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Education / Training IZH 61 – Part 1From Russia with love

IZH 61 – Part 1From Russia with love

by B.B. Pelletier

I have wanted to do this report for close to two years, but the availability of guns held me back. Pyramyd AIR kept selling out before I could get my order in. However, now I have one. Here we go!

In the years since I last tested a new IZH 61, things have changed. Metal pellet clips have been replaced with plastic, and some of the parts that used to come with the gun no longer do. When the new model came out, I listened to whining all over the forums about the use of plastic, and I really wanted to see for myself what effect that has on the gun’s durability – if any. What all the whiners seem to have forgotten (or perhaps never knew) were the problems we had with the older all-metal guns. I remember when the guns were shipped with faulty desiccant packets that broke open during shipment. The late “Golden” Joe Goulart of Golden Toller Guns sold IZH 60 and 61 guns for practically cost to get rid of them. Owners had to strip the gun to clean out all the desiccant crystals from the powerplant. It was a chore, but you wound up with a very nice sidelever spring rifle for very little money.

Then there were “problems” with the rifle that weren’t problems at all. Some guys bought the thing and criticized it for not shooting 1,000 f.p.s. Others criticized the short stock pull, without realizing that a target rifle NEEDS a shorter pull because of the way it is held. And, I still hear from people who want to mount scopes on the gun and what can be done about that?

Folks, the IZH 61 (and the single-shot 60) is an informal TARGET rifle – pure and simple. The Russians made it look like an assault rifle, but at its heart it has always been a paper-puncher and a plinker. No hunting, no field target – just casual fun. That is unless you’re the guy from Maryland who installed a $350 Anschütz aperture rear sight and had a custom laminated wood stock built for $275. He turned his rifle into an honest NRA Sporter-Class competition target rifle, except that he went way past the $500 limit to do so. He did it because the rifle is so darned accurate that he wanted to make a point.

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to make your IZH 61 shoot good. Just buy it and shoot it. It comes from the box ready to go. Use good quality wadcutter pellets. I like Gamo Match, Crosman Premier Super Match and RWS Hobbys. Not because they’re the most accurate, but because they’re accurate enough and are a good value.

A buddy of mine used to take his rifle to an airgun range, where other airgunners would see it and ask to buy it from him. He went through 23 IZH 60s that way. People usually love this gun when they see what it can do.

The rifle is a spring-piston sidelever five-shot repeater in .177 caliber, only. It has a rifled barrel of legendary accuracy. It has adjustable sights, an adjustable trigger and a stock that’s adjustable for the length of pull. While the maximum pull is 14-1/2″, most shooters will want less. A person who is comfortable with a 14-1/2″ pull on a sporting rifle will probably find 12-1/2″ right for target shooting.

It weighs just 4.25 lbs. and measures almost 34-1/2″ with the stock fully extended, and just under 31-1/2″ when it’s in as far as it will go. The cocking effort is a laughably light 12 pounds, making it one of the most enjoyable air rifles in the world. Light weight, easy cocking and five shots. If that isn’t a recipe for fun, I don’t know what is.

Additional stock adjustment
The stock has the facility for additional length adjustments. Remove the butt by removing the thumbscrew and washer used for locking the stock. That exposes two slots in the bottom of the plastic stub that stays with the rifle. The threaded boss that accepts the locking screw slips into either slot, giving an additional inch of adjustment.

The stock locking screw boss is located in the rear (right) slot. By slipping it into the front slot, the stock can be adjusted about an inch shorter.

Trigger adjustment
My test rifle fired with too little resistance when I got it, so I screwed the rear trigger adjustment screw in (clockwise) about four full turns. That increased the stiffness of the trigger-return spring, but the trigger was still firing before I could feel the second stage, so I screwed in the front adjustment screw about a half-turn and got the trigger where I want it.

Long screw behind the trigger blade (right) adjusts the trigger return spring tension. That controls trigger-pull weight. Flush screw in front of trigger adjusts the length of the first-stage pull. Trigger blade itself can be swiveled from side to side to suit your tastes.

Rear sight
This is one of the big changes that was made when the rifle was modernized. Besides changing the receiver from steel to plastic, the maker fixed the rear sight on the barrel hanger. It used to be removable and a plate that turned it into an aperture sight was included with the rifle. That doesn’t come with the gun anymore because if the rear sight can’t be moved back, it can’t be used as a peep sight, either.

The sight adjusts for elevation via a thumbwheel located in the conventional place. But the windage adjustment is a bit hinky. You must loosen two tiny screws and slide the rear notchplate sideways.

Thumbwheel in the foreground is the elevation adjustment. Windage adjusts by loosening the two slotted screws and sliding the plate sideways.

What comes with the rifle?
For your incredibly low purchase price, you get the rifle, owner’s manual, two magazines, a cleaning rod (that I wouldn’t use because it doesn’t accept accessories) and a spare mainspring. That spare mainspring has started more than a few U.S. airgunners on the road to hobby airgunsmithing. They have discovered this rifle is light enough and small enough to not present the problems of more powerful air rifles, so the detriments to stripping the gun are few. Not that I am advising you to tear your gun apart. But, a rifle of this power is easier to deal with in all ways than a Webley Patriot.

Today was just an introduction to the rifle. Next time we’ll shoot and see how accurate it really is.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

52 thoughts on “IZH 61 – Part 1From Russia with love”

  1. BB – the pyramydair website contains this in the IZH 61’s description:

    “and there’s also an aperture to change it to a target sight”

    It the aperture sight doesn’t come with it, somebody oughta correct the listing.

    Also, is this rifle at all fussy about the pellets that it will feed through its magazine? Or does it have something like a rotary mag that will accept almost anything?

  2. BB, I just took a quick peek at the “pirate” website, and it appears that when they reproduce the posts that they don’t change the authorship of your articles and they preserve the links to pyramydair.com… is this really a bad thing? Seems that youse guys are just getting more free publicity.

    Then again, I don’t know anything about web business or running a blog…

  3. bb, glad to see some pieces on one of my favorite cheap airguns. Incidentally, although the scope rail provision is extremely short (4.25″) I’ve manages to slap a cheap scope on there with only a few millimeters of mount hanging off the back. The gun doesn’t have the power to cause any slippage anyway. The ideal would be to use the Beeman extended rings, but these are nearly as expensive as the gun! One question: I have vague memories of you once referring to the izh60 as more accurate/reliable. Am I imagining this?

  4. Sumo,


    We have now uncovered numerous thefts of this blog all over the world, and we will shut them all down. Since the blog is free to anyone on the internet, the only thing the thieves gain is by trying to associate with it to sell advertising.


  5. Hi BB,

    jj here,

    I would LOVE a 392 and a 397 and an HB22 and an HB17 each with a constant 12 pound cocking effort throughout the pumping cycle, from one to eight pumps, or with a mildly increasing effort up to 12 pounds maximum for the final few pumps.

    I also believe I can count to eight without too much trouble, and do not need hugely increasing pumping effort/difficulty to tell me that I’m reaching the end of the number of pumps I should use.

    What’s the current status of “the invention” mentioned on 8/10/07?

  6. BB, have a look at the top of the receiver, towards the front. There is a little screw there, made of the same stuff as the receiver. It is not mentioned in the owners manual or service info. It seems to me that when you remove it you gain access to the transfer port. I applied a very small amount, (perhaps 1 drop) of Pellgunoil in there a while back because the gun sounded “dry” when cocking. It fixed that. Great gun! – Gazza.

  7. BB, Hello I write you from Montreal and here is very difficult to find airguns accesories and maintenance stuff.
    May I use webley’s WEBOIL instead of Crosman RMOIL that you recommended as a chamber oil????
    And may I use a grease I found here “Pro-Gold Lubricant” made by Pro-Shot Products, for the Main Spring???
    The 61′ I got a month ago make some noise when cooking, I thing the grease and oil from factory are gone after 500 pellets and 2 Years in a box, the gun was made in 2004 according to the manual.
    Thank You,
    CLAUDIO Montreal, Canada

  8. Hi BB,

    I am pleased I was able to help. I did not think you were to pleased about that blog. They even link directly to the images on this blog!

    I came across it when searching for information on big bore airguns and your previous post came up on their website. Any more posts on big bores would be great 🙂 I find them fascinating. Do you know of any websites with information on the .70 and bigger big bores, I have not been able to find any.

  9. “BB, have a look at the top of the receiver, towards the front. There is a little screw there, made of the same stuff as the receiver. It is not mentioned in the owners manual or service info. It seems to me that when you remove it you gain access to the transfer port. I applied a very small amount, (perhaps 1 drop) of Pellgunoil in there a while back because the gun sounded “dry” when cocking. It fixed that. Great gun! – Gazza.”

    If that is the screw I am thinking of you will be removing the thing that holds the barrel…. witch is not a good thing.

  10. BB – the performance of my Mendoza RM2003 fell somewhat short of my hopes (but not my expectations!)… but I fell in love with that peep sight! Do you know if any similar, reasonably-priced units will fit an airgun dovetail – any chance that the Daisy 5899 or the Crosman 64 could be adapted?

  11. BB,

    I am looking at the mac-1 USFT. I called mac-1 and they say it would take 10 weeks for it to get to my house. They had a generation 2 of this gun that has a scope rail thats made with less parts and less subject to error. The gen 2 would take 4 months.

    Do you have one of the guns? You have mentioned it so you must have some info, you always do. Is there a problem with the old model? If there are no problems with the old one then i woud rather have a gun in about 2 months than 4.

    I dont feel that i need to question its accuracy. It was above the steyr and Beeman/FWB P70FT in the nationals. I think all those guns have the same performance. I am not sure but i would think a theoben or daystate would be just as accurate. They are the most accurate sport guns(i think). I know the theoben mfr has come in the top ten before. It would be with the usft if it were on a Feild target frame. But thats the thing! i want a gun with a feild target set up. I am looking into this gun because its so Different from anything i have. The more volume less pressure concept has my attention.

    thanks bb!


  12. BB, the schematic does not mention that screw. Bryan, the barrel is removable by unscrewing it. No way can the screw I’m talking about hold the barrel, if you take it out you’ll see why, it has no thread strength and doesn’t bear down on anything. – Gazza

  13. Claudio,

    Webley themselves do not know the difference between Weboil and Weblube, because we have asked them several times. They admitted they don’t know. So I cannot recommend that substitution.

    I also have never heard of Pro-Gold Lubricant, so I cannot comment on what it can do.

    No need to guess about the condition of your mainspring- it can be seen clearly through the cocking slot under the sidelever. Look at it and you can see whether it has any lubrication. It doesn’t need much.


  14. sumo,

    Old or new, all USFT rifle are great. But they are also very specialized, so make certain that you want to shoot from the AAFTA seated position.

    Tom Gaylord has one and he has agreed to blog it for us.

    The main reason the top shooters all shot USFTs is because all the top shooters had that rifle. I don’t mean those who placed at the top in that match. I mean the best shooters in the nation (who would always be in the top positions, no matter what good competition gun they shot).

    The USFT is easier to use for field target, but not necessarily any more accurate than another FT rifle. However, it has every tuning and ergonomic trick in the book going for it, so the best shooters do tend to shoot them. The upcoming worlds should be quite interesting.


  15. Gazza,

    The only screw on top of my receiver anywhere near the transfer bort is forward of the magazine. It’s a Phillips screw with a large head.

    The transfer port if behind the magazine tunnel mand can be see with the magazine removed. But there is no screw near enough to do what you said.


  16. BB

    This is a very off topic question, but you seem to know a lot about firearms as well as air guns.
    I am interested in buying a .243WM hunting rifle (Ruger) but have never heard how loud the bang is from one of these. In my gun club, someone fires a .270WM rifle and the noise is just ridiculous, as is the blast of air that rushes around the club after every shot. Do you know if the .243 is as loud, or even on the same scale? If it is, then i will change my choice of calibre as firing a gun that loud is no fun for me, nor other club members.

  17. .243,

    You should be wearing hearing protection. I owned a .270 Weatherby and the sound was not that bad.

    Both rifles will be above 140 dB, which is ear-damaging. Heard from Afar, the .270 should be a trifle louder, but within 50 feet I doubt the human ear could tell the difference.


  18. I have a Condor, and its developed a problem. When i try to cock it, the hammer slips back (latch isnt connecting). If after several tries it does lock, as soon as i flick the safety off the rifle fires. On a forum someone suggested the trigger may need the tension tightening as it could have worked loose (it was working fine for the 1st 50 shots yesterday, and gradually started to get worse after that) I have looked but i cant see what screw would tighten the trigger pull??

  19. Condor,

    First of all, don’t listen to anyone outside the AirForce factory about their guyns. There is too much misinformation floating around.

    There is no trigger tension adjustment on a Condor. Your gun probably has a tiny piece of dirt of a small burr on one of the trigger parts that prevents the safety slide from doing its job.

    You need to call AirForce (877-247-4867) tomorrow and set up for a return. They will fix the gun free for your lifteime, as long as it hasn’t been modified and you are the original owner.


  20. I have two decent scopes, one of which will go one my gamo 220. One is a bushnell .22 scope (3-9 variable) that was purchasesed at Bass Pro about 5 years back ($50). The other is a simmons ($45) (3-9 vari) thats has had a stint on a muzzle loader. Which of these two would be better for the gamo. I don’t want any powdered glass after 20 shots on a gamo that kicks like mule and shakes for about 5 minutes afterward.

    It’s an accurate gun (shotshells at 25 yards) and looks OK.


  21. BB, the transfer port is forward of the magazine slot. The probe that seats the pellet pushes it forward to sit somewhere below or just forward of where that philips head screw is… the barrel only starts around there somewhere. It is screwed into the receiver from the front. On your gun, is the philips head screw sealed in place, or easily removable? – Gazza

  22. Gazza,

    The screw is easily removable, but it isn’t made of steel. I would not advise removing it, because the threads can be easily stripped.

    To oil the transfer port on this gun id advise standing the rifle on its butt and dropping five drops of oil down the muzzle. Then wait for at least a couple of hours before shooting.


  23. (BB said: The screw is easily removable, but it isn’t made of steel. I would not advise removing it, because the threads can be easily stripped.)

    Did you remove it? I certainly did on mine, and it wasn’t reassuring when I put it back in… mine was gunked with some sort of sealant I think. I’m puzzled though as to what it is there for. Oh well… Gazza

  24. I hope someone gets this message even though this is an older post, but I'm having some real trouble with my IZH 61. There's absolutely no rhyme or reason to the grouping… there actually isn't any grouping. I can take my Walther Lever Action and split cards with it all day long, or drill the center out of a Dirty Bird, or shoot the heads of matches, but this thing baffles me. There's absolutely no way for it to shoot straight. Please help me. Maybe it's defective?

  25. OMB1080,

    B.B. had the same problem getting the IZH 61 he was given for testing. He ended up doing a 4 part series on the gun. After addressing appropriate pellets, sights and most importantly this guns sensitivity to HOLD, he got the IZH 61 to shoot very well.

    Really wish Pyramyd AIR would provide links to all these articles B.B. did on the IZH 61 in their "latest buzz" but I found it for you anyway. Here's part 4 just click on Part 1, then 2 ect. to read them in order:




  26. Kevin-

    Thanks so much for the help. I looked at the photos of B.B.'s groupings and they're damn near identical to what I was coming up with last night. I'll read through that article as thoroughly as possible. Thanks again man, I really appreciate it.


  27. I did. I think I'm starting to get used to it. I'm kind of starting from scratch though. It's like relearning how to shoot…

    Right now I'm up to about 80% (1 out of ever 5 shots misses its mark) accuracy with tin cans from about 60 or so feet away. That's a whole lot better than it was.

    I'm not entirely sure how to hold the rifle in the standing position though. I read through the articles and didn't find much about how to hold it. Maybe I missed something. Is there an article somewhere about target rifle positioning. I could've sworn that B.B. did a post about it somewhere…

    Anyway, thanks again for the help. I'll take 80% over the lousy groups I was getting last night. Seeing as how I didn't have my prescription glasses on today, I'd say that's not half bad. I'm still thinking this is just a fun little backyard plinker though. I could be wrong, time and practice will tell 🙂


  28. Alex,

    The problem is back years ago when the receiver was made of steel, the IZH 60 and 61 were REALLY accurate rifles. When they changed to a plastic receiver, some of the potential slipped away. Unfortunately, I knew them when they were at their top.

    The current gun can be accurate if you work with it.


  29. Just a quick update:

    I worked with the IZH 61 while I was a little less tired and a little more steady. The results were fantastic! It's hitting tin cans shot, after shot, after shot. I even took one out with a little kentucky windage from about 100 feet away. That's not bad at all. It really is incredibly sensitive to hold, but after you find the sweet spot it works wonders. Definitely worth the $100 especially with the colder weather right around the corner. I have yet to redo my experiments with 10 meter paper targets, but I'm sure the results will be much, much better. Then I can really dial it in! Thanks for the help everyone!


  30. Alex

    What pellets are you using? I had a 61 that was giving me fits. I finally figured out it liked the AirArms (JSB) pellets. It is definitely a fun little gun, and cool in an ugly kind of way. I also unscrewed the barrel and cleaned it with JBs nebcc. Then I dremeled the breech end. I don't know if did more harm than good in that department.

  31. Slinging Lead-

    I've tried just about everything. I'll give you few of the ones I tried and the unexpected winner:

    R10 Match Pellets – Not good… but not horrible either
    Meisterkugens – Absolutely pitiful
    Gamo Match – Decent, much better than the others
    Daisy Precision Max – BEAUTIFUL! the best by far

    I think this is just one of those times where cheaper is better. The Meisterkugens can't hit the broad side of a barn, but for some strange reason the crappy little Daisy Precision Max pellets do the job incredibly well. The best I can get out of everything else is around 80% accuracy with tin cans, from about 60 feet away (give or take). The Daisy pellets take them out just about every time and I can honestly say that when they do miss it's operator error. Accuracy declines sharply in my poorly lit basement and I'm starting to believe it's because I cannot see the sites nearly as well. Shooting out in the bright sunlight poses no problems. Oh and one more thing, do NOT use tennis balls as targets with this gun. They will bounce off and come back at you or a window in my case (nothing broke it just scared me half to death). My other guns have enough power to make it safer I guess, but this one just ricochets like mad if you're not careful.

    Forgive me for my ignorance, but what does dremmeling the breech end do for performance if done correctly? I don't typically mod my rifles, most of my experience in modding anything comes from guitars, so I'm kind of clueless. Just curious, maybe I can eek out even more precision out of the gun.


  32. Alex

    Dremmeling the breech end makes the pellet push into the barrel more smoothly with less chance of damage or distortion of the pellet for more accurate shooting. No grinding, just polishing.

    Daisy precision Max? Wow! That it quite remarkable. I would have never thought to even check that one. I may have to give it a try.

  33. Maybe a little late.. But the cleaning rod that comes with it actually accepts small pieces of cloth you can put through the end. Works exactly like a sewing needle. The gun cleaning kits we got in the army (Netherlands) also came with a piece like that. Of course also other brushes, but that type is also in there. Let me know if you’re interested in a picture of a cleaning set like that. We got them with our Colt Canada Diemaco C7A1 rifles back then, so I recognized it when I saw the same cleaning rod come with my Baikal.

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