The EM GE Zenit air pistol: Part 3

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.

50 thoughts on “The EM GE Zenit air pistol: Part 3



  1. BB
    Many years ago I posted a picture of how I modified the screwed on trigger guard on a pair of China made Pioneer spring pellet pistols. Those $15. pistols with wood grips in a triangular box. The design was extremely uncomfortable and cut into your middle finger under it.
    I recurved them to conform to the finger and went one step further and recessed the grip mounting point on one. Tremendous improvement…. For the grip anyway πŸ™‚
    The one on this pistol does not look too bad but if you find it irritating and don’t mind modifying a true collectable ( Doubt anyone would recognize it anyway ) think about it. I think I also replaced the button head screw with a flat recessed one. That alone may help?


    • Also
      I somewhat depend on replies being sent to my email for further correspondence, especially from older blogs, but for some reason only about half make it from the Blog and for some other reason I cant access my junk mail, it’s always empty. ( My settings ?) But today I accessed my email from a Microsoft web page and found over 400 junk mails there, along with a totally different page layout. A lot from the blog I never received. So if you were somewhat expecting a reply and none came forgive me.

      Food for thought … Tri-burst ‘instead’ of full auto. Especially for pellet guns.
      Full auto makes a great novelty for BB guns, lots of fun but not too practical for a pellet rifle. I believe it may become one of those “Been there, done that” items and move on, relinquishing it to a novelty gun. Unless of course it is select fire. Somewhat of a reversal in thinking for a black gun enthusiast like me but I find Semi-Auto totally acceptable these days.


      • Bob M,

        When the taxpayer was footing the bill, I liked to occasionally play with the M14, M60 and Ma Deuce, but sprayin’ and prayin’ just never really did much for me. I always did like a good quality bolt action and shooting across small valleys.


        • RR
          Yes it’s nice to have experienced shooting full-auto or currently have the ‘option’, but covering fire is not needed much at a civilian shooting session these days.
          I’m sure a dedicated American Patriot Prepper would consider it an extremely valuable option in a real steel version.
          As an ‘pellet’ airgun experience I would consider it a waste of money these days too.
          If your a serious airgunner with money to spare looking for some great plinking fun with pellets, have at it. It’s always nice to have the option … if you want.
          Some of todays airguns fire so fast it’s hard to conserve your ammo with short bursts. Why I mentioned the Tri-Burst option.


          • Bob M,

            I guess tri-burst would be better than spray and pray, but I personally do not much care for even semi auto. It is my personal opinion that it encourages sloppiness. That’s just me. Once upon a time I had a decent little collection of single shot rifles. Hey, I just bought a Maximus.

            I used to take great pleasure in hitting a fist sized “target” at sometimes over 500 yards. Even nowadays a tin of pellets can last me a pretty long time. I even take my plinking pretty serious.

            Now, of course my aversion to semis does not apply to pistols. I have seen where a dude converted an Huben K1 into a pistol. LCS should bring out a selective fire pistol. I could dig that.





      • GF1,

        Super busy at work and getting the house/pool stuff going for Summer. He has been posting, just not as much. The 20 limit RSS Comment is not helping to stay on top of things either.

        Chris



          • RR,

            The what,.. what? (Grumpy Old Men is coming to mind right now) πŸ™

            If you are referring to the Comment RSS,… it used to be 100 comments saved. Now it is 20. Not good if you are away for a day or two and attempting to catch up. Simple,…. if there was 40 comments overnight and you log on in the AM,… you will no longer see the first 20.

            Chris



              • RR,

                Yea,… some newbie that just hit the lotto could post on a 10 year old blog,.. offering 5 million dollars for a 1906 BSA,… and you would see it. Now, it had better be in the most recent 20.

                The Comment RSS is a very handy tool to see the most recent posting activity,.. even on very old blogs. Just click on it in the upper right side bar of the blog page.

                Chris


                • Chris,
                  I too am really missing the comments RSS feed not having more comments. Now, if I don’t read the blog till later in the day, I can’t even see all the comments from the current day’s blog. So, the way it is working now, we will miss virtually any comment made in the older blogs. I no longer see any usefulness of the RSS feed. Too bad, I miss it. πŸ™
                  Geo


                  • Geo,

                    We should see (all) comments,.. from (any) blog, regardless of age,…….. so long as it was in the 20 most recently posted. So really, no different than before other than it requires a person to check in more often. Not practical at all for most people. I am sure BB is missing comments just as we are. Maybe BB has special permissions to see stuff (like that) that we no longer can?

                    Maybe it will get fixed someday,… or maybe not. πŸ™

                    Be well (fine here),……. Chris

                    Chris


  2. BB,

    I just cannot help it, but I still think those old air pistols like this look “clunky”. Maybe because it seems the grip is almost an afterthought or maybe they chopped down an air rifle? I really like the way this thing operates though, even if a good breech seal can be bothersome.

    It is a shame that the legal department would likely have a fit over this. I would like to see a modern version of this in a more svelte package. I guess I will just have to be more open minded about who comes to visit at RRHFWA.

    Summary
    I(t) has been a pleasure testing this old air pistol.

    πŸ˜‰





      • B.B.,

        Speaking of giving extra work…
        “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.” So back in the day of this pistol would that two handed hold have even been used? Would not those fine Pistolairos have squared up to the target with offhand in small of back or with thumb hitched in belt?
        Holding their Em Ge but in one hand.

        It might keep the barrel from flipping up…but we will never know unless B.B. or one of the other owners steps up and does some historically correct form shooting with the Old Girl!

        shootski


  3. Wow, the Zenit really can shoot. My Daisy 717, which is a target pistol after all, though a budget one, manages average 0.75 inch 10 shot groups at 10m rested, which is what your best Zenit group measured. My best w the 717 is just over 0.5 inch, but those are not especially common for me. Seems that Zenit is a nice old pistol!



    • Rillburgher,

      I used to have a 717 many moons ago. I picked it up and a Ruger Air Hawk at a yard sale. They really are not bad little plinkers. The main problem I had with it was I was not a “collector” yet. I already had my Izzy and the 717 was no competition for it.

      The good news is it and the Air Hawk helped me to purchase my 1906 BSA and open the doors to RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns. If a 717 or one of its kindred was to stop by now, it would likely be invited to stay.


  4. B B,
    I picked up the 34EMS this morning. First impressions are very good regarding build, finish and bluing. Due to circumstances, I have only fired a few test shots but in isolation, firing characteristics feel typically 34, even though it’s box fresh. There is evidence of factory lubrication but any combustion is very slight with no odour I can detect as yet.
    Im still confused regarding the trigger. A magazine test referred to it being T06 but neither The Blog or the manual make reference to it. The casting of the blade is a dead ringer. It’s 3 screws are similarly positioned and offer the exact same adjustments. Currently it does not feel like one but may have received some ham fisted adjustment at the factory.
    I won’t get the opportunity to use it properly for some days as I am away from home. I will see if I can get the trigger diallled in and at some point next week shoot it against some older 34’s to see how it does.

    Regards,
    Drew


  5. “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!”
    B.B.,
    I am so happy to see this 90-year-old pistol shooting so well! She shoots as good as she looks…very cool. =>
    Take care & God bless,
    dave


  6. Well that was quite an eventful afternoon! I shot a few sighters with the 1974 Milbro/Diana G4 then after closing the top strap the pistol discharged. Fortunately it was pointing at the ground. I nervously reloaded but the sear wouldn’t engage so decided to do a stripdown. After taking out the trigger and sear and finding nothing out of place I noticed that the end cap had come unscrewed about a quarter turn. Nipped it back up and all was good again. It’s a good job the top strap clips over the end cap on this later model!
    Using a one handed hold with my homemade camera tripod rest at 10m I shot 3 groups of 5 as I was tired at this point).
    RWS Geco 7 grain and H&N Field Target Trophy 8.6 grain were both just over an inch and a half. RWS Hobby 7 grain went into 1 and 1/8th of an inch. Velocity with RWS Geco was 304 FPS which gives 1.4ft lbs.
    Considering the 4 and 5/8 inch barrel and short 6 inch sight base this is a good result.


    • Ade,

      Thank you for that. I wan’t expecting you to report so soon. Given your hold I’d say the two pistols are about equal.

      How about that end cap backing out? The reports I read said it was a design flaw but it actually happened to you!

      Thanks, again.

      BB


      • Reading the blog gave me the motivation to get outside and shoot again. I thank you for that.
        I’ve put around 200 to 300 pellets through it since buying it a few years ago and it’s never happened before. I know to keep an eye on it now.
        Interestingly I tried to remove it when doing the stripdown but it only unscrewed another half a turn before locking up tight again.



    • I’m sworn to secrecy in the UK but I’m going to be doing one of the first reviews in Airgun World magazine when this is released here in the summer. I’ll be sure to comment about a rifled barrel version.
      Remember shooting my Dad’s 4 inch version with factory loads back when we were allowed such things. My wrist hasn’t been the same since!


    • RidgeRunner,

      Using the firearm version I have never been able to hit individual bb more than every other shot at 7 yards, most unsatisfying! Now shooting pellets might up that average to perhaps 3 times out of four.
      But why shoot either of bb or pellets? Shooting Teddy Grahams, the ones that refuse to put their paws up is much more satisfying…perhaps 9 out of every 10 trysies!

      shootski


      • Shootski,

        I can see where those Teddys would be most satisfying. I just may have to get a box of those the next time my grandson is up. I think he would really enjoy that. So would the critters.


  7. Most folks just display antiques and try to imagine their past and even juxtapose stories to justify their purchase and impress their friends.

    To my surprise this EM GE Zenit just shrugs off that nonsense and merely performs. Don’t like antiques but like this ending of the Zenit story.

    Since I’m a pathetic pistol shooter I’m glad B.B. was behind the trigger otherwise this would have been a pathetic story.


  8. Hello!
    Turned up at the range to find I was a week out. Drank my coco and ate my sandwich in the dark and lonely carpark. I felt like a complete dork. Except I had my new rifle box in tow, so not that much of a dork. I moved on from the hessian sack… Today I felt the urge to get fettling and shooting in my indoor 6m range. Unfortunately I had bypassed breakfast and two cups of coffee later… a shaky mess… however I did manage to group three shots really well! Heck. Shot 1 and 2 touched, 3 went wild and 4 touched 1 and 2. I decided to head inside and eat breakfast and lunch together at once. Shooting while hungry and on the coffee is not a good thing. The Nikko Stirling scope is way cool. ( My first ever zoom scope ) Setting it to X4 was great at 6m, it actually was mostly in focus. Goes further out the more I zoom in. So I am pretty pleased with this mornings effort. Oh this was off hand with no rest. Took 20 clicks R to get the poi over, no problems there at all. : – ) Robert. PS the NZ 10c coin is 20.5 mm diameter.


    • RobertA,

      Very nice! The next level is to see ten shoot groups after a nice meal and 3 hours after your coffee. How about a picture of your new rifle box?

      Siraniko


      • Siraniko,
        I ate breakfast lunch and probably dinner in one sitting. Oops. oh well. The new rifle box is a bit shy. It’s got fugly bits. Will rip the 4mm ply off and replace with 7mm, maybe. It’s lid is just too flimsy and not quite up to the high engineering standards here at Bobs Home for Wayward DIY Projects. BHWDP for short. But it does have a real nice handle. ( Came off one of those old cardboard suitcases. ) In fact I could really go go to town and make a really nice one. And why not? If the gun costs $400 + the case should be at least $40 …. ( the screws were the most expensive things, and the glue and the hinges and the staple and hasp and not counting varnish which I don’t have yet…. ) . Well I learned a think or two, so the NEXT rifle case will be a real plush affair. Red satin interior ? or green felt ? I hear that duelling has fallen out of favour these days. They did have nice cases for the implements…. I need to go to the range, but it’s closed and the the outdoor one is wet, windy and muddy. Dang it. Pics soon! Robert.



          • Siraniko,
            ok ok. I will take a pic today! Robert. also “what comes out of my table”…. the only things that should come out of tables are, if it is wooden, are wood worm. sorry, grammar police here. Something could come out of a stable, or off a table. I have this with a learner, on the road, in the lane, through a tunnel, over a bridge, across a park, along a path etc. It’s quite entertaining. : – ) Robert.


        • Bob’s Home For Wayward DIY Projects! I love it! I have a big pile of those that would really like to come visit BHWDP! Some of them are even airguns!

          I would really like to have a set of dueling pistols with the case and all of the implements. I have seen some for sale before, so it is not likely going to happen. I can still drool though. It is a shame it has fallen out of favor. Maybe we can bring it back?

          We look forward to seeing what comes out of BHWDP next.


          • RidgeRunner,
            Well you can try but the postage would be redonculous. We could meet halfway and set up a workshop to whip them into shape. A clinic for stalled DIY projects! . for a weekend? Starts friday finishes on monday. We need sponsors. loads of tools. etc. would have to look into the local laws etc. I think we need to travel in style. Lets say one of those giant hover crafts. Can park anywhere… amphibous. ampheebeeus. ( ffs ) In fact the work shop could be inside the hovercraft. Those huge ones would be ideal. What a wild and crazy idea. Maybe just a medium sized one… Duelling. Well it was a thing… maybe with wax plugs instead of lead? and goggles. Wow. Co2 duelling pistols ??? Single shot break action. the mind boggles…. right second cup of coffee on the way. far out I have just had an idea….Robert.


            • RobertA,

              Just finished my first and getting ready for number two…Ahhh, that’s good.

              I really like your concept and it would be a blast (no pun intended), but the cost of such would be astronomical. Generally, the whole idea behind DIY is one, we enjoy doing stuff ourselves and two, thriftiness (read tight-fisted penny pincher).

              There was an older gentleman I used to meet at the various airgun shows by the name of Mike? Reames. He makes CO2 pistols with ball reservoirs that look like old timey percussion pistols. Some of the Giffard style CO2 pistols would be ideal.

              As for the hovercraft idea. I would really enjoy playing with one of those honkers for a bit, but the ol’ Pacific can get right rough sometimes. Now, if we had it on a boomer we could go well below any storm.

              How about Hawaii?


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