PLEASE NOTE: I have not owned an IZH35 since the fall of 2002 and am not "in the loop" on the current status of production and availability. I have been notified by several shooters that EAA has discontinued importing them, or IZH has stopped making them. If you find a NOS IZH35M --- BUY IT!!!! There is apparently some demand and most shops report none in stock. Please don't send me emails asking about IZH availablilty or other IZH parts/repair/dealer questions. I am leaving this site up for informational purposes only. For reference: I curerently shoot a High Standard Victor that was owned by my late fater, Paul Brunelli. My shoulder is kind of a wreck so I don't even shoot that as much as I would like. Thanks for your interest in the site and please enjoy it. - Pete Brunelli, February 2009
Addendum: Mr. Brunelli transferred hosting of this content to StarReloaders.com so that it may continue as a reference for those seeking information. He is no longer maintaining or hosting the content, but we think it is a great source of information.
Thank you Pete! - StarReloaders.com Admin, February 2011
My Tribute to the Baikal IZH35M
A fine .22LR Target Pistol from the former "Red Menace"
This is a summary of my experiences with this gun. For a broader cross-section of IZH35 user opinion and information, go to my IZH35M scrapbook. I have not done much of an update on this page since 2002. My father and I both owned IZH35M pistols and used them in competition. In 2002 my father passed away suddenly. I decided shortly after that to sell both IZH's and go back to shooting the High Standard Victor that he left to me. I had Bob Shea work it over and am now using it full time. I'd like to thank everyone who has given me feedback and questions and provided material for this page. If there is an IZH user that wants to take this page and its contents over, drop me an email and we can arrange it. Otherwise, I suggest that shooters with questions about the IZH try bullseye-l for an answer.
Pete Brunelli, 7/24/04
I call it the Perestroika Pistol, or alternately, the Glasnost Gun. If you are willing to put in some elbow grease and can deal with a gun that isn't up to the aesthetic standards of Ruger, Browning, High Standard, and Smith & Wesson, then it may be right up your alley. I got tipped off on this fine semi-exotic shooting iron via bullseye-l. The folks on that list are willing to share what seems like an endless amount of information on everything from marksmanship fundamentals to minutae and obscurae. What I found out is that EAA imports these pistols and that they retail for under $450. The characteristics of note are that it has excellent recoil characteristics due to a low bore-line, and it is relatively insensitive to the brand and cost of the ammo that it is fed. Both are desirable traits in a target pistol. Since I had the $$$ to get one, I had my local shop, Hoffman Guns in Newington, CT, order one for me.
It seems to go for about $400 - $425 retail through most dealers. Champion's Choice (1-800-345-7179 for orders) sells them, and also sells spare magazines. Don Nygord used to carry them and also offered a hopped up version with a trigger and reliability job, sight alignment, and Morini orthopedic grips for around $675. Contact Don to see if he still works on them. If you plan on having it worked on, this will be a hard deal to beat since the grips alone are $165. Vitarbo Grips makes excellent custom fitted grips for the IZH. The last contact I had for them was email@example.com
When I bought my first one in 1999/2000 I had been warned that it was going to be a bit rough as delivered, but even with that forewarning I was surprised. The finish is black-oxide over bead blast. The result is a coarse matte finish with enough tooth to rip the cotton off of a Q-tip. If you lust after the mirror finish of a S&W Model 41, save yer bux. This is meant for business, and if it isn't related to the trigger pull, it ain't polished. Most obvious is the rough mill finish on the inside of the slide rails, but it doesn't seem to cause any problems with function.
Here is a short list of things that it needed before shooting, and some random comments:
(I will note here that my IZH is a 1999 and that the 2000 and newer models that I have examined have had none of the internal metal chips and grit.)
* Thorough flush with a gun-scrubber type solvent. A bath in a ultrasound tank full of K1 kero would be ideal. The problem is that the excess black oxide and metal chips are everywhere, at least in the example that I received. A magnifying glass, a good light, some toothpicks and a dental pick, and q-tips should help you get the big crud out. Flushing with something like gun scrubber, or WD40 followed by gun scrubber, will get the job done.
* Close attention to the firing pin is needed. Mine had lots of the aforementioned grit built up in it and it has taken a few flush/lube/shoot cycles to get it moving freely. Since there is no return spring on it, any crud that prevents free return can cause double-fires or more. I have had this happen about 4 times and it was with Federal Gold Medal Target 711 each time. I used the factory-supplied drift punch to remove the firing pin retainer pin. Then I flushed and lubed it the right way. No problems since, but I stopped using 711 just to be safe.
* The magazines needed a deburring on the feed lips. The front edge of the rear lips can cause the case rim to hang up if there are any burrs on them. Mine are not perfectly smooth and they still leave two small burrs on the spent brass, but I don't see any function problems with it. The mag is a nice design, and the ones that came with mine are built like jackstands! Very sturdy.
* I could, and may, allocate an entire page to grip modification. For now, see the scrapbook for some notes on this subject. As a cross-dominant shooter there really isn't a decent factory grip that I have tried. Being right-handed and left-eyed typically involves turning the gun to point right (clockwise as viewed from above and pointing away) in the hand. The stock IZH grips have a ISU style thumb rest and a palm shelf. If I could get a natural point of aim with the gun straight in my grip (parallel to my firearm) they would only need a little relief in the thumb/palm area. However, to get a good grip I need to move my hand counterclockwise as viewed from above and this creates a void between my palm and the thumb-shelf. What I am left with is adjusting the palm shelf on the right grip to get a good reference, and relieving the thumb area so that I don't put any pressure there. Bondo or Hi-Grip paste is in my future.
* The sights on mine were fine as delivered. Don Nygord told me that some he has worked on had bad notches and tilted front blades. I would have these straightened by a pro, since the front blade is mounted on the massive muzzle block.
* Do not trust dry-firing to tell you if the trigger adjustments are OK. I did and I ended up with a DNF in my first match with it because I had the overtravel stop set too close. The pre- and post-travel adjustments are shown in the manual and are on the underside of the trigger mechanism. The trigger weight adjustment is on the top of the trigger block and is the screw that you see on the top shroud.
* Thanks to the fine folks at the BATF, the IZH35 comes with a grip safety! Like some other works of the BATF, my advice is to not think about it too much or else you will go nuts. I have not had a problem with it and I can't feel it unless I specifically try. It does its job.
Overall, my impression is that you get a good bullseye .22 for about $400 with the IZH35M. You could get a Ruger MKII close, but you would need to add a super trigger job, adjustable sights, grips, and some way to get the weight out in front. I figure that you are looking at $200 over the $250 cost of a MK512. I use the MK512 for comparison because it seems to be the most typical entry-level gun for shooters looking to get into bullseye for under $500. What you won't get with the Ruger is the awesome recoil characteristics that the balance and low boreline of the IZH combine to produce.