by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

IZH 46M
IZH 46M single stroke target pistol.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • New in the box
  • Comparisons
  • Single stroke pneumatic
  • The IZH advantage
  • Difference between the IZH 46 and 46M
  • Power
  • Accuracy
  • Trigger
  • Sights
  • Grips
  • Weight
  • Can it be scoped?
  • The tests
  • Value
  • Importation
  • Not weapons!
  • Scarcity creates demand!
  • Summary

Today we begin a report on a target pistol that has become legendary — the IZH 46, and more specifically the IZH 46M that is the later magnum version. I picked this one up in a recent purchase that included the two IZH MP532 target rifles I’ve been writing about.

New in the box

This pistol was new in the box with everything that originally came from the factory. It had been used as a display gun at an NRA show, but I don’t think it was fired very much. According to its official certificate of acceptance, it was made in October of 2005, so although it is relatively recent it’s still been sitting around for a long time and will need some attention that I will document.

Comparisons

I normally don’t make comparisons between airguns, but this time I will make an exception. I’m going to compare the IZH 46M with my IZH 46 that was resealed by Pyramyd Air a couple years ago. I’m also going to show you how to get the best performance from a single stroke pneumatic. And I will address reader Lain’s question of whether an SSP whose piston is sealed with o-rings, like the Beeman P17 or the new Sig Super Target, reacts similarly to one with a pump cup like this IZH.

IZH 46M and 46
IZH 46M (top) and IZH 46. They look very similar. The 46M has a pump tube that’s about one-inch longer than the 46.

Single stroke pneumatic

The 46M is a single stroke pneumatic (SSP). Some dealers call it a one-pump airgun, because if the lever is opened for a second time, all the air that’s inside the gun is exhausted. Whatever power it develops from the one pump is all the power that’s available. While that does limit the power these airguns can produce, it also simplifies their mechanisms, making them ideal for use as target guns and short-range plinkers.

The IZH advantage

The pump handle of this pistol has a rounded rod that acts as a bearing that slides up a separate lever of a second linkage. This changes the location of the fulcrum as the pump handle is closed, magnifying the force you put into each pump stroke. Where it becomes the hardest to pump is also the point at which you have the best leverage, so it feels like less effort. For the power it develops the 46M is relatively easy to pump.

IZH 46M pump linkage
The rounded end of the pump link slides up the second bar as the pump handle is closed, changing the location of the fulcrum and magnifying the energy put into pumping. This is the IZH 46M

Difference between the IZH 46 and 46M

There is really only one significant difference between the standard IZH 46 and the more powerful 46M and that is the length of the pump mechanism. The 46M pump tube is almost an inch longer than that of the standard 46, resulting in a longer piston stroke that compresses more air. The result is a muzzle velocity of about 500 f.p.s. over 425 f.p.s. for the standard model. Other than that, the two airguns are identical.

Power

The thing that sets the 46M apart from other single strokes is its power. It develops a true 500 f.p.s., with lightweight lead pellets. That’s 75 to 100 f.p.s. faster than other single strokes. The manufacturer claims 410 f.p.s. for the 46 and 460 f.p.s. for the 46M, but I have done extensive testing over 20 years and have found my numbers to be more representative.

Accuracy

You have already seen the stunning accuracy of the MP532 air rifle. The IZH 46 pistol also has a hammer-forged barrel that gives similar accuracy. It rivals the accuracy of vintage target airguns like the FWB 65.

Trigger

The trigger is adjustable for the position of the blade, the length of the first and second stage pulls and the pull weight. It also has a trigger stop. If you compete, the trigger pull must be at least 500 grams (17.64 oz.) and that will be tested before every match by picking up a 500-gram weight with the trigger of your cocked air pistol.

The trigger on my 46 is set to 513 grams, which is 18.1 ozs. Most airgunners find that too light at first and have to develop sensitivity in their trigger finger before they can use it effectively. Pyramyd air has the IZH 46 owner’s manual online, providing an excellent resource for trigger and sight adjustment.

Sights

The sights are full-on target sights with a rear sight that’s completely adjustable in both directions. The gun came with one different rear sight blade that had two different notches, top and bottom, giving a total of four different notch widths to choose from. Other 10-meter pistol designers like Feinwerkbau simply make the width of the rear notch universally adjustable within the limits of the range.

The front post is also interchangeable with two other inserts that come with each new gun. The combination of possibilities, front and rear, makes for a wide range of selections.

Grips

If the pistol has a shortcoming, it is the grips. While they are fully target-style grips that meet international standards for competition (the gun must fit entirely inside a 50mm deep box), they are also smooth wood and they cannot be tightened enough to prevent them from moving when you grasp them. Most owners work their grips over, stippling them for greater roughness and finding better ways to anchor them to the frame so they don’t move as much.

Weight

When the 46 came out it was on the heavy side of normal for a 10-meter target pistol. But shooters have gone towards lighter pistols over the past 25 years and today the 1158 grams/40.8 oz. of the 46M (and 1107 grams/39 oz. for the 46) is 150-200 grams too heavy. I will say this — when you have practiced for several months with 350 dry-fire shots per day followed by 60 shots for record, you won’t notice the weight.

Can it be scoped?

Asking this of a target shooter like me is like asking if a Lamborghini sports car will accept a three-point hitch so you can occasionally plow your garden! However, not everyone shoots at targets and the answer is yes. There are several aftermarket scope mount possibilities for those who want to shoot air pistol silhouette or field target. I think the pistol is too light for hunting beyond eradicating the occasional water beetle or field mouse in your house.

The tests

I will shoot both pistols for velocity, then I will show you my special means of boosting their power. I will show how the trigger is adjusted and I will show the cocking effort. And of course I will show accuracy with both pistols.

Value

When they first came out there were only a few small private dealers selling them. As I recall the first one I saw for sale was asking over $300. Then the price wars started because small private dealers usually don’t care that much about profit. The price dipped below $200 for a while. Then EAA (European American Armory) took over importation and distribution and the price went back to over $300. As the years passed, it increased with time. The last retail price I saw was over $500

Importation

By executive order in 2014 President Obama banned the importation of all Kalashnikov rifles and other “weapons” made by Ishmash. In 2017 President Trump extended and expanded that ban.

Not weapons!

Now, airguns are NOT weapons! Yes, the Europeans call them weapons because their outlook on airguns and firearms is much different than ours. And yes, airguns have been misused in illegal circumstances, but that misuse doesn’t make them weapons. However, Kalashnikov was supposedly advising its distributors to falsify their documentation to get around the presidential ban, and that means they were thumbing their nose at the United States. As much as I regret the loss of the IZH 46M and the ISH 60/61 rifles, I support our nation taking a firm stand. So, for the present, the IZH 46M and the IZH 60 and 61 air rifles cannot be imported into this country.

Scarcity creates demand!

That spawns two things. First — there is a limited number of IZH 46 and 46M pistols available in the US. They are perfectly legal, as long as they arrived before the sanctions were imposed. But there can be no more new ones for the foreseeable future. So, if someone wants one they have to get it from the number of guns that are available. That sets up circumstance number two.

There will always be a demand for things you can’t get. If cow patties suddenly became scarce, people would pay extraordinary prices, just to have one of their own. But cow patties are and always will be cow patties — no matter how many exist. And IZH 46s are the same. I’m not saying they aren’t good. I’m just saying that I am about to give them the best test I can and let you be the judge.

I currently see IZH 46 and especially 46M pistols selling for around $600 (and up to as much as $1,000!) on the used airgun market. And they do sell. Where people stick their hands in their pockets and dance around, kicking the tires of a $1,400 to $1,800 Sheridan Supergrade, they seem to have no problem forking over 6 crisp Benjamins and more for a 46.

Are they worth that much? This is a case of the value to both the buyer and the seller. I see so-called modern art that I wouldn’t hang in my home selling for 6 figures. It isn’t worth that to me, but watching the reactions of some people, I know that it’s worth it to them. So — YES — these pistols are worth what is being asked.

Remember the Falke 90 I wrote about here and here? It is far scarcer than the IZH 46, but watch one languish on a table at an airgun show and you will gain a valuable appreciation for what things are worth.

Summary

When I wrote about the IZH MP531 target air rifle, very few of you even knew what it was. Now I’m writing about an air pistol whose fame precedes it. Most airgunners who have been around for a couple years know about this pistol. I hope to give you some perspective and insight into what has become a legend in our own time!