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Без рубрики, Hunting in Russia, Russian Hunting Shotguns

My Memory of Spring: TOZ-66. By Ilya Gurin

The farther away in the past are the best moments of your life, the stronger the memories. I can still remember my first hunt, not in details now but as an emotion. It was a youth hunt with Sverdlovsk hunting club, tutored by Irina Ermakova, a great huntress and mentor. Her worn TOZ-BM hammer side-by-side was the first gun I ever handled. I can still remember its weight, the sounds of hammers brought to full cock, and the awesome impressions of a 15 year old kid first time out in the woods, waiting for woodcock to start its mating flight.

TOZ-66 Russian hunting shotgun

Many years, hunts and guns later, I felt the urge to get and hunt with a hammer double again. As far as second-hand hammer guns go, Yekaterinburg gun stores mostly offer various models of TOZ: BM, 63, 66 and 54. In one of the stores I got to handle a TOZ-66, and at the same moment the counter and the walls disappeared, the polyphony of songbirds rouse as an accompaniment to a sunset in a spring wood. The stock dimensions and the balance felt perfect, the gun pointed naturally, and I couldn’t let it go, even though the browning on the barrels was nearly gone, and the stock was scratched and worn.

At home I spent a lot of time admiring the purchase, happy as a child. The new-to-me TOZ-66 was made in 1972, and had a letter “У” in the serial number. This, according to Internet gurus, indicates a grade above the standard. As far as bells and whistles go, my gun could boast of engraving in the style of Soviet minimalism. The figures on the lockplates bear a distant resemblance to a pheasant and a woodcock, on the locking lever one could, with a bit of fantasy, identify a goose and a capercailzie, and on the bottom of the action the engraver might have intended to depict a duck. The 12 gauge barrels, choked half and full, are mirror bright, and the mainsprings still go strong.

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Before the spring season I had the metal parts re- browned, and the stock refinished. I hadn’t done any reloading for years, so I bought factory ammo, with and without shot cups. My first hunt with this gun was on a woodcock mating flight. I missed the first woodcock, and couldn’t cock the left barrel in time for the second shot. It’s not easy to switch to a hammer side-by-side from a hammerless over-and- under, the sight picture is totally different. I did a few mounts and swings for practice, and tried raising both hammers with one motion, which didn’t really work. Then I heard another woodcock, cocked both hammers one after another – and dropped the bird with the first shot.

TOZ-66 with game

In addition to woodcock, in that first spring season with my TOZ-66 I got a few ducks and a capercailzie cock. Then I had the gun restocked in walnut. The new straight-gripped stock improved its looks, and made it handle even better. I had a good time with it hunting black grouse and quail over my wire-haired pointer in the summer.

There was only one problem. When the gun was refinished, the lockplates weren’t tightened enough, and the left hammer was hitting the action on release. That caused a few dry fires. It was fixed when the gun was restocked, but the action still bears traces of this malfunction.

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I’m not an expert, but I think my TOZ-66 is well pre- served for its age. After refurbishing it’s ready for alifetime of service. For me, this is a spring season gun. Spring hunts don’t require fast reloading, and there’s always time to cock the hammers. It can work for hunting over pointing dogs, too. With the new stock the gun weighs 3.26 kg, which isn’t too heavy, and there’s time to cock the hammers when the dog points. But I have guns that are better at this job. With 725 mm barrels, TOZ-66 isn’t a long range gun, it works well only within the classic range of 35 meters.

There’s nothing special about this gun. It’s not a problem to find one in good condition at a modest price. To me, this is evidence of the quality of Sovi- et-made hammer guns. Exposed hammers may call for extra attention to safety. For thousands of hunters it was their first gun. TOZ hammer guns aren’t getting more numerous, but there will always be interest to them, from both nostalgic veterans and curious neophytes. Of course, you could call a wish to hunt with a hammer gun a whim, but something changes inside you when you hold it. It’s as if you’ve met an old friend, and the memories of hunts that passed surround you.

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Have the TOZ-66 brought me back to the spring woods of my youth? No, you can’t enter the same river twice. But now I have new evenings when I fol- low the last ray of the setting sun, with a hammer gun in my hands.

Originally published in Russian and in condensed English translation in July 2018 issue of Russian Hunting Magazine.

 

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MTs-11 presented to Nikita Khrushchev in 1959
Без рубрики, Russian Hunting Shotguns

Two Interesting TsKIB Guns on Upcoming Auctions

Two interesting TsKIB guns are featured by international auction houses this year. One is  a good sample of Russia’s best gunmaking at a reasonable price. The other is a collector’s piece with a hell of provenance and a price tag to match.  Some gun porn below. Continue reading

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Russian Hunting Magazine English Digest 2018 cover
Без рубрики, Hunting in Russia

Russian Hunting Magazine English Digest Vol.3 (2018)

Sent the English digest of the Russian Hunting Magazine for 2018 this week. With every issue we choose two best stories, and run condensed English translations of them. When the year’s over, we get them together and publish in a separate issue. Of course, the stories lose a lot when cut from 1,500-2,000 words, but overall they give a pretty good impression of the hunting and hunting gun world in Russia. Here are a few snapshots of the third annual issue, for 2018. Continue reading

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A polar bear on an ice field. By Anatoly Kochnev
Conservation, Без рубрики

Polar Bear Emergency State at Novaya Zemlya

Many news sources worldwide reported on the state of emergency declared on the Russian archipelago Novaya Zemlya. The reason for the emergency is that there are over 50 polar bears ‘terrorizing’ the township of Belushya Guba. The animals stay near residential buildings in spite of all attempts to scare them away. The local residents are afraid to leave their homes, and some bears even began to penetrate the buildings. Rosprirodnadzor (controlling body for environment protection) did not authorize killing problem bears. Instead, they formed a commission which was to fly to the islands Tuesday and make a decision on the spot.

The information presented in English-language news sources is accurate (although slightly incomplete), and there wouldn’t be any need in my comments on the issue, if it weren’t for the reaction of the hunting community. “Time to thin the herd”. “Weren’t the polar bears supposed to die because of global warning?”, “bad government won’t let good people kill bad bears”, and comments on these lines seem to fill the hunting pages in social media. And, I have to respectfully suggest that these commenters might be jumping to conclusion without first properly informing themselves of all aspects of the issue. Continue reading

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Russian MP-155 Shotgun in "Profi" grade.
Без рубрики, Russian Hunting Shotguns

MP-155 “Profi” Grade

Since 2018 the Baikal MP-155 semiautomatic shotgun is available in the “Profi” grade. The difference from the standard model amounts to a) Ceracote-coated receiver, and b) hand-checkered walnut stock and fore-end. Everything else is your regular MP-155, and even the plastic-tipped fore-end, as far as I know, is now standard for all wood-stocked MP-155.

So far the “Profi” grade comes only in 12 gauge, with 760 mm (30″) barrel and 76 mm chamber. The regular grade guns are available with walnut or plastic stock, in 12 gauge with 760 or 710 mm (28″) barrels, and 20 gauge with 710 and 610 mm (24″) barrels. The 20 gauge MP-155 also comes with a “Lancaster” oval bore, that is effectively a rifle, for slug shooting.

To say the Russian public loved the “Profi” grade would be an overstatement. A number of experts immediately offered criticism, pointing out, for instance, that hand-checkering is not perfectly executed. Doubts also exist as to the durability of the Ceracote coating. One gun guru writes that he found a drop of Ceracote on the barrel, tried it with a penknife, and the Ceracote fell right off. Honestly, that doesn’t sound too convincing to me: you can’t judge adhesion to specially treated alloy surface by how well the coating sticks to untreated steel surface. On the other hand, the fact that excess Ceracote did end up on the barrel doesn’t sound too encouraging.

Anyway, just about any coating will be an improvement over the regular black thing they cover the receivers with, so in general the application of Ceracote technology is to be welcomed.  The real question is, does it justify the price increase?

The MSRP for the “Trophy” grade Baikal MP-155 is, at the time of writing, 46,190 Rubles (roughly $699), and cheapest regular grade gun goes for 30,690 Rubles (roughly $465). The most affordable 12-gauge gun with walnut stock is listed at 32,200 rubles (roughly $489).

Would you pay almost half again for hand checkering and Ceracote finish on the receiver?

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Moscow arms hunting expo 2018
Без рубрики, gunmaking, Rifles, Russian Hunting Shotguns

A (somewhat belated) Report on the Arms&Hunting Moscow 2018 Expo

The Arms&Hunting Expo Moscow, which takes place annually in October in the Gostinny Dvor Expo Center, is, to quote Russian Hunting Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Mikhail Krechmar, a way to tell what the next year will be like for the Russian hunting and hunting gun industry. This is, of course, only partially true: like any attempted futurology, an analysis of the expo can’t account for black swans. Allowing for this, let’s see what’s going to be in store for the Russian civilian gun industry as of October 2018. Continue reading

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mts111
Без рубрики, Rifles, Russian Hunting Shotguns

Auction Prices for TsKIB Guns in Europe

“How much does my gun cost?” is one of the most common question about Russian guns – especially MTs (a.k.a MC, a.k.a. MU, a.k.a. Vostok) by TsKIB, Tula. Usually, with high-end guns, the best hints on the gun’s price come from what the hammer falls on at gun auctions. But the produce of the “Soviet Purdey’s” seldom grace the halls of Holt’s, Julia’s, and other auction halls. However, as many as five MTs guns could be found in the catalogue of Joh. Springer’s Erben XXIII Classic Auction (Nov. 9, 2017, Vienna, Austria). Continue reading

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