I long thought that document was lost, but this summer, why looking for some totally unrelated document at my parents’ place, I stumbled upon it: the “Passport” for Grandpa’s old gun.
The “Passport” is a gun’s individual identity document, that Soviet gunmakers used to issue with each gun. It is a piece of thick, glossy paper, which, when folded over, makes four pages of roughly passport size. Currently the identity tag is included in the Owner’s Manual, but until the late 1970s the Owner’s Manual and “Passport” appeared as two different documents.
What information does it contain?
The most important data is the manufacture date. It is not marked anywhere else on the gun, and even the factory is not always able to match the serial number to the production year. This is found on Page 3. Obviously, Grandpa’s gun was made in July 1966.
On top of page 2 there are main specifications: weight, type of steel, type of outer and inner coating, barrel and chamber length, bore and choke diameter, and type of wood. The latter was supposed to be underlined, but this step was somehow skipped. Then there are proof tests, entered by hand. The complete gun was proofed with a load of 3.5 grams of Sokol gunpowder and 35 grams of No 3 shot, with chamber pressure about 800 kgs/sm2. In addition, the barrel blanks were proofed with 900 kgs/sm2 load.
The gun was test-fired by a load of No 3 shot from each barrel, and the pattern percentage was entered by hand. To be honest, I don’t believe whoever tested the gun actually took the trouble to calculate the exact percentage. I suspect that they just measured by rule of thumb whether it looked like the gun would make the minimum requirements (which were, incidentally, 50% for the right and 60% for the left barrel), or, at least, rounded it off.
The “Passport” was signed by Head of the Production Unit, Head of Quality Control, and a Comrade Nikolaev, whose job position I was unable to decipher.
Page 4, a.k.a. back cover, carries explanation of proof marks, and, the most interesting part for the family history – the entry made by the shop that sold the gun, and the date of sale. Remarkably, the gun was actually sold in 1971, more than five years after it was made. Grandpa used to say he bought this gun on Friday just before the opening day (I told this story before, but obviously got the year wrong), and in fact August 27, 1971, fell on a Friday. He also told me he got this gun brand-new, and that the shop had just received a few of these guns, so apparently there was quite a lag in the Soviet trade.
The front cover, or Page 1, here comes the last. Note that the price for the gun is typographically printed, and it is not “manufacturer suggested”. In Soviet planned economy, prices were set in stone, once and for all, and in fact were often stamped or impressed directly on the product itself.
Unfortunately, the “Passport”, the Owner’s Manual, and a few photographs is all that remains of the gun. Due to irreparable damage – a burst in the right barrel – it had to be surrendered for destruction.