Which gun is the best is the question that hangs on your definition of ‘best’ness, and for some the best Russian hunting shotgun may well be MP153 or Ij27. Normally, however, people quote exclusiveness, high quality and original design as key criteria. If you want to put it all in a word, that would be “uncompromizing” – meaning no effort is spared to make the gun as beautiful and functional as possible, and no design is too complicated for the craftmanship of the makers. From this point of view, there’s no question that the best gun ever made in Russia is…
This over/under (there was also a hammer gun with the same name) was inspired by “the Boss gun”, a couple of copies of which were made for top Soviet Olympic Trap shots in the late 1950s. Vladimir Zimenko even won the 1962 World Cup in Cairo with one (and his friend Sergei Kalinin’s B25 Browning which he had to borrow because his TsKIB-Boss broke a mainspring). But TsKIB already thought copying beneath itself, and they developed something similar, but not quite alike.
As you can see, only the fore-end iron reminds you of the Boss. The barrel hinging is woodwardish, and the lockup is by an underbolt entering a traditionally styled rear lug, with two aditional fasteners on top, which look like double Purdey top bites, but the locking element moves transversally, not longitutally.
But the real gem of the design is here. I don’t know how many pins you can count on the locks, but look in the direction of the arrow on photo above. That’s right, MTs-9 has bar-action locks. But wait, there’s more. As you can figure from the photo below, the mainsprings are loaded on the closing of the barrels. This makes MTs-9 the only Beezley-type self-opening bar-action sidelock over/under in the world!
Less then a hundred guns were made between 1961 and 1974, and all known samples are made as Trap guns, with 750 mm. barrels and choked tighter than tight (1.0 under and 1.2 mm. over). But all are assembled by TsKIB’s best artisans and their finish, while not as lavish as can be found on some MTs-11, MTs-111 and MTs-109, is done with modest reservation characteristic of best British traditions. All this makes MTs-9, in my opinion at least, the best hunting shotgun ever made in Russia.
All photos are from http://www.forum.guns.ru