baikal mp-156 inertia operated shotgun
gunmaking, Russian Hunting Shotguns

MP-156: Improvements and Features

Good news: MP-156, Baikal’s first inertia autoloader, is not as bad as my previous post made it sound. IzhMech responded to the customer complaints, and improved their guns significantly. The quality is still a lottery. But, while in the first lots the share of lemons was as high as 50%, today at least 9 out of 10 guns perform well out of the box. Not yet in the Benelli league, admittedly, but that at least makes it worthwhile to say something about MP-156 design.

Most inertia operated shotguns have the inertia module, with the spring that is compressed when the gun recoils, and expands to cycle the bolt, inside the bolt. This is the optimal solution, as it makes the gun more simple, compact and light – and, apparently, more reliable too. With MP-156, however, Baikal took a different route.

If you look at MP-155 and MP-156 parts lying next to each other, you may have a problem telling which is which. Because Baikal placed the inertia module right where the MP-155 has the gas piston! The logic was to simplify the production. With this approach, IzhMech can use not only the same receiver, stock, trigger assembly and barrels, but also the same bolt, and the same action links, to make both the inertia MP-156 and the gas-operated MP-155.

MP-156 inertia operated autoloading shotgun by Baikal

The inertia module in MP-156 is where gas autos have gas pistons. Photo by the Kalashnikov Magazine

Needless to say, it doesn’t deliver the main advantages of an inertia gun: less weight, fewer parts, and better balance. There’s no free lunch in Newtonian mechanics, and the inertia spring now has to do extra work moving the additional mass of the action link and the inertia module body, with more losses on friction, bending in the action links, and more. The links may drag on other parts of the gun, leading to jams, too.

If I know anything about firearms, this design will never be as  light, simple, and reliable as a conventional inertia-operated shotgun, all other things being equal. On the other hand, there are quite a few Russian gunners who are quite satisfied with their MP-156. I don’t think I’ll ever get one (in fact, last year I was offered an MP-156 for free, and declined the offer, as politely as I could). But you’re free to do with your money what you wish.

Photos (c) the Kalashnikov Magazine.

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Izh-54 gold on black background relief engraving
Без рубрики, Russian Hunting Shotguns

A $10,000 Baikal? You Bet!

Behold a Baikal Izh-54, made in USSR, that in 2018 sold at the Rock Island Auction for $9,775, with the estimate of $4,000-7,000 (link). Read on to learn more not only about this particular shotgun, but also about various Izhevsk engravers, their artistic style, and a small linguistic investigation.

engraving right side falcon and ducks

The gun, allegedly a gift from Brezhnev to Pompidou, is decorated with relief gold scroll and game scene on black background. Image by Rock Island Auction Co

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Без рубрики, Hunting in Russia, Russian Hunting Shotguns

My Memory of Spring: TOZ-66. By Ilya Gurin

The farther away in the past are the best moments of your life, the stronger the memories. I can still remember my first hunt, not in details now but as an emotion. It was a youth hunt with Sverdlovsk hunting club, tutored by Irina Ermakova, a great huntress and mentor. Her worn TOZ-BM hammer side-by-side was the first gun I ever handled. I can still remember its weight, the sounds of hammers brought to full cock, and the awesome impressions of a 15 year old kid first time out in the woods, waiting for woodcock to start its mating flight.

TOZ-66 Russian hunting shotgun

Many years, hunts and guns later, I felt the urge to get and hunt with a hammer double again.

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MTs-11 presented to Nikita Khrushchev in 1959
Без рубрики, Russian Hunting Shotguns

Two Interesting TsKIB Guns on Upcoming Auctions

Two interesting TsKIB guns are featured by international auction houses this year. One is  a good sample of Russia’s best gunmaking at a reasonable price. The other is a collector’s piece with a hell of provenance and a price tag to match.  Some gun porn below. Continue reading

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Russian Hunting Magazine English Digest 2018 cover
Без рубрики, Hunting in Russia

Russian Hunting Magazine English Digest Vol.3 (2018)

Sent the English digest of the Russian Hunting Magazine for 2018 this week. With every issue we choose two best stories, and run condensed English translations of them. When the year’s over, we get them together and publish in a separate issue. Of course, the stories lose a lot when cut from 1,500-2,000 words, but overall they give a pretty good impression of the hunting and hunting gun world in Russia. Here are a few snapshots of the third annual issue, for 2018. Continue reading

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A polar bear on an ice field. By Anatoly Kochnev
Conservation, Без рубрики

Polar Bear Emergency State at Novaya Zemlya

Many news sources worldwide reported on the state of emergency declared on the Russian archipelago Novaya Zemlya. The reason for the emergency is that there are over 50 polar bears ‘terrorizing’ the township of Belushya Guba. The animals stay near residential buildings in spite of all attempts to scare them away. The local residents are afraid to leave their homes, and some bears even began to penetrate the buildings. Rosprirodnadzor (controlling body for environment protection) did not authorize killing problem bears. Instead, they formed a commission which was to fly to the islands Tuesday and make a decision on the spot.

The information presented in English-language news sources is accurate (although slightly incomplete), and there wouldn’t be any need in my comments on the issue, if it weren’t for the reaction of the hunting community. “Time to thin the herd”. “Weren’t the polar bears supposed to die because of global warning?”, “bad government won’t let good people kill bad bears”, and comments on these lines seem to fill the hunting pages in social media. And, I have to respectfully suggest that these commenters might be jumping to conclusion without first properly informing themselves of all aspects of the issue. Continue reading

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