Baikal Model 27
Mark Stone notes that buying the original can save you a good few bob, as he looks at the cost effective, Baikal Model 27 O/U shotgun
Baikal is a make that seems to have been around since time immemorial; when I was shooting with my grandfather, where he and his friends carried various examples of the genuine ‘London Best’, every farmer and lad wielded Russia’s finest. Likewise, the name was the butt of every shooting joke going and I should know, since I’ve heard them all. What do you call two drain pipes lashed to a plank? A Baikal of course! Or the old perennial - how do you double the value of a Baikal? Drop two cartridges in it…
Even today, you still get guffaws of laughter when you tell people down the club what make of shotgun you’re using. But after having used one for just over a month, maybe the laughs on them, as the Model 27 12 bore highlights the fact that for less than £500, you can get yourself an all-round workhorse that’ll more than hold its own around the layouts. OK it’s no sleek sporter or superbly refined game gun but no matter what direction I aimed the muzzles, it never failed to deliver.
At £465, the instant you take the Baikal out of its box, you’d expect nothing more, but the workaday design and demeanour of the Model 27 is striking to say the least. With sling swivels fitted as standard, along with a noticeable lack of any detailing, to describe the gun as crude would be an injustice, as rudimentary would be better.
The furniture was well figured and lightly chequered where it mattered around the semi pistol grip and along the square forend. Whilst wood to metal was, given the cost and obvious purpose in life, considerably better than expected except for the gaps around the bottom strap and trigger guard. The butt comes with a thick, vented recoil pad whilst the length of pull works out at 14¼”, drop at comb and heel 1 9/16th and 2 5/16th respectively with what could only be described as the merest hint of right-hand cast.
Based around what’s best described as an old Browning action, suitably modified by the Ruskies. Apart from the name and model number etched on the floor plate and what resembles reproduction corrosion around the fences, the entire action is shiny grey/black in appearance apart from the trigger blade in the white.
Measuring exactly 28½”, the barrels use a solid mid rib along with a 7mm vented top rib, with a small bead set just back from the multi choke muzzles. Complete with a full set of five as standard, these short tubes are both surprisingly effective and steel- proofed. Again enforcing the adaptability most owners will expect from their Model 27’s, as Russian users doubtless expect one shotgun to be capable of fulfilling anything and everything asked of it.
To be able to shoot a gun well out of the box is rare, but I was on the button straight away. I defy anyone not to be able to pick up the Model 27 and shoot reasonably well from the off, although three points did materialise. First – you need to slam the gun shut good and hard, second - even if you’ve only fired one shot, the ejectors will throw both the empty and the live round out as soon as you open it. Third - the automatic safety catch needed adjusting, as the act of disengaging it wears the blacking off the top tang where it fouled.
Once having got used to what is best described as the 7lb 8oz trigger heave, the pull being 4oz heavier than the gun itself, its performance when loaded up with Express Supreme 9’s, around Coniston SG’s Skeet range was way beyond expectations. The Model 27 swings smoothly, shoots slightly high so allowing the user to maintain their view of the target and in general handles reassuringly.
More than Capable
Moving onto a round or two of Sporting around both Coniston and Bond & Bywater’s layouts. Choked ½ and ¼, the Baikal proved itself to be more than capable of delivering high scores and absorbing recoil even from 50-gram 3” loads. In other words, it demonstrated its abilities exceed its cost and most people’s expectations by a considerable margin.
If there’s one thing this and every Baikal I’ve ever seen has never made claim to is refinement. They are what they are, and you’ll either love ‘em or hate ‘em. But if there’s one other thing I can more or less guarantee it’s that no matter what you do to them, come hail, rain or shine, they just keep on going.
The Russians along with numerous other hunters from the old Iron Curtain countries have been using them for years, many of them requiring a reliable working tool to supply meat for their families. So what their shotgun looks like is completely immaterial, as function is the only requirement. Equally, the one thing you can’t deny is that they work even down to the short multi chokes. Alternatively, you could save yourself a further £70 and opt for the fixed choke version. In 12, 28 bore and 410, all three cost an identical £395.
So if you want a cost effective, multi-purpose over and under that will just keep on working, take a close look at Baikal’s Model 27. It may not be as pretty as some of its fancier rivals, or purport to be something it isn’t. But it will be a shotgun you can rely on without breaking the bank.
Great value for money
A bit rough around the edges
Will last a life time
|Name||Baikal Model 27 (multi choke)|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates