Don't laugh. The Baikal shotgun has a loyal following and plenty of contributors to Sporting Gun and Shooting UK think they are very decent guns. Here's why.
So why do Baikal shotguns get such good press? They’re not beautiful.
Maybe not, but Baikal guns achieve two things that shooters are looking for. They are inexpensive and reliable. Read our Baikal reviews here.
Thanks to Baikal shotguns thousands of UK shooters have been able to afford to enjoy shooting sports. (Expect to pay around £300 for a second-hand 12-bore Baikal over-and-under in decent condition.)
Some background on Baikal shotguns
Baikals are made by the people for the people in a Russian city called Izhevsk, about a two hour flight from Moscow.
The city survived the revolution of 1917 and during the Second World War it was distant from the Luftwaffe and Hitler’s armies, and of particular importance for arms manufacture. During the Cold War the city was forbidden to foreigners. Today the arms factory – Izhevsky Mekhanicheski Zavod –turns out an enormous variety of Baikals. Rifles, pistols and air weapons as well as shotguns.
Why you should think about buying a Baikal
- Baikal shotguns are more reliable than their price would suggest. You can depend on them.
- If you’re on a modest budget then a Baikal is a good first buy.
- A new over-and-under would be about £617
- A new side-by-side would set you back about £562
- They are made in the Western Urals. So now you know.
- They probably aren’t created from melted-down battle tanks
- However they are built like a T34 tank
- In addition, the stocks probably aren’t created from recycled Trans-Siberian Railway sleepers
- They are tough customers
- They won’t win any beauty contents but …
- They will last for ages.
- Matt Clarke, editor of Sporting Gun says that a Baikal was his first gun and “it never let me down”.
- Shooting Times contributor and reviewer Charles Smith Jones has commented: “Baikal shotguns are built to put up with a great deal of use and neglect, shoot straight and rarely go wrong.”
- You can turn the ejectors on and off a Baikal over-and-under
- The guns fire bottom barrel first
- However push the trigger forward and the top barrel will go first, for the loaded pair of shots
- Not many Baikal owners know about point 15 and 16 above
- Most single-trigger Baikal shotguns feature a very well-hidden barrel selector, which is not in the usual place on the safety thumbpiece.
- The finish is now much better than it was back in the 1980s. Most barrels are internally chromed, multichokes are available, and the wood is much smarter.
- Multichokes are available
- The stocks can be a bit on the short side
- There’s a good selection of barrel lengths on new and second-hand examples
- All break-action guns are simple boxlocks powered by coil springs. On the over-and-unders hammers are hinged at the bottom, with sears hanging from the top strap. Over-and-unders have single, selective triggers and turn-off ejectors. Stocks are generally about 14in, with drops at comb and heel of 1¾in and 2¾in at comb and heel respectively on newer guns.
- If you lose a Baikal rifle on a hunting trip you won’t have sleepless nights about the money you’ve lost.
- The factory that now makes Baikal shotguns once produced extremely tough military firearms
- Don’t like fancy stocks? Get a Baikal and you won’t be offended.
- The quality of the steel parts.
- If you’re a hedgerow shooter rather than a smart driven type then what are you waiting for?
- It will hold its own against much more expensive alternatives
- Former footballer, film star and fieldsports fan Vinnie Jones told Shooting UK that as a youngster he saved up his beating money to buy a gun and chose “a Baikal over-and-under, non-ejector, double trigger. It cost me £169.”
- Owners become affectionately attached to their Baikals and won’t usually hear a word against them
What have our readers said about Baikal shotguns?
Rob Eaton They sure would be a good choice if you don’t mind simplicity. But go for an over-and-under with a single trigger as it’s far better and less complicated to learn. They also produce less recoil from cheaper cartridges than a side-by-side. But beware of the low comb on most Baikals if you are of an average or small build as it causes all sorts of problems. However it’s easy to fit a rubber saddle comb raiser to the gun with insulation tape. Again it won’t be so pretty but it will work very well indeed.
Carl Tomblin Excellent guns….so reliable…have old sxs 37 yrs…shot few hundred thousand thro it..o/u bit short in stock for me…just make sure it fits tho or wasting your money
Dave Lune Valley Pendlebury I still have mine which was given to me as my first gun and it was the first gun of the guy who gave it to me. Completely bombproof and still in use!
James Roe Nothing to do with the gun all about the fit. I think side-by-sides are lovely to see but don’t offer the performance
Ronan Baggott Baikal are reliable and sturdy, I have one for 18 years and I have but some shots through it, between rough shooting and clays and it has never let me down once. An ideal starter gun in my opinion