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gunmaking, Russian Hunting Shotguns

Moscow Arms&Hunting 2019: No Expectations

The Moscow Arms&Hunting show is the biggest event in the year of Russian gunners and outdoors people.

It’s not the biggest show, but it’s the most important. It is hosted in the heart of Moscow, in a XVIII century building that survived the big fire during Napoleon’s invasion, and in a neighborhood that was called Kitai-Gorod – “China-town” – a century before. Yes, Moscow had a chinatown ever since the middle of the XVII century, when Russia signed the first trade deal with China. It happened in the reign of Alexey I the Quietest, our most sporting monarch, who at the same time maintained diplomatic relationships as far to the West as Spain, and invited artisans from the then-Spanish Holland to build a modern gun works in Tula.

Such histories, however, don’t automatically translate into booming industries and trade, domestic and import-export, at present.

I already wrote a review of the show for my Hunting International blog at Huntportal.Ru – a mock review, of course, as the show doesn’t start until tomorrow, but the truth is, all recent Arms&Hunting shows have been so much alike, you don’t really have to go there to write one. All you need is to look up which new gun by Beretta Group the Russian dealers would present to the Russian audience, and Google what American and German colleagues had to say about it after the Shot Show and IWA. What international company, pray, would choose the Moscow show to make an international debut of their latest? But I digress.

To the point: Russian hunting shotguns. What do I expect from Russian companies to show at Arms&Hunting Moscow?

  1. From Baikal, and the Kalashnikov Group in general: Nothing. For the second time in a row, they chose to ignore the biggest outdoor show in the country.
  2. From TOZ and TsKIB: Ditto. Same old guns on same old displays.
  3. New “smoothbore rifles”. A few years ago, the TKM cartridge company figured out a way to design a cartridge that gives roughly the 7.62×39 ballistics but can be certified as a shotgun under Russian law. This was a godsend for many Russian hunters, who can now get a mediocre, but usable hunting rifle on a much more simple to get shotgun license, and our gun and ammo makers have been busy developing more such cartridges and rifles for them ever since.
  4. From Molot (Vyatskie Polyany): something curious. I do hope this time to get at their stand before a crowd collects, and have a good look at their prototypes. Not that the prototypes have a chance to see production, but they are usually out-of-the-box.
  5. From Levsha-T: more of the good stuff. I have only today interviewed one of their customers, and I liked what I heard. I still like Levsha-T guns in the white better than with finish, but for the first time since Konstantin Maslov and Ivan Alyoshkin Russia has a truly bespoke gunmaker, that will make you a gun just like you want it, down to the most minute details in ever aspect, from barrel boring to hidden bases for sling swivels.

See my review of Arms&Hunting 2018 and compare.

In the next few days I will again enter the high-domed space of the ancient building; I will hear the producers of duck and goose calls demonstrating their produce non-stop, I will make my way through the crowds around booths with hunting knives; I will bump into a few old friends and contacts; I will snap my camera and look for something – anything – that breaks away from the routine.

To be honest, I want this show to surprise me, but I don’t count on it. My prediction is that I will be able to use my mock review as the fill-in-the-blanks draft for the actual review I’ll be writing for the Russian Hunting Magazine. Check this blog out again next week, and I’ll tell you how it turns out.

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