharging it with air or CO2. It’s extremely easy to shoot well. You can compete in multiple disciplines with it and even control small pests at close range. It’s very difficult to think of any other pistol that offers so much at such a reasonable price.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

The IZH-46M is an air pistol that does many things well.

I had to grin the other day. Somebody had posted on the Yellow Forum, asking the denizens of the forum their opinion on three single-stroke pneumatic target pistols. One of them was the Baikal IZH-46M. The chorus of response to the posting was almost unanimous: Buy the Izzy!

When I mentioned this to Greg at Airguns of Arizona, he wasn’t surprised in the least; the IZH-46M is the most popular air pistol AoA sells, by a wide margin. So what is it about this Russian-built air pistol that makes it so popular?

It certainly doesn’t have the swoopy good looks of some of the high-buck
European match pistols . . . so what is it? I think it is simply that the Izzy hits a very sweet spot in the price/performance curve.

For less than $400, you get a wickedly accurate, self-contained match pistol that does a lot of things well, including 10-meter air pistol competition (that’s what it was designed for), pistol field target, air pistol silhouette, and I even heard of one fellow who shoots bench rest with one. In addition, if the forums are any indication, a number of Izzy shooters use them to control small pest animals at close range in the back yard.

The first thing you notice about the Izzy is that it has a very purpose-built air about it. If a part doesn’t need to be polished to function well, then it isn’t. Every part is designed with just one purpose in mind: to launch pellets down range as accurately as possible.

These custom laminate grips for the Izzy are available from Airguns of Arizona.

At stern of the 46M is a wooden ergonomic right hand grip that I found quite comfortable in my hand. (If you are a lefty, or you simply want dress up your 46M, custom laminate right or left hand grips and cocking handle are available from Airguns of Arizona.) At the bottom of the grip is an adjustable palm shelf. On top of the grip is the rear sight, which can bed micro-adjusted for windage and elevation. If you want a different width notch on the rear sight, the back plate of the sight can be unscrewed and flipped to give you a choice of notch widths.

In front of the rear sight is the bolt, which flips up to allow you to load a pellet into the rear of the barrel. There is a sliding assembly on top of the barrel that allows the bolt to be unlatched without cocking the gun and pressurizing the action. The barrel extends forward to a clamp that connects the barrel with the pump tube beneath. At the muzzle there is an assembly that holds the removable front sight blade and protects the barrel crown.

The pump tube is underneath the barrel. Beneath it, the cocking handle extends toward the trigger then angles away to the bottom of the palm shelf. At the end of the cocking handle is a small wooden block that cushions the hand while pumping the action. Together with a small metal shelf, the cocking handle encloses the two-stage adjustable trigger.

That’s all there is to the IZH-46M – a simple, unassuming, but highly functional air pistol.

Next time we’ll look at shooting it.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

If you buy an airgun, scope and mounts from Airguns of Arizona, they will put the combination together for you and sight it in before it is shipped to you. Most of the time, AoA’s Kip Perow gets the job of mounting the scope and making sure that everything is as it should be, so I asked Kip to walk me through the process.

“The first thing you need to do is to determine where your eye relief is,” he said. To do that, you mount the rings loosely on the gun – firm enough to stay on but not so loose as to fall off. Put the scope on, set it on the highest power (because that’s where eye relief is most critical), and gently position it for your eye relief when you are in correct shooting position.

Kip Perow checks a customer for scope eye relief.

Perow says, “When I set a gun up for a customer who has come into the store, I have them mount the gun with their eyes closed. I tell them to relax their head and neck, then open their eyes. If they move their head forward, the scope needs to come back. If they move their head back, the scope needs to go forward.”

Once you get the eye relief properly set, tighten down the bolts that hold the scope rings to the scope rail on the rifle. At that point, it’s time to get the crosshairs aligned straight up and down.

“Don’t try to do this by pulling the gun to your shoulder,” Perow says. “Right handed shooters will tend to cant the rifle to the left, and lefthanders will tend to cant to the right. Instead, set the gun in a solid rest, make sure the gun is level, and sight on a plumb bob or the corner of a wall to get the crosshairs vertical.”

Perow levels the crosshairs on a scope he is mounting.

When the crosshairs are squared away, it’s time to tighten the scope in the rings. Tighten all the top strap screws until they are just barely snug, with an even gap on the left and the right side of the scope. Then tighten each screw in an X pattern, one-eighth of a turn at a time. Do four cycles of tightening on the front mount, then four cycles on the rear mount, then repeat as needed. Make sure you are maintaining an even gap from side to side as you complete your tightening cycles. “You want to get them as tight as you can on a spring gun,” Perow says.

Perow uses a X-pattern to tighten the top strap screws.

If you find you don’t have enough vertical adjustment to get the scope sighted in, you can place a shim under the scope on the rear mount to compensate. “You can use brass sheeting from a hardware store or plastic cut out of standard water bottles,” he says.

He adds, “Most of the time, when we need to shim a scope, it will be on an RWS springer, and it might take a couple of shims. Occasionally we have to shim a scope on a precharged air rifle if the scope is one that has only one-eight inch adjustment.”

If you want to avoid the shimming issue altogether, Perow recommends the Beeman 5039 mount. “It is fully adjustable for windage and elevation and is the best adjustable mount on the market,” he says. “It’s expensive, but it maintains its setting.”

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

I cocked the unloaded, uncharged Crosman 2240 and handed it to my testing partner. “Give the trigger a squeeze and tell me what you think,” I said.

A few seconds later, the action clicked, and he said, “It’s kind of crummy.” I tried it and agreed. With a trigger gauge, we measured the weight of the trigger pull at four-and-one-quarter pounds.

To improve the trigger, we decided to install the Adjustable Trigger Sear for the Crosman 17xx and 22xx. Along the way, we learned a bunch of things that will help you install one on your own airgun. (Note that the Adjustable Trigger Sear [ATS] is not a factory authorized part.)

To get ready for installation, Make sure the gun is not cocked or loaded. Lay the 2240 on its left side with the pistol grip pointed toward you, and the muzzle pointed to the right. Next, remove the grip by removing the screw that holds it in place.

With the grip removed, you’ll see a view like the picture below.

With a pair of needle nose pliers or the blade of a screwdriver, slide the coiled spring off the post. When the spring is off the post, tug gently on the spring, and you will be able to remove it completely from the pistol. Additional note: you can defer removing the coiled spring until after you have removed the trigger side plate, but having the side plate still in place reduces the chances of parts being launched into the air (see note about cranky uncles below).

Before you do anything else, make sure the safety is in the FIRE position – protruding fully from the left side of the pistol with the red stripe show. Prop the pistol’s air tube up on a pad of paper or a paperback book – something that will elevate the air tube about one-half inch. This will prevent the safety from being pushed into the SAFE position. If the safety is pushed into the SAFE position when the side plate is off the trigger assembly, a tiny silver ball bearing and teensy spring will fall (or worse – FLY!) out, and YOU WILL HAVE THE DEVIL’S OWN TIME TRYING TO GET THEM BACK INTO POSITION! (Please believe Uncle Jock on this. It happened to me, and it made me very cranky).

Next, remove the two screws that hold the trigger side plate, and gently remove the side plate. In the picture below, you’ll see the original sear that sits on a pivot pin just to the rear of the trigger (in this picture, the original sear is overlaid on the ATS.) Remove the original sear but leave the pin in position. (Just to the right of the sear, you’ll see that teeny spring that I told you about.)

Put the ATS in position as shown below. Notice that it wraps below the pin that the original sear pivoted around, but unlike the original, the ATS doesn’t have a hole that the pin can be inserted into. This is true despite the fact that some ATSs have holes that might appear to fit over the pin. They don’t.

Put the trigger side plate back in position. Slide the end of the coiled spring over the end of the sear, and then slide the other end over the bottom post. You’re done, except for adjusting the trigger and replacing the grip. (Note: you can attach the coiled spring to the ATS and the post with the side plate removed, but I think it is easier with the side plate holding the sear and post in place.)

To adjust the trigger, follow the instructions that came with the sear.

In the end, the ATS tranformed the trigger in my 2240 from a creepy 4-1/4 lb affair into a very crisp trigger that sends the shot down range at just 1 lb 15 oz.

What to do if the little ball bearing and spring fall out. Make sure the safety and trigger are in proper position. Replace the trigger side plate. Remove the two screws that hold the trigger assembly to the air tube. As you look down on the trigger assembly from the top, you’ll see a small hole just above the safety. Drop the small ball bearing in the hole, then place the small spring on top of it. Now reattach the trigger assembly to the air tube. This will compress the small spring and hold it in place.

Note about Screw Starting Point Adjustments

The final, optimum adjustment of the 1st and 2nd stage screws will be determined by experimentation and a combination of the shooter’s personal taste with the particular manufacturing tolerances of the specific gun. Still it’s sometimes useful to have a starting point for the fine tuning process – kind of a home base – that represents average reasonable settings that the sear can be easily set to in order to begin the process in an orderly way, and reset to if the process goes awry.

Starting Point settings are defined so…

1. Turn the screw being set so that the tip is exactly flush with the surface of the sear.

2. Turn the screw clockwise by the number of turns (and fractions of a turn) indicated in the figure.

Here are Starting Point settings for the three styles of Crosman sears. To identify which style you have, check for:

1. Presence of the two fabrication alignment holes present in styles A and C but not B.

2. The square “heel” of style A that B and C lack.


Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

If there is one complaint that can be made about the modern crop of Benjamin and Sheridan multi-stroke pneumatic rifles (such as the Benjamin 392 and 397 and the Sheridan CB9 and C9), it’s that the trigger in these air rifles is mediocre. The pull is heavy, and there is a lot of creep to the trigger.

For example, my Sheridan C9 measured right around 6 to 6-1/4 lbs of pull, and there is a lot of movement between where the second stage of the trigger engages and the shot is finally triggered.

If you want a better trigger quickly and easily, buy a Benjamin SuperSear and install it yourself. What follows is an account of how I installed the SuperSear in my C9.

First, look underneath the forestock just ahead of the trigger guard. You’ll see a Philips head screw recessed into the forestock. Using a Philips screwdriver of appropriate size, remove this screw by turning it counterclockwise. With this screw removed, you can now slide off the buttstock. (Two notes: [1] You might want to open the pumping arm slightly to make it easier. [2] Every time you remove a screw or small part, put it in a safe place like a small plastic dish so it won’t wander away.)

You will now have an assembly that looks like the picture below.

Next, remove the two Philips screws that are on either side of the air tube just above the trigger assembly. This will allow you to remove the trigger assembly, resulting in an assembly that looks like the one below. (Note the spring and black steel spring guide that sticks out of the air tube; you can put these in a safe place with the other small parts.)

Next, remove the two screws that hold the cover on the trigger assembly, remove the cover, and you’ll be able to see what’s inside:

Notice the arrangement of the components inside the trigger assembly: the trigger (with a coiled spring to the left of it), the sear (at the top right of the assembly, with the wire spring hooked into it), and the safety (sticking through a hole in the trigger guard, with the wire spring pressing against it). Notice that there is a pin that goes through a hole in the trigger and goes into sockets on each side of the trigger case. The sear also rides on a pin that fits into sockets on each side of the trigger case. Also notice that there is a tab on the trigger that presses on the “tongue” of the trigger sear when the trigger is pulled.

Finally, notice the trigger case post which is just below the tab on the trigger. Because the SuperSear has a longer “tongue,” you will need to grind, file, or drill the trigger case post so that the SuperSear can operate without interference. The picture below shows the trigger case with everything removed, clamped in a vice, ready for grinding down the trigger case post.

The next picture shows the post ground down (I used a Dremel mototool and a small grinding wheel – don’t forget your eye protection) so that it is level with the trigger pin socket. A vital step in the process that follows the metalwork on the post is cleanup of the abrasive debris that will have been produced (e.g., metal chips and grinding wheel grit) before reassembly. Forgetting to do this will do no good for either the feel or longevity of your new trigger. A blast of compressed air (if available) can be used to blow the muck out, or a quick rinse with soapy water works too. Then dry and relubricate.

The next picture shows the trigger, SuperSear, wire spring, and safety reinstalled. All that remains is to reinstall the coil spring between the trigger and the two cast tabs and put the cover back on the trigger case. The trigger assembly slides back into the air tube (don’t forget to reinstall the spring assembly in the correct orientation) and put the two screws back in place. Finally, slip the buttstock on and put the screw back in place. You’re done!

To optimize my SuperSear Installation, I polished the engagement surface of the sear (indicated by the arrow in the picture below) with Arkansas stones that I use for sharpening knives and chisels. I started with a fairly rough stone, moved to a medium stone, and then a smooth stone. I finished the polishing with some emery cloth. Finally, I sprayed a drop of silicone lubricant on my fingertip and wiped it on the working edge of the sear.

So how does it work? Quite well, thank you. What once had been a creepy 6+ lb. trigger has been transformed into a crisp two-stage trigger that lets off at an average of 3 lb 11 oz. That’s significant improvement and results in an air rifle that is a lot more predictable and more fun to shoot.