A recent post on doublegunshop.com reminded me of this story, one of many legends connected with the export of Soviet guns. I tell it as is, and can’t vouch for its authenticity.
After the success of guns engraved by Beloborodov and Vassev on Montreal World Expo in 1967, the American exporters thought that a higher grade of Baikals could sell well in the States, and asked their Soviet partners if they could make it – engraved, and with extra fancy wood.
This last request puzzled the IzhMech employees. For them, there were three grades of wood – birch, beech and walnut. That walnut could be “extra fancy” was a bit of a surprize. Still, a challenge is a challenge. The supplies of walnut blanks was ransacked, those which look most fancy were chosen, and a lot of 100 guns – model Izh-54 – was made.
And the exporter turned it down.
What you call “extra fancy wood” is not what an American customer expects from a high-end gun, they explained.
The “American Lot” stayed at the factory and was sold quietly to the factory management’s friends, relatives and ‘connections’.