by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Zenit
The German Zenit air pistol from before World War II is a fascinating collector’s item.

Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • A little afraid
  • Sight-in
  • Adjust front sight
  • Falcons at 10 meters
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the EM GE Zenit air pistol. This is normally a 10 meter test, but today there were differences. Let’s go!

A little afraid

This test gave me some concerns. This Zenit is approaching 90 years of age and it has a cocking process that leaves the pivoting barrel in a position that I consider hinky at best. Could it even hit the paper? I was so concerned that I started cautiously, and I’m so glad that I did.

Sight-in

I started with Air Arms Falcon pellets. And I used a 6 o’clock hold on the bull.

I fired one shot from about 18 feet and it landed high on the target. It looked pretty good at this point so I backed up to 10 meters and started shooting. Neither of the next two shots hit the target paper. This wasn’t working!

So I moved the bench up to 5 meters and tried again. The first shot hit above the bull and the second shot hit next to it. These holes were lower than the one from 18 feet, but in the same general area. The front sight needed to go up to bring the shots down. Talk about hinky! Would that sight adjustment even work? Do you remember where it was set when I got the pistol?

Zenit front sight left
The front sight blade swings up to adjust the elevation. This is how the front sight was set when I purchased the airgun.

Adjust front sight

I loosened the jam screw that holds the front sight blade fast and levered the sight blade up to the second index mark on the blade. Shooting from 5 meters the next pellet hit the top of the bull. Nine more shots went into a group that measures 0.743-inches between centers at 5 meters.

Zenit 5 meters
This is the Zenit at 5 meters with Falcon pellets. The highest hole (arrow) was shot from 18 feet. The two shots under that one (arrows) were shot from 5 meters, rested, with the original sight setting. Then I adjusted the front blade up a little and shot ten more times. That group with one stray measures 0.743-inches between centers.

I held the pistol in two hands that were resting on the sandbag. My off hand was under the butt, which might have caused the muzzle to jump up when the pistol fired.

While shooting at 5 meters I noticed that the muzzle of the pistol flips up with every shot. As slow as this pistol shoots that’s got to have an impact on where the pellet lands. But from the group size I could tell that the pistol wants to shoot. So I dragged the bench back to 10 meters and adjusted the front sight a lot higher.

Zenit front sight
You can compare this front sight setting to the one that was on the pistol when I got it. This sight is cranked up 4 index marks.

Falcons at 10 meters

I shot the first round at 10 meters and the pellet hit the 8-ring at 4 o’clock. That’s well within the bull. I shot the next shot and saw that it landed close to the first one, so I then settled down and fired 8 more times. At ten meters 10 Falcon pellets went into 1.096-inches, with all pellets inside the 8-ring or higher. This little oldster can shoot!

Zenit Falcons 10 meters
The Zenit put 10 Air Arms Falcon pellets in 1.096-inches at 10 meters.

Okay, this little pistol can really shoot. I do have to mention that the flight time of the pellet is quite long. It seems like the pellet couldn’t possibly go where you want it, but when you look you see that it did.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

Next I tried the RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet. I guessed they would be really good, but that was wrong. They hit low on the target and ten made a somewhat vertical group that measures 1.689-inches between centers. It’s not that bad, but the Falcons are much better. Notice that the group remains centered on the bull — left and right.

Zenit R10 Match Pistol 10 meters
The Zenit put 10 RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets into a 1.689-inch group at 10 meters.

JSB Exact RS

The last pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS dome. The Zenit put 10 of them into a vertical group that measures 1.901-inches between centers. Even though it was large, this group climbed back into the bull like the Falcons.

Zenit JSB RS 10 meters
Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 1.901-inches at 10 meters.

Discussion

I never would have thought this old pistol would shoot so well. It was just a matter of adjusting the sights and then letting her do her thing. She is no powerhouse, but she is very well made and she shoots like you want her to.

Summary

It has been a pleasure testing this old air pistol. I hope our readers who own a variation of one of these Zenits will chime in and tell us how theirs compares.