The AV-46M Single Stroke Pneumatic Match Air Pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

AV 46-M
The AV-46M target air pistol is a reincarnation of the IZH 46M for the American market.

This report covers:

  • It’s here!
  • Alfa Precision
  • Air Venturi
  • The pistol
  • Dry-fire
  • Easy to pump
  • Happy, happy
  • But wait….!
  • Sights
  • Weight
  • Owner’s manual
  • The price
  • Summary

It’s here!

This is the pistol many of you have been clamoring for, for years. It’s the IZH 46M match pistol. Only it isn’t from IZH anymore. Air Venturi has negotiated the construction and purchase of this iconic AV 46-M target air pistol from Alfa Precision, a non-military Russian barrelmaker. That means it is legal to import it into the US. They are available for sale right now!

Alfa Precision

Some airgunners are already aware of Alfa Precision. They are sort of the Russian equivalent of Lothar Walther — and I’m sure I will hear about that remark! Alfa Precision makes hammer-forged firearm and airgun barrels that have shown surprising levels of accuracy. They also know and understand airguns. These are all good things! 

Air Venturi

Most of you know the Air Venturi brand quite well. Over the years I have tested a number of their airguns and other important products, such as high-pressure air compressors. The good news about them in this picture is they can provide the support you need. That means parts, service and information. So, this target air pistol should be around for some time to come. And now for the question on everybody’s mind — is this one really as good as the IZH 46M that people are paying high prices for in used condition? There is a whole lot of testing to be done, but in the several hours I have had with it so far I have to say that it is. In fact, it’s going to surge ahead of the IZH just a little.

The pistol

The AV-46M is a single-stroke pneumatic 10-meter target pistol. To charge the pistol you pull the long underlever forward, and at the end of the stroke you pull the lever a little harder to cock the action. When the breech flips straight up the pistol is cocked. A target (wadcutter) pellet is then loaded into the breech that is very accessible and the underlever is returned home. Close the breech and fire. That single act pumps the pistol one time and should be good for a muzzle velocity of around 480 f.p.s. with lightweight pellets.

AV 46M lever extended
The pump lever goes far forward, and at the end it opens the breech and cocks the pistol. As it is brought back, the fulcrum of the pump stroke constantly changes to an optimal position.

AV 46M breech open
When the breechblock stands up like this, the pistol is cocked.

You can only pump the gun one time. If you attempt a second pump stroke, all the air from the first stroke will be lost. That’s why it is called a single-stroke pneumatic.

Dry-fire

The ability to cock and fire the trigger without firing a pellet is called dry-fire. Every respectable 10-meter pistol must have this feature. To dry fire the 46M you pull forward on the breech cover to unlock the breech block, then pull the breech block straight up until the mechanism is cocked. Return the block to its closed position under the breech cover and you’re ready to shoot. A shooter typically fires five times as many shots each day dry-fire than with pellets.

Easy to pump

One of the principal features of the 46M pumping mechanism is the sliding fulcrum that reduces the pump stroke effort. It take pounds off the pump force and gives you a muzzle velocity of close to 500 f.p.s. The description says 480 f.p.s., but you know I’m going to test that for you. And I know a secret that may boost the velocity a little.

Happy, happy

BB Pelletier loves airguns! I love them all, but I have been a competitor in 10-meter pistol shooting and that gives me a special appreciation for target pistols. This new 46M gives me the opportunity to test a target pistol that many of you already know is the best deal on the market — hands-down.

But wait….!

Yes, there is more. In the first place, what is it that Alfa Precision does? That’s right, they make barrels. Are their barrels any good? From the reports I have read, they are quite good. And they make the barrel for this AV 46M. What does that mean? Well, we will all have to wait impatiently for the Part 3 accuracy test, but I have high hopes.

And in the second place, what was the one criticism many shooters had with the IZH 46 and 46M? The grip! That’s right, the IZH grip was always on the small side and quite bland. It worked, but it wasn’t in the same class as what we see on an FWB or a Walther 10-meter pistol. Well, didja happen to notice anything special about the grip on this pistol? That’s right — this one isn’t made from pallet wood! In fact, this grip is made in Finland and it looks very much like it belongs at the party.

With the IZH you built up the grip with wood putty in places to conform to your hand. This snazzy new laminated grip has some meat on it that allows you to carve off what you don’t need and it will still look snazzy.

And finally we come to the trigger. The IZH 46/46M trigger was good, but it was far from perfect. A 10-meter shooter could always detect some creep in stage two. So far the trigger on the AV-46M pistol I am examining is perfect. No creep! And I can detect creep that a lot of folks can’t.

When the pistol arrived at my house, stage two was breaking at 310 grams. While that is a nice light trigger, it won’t get you into a match. Your trigger must break at 500 grams or more. I adjusted the trigger to break at 524 grams. That’s all I’m going to tell you today, and I only said that to remind myself of what I have done.

Sights

The AV-46M sights are fully adjustable with positive click detents. That is as it should be on a target pistol. But there is more. The rear sight blade has two notches of different widths, so the blade can be flipped to adjust the notch width to your preference. The pistol comes with a second rear sight blade that has another two notches of differing widths, so you can play around until you are satisfied.

The rear blade also slides from side to side to give you more horizontal adjustment, should you need it. All things considered, this rear sight is everything needed for a world-class 10-meter pistol.

The front sight has three replaceable blades of different widths. These should be matched to the rear notch to optimize the length of your arm, your eyesight and your personal preference for blade-to-notch fit.

AV 46M rear sight
The AV-46M rear sight offers everything a world-class 10-meter pistol sight should.

AB 46M rear sight elements
Besides what comes on the pistol, you get these sight elements.

Weight

The AV-46M weighs 1181 grams, which is 2 lbs. 9.7 oz. That is on the heavy side for a 10-meter pistol these days. Most world-class target pistols are weighing just under a kilogram, today. This pistol’s weight is more in line with the FWB 65/80/90 of several decades ago. Of course the modern pistols do have optional weights that can be added to satisfy all shooters. I competed with heavier pistols, so the weight doesn’t bother me, but a buyer needs to know this up front. This would probably not be the pistol on which to start a junior shooter.

The pistol is muzzle-heavy. That’s a trait many target shooters prefer, as it stabilizes any shakiness of the hand.

Owner’s manual

The owner’s manual was written by an American, so it’s easy to read. The sight adjustments are engraved on the adjustment knobs so no confusion there. However — while the manual does tell what each trigger adjustment screw does, it doesn’t tell which way to adjust for anything. So, some ‘sperimentin’ will have to be done. That being noted, the manual does tell you how to store the pistol to keep the breech seals as fresh as possible.

The price

Here’s where the tire-kickers have to depart. This pistol is no longer cheap. Yes, in the mid-1990s they did sell for less than $300, but by the time the pistol could no longer be imported into the US, that had risen to around $500. Used IZH-46Ms are selling for over $500 today, and with the Finnish grips and the special barrel on this one it should come as no surprise that the price is almost $600. That’s still low compared to other serious 10-meter pistols, but it is significant. And even at that price I don’t anticipate the first batch staying around very long. So if you want one, now’s the time.

Summary

This doesn’t happen every day. Here is an iconic air pistol we all thought was lost to time and world politics. It’s back again, and, from what I have seen so far, it’s better than ever!

70 thoughts on “The AV-46M Single Stroke Pneumatic Match Air Pistol: Part 1

  1. B.B.,

    Is Alfa Precision just manufacturing the barrel or the complete pistol?

    Siraniko

    PS: Section Owner’s manual First paragraph Second sentence: “The sight adjustments are engraved on the adjustment knobs so no confusion thgere (there).”



    • I think we all know the Russian company has found a work around to get their guns sold in the USA . Its not only this gun but the izh 61 side cocking spring piston rifle as well . Other company’s can stick any name they want on the guns but its still coming from Russians Baikal plant . As soon as the US government gets wind of it you won’t see this for sale for very long so grab it while you can . I payed 250 dollars for mine when they first came out so I think the price will come down if they don’t sell them for the 600 dollars they are asking for now . I have been shooting mine almost every day since I got it back in the mid 90’s I think it was . I just keep it lubed up every 500 shots and I still have the same o-rings and piston seal on it . It shoot just as good today as it did new . I don’t have to worry about keeping a tank of air filled up or the cost involved in that , I just cock it load it and shoot it . Shooting this gun for over 20 years now and with a bench rest I can put every pellet through the same hole I think says something about the gun . I use it for my monthly matches and the joy I get from this gun is priceless to me. Not a penny spent for repairs on the gun the only cost are targets and pellets that it . If your thinking about getting into 10 meter air pistol shooting its a great gun for the price even at 600.00 .


  2. This is a real deal treat. I have a 46m, and it’s amazing. The price for this is still high, even with the laminate grips. But really the next step up would be a couple hundred more. I’m very interested in watching my 46m price drop if this is good.




  3. BB,

    LOL! You dog! How long have you known about this?!

    As I have an Izzy, I do not see me buying one of these. For you folks out there who do not have an Izzy, I would strongly suggest you get one of these. My Izzy is the main reason my air pistol collection is so small. I bought mine as my second airgun for $300 new. Ever since, when I would get another air pistol, I would compare it to the Izzy and immediately find a new home for it. That included a UK Webley Tempest. This is why CO2 pistols do not interest me.

    I do have to question your description of both the grip and the trigger of the Izzy. They come with a humongous chunk of wood for a grip. I had to carve away a lot of wood to get it to fit my hand like I wanted and I have a big paw. That massive chunk of wood is why so many do not care for the 46 or 46M and are afraid to carve the grip to fit. “Oh, I might ruin the collector value of it if I make the grip fit my hand.” My Izzy is not going anywhere in a hurry.

    Now, I am curious as to whether this grip will fit my Izzy. I see that this one is a one piece grip while the Izzy has a two piece. I am not counting the adjustable shelf. It shore is purdy.

    Trigger. If that trigger is better than the one on my Izzy, it is phenomenal. Seriously. No, seriously.



    • The Baikal does have a grip that is in two pieces, but that is just a matter of manufacturing convenience isn’t it? Not counting the palm shelf, of the three screws through the grip the bottom holds the two halves together, and the top two (one going in from each side) hold it to the frame. It is, though, perfectly possible to remove the top two screws and take the grip off in one – I’ve got the two halves glued together, which seemed to me to remove one possible area of play in the grip.

      I’m not familiar with aftermarket grips for the Baikal, but presumably the two screws both going in from the left on this AV take the holes away from the more critical palm area.

      Cross-head screws though … shouldn’t this have some nice allen or torx headed screws on it?

      Iain


      • Iain,

        Thank you for the image of your pistol. Other than the grip stock fasteners moved to the left side (good for hand feel for right handers) the only other difference i was able to detect was the underlever shape is different where it joins the linkage. Could you please supply a photograph with it totally extended? That would show any differences in the linkage beyond the obviously changed method of fastening to the linkage and shape/angle of the exposed portion of the underlever.

        Fasteners can be changed easily! I guess Phillips bits/screwdrivers are more common in typical folks tool boxes?

        shootski

        leverarm.
        .



          • RidgeRunner,

            I have felt holes in surfaces like grip stocks.

            Before a swimming race our coach taught us to rub our hands and forearms on the non-skid surface of the Starting Block to get better feel for the water. I took that technique to my trigger finger and eventually my entire shooting hand using a brush to get rid of the calluses and then stimulate the nerves before shooting.

            It seems to work.

            shootski


            • Shootski,

              That concept has been mentioned here before,.. but more like sand paper to the trigger finger pad. Concept being the same,.. stimulating nerve endings. Thanks for the reminder as it has been a few years as best I recall. Someone could even add something like that direct to gun (like sticky sided sand paper).

              Chris


        • My short-cylinder Izh-46 isn’t quite comparable to the new AV in that area – you can see in the Baikal manual that covers the 46 and 46M which has two exploded parts diagrams, a handful of parts are shaded grey in the diagram for the 46M to show they are different (longer cylinder and cocking linkage parts).

          I found a closely comparable picture of the 46M here though:

          https://www.gatewaytoairguns.org/GTA/index.php?topic=153475.0

          The link that is running diagonally up from the cocking linkage to actually connect to the piston is just straight on the 46 – quite apart from being lengthened it must need a kink in it to fit over something in the 46M when closed.

          Apart from the shape of the cocking lever, not running close underneath the cylinder, the two linkage look pretty much alike to me.

          Iain


          • This is the comparable view on the short cylinder ’46 – note the straight link between the cocking link and lever.

            This isn’t the only part that is different between the ’46 and ’46M, but it is more than just the length that has had to be changed.

            Iain



  4. BB,

    Well good for you on getting to test this. Like you said, you can appreciate it more than the average bear.

    My guess is that this (won’t) be going back to P.A.?

    Chris



  5. For those poor unfortunate folks out there who have never handled one of these behemoths, you need to wrap your hand around one of these. These things are built like tanks. You have to really abuse this thing to have it even notice, much less hurt it. With just minimal care these things will last for generations.

    They do not shoot bad either. You have to spend a lot more to do better.


  6. B.B.

    Hallelujah! Here i thought 2020 was a bummer year, NOT ANYMORE!!!!
    Maybe I can stop my quest for a Pardini 58?
    Does it weigh more that the Izzy? Will the Izzy “hot-rod” kit fit?
    Will they make a 10-meter SSP rifle to match?
    Thank you, thank you, thank you,

    -Yogi


  7. WOW!!!!

    Now there is something that really interests me! SSP 10 meter pistol that’s sub 500fps so that it is Canada legal.

    Formal 10 meter shooting aside, SSP target pistols are just out and out awesome fun for mini-sniping, plinking and light pesting. I probably shoot 10 times the pellets at insects and small reactive targets than I do at paper. If the AV-46 is anything like my FWB 100 it will be light to cock and incredibly accurate – hoping it is!

    Looks positively evil in its Mord-Sith colors. 🙂

    Think I’m going to have to reconfigure my “short-list”.

    Hank



      • Yeah, they can be pretty anal.

        Really though, IMHO 450-500 fps is plenty for plinking out to 20-25 yards or so. It’s real forte is paper at 10 meters and that doesn’t need power, think that it is ideal for small targets at upto 15 yards. Should be ok for light pesting (up to sparrows and chipmunks) at close range as well.

        I would rather keep the (advertised) 18 pound cocking force than go for more velocity though I am sure that many people would grab all the fps they can.

        People think it is crazy that I plink with a target pistol until they try it themselves – they are really ideal for that!

        Hank


  8. 2020 does have a silver lining…

    This is great news for many, especially if those who need larger grips, or replacement parts for their 46 series pistols. (If the parts interchange, and I bet they do.)

    Can you take the grips off to see if the frame is the same and Alfa just moved the screw heads to the left side to clean up the grip side, or made the change to farther differentiate it from the IZH for import purposes?
    I bet a cup of coffee or a soda the next time I see you face to face, that it is the same.
    Unless they HAVE to change an established design, the Russians normally don’t.

    I am still running a positively ancient IZH46(predecessor to the 46M)

    It can still outshoot me, so one of these is probably not on my immediate list, but I am glad to see it being offered.
    Maybe Air Venturi in the future, will offer different color grips, but I have no issues with the red/black.

    I wonder why Air Venturi had to go to china to make the TR5 (IZH61)?
    I wonder if Alfa Precision will start producing/marketing the 61?
    Without the shortcomings of the TR5.

    Ian..


  9. BB, This one is snazzy! Wow. No left hand grip, bummer, but that’s typical.
    I’m glad they found a way to import these. Problem is, Carrera 1/32 digital slot cars are pretty cool too.
    I love that this design is pure airgun, I wouldn’t scope this one. Looking forward to more of your impressions.
    R



      • The minute they do, I’m putting in an order request for one. Then I’ll have an excellent example
        of a single stroke pneumatic that’s not too hard to cock, and fun to use for extended shooting sessions
        because it reflects shooter error so well. The red looks great too.
        I’ll just have to wait, it would be nice not to have to make everything for once.
        Rob


        • Rob,

          I want one for my lefty son, many pistols are somewhat ambidextrous. This one is definitely not.

          He has a few rifles all right handed. Someday I would like to see him get a lefty rifle.

          Don


    • 1stblue,

      I’ll guess that lefty grips are a matter of reversing the CNC program and are going to show up once they see the initial demand curve to figure out what that 11% requirement is.
      Otherwise the aftermarket Whittlers will fill that need before all too long.

      shootski


      • Shootski, You make it sound so simple! When they invented writing on paper, Leftys were cut out of the loop. At least the ink doesn’t smear because it’s a fountain pen anymore. Bic’s contribution, but I do love a nice old school Papermate, or Schaefer pen. A little blotter pad, and some inks. How about an airpowered Derringer pen, with a nice gold nib?
        Rob


        • Rob,

          “Shootski, You make it sound so simple!” Yup!
          Because it actually is most of the time if it makes economic sense for a manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer…the final steps in the supply chain are each more difficult to convince on the merits of stocking Left-handed oriented products. I worked hard to become truly ambidextrous since it improves the chance for survival/achievement in so many endeavours. You obviously have overcome the “handicaps” imposed in the use of fountain pens in the Western writing form…just think how easy it would be in a non-conventional (Western biased society) were most everything and one was ambidextrous!

          shootski



  10. B.B.,
    My friend, Pete, let me shoot his IZH 46M; what a sweet pistol; as you noted in your Summary, it’s cool to see the return of this pistol. =>
    Take care & God bless,
    dave




      • Edw,

        Oh gosh, that was a while back. After shaping it to fit, I think I used an antique walnut stain and then some clear satin polyurethane. I am thinking of redoing it with a light sanding to take off the poly and then doing some stippling. Another coat of walnut stain. MAYBE poly on top.

        Because of my large hands I had to round down the shelf edges to make them comfortable.


        • I did mine about 15 years ago, I think I mixed beeswax and turpentine and rubbed it in slowly. I’ll definitely try a stain if I go back in. I’ve learned a lot the last decade!


  11. Have been looking for a nice 10 m target pistol for a while (thinking of a FWB 65). Alas, prices are out of my reach. I do own a Diana 6g and a 6M and I am quite content with both. Would need to do an eternety of coupon clipping and recycling of aluminum cans and plastic bottles to afford this better than sliced bread AV-46M.

    Simple things make me happy.
    Just received a set of leather punches . Finally ,my FWB 124 leaks no more. If a $12 purchase makes me this giddy, imagine a $600 AV-46.

    Yes dear, dinner is almost ready. Children!!



  12. Most interesting thing. Checked the PA website and…tawdawm !!! the AV-46M is showing ‘ships to Canada’. So that means that PA has already been able to get this 10M pistol approved by the RCMP ’cause it is basically ‘under 500fps’ of rated velocity. That’s good! So please B.B. keep any ‘modification’ secrets very discreet and out of ‘public sight’ because we canadians want to be able to own one of these also. I don’t intend on waiting to see if the Izzies will drop in price with the advent of the arrival of this ‘alternative’. But will wait to read your conclusion.
    Looking forward to reading the following Parts…..
    Thank you.


  13. Glad this pistol is being brought back to the USA. I thought about buying one 10 years ago but never did…until this month when I finally decided to scratch that itch. The $600 price for the new AV-46M version doesn’t surprise me, as noted by this observation:

    “Used IZH-46Ms are selling for over $500 today, and with the Finnish grips and the special barrel on this one it should come as no surprise that the price is almost $600.”

    Indeed, it is ironic that my newish acquisition, a NOS/reportedly never fired IZH-46M, came with it’s original sales receipt dated December 28, 2003 for $259.95 plus tax ($281 total). I paid $600 for it 17 years later due to its pristine condition with original box/manual/target/sealed tools, etc.

    Anyhow, I really do like the looks of the new AV-46M, as the red laminated grip as it remind me of my old Trailside/Hammerli 22LR target pistol which also has black and red grips.



  14. So Tom, do you think there is any chance that a rifle version of this will be coming out soon? Such as the Baikal MP532?

    I happen to own both an IZH46M and the MP532 (which is more rare than Unicorns).

    What exactly is better on this newer version trigger? I have my 46M dialed down to 0.46 oz. and that is not a typo.

    Dennis


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