Russian Hunting Shotguns

How do I spell that?

Transcribing anything that was originally spelt in Cyrillics into Latin characters is often a problem. With Russian gun brands, there’s only one simple case: TOZ. Both TOZ (Tulski Oruzheiny Zavod, transl. Tula Gun Works) and Tula give easy and natural renderings. Not so with two other major brands: Izh or Ij?

1. Izh or Ij?

“Izh” is a contraction from Izhevks, the town where the current owner of the Baikal brand, and the producer of most guns ever sold under the brand, is located. The “zh” sound has no equivalent in the English language, but it sounds like the last sound in the French “fromage”; Russian children emit it to imitate a flight of a bug (a big bug, not a mosquito).

The correct way to transcribe it into Latin characters is “Izh”. But when Soviet guns began to be exported, the alternative spelling “Ij” was also used. Which spelling was used more often is a question for research, but offhand “Ij” seems to be the winner. So the dilemma is that “Izh” is more correct, while “Ij” may be more familiar to international audience.

2. MTs or MC?

“MTs” is an abbreviation of “Model of TsKIB SOO”, TsKIB being in turn an abbreviaion for “Tsentralnoye Konstruktorsko-Issledovatelskoye Buro Sportivno-Okhotnichiego Oruzhiya”. This translates as “Central Design and Research Bureau for Hunting and Sporting Arms”.

The first sound of the first word in Russian also hasn’t a phonetic equivalent in English – it’s exactly the same sound as when you click your tongue in disapproval. So, given the translation, it doesn’t seem a stretch to transcribe the enterprize as “CKIB”, and the guns as “MC”.

The problem here is not so much the recognizability – TsKIB guns are unknown to the majority of international gun lovers – than the natural pronounciation of MC as “Am-See”, which is very different from what it actually sounds like.

Anyway, I’ll have to make up my mind sooner or later, as to which spelling to choose, the correct or the familiar. Emotionally, I’m for the former, rationally – for the latter. Call me a nitpicker, or voice your comments on which spelling you would prefer.


4 thoughts on “How do I spell that?

  1. Lincoln Trapper says:

    Humpty , thanks for the info. One thing I have meant to ask on the shotgun forum is the shot sizes Russian hunters use for pigs,wolves, foxes and other furred game . Is buckshot commonly used for wolves and coyotes ?


    • Hi, Chip. The short answer is yes, lots of Russian hunters use shotguns with large shot or buckshot for pigs, wolves, chakals (coyote equivalent) and foxes. Our shot sizing is metric and does not fully correspond to American standard, I’ll have to cover it in another post some time.


  2. Hans-Peter Savage says:

    Hello Aleksei (not “Aleksej”? 🙂 ),
    a remark to your article “how do I spell that?”:
    Some people misread the cyrillic “ц” (zet) on their shotgun as a latin “u”, so they transcribe “мц” wrongly as “mu”.
    If you google e. g. “mu-108” you will find some additional results.

    Liked by 1 person

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