THE BAIKAL IZH-61 AIR RIFLE

 

By Todd Cooper

 

 

The Russian made Baikal IZH-61 is a mild shooting .177 caliber spring-piston air rifle. Features include military appearance, aperture sights, side cocking mechanism, and 5 shot self-indexing clips. With optics mounted this rifle brings a new meaning to the word “cool”.

 

The short 5 shot clip indexes outwards with each motion of the side cocking lever. With this type of design it is necessary to count your shots to prevent dry firing after shot #5 is taken. The clip will sit in the 5th position as you continue to cock and fire. Since this rifle has a spring piston power plant, dry firing is not a healthy activity.

 

Although the pellet clip for the -61 holds the 5 pellets prior to shooting, it does not hold them during the shot. Before each pellet is fired the bolt mechanism will cycle and push the pellet through the clip and into the barrel. The pellet is fired from the barrel, which eliminates any possible accuracy issues resulting from small alignment problems between the clip and barrel. This also eliminates the need for a fired pellet to pass through a forcing cone during the shot.

 

The trigger on the IZH-61 is 3-way adjustable and can easily be set to a light 1.5 pound pull with no creep. I have had my rifles adjusted to this weight since new and no problems have been encountered.

 

The two IZH-61 rifles that I bought were both fine examples with no major problems encountered with either. One rifle did occasionally hang up with clip indexing on the 5th shot but a very light pull on the clip would allow things to work perfectly again. This is not a problem that happened every time but I have experienced it occasionally.

 

Construction of this low priced rifle was quite good in January 2000, when I purchased two. The rifles had metal for all parts except the stock, which is black synthetic. From what I have seen and heard the newer versions now have several synthetic parts such as the receiver and sights. Personally, I would prefer purchasing an older "used" -61 before buying this new version. I have never shot the new version so I cannot comment on accuracy or velocity performance.

 

Both of my little black Russian rifles had lube tunes performed when they were only a week old. Beeman M2M moly and Beeman Spring Gel (silicon grease) were the main products used. I applied the spring gel to the exterior of the mainspring and moly lube was applied to the piston seal perimeter, piston body, mainspring ends, and burnished into the compression tube. Moly paste or a moly+pellgunoil blend was also applied to all other moving parts and friction points.

 

 

 

RIFLE SPECIFICATIONS

 

Total Length

33 1/8" at max

Length of Pull

12" to 14.5"

Barrel Length

16.5" from front of receiver

Barrel Diameter

.515"

Receiver Grooves

2" long

Front Tunnel Size

.550" inside

Total Weight

5lb 12.8oz with factory sights

 

 

 

VELOCITY TESTS

 

When the rifles were new the velocity of one was averaging 477 fps with Crosman Premier Lights and 505 fps with RWS Hobbies. The second rifle shot 432 fps with Crosman Premier Lights and 475 fps with Hobbies. Both rifles had consistent velocity readings within shot strings.

 

The faster rifle was chronographed again after 2.5 years and many thousands of pellets. Only an occasional barrel cleaning was done during the 2.5 year period.

 

Crosman Premier

7.9gr

475, 475, 468, 471, 475, 474, 469, 474, 473, 470

Ave = 472 fps

RWS Geco

6.8gr

510, 508, 501, 508, 506, 512, 505, 504, 501, 505

Ave = 506 fps

 

The IZH-61 manual states a muzzle velocity of 460 fps with no pellet weight or energy rating mentioned. Both of my rifles surpassed this rating with Hobby and Geco pellets.

 

The velocities differences between various IZH-61 rifles will sometimes be quite extreme. Some rifles will shoot 7.9gr pellets at less than 400 fps and other rifles will shoot them closer to 500 fps. Thoughts have been that the barrel chokes may vary in constriction which causes muzzle friction differences. Also, the compression chamber diameter may not be identical between examples. Quality control in some areas is not the best but the rifles are usually fine shooters. As long as the gun functions 100% and shoots accurately it doesn't really matter if it produces 425fps or 475fps, if paper is the main target.

 

 

 

ACCURACY TESTS

 

For accuracy tests my IZH-61 wore a Bushnell Sportview 3-9X scope (79-0039), mounted with Burris medium height rings. The rings were located between the turrets and eyepiece of the scope, with one ring placed on each end of the short 2" receiver dovetail. This system seems to work very well and with the stock fully extended the eye relief was perfect for my build.

 

Benchrested Groups

 

5 shot groups @10 metres

Pellet

Grain

Center-to-center

Average

RWS Meisters

7.7

.24, .28, .30, .23

.26"

RWS R-10

7.7

.32, .29, .34, .38, .24

.31"

Cr Supermatch

7.9

.32, .16, .25, .23, .15

.22"

Cros Premier

7.9

.26, .19, .18, .29, .15

.21"

 

I'm not sure why the RWS Meisterkugeln test had only 4 groups. There may have been a radical flyer in the 5th group that would not reflect the pellet's true capability. I have the written paper report only and I no longer have the original targets I shot.

 

On a few occasions I bench tested the -61 at longer outdoor distances. At 20 yards I shot two 5 shot groups of 5/8"ctc and two groups of 3/4"ctc. The wind is a huge factor when testing this mild springer outdoors. On a calm day it might do a little bit better.

 

Offhand Shooting

Plinking at longer distances with the IZH-61 is loads of fun. Trajectory gets loopy but with a bit of holdover I can hit tin cans at 30 and 40 yards when shooting offhand.

 

I could easily hit the 2.5” diameter base of 10oz (284ml) mushroom cans placed at 30 yards. A series of 10 offhand shots resulted in 10 consecutive hits. The 4” high cans were then stood upright at 40 yards. At this distance I was able to hit most shots and any misses were always my fault. The IZH-61 is not powerful enough to penetrate the cans at longer distances but deep dents were left with the domed Crosman Premier pellets.

 

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Overall, the IZH-61 is a pretty decent spring-piston rifle for indoor shooting or short distance outdoor fun. I think I paid $80USD for each of my two IZZY rifles and for that price they are a great deal. These are not serious 10m target rifles but they are far from junk. For an accurate, quiet shooting, gallery type indoor rifle the IZH-61 definitely fits a niche.

 

 Main Page     Other Reviews & Info

 

Copyright 2004