by B.B. Pelletier

I find it hard to believe that in a year’s time I did not do a posting on this pistol! But a search and examination of the index on September 30 says I didn’t, so today I’m going to rectify that oversight.

The cocking/pump lever swings far forward to cock the action and pump the gun. Such a long lever reduces the effort needed to charge this powerful air pistol.

The linkage allows the fulcrum of the lever to slide to the most effective point, thus reducing the force needed to pump the gun.

One of the finest single-stroke pistols ever made!
By now you ought to know that the Russians really know how to rifle a barrel. The IZH 61 rifle is legendary, and a lot of you have bought it on my recommendation, alone. I haven’t heard from anyone who was not pleased with this rifle. Well, the IZH 46 pistol is a whole other level of quality up from the model 61 rifle. It’s a single-stroke pneumatic pistol that uses an innovative cocking linkage incorporating a sliding fulcrum for the pump. As a result, it is one of the easiest single-strokes to pump, yet also one of the most powerful guns. As a result, this is a pistol that won’t tire you during a standard 60-shot men’s match or a 40-shot women’s match.

World-class features!
The 27.5cm (just a hair shy of 11″) barrel is world-class. No human can shoot as well as this barrel permits, which is true of every world-class target pistol. The sights are adjustable for width in the front – to go with a choice of rear notches (the notches do not adjust). The sights adjust with click-detent wheels. The sighting plane lies low in the hand – a desirable feature. The trigger adjusts for position, pull weight (second stage only), first-stage travel and overtravel. It breaks cleanly without a hint of creep.

A few detractors…
At 40.3 oz., the 46 is several ounces heavier than any of today’s world-class 10-meter pistols. The grips are smooth wood and not very adjustable. All that adjusts is the palm shelf, where the top 10-meter pistol grips also adjust for rake (forward angle), cant (sideways angle) and rotation (forcing the wrist to rotate around to the side to align the sights). These things help a shooter adjust a pistol that will lock in place when the shooter assumes the correct position. The finest pistols have a rear sight notch that adjusts infinitely through a range of widths. The best triggers also have trigger blade rotation, cant angle and the ability to dial a portion of the mandated 500-gram pull weight into the first stage. And, the dry-fire feature on the 46 is a little hokey.

Dry fire
A target pistol has to have a dry-fire feature because 2/3 to 4/5 of all shots a competitor shoots will be dry. It’s part of the training to learn the trigger and to grow accustomed to the balance of the pistol. When I am competing, I can get into my stance, which never changes during the match, then pick up my pistol and fire without sighting. If you were to blindfold me, I’d still shoot a credible score because my arm knows where the pistol needs to be, and my feet keep the gun centered on the bull. That comes from many hours of practice. But the dry-fire feature on the 46 requires you to cock the action by lifting up on the breech cover, then push it closed to the locked position for every shot. Other 10-meter pistols are very light and smooth in dry-fire. The 46 fights you every step of the way. On top of that, when the trigger does break, it doesn’t feel the same as when the gun shoots – which is the kiss of death for a dry-fire feature!

The dry fire feature is engaged by lifting the breech cover until the gun is cocked, then returning it to the lowered position.

The 46M is powerful!
I own a standard model 46, which may not be available any longer. The 46M that replaced it has a longer pump stroke for higher pressures that deliver about 50 to 70 f.p.s. higher velocity with target pellets. Side-by-side, you can tell the M model is a trifle harder to pump. When it’s by itself, you’ll never notice the difference. I would love to trade up to an M, even though my 8-year-old model 46 still functions fine. My 46 gets about 430 f.p.s. with RWS R-10 Match Pellets (light). A 46M will get 480 to 500 f.p.s. with the same pellet.

This is a super bargain!
When the IZH 46 first came to the U.S., it was imported by hobbyist businesses that knew nothing about the American airgun market. They put a price of $650 on it, making it close to the same price as FWB and Walther guns that already had established reputations and credentials at the world cup level. There was no rationale for this “strategy,” which blew up in the faces of the early importers. Within 12 months, they were gone, and a second wave of vendors tried to see how cheaply they could sell them. Whatever dignity the 46 might have had was destroyed by them. Then, EAA began importing most of the IZH/Baikal line, including firearms. The market slowly straightened itself out to what we see today. The low price at which you can purchase this outstanding target pistol will someday be called “The Golden Age of Affordable Airguns” by shooters who missed out.

So, why don’t I shoot a 46 in competition if I like it so much? Simple, I have a pistol I like even better. You’ll pay $1,000 for the Aeron B99, the PCP equivalent of my CO2 target pistol. (Read Aeron B99 – a quality 10-meter target pistol) If I had the money, I would get an FWB P40, because it has all the features I want. They sell for around $1,400 at present, and I have wanted one like it for more than a decade. So many airguns, so little money!