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Education / Training The Stiga Zenit – an EM-GE Zenit clone: Part 2

The Stiga Zenit – an EM-GE Zenit clone: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

A history of airguns

Today’s report is the completion of a guest blog from reader Paul that began last Friday. He is telling us about his Stiga Zenit — an airgun not many have heard of.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

This report covers:

  • Firing behavior
  • Power
  • Accuracy
  • Wrapping it up

Okay, Paul, finish what you started.

On Friday I showed you the basic construction of my Swedish Stiga Zenit pistol that closely copies the EM GE Zenit made in Germany. Today we will look at its performance.

When the cocking lever is first pulled upwards the spring loaded barrel will also tilt up about 15 degrees; this makes it simple to inspect or clean the barrel from the rear and also serves as a sort of “safe mode”. Swinging the lever through its arc completes the cocking action and requires about fifteen pounds of effort.

Zenit partially open
The Zenit action can be partially opened without compressing the mainspring. An anti-beartrap mechanism blocks the trigger when the cocking strap from this point.

The cocking motion is very smooth until the last part of the stroke as the rear of the piston slides over the sear. Due to the geometry of the linkage once the lever is past vertical the cocking effort remains constant. Once the pistol is cocked, a pellet can be placed in the breech. While the barrel moves freely with the action open it is locked solidly in place when the lever is swung back down.

Zenit fully open
The Zenit action fully opened. A small spring tilts the barrel for easy loading.

Firing behavior
Since the Zenit has a fairly small diameter piston and short stroke it is not a powerful pistol. In fact its performance is about identical to that of the Browning Buck Mark. The firing behavior is very mild; there is no vibration from the spring and the noise level is very low. It is backyard and apartment friendly. Unfortunately the trigger pull is heavy enough to upset your aim if you do not use good technique, but this is plinker and not a target pistol.

When I first shot my Zenit it was obvious the mainspring was worn out, so a new one was installed. The pistol should be shooting at its best. As it turned out this Zenit is the most pellet-picky airgun I own. Every RWS pellet I tried performed poorly – velocities were about 100 fps slower than expected and the accuracy was poor. The best overall speed and accuracy came from using the Air Arms Falcon, Winchester Lead Free, and H&N Excite plinking pellets. The bore seems to be on the tight side and some pellets would not even move when the pistol was fired.

Cros. Prem. Lite………………7.9………….336………..2.0
H&N FTT…….………………..8.6…………..340……..…2.2
H&N Finale Match……………7.4…………..320………..1.7
H&N Excite……………………7.1…………..349………..1.9
H&N Spitzkigel………………..8.6…………..316………..1.9
Air Arms Falcon………………7.3…………..379………..2.3
JSB Exact……………………..8.4…………..312………..1.8
JSB Predator………………….8.1…………..330………..2.0
Winchester lead free…………4.2…………..436………..1.8

Getting the best accuracy from the Zenit takes some work. Make that a lot of work! Shooting off a rest causes the pellets to hit about six inches below the point of aim at 10 meters and the groups are terrible. Using a two-handed grip causes vertical stringing. The best groups came from holding the pistol in my right hand and just using the open palm of my left hand to steady the hold. A heavy trigger and a lack of muzzle heaviness makes it difficult to not wiggle the pistol during shooting. I am not a very good shot with a pistol, and I am sure that a better marksman could improve on the groups below.

Zenit Falcon group 10 meters
Five Falcon 7.33 grain pellets made this 1.24-inch group at 10 meters.

Zenit Winchester MVP group
The Winchester lead free pellets gave a very similar group of 1.21 inches.

Zenit Finale Match group 10 meters
Best accuracy at 10 meters was with H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets at 1.02 inches.

Zenit Finale Match group 5 meters
At 5 meters I was able to get this nice, 0.75-inch group with the Falcon 7.33 grain pellets.

Wrapping it up
The Stiga Zenit is an interesting air pistol that you don’t run into every day. It is well made and fun to shoot as long as you don’t try to get tiny groups. Paper punching with the Zenit can be frustrating due to the hold sensitivity, heavy trigger, and lack of any muzzle heaviness. Feral soda cans and their ilk, on the other hand, are the perfect targets for the Zenit.

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.

73 thoughts on “The Stiga Zenit – an EM-GE Zenit clone: Part 2”

  1. Paul,
    That’s a very nice write up on a good quality pistol that, while not a target gun, would be nice to have as a backyard plinker. Good job! =D
    take care,

  2. Paul
    It sounds like a fun gun to me. Especially for a spring pistol to cock at 15 pounds. And accuracy for minute of beverage can is perfect. Definitely a different air gun. And it’s got its own unique character for sure. Not other plain ole air guns.

    And I have to say this also. It reminds me of our safety lid latches on the machines at work. And not in a bad way. I bet the Barrell actually locks down tight with that set up.

    • Hmm Barrell. There goes my phone putting words in place. And why wouldn’t it after I just got through searching burbon. That was one I was looking at. Yep I like burbon. What can I say.

    • Gunfun1

      Just thought I would let you know, the Gehmann adapter MA 585 is out of stock. I called and they will be getting more in about mid June. So I will shoot with just the Williams peep till then.

  3. Paul,

    An excellent Part 2. The picture showing it fully opened up was nice. The pellet data was great.

    I might be wrong, but I think that 1″ at 10 meters is quite good for a pistol. I mean really, how many modern Co2 blowbacks and revolvers can do that?

    Great job. Good Day to you and to all,…. Chris

    • Chris
      How many can do that. And that was a good question.

      Remember this a pellet gun not a bb gun.

      Blow back guns usually do not shoot pellets. And pellet revolvers can shoot that good and better at that distance as well as other pellet pistols.

      You might be thinking bb pistols. They usually group like this gun. Pellet guns usually tend to group betrer than bb guns.

    • Chris,

      Thanks for the comments. 1″ at 10 meters is good, but it just takes a lot of work with the Zenit. Get lazy and the groups will double.


      • Paul,

        Heck dude,… that goes with anything. You have to stay in practice and familiar with whatever it is. I only shoot about 1 day a week and that depends on life/commitments in general and also on the weather on my days off. I was laid off one summer and got a lot of shooting in. I need to be retired already! About 8 years to go on that. 🙁

        😉 ,…. Chris

    • Chris,

      GF1 thinks that anyone using a computer these days is in the stone age. He is still trying to convince me of how great a smart phone is . My wife has one so I see no need for me to have one. Besides my 71 year old eyes don’t like the tiny screens and buttons. I would not want to even carry something that larger around in my pocket, and then there’s the expense of the cell plans too. Nope…not onboard with smart phones. Guess I’ll just stay in the stone age. As they say, ignorance is bliss 🙂 One of my favorite sayings at work was “I wish I didn’t know now, what I didn’t know then”. Of course that was about the politics and dirty tricks the company used on employees.

      • In a bit of irony, the smart phone has almost taken completely away one important ability. That is the ability to remember a phone number.
        Pop quiz, without looking at your contacts list, whose number could you call?
        Back in B.C. (before cell phones) I had a lot of numbers stored in memory.

        • Gerald
          True about memorizing phone numbers in the old days.

          But that made me think. Back then I didn’t have as many numbers to remember as I do today.

          Does anyone remember what a Rolodex is. I sure do. And another reason smart phones are nice.

            • Siraniko,

              Any of those LD branded air guns floating around over your way? Are they any good? Have you ever seen or shot one? They were made right in your area/country.


              • Chris USA,

                LD is an old brand which discontinued manufacture in the late 1980s. A lot of his works show up among the groups for sale. All brass construction and either nickel plated or painted a matte black with a thumbhole wood stock probably inspired from California. The most common example that is seen has a .22 caliber barrel which can be removed to allow use of a 3/8″ bearing as a projectile. With that kind of barrel accuracy is not usually the best. Basically a hunting airgun. Fantastic speeds claimed by the maker especially with no chronograph around to prove it. All tuning is done by ear. If is sounds powerful, it probably is, who cares if you only get four shots? Then again one cannot deny the impression of power one gets when those bearings are tearing through 3/4″ plywood at 10 meters.


                • Siraniko,

                  Very nice. I am assuming that you have one. A (very) quick read last night indicated the resale prices are quite high. A 100% of the fancier models are listed at 750-1500 in the Blue Book. Despite how well they may (or may not) shoot,… I admired the engraving and the very unique stocks. At their time, it looks as if craftsmanship, artistic talent and quality were paramount in their making. Thank you for some first hand insight. Always a prized commodity.


      • Geo
        Just like air guns. I guess if your happy with what you have use it.

        And right how do you know what you don’t know.

        No need to explain here what all a smart phone will do. But I can say I’m definitely happy with mine. And how about this. I only have one smart phone. Guess that’s kind of like you and your air guns. But I definitely have more than one gun. And I have to say that the ones I have right now I’m happy with too.

        Hmm I think that’s how our conversation got started the other day. About air guns and if you thought about getting another. Funny how we started talking about phones and computers.

      • Geo,

        They do have good cameras that can be linked easy to a computer. And, like GF1 said,.. take pictures of things that you are taking apart. Beyond that, I have no use. My little flipper is on/out maybe 4 hours a day and stays in my lunch box all the work day for 10 hours plus and I never look at it. Each to their own as they say.

        • Chris
          They do have good cameras. And the smart phone definitely makes it easy to transfer pictures to the internet.

          When I post a picture. I grab it from my phone gallery or files. Then right to the comment I’m making from my phone. I don’t have to transfer the pictures to computer first. So yep definitely faster with a smart phone.

    • Chris,

      I’m with you on this. I think Paul wrote a heck of a good blog and did some really good shooting with the gun. I feel pretty sure that I can’t shoot 1″ groups from an unsupported spring piston pistol. Gas, maybe, but not a spring gun and even with a CO2 pistol I require some kind of rest.


  4. Paul,

    I had forgotten all about the ilk! They are not as common around here. I think they even have a season and daily bag limit.

    That looks like a pleasurable plinker to keep handy for those after dinner evenings on the back porch. Nice find.

  5. Paul,

    I did a little research this morning and discovered there is no hunting season or bag limit on ilk. There are some states that actually have a bounty on ilk. I think they call it a deposit.

    I also found out there are companies that collect ilk hides and turn them into other useful things. They call it recycling.

    Who’d a thunk.

  6. Paul,

    Loading the breech while the pistol is fully cocked has me wondering if there seems to be — or not — an anti-beatrap mechanism to prevent the cocking lever from accidentally snapping back and causing an injury.


    • Michael,

      Yes; there is an anti-beartrap blocks the trigger once the lever is raised about an inch. There is no ratchet mechanism to hold the action when partially cocked like a TX200. This was covered in the Friday blog, but only in one sentence and was easy to miss.


      • Paul
        Excellent blog this would be a great companion piece to my em-ge rifle. My rifle too is only minute of beer can accurate. I get a lot of vertical stringing that I think can be attributed to less than ideal barrel lock up as I can flex the barrel easily after cocking, compared to my HW 50 which locks up like a bank vault. Also after cocking my linkage is loose and just rattles around under the barrel. I replaced what looked like the original leather breech seal with a rubber o-ring but I’m thinking about getting a set of hole punches and making a new leather seal then shimming it to see if I can get better lock up. What is your breech seal made of ? And thanks again for a well written article!

        • Carl,

          Not to bust in, but it is good to hear from you. I figured you were just busy working. The TX still doing good for you?,.. now that you have had it awhile. Did you get it scoped alright and nothing is moving around?


          • Chris
            Right its been awhile my daughter just graduated high school this weekend, so the last six weeks or so have been pretty hectic. So now I’m back I haven’t been shooting much just the occasional 10 meters in the barn I just shot the tx a bit the other day and at that close range basically 3/8 groups it’s a great gun definitely no regerts ( i think that commercial is funny) so good to hear from you buddy!!

            • Carl,

              Trust me, it will do better than 3/8″ at 10 meters. You should have some targets to prove that. Last I shot it, it would do a little 3 leaf (overlapping) clover at 41′. Best wishes on finding the perfect hold,… which I never practiced too hard at.

              As a good laugh,. some of those early 41′ groups were when I was first learning to shoot again. I remember posting on the blog about 1″+ groups. Imagine that? After awhile, “1 hole” groups got boring indoors and only the outdoors at 25 and 30+ yards would do.

              Take care,… Chris

          • Chris
            LD especially the special rancher four caliber combo! With the optional fishing reel.
            I never measured my groups just estimating it was super informal but for me 10 shots in a hole about 3/8 I mean it is a .22 , was making me super happy even at 30 ft. But I’m easily entertained.

            • Carl,

              Sorry dude,…. I draw “the line” at attaching fishing reels to my air rifle,… or anything even remotely close to that! 😉 Just sayin’.


        • Carl,

          The breech and piston seals are both leather.

          The weak lockup on your rifle may be due to a worn-out locking wedge spring; I had the exact problem on an old Daisy (Milbro) 220.


  7. Now days when someone says a gun has a heavy trigger, I completely lose interest in it. I’ve never experienced so many bad triggers until I got to air guns, especially those from Benjamin and Wang poo Industries, my R1 being an exception. Lately, though, I found a b 3-1 and a RWS 48 copy that had surprisingly good triggers, so I guess there’s hope for them. I’ve bent the barrels on a Benjamin and Gamo break barrel trying to adjust the trigger into something decent, so I’ve given up on them.

  8. Off Topic — Hellboy Correction

    Watched Tyler’s U-Tube video on the P/A site on the CO2 Hellboy M4 Carbine BB rifle and he showed how to separate the upper and lower receiver. I said earlier that it did not look possible. This opens the door to trigger access and any possible mods, which I plan to do to smooth out the trigger linkage to the mag. If possible this will really improve the shooting fun and give access to the insides for maintenance, for me anyway.

    Let me explain my earlier conclusion.
    I easily removed the rear ‘lock pin’ as on a real M4 however the upper did not lift and pivot forward as usual for access to the inside. I tapped on the forward pivot pin, not a budge. Hit it a little harder and harder, still no movement. I did not want to push my luck so I gave up. This time I got a wider punch and bigger tapping device.

    It is very tight, and that is a good thing, but I’m sure it will get easier with time or lube.
    See the thing is the rear section of the upper receiver, or bolt carrier on a real one, ‘slides under’ the lower receiver near the butt stock mount. That’s why it never came up. The front pivot pin does not allow pivoting .It needs to be removed so the upper can slide forward a bit to clear. Can’t have this stuff interchangeable with the real thing !

    I have a much better feeling about this rifle now 🙂

    Bob M

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