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Old March 8, 2000, 04:51 PM   #1
Matt VDW
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Join Date: July 27, 1999
Posts: 1,315
I just bought one of these pistols last month and I thought I'd tell my fellow TFLers about what a great buy it is.

The IZH-35M is a semiautomatic .22 LR target pistol, made in Russia by Baikal and imported to the USA by EAA. It was designed from scratch for use in ISSF (International Sport Shooting Federation, formerly known as UIT) competition and consequently has some unusual and innovative features, such as a downward-swinging hammer that serves as a cocking indicator and allows the 35M to have both a very low bore line and the longest (about 6") barrel allowable under ISSF rules. It comes with semi-anatomical grips, designed to be carved to fit by the shooter, and a trigger adjustable five ways: reach, pre-travel, over travel, return spring force, and sear engagement. This is the same pistol that's been used in international competition by Soviet/Russian teams as the IJ-35 and sold in modified form by Walther as the KSP-200.

The best part is that the retail price is only about $425. For a target pistol of such sophistication, that's dirt cheap -- about the same as a Ruger stainless competition Mk II, $150 less than a S&W M41, $200 less than a Benelli MP95E, $350 less than a Pardini SPE, and $900 less than a Hammerli SP-20. The 35M isn't as refined or as pretty as the high end Euro-pistols, but it's still quite a shooter.

This is a solid, blue steel and wood pistol. The only plastic part I can find in mine is the magazine follower. It comes with a number of spare parts (recoil spring, mainspring, front sight, rear sight blade, and several others) plus accessories like a carrying case, cleaning rod, screwdriver, and weaver-style scope base.

Mine runs 100% with PMC Scoremaster, CCI Standard Velocity and Winchester T22. And the 35M shoots as well as I do, which isn't saying much but it's enough to make a good showing in my local indoor bullseye league. I'm still making the adjustment to the new pistol after years of competing with a S&W M41. Fortunately for me, the 35M doesn't have the extreme "broken wrist" grip angle of the Benelli and Pardini pistols, so the adjustment has consisted mostly of learning a new manual of arms, shaping the grips to fit my hand, and getting a feel for the trigger.

By the way, I don't have any affiliation with Baikal, EAA, or anyone else in the firearms business. I'm just posting this to let the forum members know about a good thing. If anyone's interested, I'll be glad to discuss some of the 35M's weak points, too.


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Old March 8, 2000, 09:30 PM   #2
Christopher II
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Join Date: November 22, 1999
Location: Germantown, MD
Posts: 2,349
Yes, I want to hear more about this!! It sounds like my next pistol purchase!!

So, how's the accuracy? How do the ergonomics compare to an M41 or Benilli M95E? Is it legal in the .22 portion of NRA bullseye? Does it accept a scope mount? How does the trigger feel? Where can I buy one, or at least see a picture?

Thanks,
Chris
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Old March 9, 2000, 11:00 AM   #3
Matt VDW
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Join Date: July 27, 1999
Posts: 1,315
The best source of info on the IZH-35M is this web site: http://www.connix.com/~pcb/izh.html. It has a few pictures, some discussion from the bullseye-l e-mail list and a link to EAA, the importer.

The accuracy is very good. I can't quantify that because I haven't done any serious testing; I tried to do a little bench-rested shooting at 25 yards but my technique was so poor that I couldn't shoot any better than I do freehand. Since the IZH-35M was designed for 25 meter competition, it should be accurate enough to place ten shots in the ten ring of an ISSF target, which would mean sub-inch groups. Of course, this would be subject to each pistol's ammo preferences. I'm using Winchester T-22 in mine, which seems to be quite capable of putting everything in one ragged hole at 50 feet, but something else might shoot even better.

I don't have much experience with Benellis so it's hard for me to make a comparison. The 35M shares the slide retraction tabs (?) at the front of the pistol of the MP95E, but it doesn't have the magazine in front of the trigger. The magazine is in the grip, as in the M41, although the magazine release is a button at the bottom of the left stock panel, rather than in the "conventional" position to the left rear of the trigger. (This is one of several reasons why the 35M isn't southpaw-friendly.) The slide catch lever is on the right side of the pistol where it's activated with a downward press of the trigger finger.

Since premature slide lock could cost points in a match, the 35M doesn't lock the slide open on an empty magazine. The shooter has to manually retract and lock the slide open himself. This isn't a big deal but it does require a shooter used to shooting other semiautos to learn a new habit. It took me about forty magazines.

At first grasp, the grip is downright painful. There's wood above and below the thumb that has to trimmed for a good fit. The grip angle is steeper than an M41's but not as steep as an MP95E's. The weight is a bit less than that of an M41 with a 5" heavy barrel but it's balanced more towards the rear, with less of a muzzle-heavy feel.

Unlike the M41, the 35M doesn't have a magazine "safety", and the firing pin won't peen against the barrel so it can be dry fired without damage. That's one feature I really appreciate!

The 35M meets all of the rules for both NRA Conventional Pistol (bullseye) matches and ISSF/Olympic competition. Since ISSF rules don't allow optics, the 35M wasn't designed for them, but it does come pre-drilled and tapped for a weaver-style scope mount that comes with it.

The scope mount does have two problems: first, it blocks the iron sights, and second, it screws into a barrel shroud rather than the barrel itself, so keeping a good zero requires keeping the shroud screws tight. Most bullseye shooters will just mount a red dot and forget about the iron sights, so having to unscrew the scope mount to see the front sight isn't a big deal. The attachment of the mount and shroud is a little more problematic since the shroud has to be removed to field strip the pistol. Since the 35M doesn't seem to require frequent cleaning I'm not too worried about that, either.

The trigger feels... different. I've been used to shooting Rugers and Smiths with wide, deeply curved triggers. The 35M, in contrast, has a narrow, relatively straight trigger. It also angles down a bit to the right to match the angle of a right-hander's finger joint.

Out of the box, the pull weight on mine was around four pounds. I've adjusted it down to a little under three pounds and taken out most of the pre-travel and over travel, although it still feels like a two stage trigger. With some gunsmithing work it should go down to a little over the NRA minimum of two pounds. My scores are improving as I learn to prep the trigger by taking up the slack.

Finding an IZH-35M to buy could be difficult. Since it's a specialized pistol, most gun shops won't be interested in stocking it. I'd try contacting EAA to get the name of a distributor, then having your local dealer place an order. As of last month, dealer cost was about $350 plus thirty-some dollars for UPS overnight shipping.
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