After searching high and low for an ideal pellet rifle for volume shooting and marksmanship training, I finally settled on the IZH 61 pellet rifle.
We shoot thousands of pellets per year at our youth Marksmanship Camps (www.marksmancamp.com) and summer program at Camp His Way (www.camphisway.com). In the past we had a collection of beat up Red Ryder BB guns for the kids to shoot, but everyone knows the downfall of those cheaper rifles. The Red Ryders are still fun, but they aren’t accurate, the BBs tend to have a curvy windage ballistic path, they are difficult for weaker arms to cock, and worse of all they don’t always fire a BB. After my championship on Top Shot I wanted the campers to have better equipment and I finally settled on the Russian made IZH 61.
The IZH is one slick looking pellet rifle. Many of the kids proclaim “Oh! That’s and “Assault Rifle!” due to its pistol grip, ergonomic stock and black color. So it has aesthetics going for it. But my first impression of the rifle was that it was easy to cock. It takes less than 10 pounds of pressure on its long cocking arm to charge the pellet rifle for the single shot. This also means it isn’t the most powerful pellet rifle at the actual speed of 375 FPS, but how much power do you need to knock over a tin can and punch holes in paper at thirty feet?
The next advantage it has is a great trigger. While several other pellet rifles I tested had 10#+ triggers the IZH has an adjustable trigger set around 2#. It does not external safety so make sure your marksman has proper trigger control.
The IZH also boasts of an adjustable stock, however it’s not the quickest to adjust, but at least it’s an option.
The IZH uses little removable rubber 5 round clips to load into the pellet rifle. It’s possible to dump them out so you have to keep them upright, but at camp it’s super easy to have one person keep loading the pellets so the campers can keep firing and keep track of their shots.
As the video shows reloading the pellet clip into the rifle takes two steps, and you always have the risk of double cocking the rifle if you aren’t careful. And finally the sights aren’t top of the line. However the IZH 61 rifles that we have used at camp have had over 6,000 pellets sent through all of them and they are still kicking with the accuracy we require of them.
If you have a high volume shooting range for kids, you might really enjoy these rifles. They retail around $125 and are in a bit of short supply due to the embargo with Russia. I usually got mine from Pyramyd Air but also found some in stock here: http://www.airgunwarehouseinc.com/py-76.html