Medved’ (“bear”) is a series of Russian semiautomatic hunting carbines. Unlike some later rifles, Medved is not a sporterized military action. The first generation – there were four all in all – was designed in the early 1960s and were chambered for the 9.3x54R round. They were volume produced to supply professional hunters with something more efficient than Mosin, Mauser, and other bolt-action rifles left over from WWII. All Medved series carbines were developed and made by IzhMash.
Medved-3, obviously, is the third generation of the carbine. It appeared in 1974 and was chambered for 7.62×51, the Soviet version of the .308 Winchester. The single row box magazine fits 3 rounds, and you can also load the rifle from the top without detaching the mag. Open sights are marked to 500 meters, and most rifles were fitted with a ПО-4 or ПО-6 scope on a side mount, predictably similar to that used on the Dragunov sniper rifle.
I’m not what you would call a marksman or a rifle expert. For me, all rifles fall into two category. One looks, feels, and inspires me about as much as a load of firewood. When I hold one, I wonder why people ever bother to make or shoot them. A small minority, however, stirs unfamiliar emotions. I go “hey, where are the targets and the ammo? I wanna pew!” Medved-3, which I got to handle a few days ago, is definitely one of them.
This rifle, with the serial number 17, is from the first lot of the Medved-3, made in 1974-1975. Back then, hunting rifles were available only to the top of the Communist Party leaders and celebrities (interestingly, the list of Medved-3 owners includes Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov). Small wonder that the rifles were made in very small numbers, and are high-grade custom guns.
You may think that the walnut stock is a bit too plain, but this was Izhevsk’s approach to fine guns. What they wanted from walnut was strength and light weight, not beauty of figure. But it is very nicely carved. And the engraving, while apparently simple, is well-executed. But the best thing about this carbine is how it feels. Light-weight – about 3 kg, or just under 7 pounds, without a scope ) without a scope – it is extremely handy, and simply asks to take it to the range or, better yet, hunting.
The greatest disadvantage of Medved-3 is the chambering. Most sources claim that the .308 was the favorite hunting round of Leonid Brezhnev, who got a few rifles chambered for it as gifts. The story is that the Soviets began to make this round in order to provide a reliable source of ammo for Brezhnev and his friends. Unfortunately, the result differed from the Western standard for the .308, both in case dimensions and in max pressure: the Soviet version was a bit less powerful. It is not a very good idea to shoot factory .308 ammo in a rifle chambered for the Soviet 7.62×51 round – at least, most who did regretted it. At present Medved-3 is essentially a handloader’s rifle.
Medved-3 figured in export catalogues, but apparently did not interest international buyers. It remained in production until the mid-1980s, when it was replaced by a newer version, Medved-4. Medved-4 is still being made, mostly to order. It has a more compact doble-row box magazine, and is chambered for the regular .308 Win, but is considerably heavier than Medved-3 and not quite as nice.