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Is my shotgun a Baikal?

Mike George asks readers' questions about Baikal shotguns

Q: I have acquired an over-under shotgun which was sold as a Baikal but the barrels are stamped T03 and the recoil pad has a ‘T’ logo. Is it actually a Baikal? 

Baikal MP43 E-1C shotgun

A Baikal shotgun

A: I had an interesting telephone conversation with this reader, who told me that what he had initially read as TO3 was, in fact, TOZ; what looks like a figure 3 in the Cyrillic alphabet being, in fact, a Z.

The gun isn’t a Baikal at all, but a TOZ, which stands for Tulsky Oruzheiny Zavod, which is Russia’s world-famous Tula armoury.

Considering over a million have been made, it is surprising we haven’t seen more of them in Western Europe although I can’t ever recall any being imported into the UK.

The reader told me that the gun doesn’t hinge on conventional pins, but on semi-circular grooves in the action walls which engage with semi-circular projections on the lumps and barrel sides.

The only other gun working on this principle that I have ever come across is the Swedish-built Flodman.

Interesting Russian guns

In fact, there are many interesting guns made in Russia we don’t see over here. On a visit to Moscow in the final years of the Soviet Union I was shown some beautifully crafted guns, not quite up to London ‘best’ standards, but very near.

Sadly, when I went out to shoot with my Russian hosts I was loaned a well-worn Baikal semi-auto – perhaps a reflection on what they thought of my shooting!

The selective trigger on a Baikal shotgun

The selective trigger on a Baikal shotgun

Selective triggers on Baikal shotguns – a problem

Q: I’ve inherited a Baikal shotgun with a selective trigger but I can’t get it to work. Can you advise?

A: There are two best-kept secrets about Baikal over-under shotguns: one is how to get one to fire top barrel first, and the other is how to turn off the ejectors.

  • To get the gun to fire top barrel first, you push the trigger forwards until you hear a tiny click.
  • It then fires top barrel first for that pair of shots only, and needs to be reset if you want to fire top barrel first again.
  • To turn off the ejectors, you locate what looks like a pair of small grub screw heads in the knuckles, and turn them through 90 degrees.

If every gun had a feature like this, we might spend more time shooting and less time groping around the countryside on our hands and knees picking up cartridge cases.