Things I liked:The IZH 61 is a tremendous value and fantastic fun. Get a compact scope, an offset mount, a tin of pellets . . . and get ready for an afternoon (or whole day) of plinking and grinning! Things I would have changed:Given that it's so reasonably priced, there's nothing I would expect to be different. What others should know:Before you ever sent a pellet through this rife, take a few minutes and thoroughly clean the barrel. In order to prevent any corrosion (I assume), the folks at IZH have lavished a lot of heavy lubricants on the 61 before packaging it. Just wiping down the outside will not do the trick, since I ended up removing about a tablespoon of grease from the bore! Keep sending patches through it until they come out clean - and you'll be rewarded with a very light and functional air rifle that's surprisingly accurate.
Things I liked:This is a nicely organized, practical, useful and entertaining addition to the bookshelf of any airgunner - and, if you want to convert a friend to using airguns for hunting, it would make an good gift (as long as you include a note apologizing for the book's substandard performance in regard to spelling, punctuation, etc.). Things I would have changed:It's a real shame that Jim Chapman and/or his publisher (Jaeger Press) did not take the time to proofread the text. Since I'm purchasing a book (not a DVD or access to an online forum), I am obviously "print-oriented." I'm not expecting for a book on hunting with airguns to win a Pulitzer Prize, but I do expect for it to provide evidence that the author can spell and has mastered the basic elements of English grammar and punctuation. I know that Jim Chapman is a very skillful and well-informed hunter and airgunner, but he loses some credibility with me when he puts his name on a text with myriad errors. After a while, the reader starts to think, "If he doesn't care very much about the final polish of his book, then does he really care about the stuff he writes about?" I would expect to pay around seven dollars for something this rough (which is nevertheless useful), not the premium price that's being charged.
Things I liked:The fit-and-finish, especially for an $80 air rifle, is excellent. The trigger is very, very good: smooth, crisp and consistent. The 5-pellet magazines are very convenient - and they index from pellet-to-pellet crisply, with a light and firm push, and they stay in place. I checked the M4-177's power, with a Beta Chrony, and got an average velocity (measured three feet from the muzzle) of of 531.5 fps (with a standard deviation of just 8.4 fps) for 50 shots (10 magazines) using roll-tested and weighed 7.9 grain Crosman Premier Hollow Point pellets. Shooting five 5-shot groups (at NRA Air Rifle 5-Bull targets) for accuracy, from a bench and using a Caldwell front bag, I got an average spread of .52" center-to-center for the two most widely dispersed pellets in each group. I was using a UTG 1X30 Red/Green dot sight, mounted directly to the M4-177's integral Weaver-style rail. I'm sure that the rifle is capable of consistent .25" groups - or better - with a scope or target sights.
The M4-177 is also solidly built. Those who have complained about the quality and durability of the stock must have been expecting an $800 air rifle for $80 - and they must have been subjecting the M4-177 to abuse, not just hard use. No lever-action pump on an air rifle is meant to be wrenched open hard, quickly, and sharply - and then slammed shut! Treat this air rifle with respect - and it will last for a long, long time. Things I would have changed:Crosman should change the mold that's used for the flash-hider/Weaver-rail that hold the front sight: they should put a Weaver-style mini-rail on the right and left sides of this piece, not just on the top (where the front open sight is mounted) and the bottom (which can't be used for mounting anything, since the pump arm would make contact with it). With those two rails added, it would be simple to trick out the M4-177 with a flashlight and laser - without having to interfere with the pump arm/forearm. I'm guessing that this change, implemented for an "M4-177 Mark II," might realistically add $5 to the retail price of the gun . . . and Crosman would make a whole bunch more by selling lasers and flashlights for it! What others should know:This gun if REALLY FUN, especially because it is accurate enough to hold its own with air rifles that cost significantly more. Make sure that you order extra magazines (and do it when you order the gun, so that you minimize your shipping costs) . . . and pellets, too, since you will shoot this air rifle a lot!