From 1962 to 1987 Soviet citizens could not own rifles. Those who needed a rifle for work – professional trappers, reindeer herders and such – could have one issued by the organization that employed them, but the rifle would be the property of the organization. Private ownership of rifles (and handguns) was banned. Some Communists, however, were more equal than others…
Behold Leonid Brezhnev sporting not only a rifle, but also a pair of Colt revolvers he received as a gift during a U.S. visit. The rifle in question is a MTs-10 double rifle by TsKIB SOO (“Soviet Purdey’s”). A limited number of similar double rifles were made for Communist leaders and their VIP guests, to be used on driven boar hunts in Zavidovo – the Soviet equivalent of Sandringham pheasant shoots. The Zavidovo Preserve – Russian leaders’ pet playground not far from Moscow – even had a number of MTs double rifles to be used as loaner guns to guests who couldn’t come with their own firearms.
Nearly every double gun action by TsKIB could be fitted with a set of rifle barrels, but mostly it was MTs-7 (over/under) and MTs-10/MTs-110 (side-by-side). MTs-110 was said to be Breznnev’s favourite weapon for driven boar (Breznnev, however, was a gun nut and had a long list of “favorite weapons”). The chamberings were limited to 7.62x53R (Mossin), and 9x53R (Mossin case necked up to take a 9.3 mm bullet). Nomally, the rifles were non-ejector.
The MTs-10 featured in this post was given to a Yugoslavian leader circa 1981, and has a spare set of 20-ga barrels.
The MTs-7 is from Evgeny Spiridonov’s collection; he writes that he longed for this rifle ever since he first read about it as a kid (and he wasn’t alone in that, I might add) but this dream was as remote as an African safari.
In the days of the USSR only a very narrow circle of people, limited to the toppest of the top Soviet and Communist Block leaders, could have one. Now it’s all about the money… and the luck of finding one. With such a limited customer base, probably fewer than 100 TsKIB double rifles exist.
The guns were made with the best quality that TsKIB could turn out. The engraving follows the “intended quarry” rule, and differs according to the prospective owner. Evgeny’s MTs-7 had the basic finish; Yugoslavian MTs-10 features a relief engraving, and the guns meant for the No1’s of the Soviet Block countries would also have gold and silver inlays. It is said, however, that Brezhnev had two MTs-10, and preferred the one that had less decore on it.
The Mossin cartridge is known to everyone. Its 9mm version could be loaded with 13 gram or 15 gram leaving the muzzle at 650 or 600 mm respectively. The bullet could be FMJ for roe deer and underage pigs, or soft-point for larger stuff.
The owner’s manual for MTs-10 shows data on the gun’s weight (4.4 kg with the scope), and stock dimensions (length – 369 mm, drop at comb – 40 mm, drop at heel – 64 mm).
The next page of the manual features the 10-shot groups obtained during factory testing. Interestingly, this particular gun seems to be more accurate with the open sights (9 sm at 100 meters) than with the scope (11 sm).