IZH MP532 target rifle: Part 8
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
IZH MP532 single stroke target rifle.
This report covers:
- The back story
- First shot — ah HA!
- Finale Match Heavy
- Qiang Yuan Training pellets
- Rear sight
- Rear sight height
- Rear sight folds forward!
- Russians missed the mark
- End of back story
- Why the peep sight won’t adjust high enough
- What’s next?
I have what I think is a great report for you today. I have listed it as a history article, but the application is universal. It will take a lot of back story introduction and I will have to keep things straight for you as we go. You may need a whole pot of coffee for this one!
The back story
Back in October, 2019 I reviewed two IZH 532 single-stroke pneumatic target air rifles for you. The report started with me thinking the rifles were only as accurate as a Daisy 853 and it ended with me shooting two of the smallest groups I have ever shot with any airgun at 10 meters. I think I have just discovered something major about one of the two rifles, and that is what this report is about. Yes, this is an historical report, but if I am right it applies to modern air rifles as well.
There is so much back story to tell that I will put everything that was written in 2019 in italics, so you can differentiate it from what I’m telling you today. As I introduced both rifles I shared their differences with you. I will be referring to the first rifle and the second rifle. It is the second rifle, which is ten years older than the first rifle, that is of interest for this series. Here we go.
The front sight of the 532 is a globe that accepts inserts. The first rifle I got had a single insert in the globe and it is the old-style metallic aperture. The second rifle came with no inserts but I was able to fit a 16mm Walther clear plastic aperture insert that reader Kevin recently sent me. It’s loose until the threaded sleeve is screwed tight, but then it locks up and stays in one place, which is all I need. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfectly centered because the rear sight adjusts for that.
The older rifle had no front sight insert, so I installed a clear 16mm Walther aperture.
The rear sight is a target peep that Americans have panned over the years. They say it looks cheap compared to other 10-meter rear sights. Well, it is a little Spartan compared to other 10-meter target rifle sights, but it does everything they do, so who cares what it looks like? Beautiful is as beautiful does. Naturally I will have a lot more to say about the sights when I test the rifle(s) for accuracy. I think because I have two rifles I will test both of them. Why not?
While I was working with the first rifle to get it back in shape I decided to purchase a second one. This was an earlier rifle that didn’t have the box or anything else — just the rifle. I wanted this one in case the first one didn’t pan out for some reason. I don’t plan to keep it long, and from the response I saw to Part One I will have no trouble selling it when I am ready. There were three inquiries about the other two rifles I mentioned that are available, so this one will evaporate quickly. But I have it now so let’s see what it can do.
The second rifle was produced in 1997, making it 10 years older than the first rifle. I used the same warmup procedure (20 partial pumps to warm the pump cup) and a partial stroke before every pump stroke for each shot.
This rifle has a clear plastic aperture insert for the front sight, and I selected one that was only ever-so-slightly larger than the bullseye. It was very difficult to work with. If I shoot the rifle again I will swap it for an insert with a larger hole.
[Editor’s note: Right there I identified the problem I hope to resolve in this series, but I didn’t see it at the time.]
I decided to shoot only the three best pellets from the first rifle in rifle number two, which were H&N Finale Match Heavys, Hobbys and Qiang Yuan Training pellets. However, things never got that far.
First shot — ah HA!
The first shot with H&N Finale Match Heavys hit the target about 6 inches below the aim point. So I dialed in a lot of elevation into the peep and shot again. The sight adjusted up easily. Shot two was still below the target, so I cranked in a bunch more elevation — AND RAN OUT OF ADJUSTMENT! The adjustment knob suddenly stopped. It felt just like the one on rifle number one. OH! The rear sight on rifle number two was now adjusted as high as it will go and the rifle is still shooting too low! I’m learning. [But I wasn’t learning fast enough.]
Finale Match Heavy
Five Finale Match Heavy pellets hit the target about 1-1/2-inches below the aim point. They landed in an extremely vertical group that measures 0.429-inches between centers. I was almost certain the rifle was not responsible for the size of the group, and I also knew it wasn’t me. I thought it was the rear sight.
And then it happened. Everything became crystal clear and I know the problem. [I didn’t, really, but I thought I did.]
Qiang Yuan Training pellets
I then shot 5 Qiang Yuan Training pellets into another vertical group. Two shots are above three shots, with each “group” being small enough to hold a pellet by the tail. But 5 shots are in 0.445-inches. The only way this can happen is if the rear sight was moved while I shot. So I pushed on it and, sure enough, it moved. THAT WAS THE PROBLEM!
I had been creeping up on the rear peep, trying to get my eye as close as possible to the peephole, but in Part 2 the first rifle’s buttstock was adjusted so long that it was very difficult to get close to that sight. Sometimes I did and other times I didn’t. The butt on rifle two wasn’t adjusted, so I got close to the peep every time. If my glasses touched the peep hole disk they pushed it forward, moving the location of the hole and changing the impact point up or down.
No sense going any farther with today’s testing. I need to find out some things about the sights and what can be done to correct the situation.
I’m going to write a report about that rear sight because I have just discovered a lot about it — stuff I haven’t told you yet. First, the two rifles have different rear sights! And the differences are big and they matter! Next, how you sight the rifle makes all the difference in the world. With the first rifle, when I didn’t push my face forward, the sight remained upright and my groups were smaller. When I pushed my face forward I hit the sight and it folded forward and down. Now that I know that, I am sure I can shoot better groups.
I know the MP532 isn’t an air rifle many of you will ever even see, but there are some fundamental principles at work that apply to all airguns. So this stuff is worth learning.
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.
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 height
Those 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 strike 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!
[I believe there was and is a way for that sight to work, but at this point in 2019 I hadn’t found it yet.]
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.
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!
End of back story
Okay, we are now back in 2021 and on with this series of what I hope is a major discovery. The older rifle we are discussing does have 11 mm dovetail grooves, and I mounted both a scope and a red dot sight to see how accurate the rifle really is. Rifle number one that I’m not discussing put five H&N Finale Match Heavy pellets into a group that measured 0.072-inches at 10 meters. That was with the peep sight it came with. Rifle number two, the rifle we are looking at in this series, put five of the same pellets into 0.083-inches at 10 meters when a dot sight was used. So that rifle is just as accurate as the first one. But why can’t it zero the peep sight that came on it?
Why the peep sight won’t adjust high enough
What I’m about to tell you happened this month — March of 2021 — fully 16 months after the last test of the second rifle. In fact it was just last week. I had the rifle sitting across the arms of a chair, out of the way so I could find and pack up all the airguns that I’m returning to Pyramyd Air. The other newer 532 was also out, and I was able to compare both of them. That is when I spotted it. The older rifle isn’t bedded properly! Let me show you.
The newer rifle is on top. The older rifle with the bedding problem is at the bottom.
The newer rifle is bedded until the barrel is close to the forearm of the stock.
The barrel on the older rifle is up from the forearm quite a bit.
Given the bedding problem of the older rifle with the barrel pointed upward, the older rifle has to be pointed down to see through the aperture of the front sight. Since the aperture is a hole, you don’t notice that it is on a slight downward angle. It still looks round when you see it through the peep sight. I believe this is the reason the rear sight cannot be adjusted high enough to compensate.
Do you remember earlier in this report that I mentioned that the front aperture was difficult to see through? It was difficult because the hole through the clear aperture wasn’t being seen straight on — it was at a slight downward angle. I believe that the bedding issue is why it appeared that way.
The barreled action needs to be properly bedded. Then the rifle needs to be shot again to see if the bedding was why the rear sight could not be adjusted high enough. So here is my plan.
I will shoot a 5-shot group with H&N Finale Match Heavy pellets with the rifle as it is now, so we can see where it impacts the target at 10 meters. Then I will relieve the bedding so the barreled action sits down in the stock like rifle number one. Then I will shoot a second group of five H&N Finale Match Heavy pellets to see where they impact the target. I’m thinking of shooting at the same bull for both groups. That should demonstrate the affect the bedding had on the height of the two groups. This will be a before and after test. I’m not interested in how small the groups are — just where they land on the target.
Today’s report was about a revelation that opened my mind! If I am right about the peep sight adjustment problem being caused by poor bedding, then it applies to every air rifle with similar sights. Very few rifles are bedded like the 532 so this isn’t the solution to all sighting problems, but it is unique and if I’m right it’s something we all need to know. If I’m not right then I’m giving you a running start at explaining to me why my theory is flawed