by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

IZH MP532
IZH MP532 single stroke target rifle.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Two different sights
  • Rear sight height
  • Rear sight folds forward!
  • Russians missed the mark
  • However — the 2007 rifle
  • New sight doesn’t tilt as far
  • Baikal wasn’t the first
  • Discussion
  • One on BB
  • Summary

Today is another different report because this is the day I look into the sights on the Russian MP532 single stroke pneumatic target rifle. You may recall that I had some problems in Part 3 when I tried shooting both of my rifles for accuracy. The first problem was I couldn’t adjust either rifle’s rear sight high enough to get to the center of the bullseye, and problem two was I discovered at the end of the test that the sight moves, and destroys all hope for accuracy. Today we find out why.

Two different sights

The first thing I discovered is my two rifles that were made 10 years apart have two different rear sights. The older rifle was made in 1997 and its rear sight has adjustment knobs marked in Russian Cyrillic characters. A reader sent me two different copies of the MP532 owner’s manual and the sights are barely mentioned in either of them. They basically say the rifle has sights and you should adjust the rear one as needed.

Let’s look at the older rear sight now. It is attached by a screw to a mount on the receiver of the rifle that is raised to accept it. The base of the sight is keyed to the top of the receiver mount so when the mounting screw is tight the sight will not move.

rear sight 97 mount
Here you can see how the rear sight attaches to the 532 receiver that swoops up to meet it. You can also see that both adjustment knobs are marked with Cyrillic letters.

rear sight 97 eyepiece
In this view you can see the eyepiece that contains the peep hole is attached to a sheetmetal part that comes up from the sight and then folds over and goes down again. That sheetmetal part is attached solidly to the sight base and does not move.

rear sight 97 eyepiece front
This front view of the curved sheetmetal part shows that the eyepiece has to look through the fixed hole. If the eyepiece were to move it wouldn’t align with that hole.

Rear sight height

Those three photos show the rear sight design that I have been scrutinizing for the past two weeks. I simply cannot see how it is possible for this sight to move higher than its highest adjustment permits, and in testing we learned that isn’t anywhere near high enough to hit the center of the bull! Sure, a plate placed under the bottom of the sight could lift it up, but I see no mention of such a plate in either manual.

A similar fix is possible if the front sight can be lowered. I know that the Russians are aware of that possibility because both the SKS and AK battle rifles have front sights that move up and down for elevation adjustments — similar to the American M16 front sight. But the front sight on the MP532 does not move. It is mounted solidly in place. And there is no plate in it to be removed to effect such an adjustment, either.

In short — there seems to be no way to adjust the MP532 sights high enough to get the pellets to stike the center of the bull at 10 meters. For a target rifle that is the kiss of death and I’m flabbergasted that the Russians built it that way!

Rear sight folds forward!

Besides the elevation adjustment, another fundamental requirement for 10-meter target sights is that they never move. Once adjusted, you want them locked in concrete, so shot after shot can go to the same place. That’s kind of the whole point to target shooting! Well, the MP532 rear sight moves! In fact, it’s spring-loaded to move when pressed upon from the rear.

rear sight 97 folded
This is how far forward the rear sight folds when it’s pressed from the rear. Any movement of the rear sight can move the impact point of the pellet. This movement prohibits shooters from mounting rubber eyecups on the peep disk and pressing into them when sighting.

Ten-meter target shooters will immediately recognize the problem with the rear sight folding forward. They are used to putting a soft rubber cup on the disk of their rear peep and pressing into it when shooting. That cup blocks out all the light except for that which comes through the peep hole, and that makes for a sharper sight picture.

When I tested both rifles I tried to press into the rear sight for exactly that reason. I didn’t have a rubber cup but my glasses protected my eye from the peep disk. The newer rifle had its stock adjusted for the maximum pull length which made getting that far forward a problem, and that is probably why I shot the new rifle better than the older one.

If you don’t press and get close to the rear peep hole in the way I’m describing you are tempted to try to center the front sight inside the rear peep hole. That adds a huge amount of unnecessary work and complexity to sighting the rifle. Peep sights simply don’t work that way. You just peek through them like a knothole in the fence.

That was known way back in the 1870s, when the buffalo hunters killed millions of American bison at long ranges with rifles that recoiled a lot. They had leather cups instead of rubber on their rear peeps, and they understood quite well how peep sights work!

Russians missed the mark

As incredible as it sounds the Russians designed a target rifle that cannot possibly hit the target! I know I must be wrong and I am hoping Vladimir Unpronounceable will pop out of the woodwork and explain what I’m missing. Because, to say the Russians don’t know how to design a rifle is like saying the Swiss can’t make chocolate. It’s as if the Russians ran out of qualified gun designers when the 532 was created and substituted bakery workers instead!

However — the 2007 rifle

Now we turn to the newer MP532 rifle. This one has a rear sight with English markings on the adjustment knobs. And it has a couple other changes that I think you will find interesting after seeing the sight on the older rifle. Let’s look at it in the same way we looked at the other sight.

rear sight 07 mount
Lots to see on the 2007 rear peep sight. First, the markings on the adjustment knobs are in English. The sight still mounts to the receiver in the same way, but notice there is no curved sheetmetal for the peep disk to attach to. That is the biggest change. Oh, and BB brushed the dust off this one before taking the pic!

rear sight 07 eyepiece
Well, most of the dust! Look at how the eyepiece disk passes through the upright plate.

rear sight 07 eyepiece front 1
Let’s talk. See the open slot above the eyepiece disk? That is a long vertical slot the eyepiece can ride up and down in. Unscrew the disk to make vertical adjustments. With this we can get the precision adjustments (what the knob does) into the right range for a 10-meter target!

rear sight 07 eyepiece front 2
And there it is — at the top of the slot. This is the way to design an inexpensive rear target sight!

New sight doesn’t tilt as far

The sight on the 2007 rifle is still spring-loaded, but it doesn’t move nearly as far forward when it’s pushed. This still isn’t good but it’s better than the older one.

rear sight 07 folded
The rear sight on the newer rifle doesn’t fold nearly as far forward.

Baikal wasn’t the first

Baikal wasn’t the first to make a rear peep sight that adjusts up and down this way. Back in 1924 Crosman made one that did the same thing.

Crosman 101 peep sight
Crosman’s pneumatic rear sight for the models 100 through 104 was a peep that slid up and down (as well as left and right) on a simple stamped steel bar.

I’m not saying Crosman was the first, because I really don’t know who was, but isn’t theirs an innovative design? Of course it lacks the precision adjustments of the MP532, but they weren’t building 10-meter target rifles, either!

Discussion

So, the MP532 peep was changed as the years passed, and it changed for the better. It doesn’t look like it costs much more to make it the new way, and if I am right, it solves most of the problems I encountered in the accuracy test last time. We shall see!

One on BB

Some of you give BB way too much credit for being a good airgunner who knows what he is doing. As I was writing this report and taking those pictures I happened to jiggle the rear sight on the new MP532 and it was loose on its mount!!!!! All the fixin’ in the world ain’t a-gonna put things right if the sight is loose.

Remember I told you there is one screw underneath the receiver that holds the sight fast to the receiver? I had to take the action out of the stock to access it, and, sure enough, that screw was quite loose. It’s now tight, plus I know how to get the rear sight into the range of adjustability and I also know not to touch the sight when I’m shooting. I betcha I get better groups in the next test!

rear sight 07 screw
There is that screw that holds the rear sight to the mount on the receiver. On the newer rifle it was loose!

I did go to the older rifle and shake the rear sight, as well. It is as tight as it should be.

Summary

This report has been different because so little is known about the IZH MP532 target rifle — at least as far as I can find out. Most of the comments on the web are owners asking if anybody knows about the rifle and people responding, saying they don’t.

I’m sure the folks in Russia know it a lot better and they have probably written a lot about it, too. I would enjoy learning that I have overlooked something on the rear sight of the ’97 rifle, but I sure don’t know what it is!

The second accuracy test will be next. I will only test the newer rifle this time. I can hardly wait!