Без рубрики, Russian Hunting Shotguns

Four questions about Baikal MP 234.

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Custom MP-234. Photo by Baikal

1. Is it just a refurbished MP-27?

No. MP-234 is an original development. True, it shares a few similar features with the old design, but they have all been modified. For instance, the single trigger mechnism is basically the old tried-and-true Izh-27-1C, but with a new inertia block. As a matter of fact, hardly any part could be borrowed intact, because MP-234 features a whole new action, with totally different barrel hinging and stronger lockup, developed on up-to-date design software for up-to-date CNC machinery.

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MP-234 showing trunnion barrel hinging. Photo by Yuri Maksimov, the “Okhota” magazine, December 2013.

2. Is it better than Baikal MP-27?

Yes. One big advantage is that the barrels are hinged on Woodward type trunnions; as compared to MP-27’s under-barrel lugs, this greatly reduces the torque that acts on the locking elements, so, all things being equal, the MP-234 will probably last longer than the previous model. It also tends to make the gun feel and balance better. I have handled an MP-234 in Sporting Clays version (with all the bells and whistles like adjustable stock and extended chokes) and it felt like a good, solid and well-made gun. Of course, it was a custom-built prototype, and you can’t expect volume production guns to be made with the same attention to detail. But MP-234 has been designed to be made on CNС machinery, so most of the good things will likely carry over. Besides, there will be much less hand-fitting operations, and consequently any human-factor quality issues are much less probable.

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Action on a prototype double rifle MP-234. Photo by Yuri Maksimov, the “Okhota” magazine, December 2013.

3. Are there any disadvantages in the new Baikal over/under?

Personally, I don’t like the lockup. The cuts in the upper part of the action and the matching lugs on the barrel blocks are useless (for those who read Russian, Sergei Kiselev breaks it down in the Kalashnikov magazine), and the Superposed-derived underbolt makes the action too tall for my taste. I have to admit, though, that it is the standard solution for an inexpensive over/under – you’ll see similar designs on most bottom-line Italian guns – and any alternative would probably be too complicated for real life. Another thing that bothers me is that the new ejector lost the disabling feature. Anyway, the biggeset real disadvantage of this gun that it’s not made yet.

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More engraved MP-234, from Baikal Trading House

4. When will Baikal MP-234 be available?

Actually, it is available from the factory’s custom gun shop – but the price tag starts from about $2,000, and that’s without engraving. When will the gun reach the mass production stage? The factory promises the second part of 2017, but I wouldn’t be counting on that – it’s a maniana thing that has been dragging on for four years already! I don’t know precisely why, but suspect two reasons: 1) the Baikal plant may not be getting sufficient investment for the launch; 2) with the current political situation, all attention in the industry is focused on military orders, with civilian guns left aside for better times. I do believe, however, that if a foreign dealer could come up with a large order, and make a significant down payment, first volume MP-234 would hit the slelves within a couple of months. As it is, Baikal lovers will probably have to wait for an indefinite period of time.

 


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