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Baikal Sever combination and IZH1/8 rifle

Pete Moore looks at two Baikal hunting guns that pretty much have all the bases covered with a single shot .308 and a combination 22LR/20-bore rifle/shotgun

All the usual jokes about Baikal guns aside, they do make a solid and workmanlike product that (although not the sexiest thing in the world) will do the job come rain or shine… I think shotgun reviewer Mark Stone proved this when he looked at their over & under 12-bore a few months ago, as despite its poor relation looks and feel it can break clays with the best of them. Sometimes better; as it’s more about the pilot than the plane…

Baikal importers York Guns sent me two rather different guns for the hunter on a budget, multi-use keeper, or those wanting a knock about or client gun, it’s all here. First up the single shot IZH 1/8 in 308 Winchester.

The right stuff

I first encountered the IZH in 308 a few years ago as I used to shoot deer on ground up near Stratford upon Avon and the land owner had one. I commented that it looked rather basic and I would not fancy the recoil from this short, light cannon. Much to my surprise he came to the defence of the Baikal and told me it was his preferred gun as it was light, easy to handle, accurate enough and recoil friendly – given the build. I naturally tried it and he was correct; OK it was never going to win any beauty contests but it had the right stuff no doubt.

The IZH is based unsurprisingly on Baikal’s single barrel, 12-bore shotgun and uses the same butt and action. All they have done is to substitute a rifled barrel for the smooth bore tube. The woodwork is beech and plain in finish and design, the forend is a sort of beavertail and the butt shows a neutral build with a slim plastic butt plate.

The hammerless action opens by squeezing up on a lever at the rear of the trigger guard. A pin pops out of the tang to show when it’s cocked, the safety is a cross bolt inside the guard. For a basic design the barrel is fancy as it shows the classic spiral, hammer-forged profile, that is perhaps more familiar on Steyr Mannlicher guns…

Any old iron

Sights consist of an elevation-adjustable blade on a ramp up front and wide, U-notch plate at the rear which gives lateral correction. Backing this up is a short, 11mm dovetail over the chamber for scope mounting. Fixed sling swivels feature front and rear and the action is 'extract-only', with the fired case beign raised about 3/16” from the chamber where it has to be removed by hand.

As I recall my friend’s IZH had a one-piece scope mount, however York Guns supplied a set of Hawke rings to suit the slim base. Being quite long at about ¾” there is not enough room on the short rail to allow the normal fitting of a scope (one ring either side of the saddle) which is not ideal. You can just about do it with ½” long versions. If you were serious about this rifle the best bet would be to fit a length of Weaver rail to simplify things…

I managed to cobble together a mount as I has some slim rings which fitted the 11mm base. I used some Prvi Partizan 150-grain 308 soft tip and at 100 yards (rested) the rifle was printing 1-1 ½”. Not amazing, but good enough for 200/250 yards. The Baikal was well behaved, and though far from soft it was not terrible in the shoulder either. OK it’s no Remy 700, but at under £250 you can get yourself a tough working rifle that will do the job.

Double trouble

By comparison to the IZH the over/under Sever is far more up-market. Based on their O/U shotgun chassis the gun shows acceptable, oil-finished, walnut furniture with rather ugly but effective chequering. Odd is the fact that the upper (22 LR) barrel has a matching handguard over the top with finger grooves in it. Fittings go to a ventilated rubber recoil pad, sling swivels, basic front/elevation rear/windage iron sights and an 11m dovetail for scope mounting. By comparison to the rifle this is longer and did not pose the same problems the 308 did.

The action is totally familiar with twin triggers (forward top, rear bottom barrel), top lever and sliding, tang-mounted automatic safety catch. Opening up the action shows a single/combined extractor that lifts both cartridges up about ¼” where they have to be removed by hand. Barrels are separate and only joined at the muzzle and monobloc.

On the subject of combination guns and calibres the 22 Long Rifle barrel will be good for rabbits etc. and even the occasional close range fox. The 20-bore, though perhaps not carrying as much shot weight as a 12, is nonetheless highly effective and its slimmer size allows for a reasonably well proportioned gun in the hand. Baikal also offer other rifle calibre options that include 223 Rem, 308 Win, 30-06 and 9.3mm though I am not sure of the case length on this one…

For a 22 LR the barrel is long at 24”, which conversely is short for the shotgun side of the equation… One slight disadvantage being you cannot fit a moderator; personally I do not see that as a huge problem. The 20-bore tube is a multi-choke and comes with a key and three, flush fitting tubes. These are marked in the European fashion with slots around the edge to denote size as follows; F (full) 1-slot 0.581”, M (modified) 3-slots 0.605” and IC (improved cylinder) 4-slots 0.611”.

As primarily a rifle hunter I can see the advantage of a gun that gives you the option of fur and feather in a single design. However, I can also see the ability to be able to use solid slug too, as it really makes the Sever even more versatile. For a keeper checking traps etc. this looks like a great gun, likewise for the short range pot hunter it will give mastery of rabbits and pigeons etc.

Glass or iron

Quite the most awkward choice on the Sever is sights. The irons are basic but they work, though probably limit the working range to about 40 yards with 22 LR, so a scope is near mandatory. However, glass is hardly the thing for shotgunning, so what do you do? One option is a red dot, which though not magnifying the quarry gives a decent aiming point. Here you zero the rifle barrel and then pattern the shotgun tube to see what sort of aiming point the dot gives.

Workable, but it does not solve the problem of longer shots with the 22. One possible solution is a low magnification, driven game scope and such an optic is the Luger 1.5-4.5x20. With its illuminated, dot/circle reticule with lead arms it gives a working optic for rifle use and at a pinch can be wound down to 1.5x which will allow you to use the shotgun too. This is what I fitted.

Practical choices

At 50 yards the rifle barrel was printing around ¾” which I thought acceptable for the general build and scope used. This could be pushed out to 75 yards if required. I’m no shotgunner but the Sever patterned well at 25 yards and out of interest I tried a few rounds of rifled slug through it too. With the Improved Cylinder choke fitted it shot well. As can be seen, this is a handy and versatile tool for many shooting occasions; personally I would go for the 223 Rem/20-bore set up, which seems to be the most practical choice.

Well built, tough and reliable, if there is a down side to these two guns it’s their lack of capacity and totally manual operation. Fiddling with a 22 LR or 308 cartridge in a break-action gun might not be your idea of fun. Likewise the lack of a second shotgun barrel means you had better be good. However, they are what they are and if you can see the advantages they offer, which they do, then they will not break the bank either.

We say:
Built to last
Basic yet Practical
Worth consideration

Technical Specifications
Name Baikal IZH 1/8 single shot rifle
Calibre 308 Winchester
Action break-barrel
Barrel 23.5”
Sight Y
Scope base Y (11mm)
Price £240
Name Baikal Sever O/U combination
Calibres 22 LR and 20-bore (on test)
Action break barrel
Barrels 24” (shotgun multi-choke)
Sights Y
Scope base Y (11mm)
Price £485

All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates

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User Comments
  • nice article, could the mag do something on the double rifles from baikal, i quite fancy one, as a second (short range woodland) rifle, but if you do the testing i dont have to. see how much we trust you..

    Comment by: dave pepper     Posted on: 05 Aug 2009 at 03:16 PM

  • Dave

    Ah trust now there's a thing. A good few years ago I tested a 30-06 double from Baikal and to be honest you would need to keep it short range as even 50-yard groupings were not amazing... To be honest I would go for the single barrel IZH 1/8 if I were shopping in that area, or have a look at Rossi as they too offer a single, break barrel rifle.

    Cheers
    PM

    Comment by: pete moore     Posted on: 05 Aug 2009 at 04:07 PM

  • well, i was at the cla and at John Bradshaws found a remi baikal in .243. He let me have it at an extreamly good reduction. it appears to be walnut stocked and has a nice recoil pad, and is very swift to the shoulder, very stiff action though. the advantage of having a gun that breaks down like that at the present time is quite obvious, it takes up no room in the landy. At home I tried to scope it with some old mounts with no joy, they were double screw. So i rang sportsmatch, left a message and less than 10 mins later they rang back and i was advised to get an OP43c, a one piece extended jobbie which fits the base perfectly and allows full adjustment of the scope. Ordered one from Micheal Tawn yesterday and it arrived first thing this am. I have mounted an old meopta 7X50 but I had to remove the rear sight leave (very easy one screw) a 40mm or 42mm scope would have no problems. Piece of cake to bore sight and i shall take it to the range asap to zero. it seems to be very well made, good wood to metal fit though the checkering is quite rough. For a woodland moocher even a second gun it is cheap and if i can get near to an inch with hand loads, i may have it modded. I may even get a 308 from York Guns. Wonder how they compare with the Thompson single shot? the only down side is that i cannot fit leupold qr bases and ring as i have on other guns, never mind.

    Comment by: dave pepper     Posted on: 27 Jul 2010 at 07:06 PM

  • Yep, the single shot is a solid and effective design; if a little workmanlike and as you say for a walk-about gun or spare hard to beat. I think you will be happy with the accuracy too.
    PM

    Comment by: Pete Moore     Posted on: 28 Jul 2010 at 10:16 AM

  • used it last night. with 105 grain soft point about an inch @100 m off a sand bag, i'm stunned, not sighted in properly yet just went for groups. Christ knows how it would do with a decent shot at the but end. amazing bit of kit.
    Dave

    Comment by: dave pepper     Posted on: 29 Jul 2010 at 01:20 PM

  • Warning on saftey of these rifles

    last summer i purchased a baikal izh18mn in .308 win (single shot)at the pheonix competition,at bisley this rifle was new and appeared to be in good working order.i have laterally fired less than 50 rounds through the rifle on the day i purchased it i placed it in my gun cabinet around 3 months ago and have not touched the rifle since.or tinkered with the rifle in any way it apart from oiling the action after use and swabbing the barrel.etc...

    however upon taking it to the range today i found that it will slam fire a round as the action is closed!!!!,even with the safety on
    the problem is still occurring.needless to say this is very dangerous indeed and potentially life threatening.the gun is brand new and already has this a fault.the cocking lever is also very stiff,and seems undully descended.i have not been rough with closing the action either.i have not dry fired the weapon at all.without snap caps

    please warn other people as it was an extremely nasty surprise with potentially fatal consequences the r.o ordered me off the range so not only have i lost out on a days shooting,travel and all that i now am faced with the prospect of missing other comps and having to dole out money for carriage fees repairs etc. for what is in essence a broken gun.

    shall i simply have the gun destroyed as i am not willing to pass on this deathtrap to anyone else.and i could imagine that repair bill may exceed the value of the gun.not to mention all the hassle with my f.e.o and having to get my ticket reprinted for the 3rd time this year.as i seem to have had a string of lemons that have all gone wrong.if i were to replace it
    i am understandably a little frustrated as a 4 hour hour round trip was wasted/not to mention the shock of the slam fire.

    personally i think the old adage spring to mind "if you buy cheap,you buy twice"

    i wouldnt touch either of these rifles with a bargepole.take it from someone who has had the misfortune of buying one.

    mr e,
    london

    Comment by: ed     Posted on: 21 Nov 2011 at 01:56 AM

  • The other option of course is to take it back to the company you bought it from, as they should have checked it out before sale. Conversly speak to York Guns who are the Baikal importers and see what they say, chances are the people who you bought it off, got it from them.

    Comment by: pete moore     Posted on: 22 Nov 2011 at 09:09 AM

  • thanks for the advice it could be that im just incredibly unlucky as i see alot of people have had no problems at all with baikals,the old cliche of it being a friday afternoon job has been mentioned more than once
    i contacted york guns who told me that its because there is too much oil,on the action so i degreased it with solvents and the same problem occured,as if oiling the action of gun can break it???,and if that is the case
    my god what a dangerous design.it mentions nothing in the manual about over oiling.
    they then stated that it must be a grey import as the serial number did not match their records,and therfeore it was not under waranty.the cost of repair would be equal if not more than the value of the weapon,they also suggested destruction
    and to be honest my feeling on this weapon is that i cannot trust it any longer,as i believe it may have a design flaw,as the guys at the proof house noticed it could have easily gone off without the breech being fully closed.the build quality of theses guns has always left somthing to be desired,however i mistakenly thought them to be rugged like an ak47,well thats what everybody says,how wrong could i have been,
    also i can easily see this fault re occuring.as there was no warning of it previously going wrong,such as light trigger pull or any loseness in the action,so therefore, this morning i took it to the proof house and they have destroyed it.i had to pay £10 for the privelige too.
    i will inform the police and have passed on the details of the company whom it was purchased from.i do not want to let them know what has happened as i believe it will give them a chance to cover their tracks,i will let the police take it from here,as i wouldnt want anyone to have a similar accident
    after a long illness this really is the last thing i needed as shooting is so important to me,it is the only lifelong hobby ive had,and having lost work due to illness and long stay in hospital,it has really got me down as i am almost certainly unable to afford the price of a new rifle.such as a remington or howa.as ive been burned before and will not buy second hand.and i was so looking forward to getting some range time,i didnt even get a chance to properly zero the scope in!

    i will never go baikal again.never ever

    Comment by: ed     Posted on: 22 Nov 2011 at 04:47 PM

  • I never heard of baikal 308 until yesterday. I purchased a brand new baikal for $200. I thought it would be a nice firearms for my jeep during deer season. However, after reading the above, I wonder if I made the right move. Sounds pretty dangerous to me.

    Comment by: luv2carry     Posted on: 22 Apr 2012 at 05:30 PM

  • I purchased the baikal 308 and took it to the range yesterday. I was impresed by the low recoil but not amazed of the accuracy. I just learned that the front sight is an elevated blade but I have no tools to make the adjustment. Does anyone have any idea of how to adjust the front sight. Thank you.

    Comment by: luv2carry     Posted on: 26 Apr 2012 at 03:32 PM

  • I beleive that there's a screw in the sight ramp that should allow you to wind the blade UP/DOWN to suit. With this sort of gun you can expect about 4" @ 100-yards with iron sights and good ammo.

    Failing that you could try filing the sights. Sounds crude but taking a bit off the front one will raise the point of aim, conversly taking some of the back will lower it. Just take it easy! A scope will improve upon that no end though mounts are not that common. Speak to York guns as they import Baikal.

    Good luck
    PM

    Comment by: pete moore     Posted on: 26 Apr 2012 at 03:50 PM

  • i have one of these 308 rifles and hav put many many rounds throughe the gun without any probs',i am in the prosses of getting a 12g/223 combi' o/under i also own a 20g o/under ,one of my first guns was a single 12g baikal and the 308 is built the same only the barrel is different,and i kept that old gun for years and put 100's of rounds thru' it with not 1 missfire on it or any other of my baikals,these guns r working guns i own many other makes baretta, winchester,franchi,remington but baikals r tuff as old boots.that faulty 308 sounds like a dodgey one off as i cant' fault the brand warts and all lol.

    Comment by: bob griffiths     Posted on: 20 Mar 2013 at 02:06 PM

  • I bought a break action IZH 18 in .222 Rem a year ago and have developed a suitable load for it. I use it for bench rest shooting at 100 and 200yds and find the accuracy quite acceptable. I have to agree that the trigger is rather heavy, especially in comparison with the Feinwerkbau and Walther .22 target rifles. But off a bench rest it is manageable. There is one fault I have found with it. I have had 3 failures to fire when I close the action gently. Examination of the primer shows no imprint of the firing pin. Reclosing the action a bit more firmly works. Certainly no firing on closing as a previous writer has complained of.. A great rifle with a 10x40 scope. I am happy with it.

    Comment by: old age pensioner     Posted on: 19 Jun 2014 at 05:46 AM

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Baikal Sever combination and IZH1/8 rifle
Baikal Sever combination and IZH1/8 rifle
Baikal Sever combination and IZH1/8 rifle
Baikal Sever combination and IZH1/8 rifle
Baikal Sever combination and IZH1/8 rifle
Baikal Sever combination and IZH1/8 rifle
Baikal Sever combination and IZH1/8 rifle
Baikal Sever combination and IZH1/8 rifle
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