The making of a left-hand pistol grip

by B.B. Pelletier

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Today, blog reader CJr tells us about his first-time project of making a left-hand grip for his IZH 46m single-stroke pneumatic pistol. Enjoy!

by CJr

I’d been looking for a suitable entry-level competition target pistol that I could use for the eMatch pistol events and finally decided on the IZH-46M match pistol from IZH-Baikal. Back in March 2006, BB said, “The 27.5cm (just a hair shy of 11”) barrel is world-class. No human can shoot as well as this barrel permits, which is true of every world-class target pistol.” That’s what I was looking for! The bold print was his. If these barrels still exist on today’s pistols I will be a happy camper. And the $379.50 price tag isn’t bad either, for a good entry level competition pistol.

Here she is in all her radiant beauty.

This pistol had all the features I was looking for except one –- it didn’t have a left-hand grip option. Since this was the gun for me, that was sad news. But it wasn’t sad news for long. While Pyramyd Air didn’t offer left-hand grips, I hoped someone else might. I searched the web and queried this blog but came up with nothing to my satisfaction. It was then that I decided to make my own.

Now, mind you, I am not a woodworker, woodcarver or carpenter. My only previous experience working with wood was helping my sons build their Pinewood Derby cars for Cub Scouts. But I was determined to make my own grips. After all how hard could it be?

Let’s get started
I started by visiting the local big box hardware store. Without much searching, I found a piece of baseboard trim that was just the right size and for only $2.38 for a 3”x5”x1” slab. Perfect — almost. They were soft pine, but they were cheap and looked easy to work with; and if my idea fell through, I wouldn’t have much invested in my folly. I bought two –- one for each half of the pistol grip.

What follows is a step-by-step approach I used to fashion my grips. I took each step with the intent to determine if it was feasible to continue or if continuing was heading outside my comfort zone. My main objective, of course, was to not damage the pistol in any way. As you’ll see, there was never any danger and no airgun was killed or injured during the making of this grip. I did have to be careful not to get sawdust into the vital areas of the pistol.

Remove the grips from the pistol
My first step was to remove the old grip halves from the pistol. Each grip half is held to the pistol grip tang by one screw through the grip and into a threaded hole in the tang. There’s one screw below the tang that goes through both grip halves to hold them together at the bottom. I removed those three screws and separated the grip halves from the tang, thereby removing them from the pistol. There was also the adjustable wooden palm shelf at the bottom of the grip’s right half held by two bolts through the adjustment slots. I removed that, also. All the hardware I removed I put in a zippered plastic bag to prevent loss.

Trace the grip outline on paper, transfer to wood and cut out new grip halves
I laid the grip halves on a piece of 8.5″x11″ computer print paper and traced their outlines to make patterns. I cut out the patterns with scissors, laid them on the blocks of wood I bought, traced the outline onto the wood, and used a jigsaw to cut out the shape of both grip halves.

Here’s a picture of the pistol with the grip removed, a freshly cut out grip half, the paper patterns and one of the pine blocks I started with.

Trace the outline of the pistol’s tang inside both new grip halves
Now that I have the new grips cut out, I want to make sure they’ll mount on the pistol. Since the left-hand grip I’m making is made up of two separate halves, I’ll call them the left side and the right side.

Left side
I took the freshly cut right side, reversed it and set it on the table in the new left side orientation. I set the gun carefully down onto the now-new left side and traced the outline of the tang onto the wood.

Right side
Next, I had to make sure that when I traced the tang onto the new right side, both grip halves would be properly positioned with the tang and aligned with each other. With the left side still on the table and the pistol in the correct position on top of it, I placed the new right side on top of the tang, aligned the two grip sides flush with each other — making sure I didn’t move the one on the bottom — then, carefully picked up the pistol and only the right side together and, while holding this arrangement, traced the tang outline onto the right side. This procedure was tricky because I had to make sure the wood didn’t slip on the tang. Actually, the shape of the grips at the top helped stabilize them against the pistol.

I’m glad I had a free hand in this
I had a Dremel rotary tool, so I bought a plunge router attachment for it for $27 at Sears and a 1/2″ router bit to cut out the tang groves. It’s kind of a free-hand operation following the traced outlines with the router bit, but the depth is constant because of the router attachment. Besides, imperfections will be hidden from sight. The old standard grip was shimmed inside. If I cut too much, I could shim it. As it turned out, both fit snug and flush.

Cut-outs for the pistol tang. Not pretty, but it works.

Drill, baby, drill!
The next step involved drilling the holes in the grips so they could be screwed onto the tang. I did this with a drill press by first drilling through the screw holes in the tang and into the new left side. Caution: Care must be taken so the threads in the tang are not damaged by the drill bit. To prevent tang thread damage, I first used a drill bit smaller than the hole in the tang. Next, I removed the grip and enlarged the hole with a bit the size of the original screw. I now knew that the left side would always match up with the tang using those holes.

I laid the left side on top of the right one, making sure they were flush with each other. With that larger drill bit, I drilled through the left side holes into the new right side. All the holes would line up and both grip sides would always properly align with each other on the tang and flush. The last step in this part of the process was to countersink the holes in the grips. With that done, I was ready to start carving.

Now, the real fun begins
Using the Dremel and router bit without the plunge router attachment, it was easy to make a free-hand rough carving of the grips. I had to always keep an eye on the original grips as a model while carving these.

These are pretty rough, so a little more carving and sanding is needed before I can shoot with them.

At this juncture, use your imagination to visualize a lot of sanding and cutting and wood filler. I used a router bit, rasp files and 150 on up to (down to?) 320 grit sandpaper. What a beauty I finally turned out!

After carving, sanding, wood filler and a bit of drilling — this is what I was able to do. For proof of concept, I could have stopped here and used these but now I’ve been bit by the wood finishing bug.

Time to stain my reputation
I decided to stain the grips a dark wood grain color to resemble the original grips. I’ll tell you right off the bat that this part of the process was a complete failure. I read some stuff on the internet, watched a few videos and felt I knew enough to proceed. I bought a can of MinWax Wood Finish, Tung Oil Wipe-On Finish and mineral spirits. I followed to the letter the instructions printed on the can of Tung Oil Wipe-on Finish for producing a semi-gloss, uniform, wood-grain appearance but ended up with the ugliest, blotchy chunk of wood seen by man. I’d show you a picture, but my camera refuses to download it.

Well, if you insist…here’s what the stained grips looked like.

These are the tools I used. (Drill press and scissors not pictured.)

Changes made that differ from the standard grip
I rounded off the trailing edge of the palm shelf because the sharp edge was very uncomfortable. My grips are smaller than the originals, but that’s a given. My next pair will be even smaller. The originals are purposely made large to allow for customization to any hand size. On the next pair, I’ll move up the grip flare (at the bottom of the grip) a bit higher. I’m talking about the part of the grip that flares out at the bottom on my new right side and not the adjustable palm shelf. I believe this flare is supposed to be designed to minimize any yaw in the barrel, whereas the palm shelf is designed to minimize droop caused by the wrist. Because my hand is small, the current flare does not quite reach my hand, and the palm shelf is adjusted as far up as it will go. Finally, on my next pair, I will choose a wood that doesn’t need stain. I will need something to make them waterproof and sweatproof. Staining is not my forte.

Final product (ok, I got silly).

Time to assess the results
My efforts were a success. These grips fit me like a glove — very comfortable, giving me a much more stable sight picture. I can’t wait for the stain to dry so I can start shooting. I wanted to make a set of left-hand grips that were suitable for competition shooting, and I succeeded. Can you do it? I believe you can.

I don’t think I possess any talents that you don’t have. Can I do it again? I think so. I’m emboldened, now. Would I do it for economic gain? I don’t think so. It’s too time-consuming the way I did it to make it affordable to a customer. However, I think I can make a set in about 4 hours, probably less with the proper equipment.

IZH MP655 BB and pellet pistol – Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

I was discharged from the hospital on Friday, June 4. I’ll continue my recovery at home. I get daily visits from a visiting nurse and see doctors weekly to track my progress. Thank you for your prayers and concern!

Now, on to today’s blog.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The IZH MP-655K BB and pellet repeater.

This is my last report on the MP655 BB/pellet pistol. Today, we’ll look at accuracy for both BBs and pellets.

I want you to pay close attention to the BBs, because I think the test shows a lot about how well the pistol is designed and manufactured. Mac used a 15′ range and shot Daisy Premium Grade zinc-plated BBs. He shot using a 6 o’clock hold, and only one target is necessary to show what this phenomenal pistol can do. Since there are 90 shots available per CO2 cartridge, he could have torn a big hole in the target. But he fired only 10, and you can see where they landed.

The gun shot to the exact point of aim as it came from the factory. Also, note how tight the group is. This is a very fine BB pistol.

Loading BBs
It’s pretty easy to load BBs in this gun. The operation goes this way: Open the accumulator on top of the slide and pour in the BBs.

Pour BBs into this open space, and the gun will organize them properly.

As BB pistols go, I don’t know how you could ask for more. It has accuracy, shoots to the POA and holds 100 BBs, 90 of which can be fired on a single CO2 cartridge. What a gun!

Now with pellets
With pellets, Mac moved back to 10 meters and used the circular pellet magazine. First were Hobby pellets. They shot pretty well; certainly the gun is equal to an Umarex pellet gun.

Hobbys made this well-centered 8-shot group at 10 meters.

H&N Finale Match, Hi-Speed
Next, Mac tried H&N Finale Match High-Speed, which is the pistol weight target pellet. Normally, these would group well, but they didn’t seem to group as well as some other pellets in this gun.

A decent 8-shot group and well-centered, but not quite as good as Hobbys.

Crosman Premier 7.9 grains
The last pellet Mac tried was the Crosman Premier Light. Surprisingly, they out-shot everything else. They shot almost to the POA, which was a 6 o’clock hold, and were well-centered in the target.

Crosman Premier Lights delivered the best pellet group of the test.

Final assessment
As we’ve seen, this is quite a novel BB pistol. It’s pricey but seems to have all the features that you could ask for and some you never dreamed of.

IZH MP655 BB and pellet pistol – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we start, I have a some announcements.

Pyramyd Air’s 3rd annual airgun garage sale is on June 5 from 10 am to 3 pm. There will be discontinued, blemished and used guns, scopes and other accessories — plus dented tins of pellets. John Goff from Crosman will be flipping burgers and Pyramyd Air’s technicians will be on hand to help with any questions you might have. Come early for the best selection!

The 18th annual Daisy Get Together will be held on Sunday, August 22, at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds Expo Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, from 9 am to 3 pm. Admission is $2.00…and well worth the entry fee! If you have any interest in buying, selling, trading or seeing vintage BB guns, cap guns and toy guns, this is THE place to go. Besides those great old Daisy guns, there will be plenty of other brands, many so rare that you probably won’t see a second example anywhere else. Contact Bill Duimstra (616-738-2425 or ) or Wes Powers (517-423-4148) for a brochure.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank our military men and women, both current and past, who have given so much to guarantee our freedoms.

Part 1

Part 2

The IZH MP-655K BB and pellet repeater.

The MP655K CO2 pistol is unique in that it shoots both BBs and pellets. In part 2, we looked at velocity with BBs. Today, we’ll look at velocity with pellets.

Update: The following crossed-out paragraph should not have appeared in this blog report. As stated in part 1 of the report on this pistol, the 655K does not have blowback, although the slide moves freely. We’re sorry for the confusion on this! I don’t think I stressed this enough in the first 2 reports, but this pistol has blowback. Not only do you get 90 consistent shots, but the slide moves for every one of them. The mass of the synthetic slide is low, so the felt recoil is lighter than you might expect. But it’s there. Normally, a blowback gun will get far fewer shots because some of the gas is used for moving the slide. Somehow, IZH has found a way around that. They’ve given us our cake and allowed us to eat it too.

Mac tested the RWS Hobby pellets with a fresh CO2 cartridge. Weighing only 7 grains, we expected to get good velocity from Hobbys. And, we often get good target accuracy at close range.

Shooting single-action, Hobbys averaged 292 fps, with a range from 269 to 328 fps. The average velocity produced a muzzle energy of 1.33 ft-lbs.

On double-action, Hobbys averaged 325 fps, with a range from 304 to 348 fps. The average muzzle velocity produced 1.64 ft-lbs. It’s pretty obvious that the MP-655K is a little more powerful double-action than single.

The other pellet Mac tested is the Crosman Premier (7.9 grains) on double-action. The average velocity was 230 fps, with a range from 208 to 240 fps. That gives a muzzle energy of 0.93 ft-lbs.

On single-action, the pellet averaged 206 fps, with a range from 192 to 218 fps. That gives a muzzle energy of 0.74 ft-lbs.

How many shots?
We already answered this question when we tested BBs. You’re gonna get the same performance on pellets as you did on BBs. In other words, a useful string for plinkers of 90 shots. No reason to over-complicate this. A projectile is projectile — the gun doesn’t care what’s going down the bore.

The 655K, which is the Russian MR 445 Varjag, is a novel sidearm. We’ve already seen many innovations, such as how the BB magazine works. In our next and final report, we’ll look at accuracy with both BBs and pellets.

IZH MP655 BB and pellet pistol – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

I’m still in the hospital, but my best friend, Mac, has come to my house and is doing some testing at my request. I’m now able to evaluate current airguns again based on his tests. So, let’s do part 2 of the IZH Baikal MP655K.

Part 1

The IZH MP655 is an interesting and uncommon CO2 gun.

I told you in part 1 that this is a different air pistol. And, indeed, it is. It shoots both BBs and pellets. Therefore, I’ll concentrate on BBs only in this report, as there are many different things you haven’t seen before that I’d like to cover.

The MP 655K shoots both BBs and pellets. The BB clip is the one on the left — with the magnet in the center.

BBs load in what we would call the slide in an accumulator on top of the gun. You simply pour them in, keeping the muzzle down. The BB circular clip is installed at the rear of this slide chamber and can be distinguished from the pellet clip by its magnet and an internal step in each hole that precisely orients the BB.

Each slot in the BB clip has a ridge or step to properly align the BBs.

The round object is a pressure plate that pushes the BBs into the BB clip.

The BB mechanism is quite intricate. The arrow points to the BB indexer.

This gun holds up to 100 BBs; and in all testing, it didn’t misfire one time. That means that every time the trigger was pulled, a BB came out the muzzle. That, by itself, is noteworthy.

When you’re done filling the BB accumulator, push the slide backward and don’t overlook the final detent or hump for the slide to click into place. When the slide is moved, a slick gray pressure plate puts pressure on the BBs that are aligned with the circular clip. This plate is what ensures reliable feeding. In part 1, I mentioned that gravity is what the pistol uses. While gravity does play a part, this pressure plate is by far more important and a significant feature that other guns do not have. Also in part 1, I mentioned that the cleaning rod was used to install the clips. But Mac didn’t find that necessary during his tests.

Mac tested the gun with Daisy BBs. All shots that follow were fired double-action. Shot #1 went 372 fps. Shot #2 was 361, #3 was 345 and so on until shot #10 was 290 fps. An interval of 10 seconds between shots was allowed to let the gun normalize to the ambient temperature. On a hot day, you can expect higher numbers than those that I’m going to report. The next 10 shots varied between 294 fps and 316 fps, with an average of about 306 fps. Shots 20-30 ranged from 286 to 305 fps, with an average of 297 fps.

You’re probably thinking that the gun is low-powered and running out of gas. Watch this. Shots 30 through 40 ranged between 300 fps and 334 fps, with an average of about 320 fps. So, the gun is simply seeking where it wants to be. In all, Mac fired 90 shots, ending when the velocity was 253 fps. From shots 50+, the average velocity was below 300 fps.

At one point, Mac got so excited that he cut lose and fired the gun 20 times as fast as he could pull the trigger. Perfect functioning with no failures to feed!

The pistol performs more powerfully in the single-action mode. On one test, the average was 315 fps with a low of 306 and a high of 326. However, after pausing for several minutes, a second string without a new cartridge began at 370 fps. By the end, it had dropped down to 308. So, cooling plays a big part in how this pistol operates. The CO2 valve is isolated from your hand by the gun’s large grip. Therefore, the gun will regulate itself and may even perform different than expected on warm days. My gauge wasn’t able to measure the double-action trigger-pull weight, but the single-action pull was a crisp 5 lbs. Even part of the single-action trigger-pull involves advancing the clip. So, that makes the pull heavier than necessary. The actual single-action trigger-pull is more like 3.5 lbs. after the clip has been advanced.

Removing the CO2 cartridge
The owner’s manual states that you can’t remove the CO2 cartridge unless all the gas has been exhausted. However, Mac discovered that the CO2 cartridge screw has extremely fine threads, and you won’t have to dry-fire your gun until empty. When the gas is lower and you want to change cartridges, slowly unscrew the access plug to exhaust the gas very slowly.

Next time, we’ll take a look at velocity with pellets.