by B.B. Pelletier
There’s a great spring gun sale at Pyramyd Air right now through this Thursday. Some very nice guns are on the list. See it here.
I’ve done a lot of spring guns recently and many of them were vintage, so today I’ll get back on track with a product you can buy. It’s the new MP 655K CO2 pistol pistol from IZH.This pistol shoots either steel BBs or lead pellets, depending on how you set it up.
Unlike the new air handguns of the recent past, this one is an entirely new model, and one that we’re not familiar with. Like many new airguns, this one is a copy of a firearm, though, once again, a model that most of us are not familiar with. It was requested by the Spetsnaz (Similar to, but not exactly the same as American Special Forces. The translation of the name is “Special Purpose.”) to replace the Makarov, and it’s very different from that pistol. The MR 445 Varjag is a departure in thinking from the traditional Soviet/Russian view of sidearms. Until now, sidearms were considered useless by Russian forces, and all their thought has centered on the rifle or carbine. But this one changes everything.
The MR 445 is a modern tactical sidearm. It’s chambered in .40 Smith & Wesson, which represents a huge departure for the Russians or indeed, for any European military or police force. The 9x19mm Luger round (or 9×18 Makarov for the Soviets/Russians) has been so entrenched in the thinking of European forces for the past century that it has been unthinkable for them to consider another round. And, if they did, it was invariably lower-powered, like the 7.65mm that we call the .32 ACP. Big bore handguns were not the thing in Europe throughout the 20th century.
The MR 445 also has a rail mounting system under the slide and in front of the triggerguard to accept tactical flashlights and lasers. So, this is a serious handgun designed for serious use, rather than dead weight on the soldier. It has a 15-round magazine, in a double-stack wide grip. It has a vestigial hammer buried deep within the slide. And the trigger is a strange, solid piece of metal with a crescent cutout for the trigger finger. It’s unlike anything I have ever seen.
As sexy as this new firearm is, Baikal, the makers, just released an airgun equivalent called the MP-655K. Powered by CO2, this pistol holds either 100 steel BBs in a reservoir inside the slide or eight lead pellets housed in a circular clip. There’s another separate BB storage compartment in the grip. BB gun shooters are going to want to check it out.
An ambidextrous thumb release on the side of the grip behind the trigger releases the CO2 system and separate BB storage container for servicing. An ambidextrous 1911-style safety switch can be operated one-handed by all shooters. The slide release is extended, but on the left side of the frame only; however, a lefty can easily operate it with his trigger finger.
This is a handgun that owners are going to have to study before use. It has so many unique and unusual features and operating quirks that it’s going to challenge most shooters to learn its ways in the beginning. The BB reservoir in the grip is just a container that does not feed BBs into the gun. It’s simply there as an additional supply of BBs. When you want to actually shoot, BBs are poured into a space in the top of the slide called the BB accumulator. Those BBs move by gravity to the magnetized circular BB clip that accepts them for shooting. To load pellets, you must swap the circular clip inside the pistol’s metal slide with a pellet clip. The gun comes with a cleaning rod that’s also the clip removal tool. I’ll show all of this when I test the velocity in Part 2.
The frame is synthetic, of course. Since that’s the common practice with firearms today, I don’t think anyone can complain. If they do, no one will care that much. I see in this month’s Shooting Times that Taurus is bringing out a plastic version of their Judge revolver, so plastic is now the material of choice for both airguns and firearms.
The MP-655K’s frame is molded with rounded corners to make a “one shape fits all” configuration. Obviously, a lot of thought was given to ergonomics in the design, which is more evidence that they meant this pistol to be used.
The slide, which the owner’s manual calls the barrel jacket, moves freely on the frame; but the pistol doesn’t have blowback.
The rear sight is fully adjustable and delightfully plain. A square notch in back with a front square post. The steel barrel is rifled with six lands and grooves, so good accuracy should be possible. The action is both single- and double-action, though cocking the hammer is more like pressing a button.
You must be astonished by the price of this gun, for it sells for three times what a BB pistol should cost. But you have to remember that this gun also shoots lead pellets, so perhaps the best way to think of it is like an Umarex pistol. It remains to be see if the gun is accurate and how well it works and what the shot count from a CO2 cartridge might be, but that’s what these tests are for.
I will say this–if IZH has managed to make an accurate pistol and one that functions well, they may have a real winner in the MP-655K.