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Ammo Mac tests a steel IZH 61 with metal clips: Part 2

Mac tests a steel IZH 61 with metal clips: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Photos and report by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1

This is the final report about Mac’s vintage steel-breech IZH 61. We are only doing two reports — partly because the rifle performs just like the one that’s being sold today, but mostly because Mac sold this rifle at the Roanoke airgun show this past weekend. He also bought one just like it that was like new in the box because he got a super price at the same show. That one will be given to some fortunate youngster, as part of Mac’s “Arm the Children” program!

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy Mac got from his rifle. Then you can compare it to what I was able to do with the IZH 60 I recently tested for you.

As I reported in Part 1, this vintage rifle has a truly adjustable two-stage trigger, instead of just being able to reposition the trigger blade like on the current gun. Mac had it set to release at 27 oz., and he says it was crisp.

Someone wanted me to post a photo of the entire vintage rifle, but there isn’t that much difference between it and the current one. I didn’t think it was worth showing. Yes, if you’re a fanatic collector, there are some small differences; but I spent the weekend with the vintage gun before it sold, and it’s pretty much the same as what they sell now except for having a steel breech and metal clips.

Metal clips
On the subject of the metal clips, Mac says he has had some plastic clips that got worn to the point that they would no longer stay in the gun as they should. They’re supposed to advance one pellet each time the sidelever is pulled out to cock the rifle, but he said some of his would shoot out the side of the rifle because they’re under spring tension.

I showed the sights on this rifle in Part 1, but Mac tried both the peep sight that comes with the rifle and also a Tasco Pro Point dot sight with a 4 MOA dot. At the 10 meter distance he shot, the dot covered about 0.35 inches He e got equal accuracy with both types of sights, but all the groups seen in this report were shot with the Tasco.

He rested the forearm of the rifle on the palm of his hand and shot off a bag rest at 10 meters. We wanted to keep the results equivalent with those I recently got with the new rifle. And he also shot at 10-meter rifle targets, which is why he elected to use the dot sight. The hole in the factory peep sight is so large that there’s a loss of precision when using the smaller 10-meter rifle bulls. They get lost in the hole (meaning you can’t tell when they’re exactly centered). He could have used pistol targets that have a much larger bull, but he wanted his test to look just like mine.

Mac shot 5-shots groups instead of 10-shot groups. Things got confused in our talks, so we didn’t shoot the same number of shots per target. Still, I think you will see some interesting things as we go.

JSB 8.4-grain Exacts
The first pellet tested was the JSB Exact that weighs 8.4 grains. Five shots at 10 meters produced a group measuring 0.95 inches between centers. That’s pretty big for just 10 meters!

JSB Exact Target for IZH 61
Five JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes at 10 meters made this 0.95-inch group. One pellet looks like it went through the paper sideways!

There are some indications of tumbling with the JSB, so it’s possible the rifle wasn’t stabilizing it. That would account for the large group.

RWS Hobbys
Next he tried RWS Hobby pellets. These are often among the most accurate in a low-powered rifle, but not this time. Five Hobbys made a 0.90-inch group.

RWS Hobby target for IZH 61
The only nice thing I can say about the Hobbys is they did cut larger holes. They’re obviously not the right pellet for this rifle.

H&N Finale Match
Next up were H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. Five of them made a group that measured 0.80-inches, but notice that one is apart from the other four. If there was something wrong with that pellet, it could explain why it’s apart. This might be the right pellet for the rifle, and it’s a good example of why one 10-shot group tells you more about accuracy potential than three 5-shot groups.

HN Finale Match Target pistol target for IZH 61
Five H&N Finale Match Target Pistol pellets made a group measuring 0.80 inches.

Eley Wasps
The next pellet Mac tried was one you can’t buy anymore. The Eley Wasp has left the stage, at least in the version Mac was shooting. It was an oversized pellet that sometimes cured accuracy problems for rifles with larger bores. In this rifle, 5 shots made a group that measures 0.70 inches. You’ll also notice that there don’t seem to be any signs of tumbling like there were with the JSBs.

Eley Wasp target for IZH 61
Five Eley Wasp domes made a group measuring 0.70-inches. This group also has a single stray pellet, which means it might also have more potential than seen here.

RWS R10 Pistol pellet
The last pellet Mac shot was the RWS R10 Pistol pellet. These grouped best, with 5 of them making a 0.50-inch group. While that looks good in comparison with the other groups, it doesn’t begin to equal the groups I got with the new IZH 61 shooting 10 shot groups! That means is we have to revise our thinking about the old steel-breech/metal clip guns, don’t you think?

RWS R10 Pistol target for IZH 61
Five RWS R10 Pistol pellets made a half-inch group at 10 meters. It’s good only in comparison with the other groups, but doesn’t begin to equal the groups from the new rifle.

Our conclusions
Mac and I discussed these results at length, and we believe that the steel breech IZH 60/61 has perhaps become more accurate through the long lens of memory. Just as a walk to school was always 10 miles uphill in both directions when we were young, so it’s possible that these rifles were as variable back then as the new ones are now. From the results, we have to say that it looks like the current version of the gun is at least as accurate as the old one, if not more so.

We think that there were probably some very accurate rifles with steel breeches, and then the rest — which our test rifle seems to be — were only good plinkers. I know this test was hardly exhaustive, nor was it entirely without bias. Even so, I think we must admit that the new rifle beat the old one in this case.

What do you think?

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.

32 thoughts on “Mac tests a steel IZH 61 with metal clips: Part 2”

  1. What do I think?

    I think this gun has more accuracy potential. Don’t have anything to base this on it’s just my mantra.

    I would respectfully suggest seating the H & N Finale Match pistol pellets deep in the breech and shooting 5 more shots. If that doesn’t work…..

    I always reach for the miracle RWS pellets when a bore is oversized. For whatever reason I shoot superdomes first. Then I shoot both weights of Meisterkugeln’s.

    You asked.


    • I would respectfully suggest seating the H & N Finale Match pistol pellets deep in the breech and shooting 5 more shots. If that doesn’t work…..

      This is a magazine fed rifle — that would seem to preclude hand-seating of pellets.

      • Never owned an IZH61 so I don’t know if a pellet seater would work or not.

        I’ve owned a lot of magazine fed airguns that come with or have available an aftermarket single shot tray though.

        Maybe with the IZH61 the bolt probe seats the pellet deep??? and my suggestion of seating a pellet deep is redundant? I don’t know. Just trying to help based on my little bit of experience.

        Guess I should keep my thoughts to myself. See ya.


      • When I had a more recent ’61 a few years ago I was able to remove the barrel and cycle the mechanism to feed pellets from the mag into the breech port. After feeding the pellets they just fell out because there was no barrel.

        This allowed me to examine the pellets after feeding – and I discovered that they were getting mangled because of a mis-match between the mag holes and the port.

        Any chance you could try that here?

  2. I think what we prove here is that any rifle using any pellet will throw a slug once out of five shots. We have all driven our selves crazy, so to speak, trying to identify why. All the examples here, with the exception of one, showed only one pellet ruining a decent group. From my own personal experience, as frustrating as that is, I am trying hard to live with this reality.

  3. Edith,
    I agree with you on the rifles that they aren’t always the culprit. And I would drool over an FWB300. However, there are so many other variables involved in shooting, need I list them, that it’s pretty rare in my experience that one out of five doesn’t go haywire. Actually it’s more than that, really, because I don’t believe anyone can shoot a 4.55mm 5 shot group. 🙂

  4. Wow, you guys don’t disappoint and with the adamantine reporting integrity underlying everything as usual. How about that. Accuracy is fairly horrendous with 5MOA as the best result. That would be unacceptable in any firearm. Interesting about the worn clips. The four that I’ve used have gone through tens of thousands of rounds with absolutely no detectable change. What has Mac been doing with his clips? 🙂

    So, the lens of memory may be at work just like the pre-64 Winchester 70s. While they are the stuff of legend and almost certainly better than what they were replaced with, the word is that the current model 70s are generally better. It could be that workmanship and the weight of metal affected perceptions, just as the the pre-64 Winchesters may still have the edge on the modern versions in workmanship.

    But what’s not explained here is how the IZH models inspired those rave reviews of accuracy on the blog that caught my attention so long ago. That didn’t come out of thin air. Perhaps, as suggested, they were based on an individually good metal gun when the quality control was actually variable for different guns.

    For what it’s worth, I still believe that the plastic gun has not received it’s due. The last round of shooting with it was not that great–merely OK. But I’m telling ‘ya, if you supply that little bit of extra follow-through, the gun does not miss.

    Also on the subject of weight of guns and how it’s perceived, that can be a very subjective thing. I remember reading about one woman who just abhorred guns. She wrote that they felt cold and dead to her. When I pick up my guns, I only think of what Goldfinger called a “divine heaviness.”

    Duskwight, so the wisdom of a doctor in political science is the value of a club? 🙂 Ha ha. Did you ever see the original Survivor show where the eventual winner succeeded through his novel use of “alliances”? But maybe that’s because clubs were not allowed on the show…


    • Matt,

      It appears that the single-shot model 60 is clearly more accurate than the repeating model 61. I think that may be where the difference lies, because I am a veteran of the single-shot, which others use repeaters and like them. So my experiences were always with the more accurate of the two rifles, regardless of what material the receivers were made.


  5. All right, the grip is now in the shape of a grip and quite close to final dimensions as well as thumbhole. I can hold it quite comfortably, yet it is a bit oversized – but that’s a rasp file, mill head and sandpaper’s job. It took me 1.5 hours of work with chisels and mallet, amount of material that was taken off I estimate as of the size of an average woman’s fist.
    I’m going to take on butt tomorrow and get it into rough shape, working out heel and toe and then – flat comb to mount an adjustable cheekpiece. Hope I’ll finish rough shaping before Halloween.


  6. I have had upwards of 30 model 61s, and only used them as plinkers. Most of them I only function fired and sent them to a new home, but several stayed around. The one I tested just happened to be the last one I got. Pellet diameter becomes a moot point with the metal clips. With oversize pellets, it sizes the heads, and sizes the skirts of ALL pellets. Otherwise they would not hold in the clip. Accuracy could be an alignment to the bore issue, or as Kevin said, seating depth. Any of them will outshoot the 11year old that gets it, so the accuracy is good enough for my use.

    • Mac,

      Your “Arm the Children” program sounds very interesting. Wish I knew more about it.

      I’m deeply concerned about shooting skills being lost to time. This seems to be primarily a result of a fear of guns or maybe more accurately in this day an age to vilify guns. I digress. The reason isn’t as important as the result.

      I’ve had fun, with the permission of parents/grandparents, teaching kids to shoot at my club.

      I admire you for what sounds like you’re doing is the same but on a much larger scale. Kudos.


      • Kevin,

        One big issue with guns and children is that of perception. Our junior marksmanship program took years to get any real traction (i.e., support from our city, who funded it) because of this idea of “arming” children with “weapons”. How it managed to succeed for almost 30 years is somewhat of a miracle. Fear of guns to so many who have never even seen or held a gun in their entire life is understandable, so the issue is one of eduction and demystification. A point that I like to make to city administrators, directors of parks and recreation, and politicians is that I never saw any of my 3 Anschutz or 2 FWB’s as “weapons”, even after several decades. I saw them more like fine instruments that provided a way to measure human performance in many ways and on many levels.

        I’m neither interested nor impressed with just “shooting guns”. Like so many of us here, I’m fascinated and inspired to push both myself and my guns to their limits. I like accurate guns because they provide a platform that offers a lot of room for personal growth. I strive for tight groups and then see if I can do better. I’ve had to go through a whole range of issues that required the same kind of good problem solving that I practiced when I was an active competitor. There’s nothing boring about my experience with shooting and none of it makes me think of my guns as “weapons”.

        I use to equate my Anschutz rifles and FWB airguns to fine instruments, like a violin or piano. I performed and they produced results that were truly representative of my abilities. You couldn’t experience my performance with your ears, but you could see it as a score, or as a group. My performance was a consequence of hard work, desire, planning, practice, and problem solving. These are all things that are common with becoming, or being, a winner, no matter the activity. High performance is a very personal thing, and one that requires maturity. You don’t get there without overcoming personal challenges, including disappointment. These are things that all parents should want their children to experience, and more importantly, learn from. My competition guns were an extension of my body and mind, and not “weapons”. To simply see them as “weapons” is to cheapen the entire activity and its true goals or purpose. But that’s just my opinion.


        • How could someone NOT agree with that? And I think that’s where the problem comes from. People don’t think about it, it’s a knee jerk reaction. AirGUN = GUN and GUN is BAD so airgun is bad.
          I know all about the issue everyone is like that here. There’s a fear of everything firearm here and airguns and airsoft are just included in the mix for good measures.


      • Kevin,

        I said that partly in jest, though Mac does have such a program. He does it one at a time. He finds a family with a child and determines that it is okay to allow the child to shoot when he comes to visit — usually with his father and sometimes with the entire family. Mac then lets the youngster shoot many guns, but one of them is properly sized and of course the kid falls in love with it. Mac then gives it to the child as the family is about the leave.

        As you can imagine, it creates memories like nobody’s business.

        I try to help him with inexpensive kids guns when I can find them.


        • Tom,

          You and Mac make a great team.

          I think learning gun safety, a respect for guns, the skill of shooting and the responsibility of ethical hunting are important elements that are missing in too many kids today. Guns are such a great conduit for an adult to communicate with youth.


      • Thanks Kevin for the kind words. “Arming the Children” may not be socially acceptable in some circles, but I am rarely in one of those circles! Nothing complicated about it. Many of the kids I see have little to challenge them, and not much to look forward to. The last child being armed, goes back and forth between parents, BUT gets in a lot of time with his Grandfather, my Harley mechanic. He already has a BB gun and displays good, safe handling skills. Grandpa is great with the firearms, but knows little about airguns, other than the BB gun. Tom gave me a great target/trap, suitable for low powered airguns, and I picked up an IZH61 at the show and will take it over for some casual plinking this weekend. If he can shoot it, or shows promise that he will be able to master it, he becomes the new owner. Simple.

        After a few weeks, the questions come about other sights, how fast will it shoot, how fast does my BB gun shoot, and on and on. I will bring over the chronograph, a dot sight, a better peep,and maybe a short Bug Buster scope. At that point, he will be hooked on airguns.

        My son Jason got his first Diana 24 when he was 8. He still has it, shoots it often and has taught both of his employers kids to shoot with it. Mac

        • Mac,

          Thanks for taking the time to share one of your terrific stories. Brought a big smile to my face.

          What you’re doing with these kids is significant on so many fronts. Well done.


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