Russian Hunting Shotguns

Izh-5, a.k.a. Iver Johnson.

Izh-5 1931 vintage. Photo (c) Hanter Seb /

Izh-5 1931 vintage. Photo (c) Hanter Seb /

Before the WWI, Petrov’s Manufacture in Izhevsk sold a copy of Iver Johnson single shot. Unfortunately, during the Civil War (1917-1921) the archives of the firm were lost, so it is now difficult to tell whether Petrov’s made or retailed this gun (or both), and from what year. The earliest sample known to me dates to 1900.

Iver Johnson by Petrov's. Photo (c) Major Merkel.

Iver Johnson by Petrov’s. Photo (c) Major Merkel.

This sample, unfortunately, no longer exists: the gun in question apparently failed to be properly registered in 1976, and, like many such guns, fell in bad hands – someone made a sawed-off ‘handgun’ out of it. Then it was seized by the police, and according to the law had to be destroyed; however, a police officer who prefers to be known as Major Merkel was kind enough to take and provide this photograph.

After the Civil War the former Crown Arsenal was merged with nationalized private gun works and the production of the single shot was continued (or started, if Petrov’s only had their guns made by Iver Johnson. This is not clear at present). In the 1920s the gun was known under the curious name of “Izhevsk-Johnson”, as can be seen on this 1927 sample.

"Izhevsk-Johnson". Photo (c) кантур /

“Izhevsk-Johnson”. Photo (c) кантур /

Since 1930s the gun suffered a number of improvements, mostly intended to reduce the production costs, and got a new name – Izh-5. Under this name it was made by all three major hunting gun makers of the time – in Izhevsk, Tula and Zlatoust. The production continued until 1948, and according to some sources – until 1952.