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York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun

Jules Whicker field tests the York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 single-barrel moderated shotgun

Moderated Baikal shotguns have been around for a while now, but while it may look familiar, the Stealth is in fact a new design, developed in-house by York Guns (YG) to ensure that they could meet their customers’ demands for a product that had previously been beset by supply problems. Basing their design on the tried-and-tested Baikal MP-18M-M, the guys at YG have opted for Baikal’s latest version, from whose black synthetic stock and forend the Stealth clearly takes its name.

As we have come to expect from Baikal, the action is basic but bomb-proof, with the metalwork having a matte sheen and a brownish-black colour. Operation couldn’t be simpler: squeezing a short but comfortably contoured lever at the rear of the trigger guard unlatches the barrel and cocks the action, which causes an indicator pin to protrude from the top tang; and opening the gun activates the extractor. A manual, cross-bolt type safety is located behind the broad trigger blade, blocking it when applied, and showing a red ring around the L/H end when set to “fire”. Everything functioned smoothly out of the box, and though the safety is right-handed, left-handed shooters will find that it doesn’t get in the way and will appreciate the ambidextrous operation of the under-lever.

Everything in moderation…

So far, so familiar, but it’s the moderated barrel that makes this gun different and York Guns have come up with a simple but effective system. The alloy moderator shroud, which has a tough black powder-coated finish, screws onto a broad alloy bushing securely bonded to the barrel ahead of the forend tip, and is further supported by a smooth bushing at the muzzle. Under the shroud, the Stealth retains the original 61cm tube, so conserving the full factory choke, but between the bushings five holes have been drilled through the barrel at regular intervals to vent propellant gas from behind the wadding into the moderator. As there are no vents in the forward bushing, this section traps all the fouling from the first phase of suppression – just as well then that it’s easy to clean.

Meanwhile, ahead of the muzzle, a series of baffles in the forward section of the shroud muffle the muzzle blast. The baffles are permanently bonded into the shroud – an arrangement that ensures they remain correctly aligned with the bore at all times.

The Baikal has 3” chambers, so you can use .410 cartridges in the full range of lengths, from 2” to 3”. I tried the gun with three loads from Eley: 2” Fourten (9g, #6); 3” Magnum (18g, #6); and 3” Magnum Subsonic (18g, #6), as well as some 2.5” (14g, #6) Lyalvale Express. The results were interesting. In the first place it was apparent that the vents in the barrel don’t bleed off enough gas to slow down either the 2.5” or 3” standard cartridges to subsonic velocities. It’s true they were quieter out of the Stealth than from an un-suppressed gun, but noise reduction with these loads was nothing to get excited about.

By contrast, and even though they are not rated as subsonic, the report from the 2” cartridges was no noisier than that of an un-moderated spring-powered airgun. The down-side of course is that you’re only throwing 9g of shot, which limits the effective range to about 15 yards. All the same, this would be an excellent load for use in particularly noise-sensitive areas and around farm buildings. My preference here, however, would be for smaller shot (#8 or #9), though as all the available factory loadings use #6s this would require hand-loading - something I’d do anyway if the gun were in regular use, since.410 ammo costs about 40% more to buy ready-made, and 40% less to hand-load, than equivalent 12g cartridges.

Last up were the Eley 3” subsonics. As expected, these were a bit noisier than the 2-inchers, but not much, and they threw their 18g of #6 into convincing killing patterns right out to 30 yards, making the Eleys the clear choice for open-country hunting. As ever, of course, the key to success with small bores is accuracy, since a dense pattern with 18g of shot is also a tight one!

Furniture and handling

It matters then how the Stealth handles. First of all, the trigger is good, breaking at a crisp and pretty consistent 6.5-7 lb. Moreover, despite its bull-barrelled appearance, the gun isn’t muzzle-heavy, balancing just 7cm ahead of the hinge pin; and at 2.8 kg it’s by no means a burden to carry – though, unlike most Baikals, the Stealth didn’t come with sling swivels, which I reckon are always worth having on a working gun.

As for the synthetic furniture, it’s obviously practical, and the forend fills the hand nicely, but the proportions of the butt, with its longish 14 7/8” length of pull, and open-radiused pistol grip, had me noticeably stretching for the trigger. Of course both features will suit those with larger hands and longer arms, but it’s worth noting here that, unlike a wooden stock, the Stealth’s synthetic handle can’t be shortened or extended. Fortunately, the drop (1.5” at the comb and 2.5” at the heel) suited me quite well, and the absence of cast maintains the gun’s ambidextrous appeal.

The stock and forend have an easily-gripped non-slip texture, and ribbed panels in place of chequering on the pistol grip and the forend tip, whilst the butt ends in a ribbed rubber pad. At first the ribbed panels appeared to be more about style than practicality, but with gloves on the design made a lot more sense.

With the gun mounted, the Stealth presents an unusual sight picture, with first a short (17mm) cross-cut 7mm rib, then the big black half-moon of the moderator, and beyond it a squat brass bead. As is usually the case with moderated shotguns, therefore, it’s harder to draw a precise and instinctive bead on your target than it is with a conventional ribbed barrel – though with practice, and especially if the gun fits you well, this shouldn’t be a problem.

There’s scope to get even more out of the gun with some simple DIY modifications too. Adding a fibre-optic “bead” at the muzzle would be an obvious start, but fix a short length of Picatinny rail over the chamber and a couple more on the moderator shroud and you could mount a lamp/illuminator for night work, along with a laser/red-dot sight for greater precision. Come to think of it, as well as making sure you were shooting true with shotshells, an optical sight could be just the thing to turn the Stealth into a deadly little foxer with slug loads (paperwork permitting, of course).

Quiet conclusions

Overall, then, I think the Stealth is an eminently practical gun for pest control in noise-sensitive areas and at night, whether you use it with ultra-discreet 2” loads for close work or 3” subsonics for the longer stuff. Out-of-the-box it’s already great value - give it a shorter stock and sling swivels and I couldn’t fault it - but add some rails, and treat it to a camo dip or paint job, and I reckon it would be just about perfect!

Technical Specifications
Make York Guns/Baikal
Model Stealth
Mechanism Break-action, single-shot
Calibre .410
Chamber 3” / 76 mm
Overall Length 50” / 127 cm
Barrel length 24 1/2" / 61 cm
Moderator length 33 5/8” / 85.4 cm
Weight 6 lb 4 oz / 2.8 kg
Stock Black synthetic
L.O.P. 14 7/8” / 37.8 cm
Sights Brass front bead
Price £359

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

User Comments
  • I have the stealth and i have to say that i dont find the stock too long at all, if anything its about an inch too short and im only 5 foot 11, so you can't exactly say its because im a big person and thats why i find it short. I do agree that it is a good gun except for two things, the barrel makes a very anoying rattel every time you close the gun and the other problem is that it isn't as quite as its competitors, i have used the moderated mossberg and found it to be considerably quiter.
    You also used express plastic wad cartridges and you didn't mention that plastic wads are a bad cartridge to use in a moderated gun, as the wad can jam in the end of the barrel.
    But all this aside i do think that it is a good, solid, reliable and attractive gun, that does handle well.

    Comment by: luke     Posted on: 15 Aug 2009 at 10:47 PM

  • hi,
    you mention attaching a piece of picatinny rail to the baikal as far as i am aware there are no existing screws or recievers to take this section. i am keen to attach a halo optics to mine aand would love your advice

    cheers,

    G

    Comment by: Guy Edwards     Posted on: 17 Oct 2009 at 12:05 AM

  • Guy

    As said the fittings would be of a DIY nature, possible the quickest would be a pair of jubilee clips around the moderator body that you could screw a length of rail to. OK no pretty but it would work. Getting a bit bolder you could drill and tap the moddy body and screw directly into the metal; however I would be a bit concerned about gas escape and realingment after stripping and cleaning.

    There might even be enough meat above the chamber to screw and tap in the conventional manner; however the gun would need re-proofing and there's no certainty it would work or be safe. As always with things of this nature better to be safe than sorry...

    Hope that helps

    Cheers
    PM

    Comment by: pete moore     Posted on: 17 Oct 2009 at 08:40 AM

  • hi i own a moderated baikal can you clean the moderator
    if so please send me info
    if any body is intrested i have mounted a light to the barrel
    please send me email i will email photo
    regards brian

    Comment by: brian griffiths     Posted on: 13 Dec 2009 at 10:12 PM

  • hi i own a baikal over and under and while out shooting the part that clips to the barrel that releases when taking it apart has broken, it has a number on which is co1012 . i was wondering if you had any parts thre to replace it as its a very good gun and i dont ant to part with it . thankyou

    Comment by: david midgley     Posted on: 18 Feb 2010 at 02:06 PM

  • We are a magazine and have nothing to do with spares etc. Give the importers York Guns a bell

    Comment by: pete moore     Posted on: 18 Feb 2010 at 02:11 PM

  • Just picked up a new stealth yesterday and took it out last night and had lots of rabbits really great gun and it seems loud at first but stand 100 yards away and you cant hear it its an amazing little gun 3 inch mags really hard hitting. getting quieter the more i use it .Cant wait to try roost shooting with the gun. Recommend to all.

    Comment by: boatboy     Posted on: 12 Mar 2010 at 07:39 PM

  • Yep, it's a useful little tool no doubt...

    Comment by: pete moore     Posted on: 16 Mar 2010 at 10:55 AM

  • Does anyone know how this compares to the Hushpower version?

    Comment by: Richard     Posted on: 28 May 2010 at 10:46 AM

  • Pretty much the same thing, though the YG version offers a synthetic stock as opposed to the wood furniture of the HP. Surprisingly quite with standard 410 ammo and better with subs...

    Comment by: Pete Moore     Posted on: 28 May 2010 at 12:59 PM

  • My dad hs just bought the 410 moderated Baikal. We have found it to be no quieter than an un-moderated shotgun. It certainly doesn't seem to make any noticeable difference for shooting in the back garden orchard which it was bought for. Reading the article above seems to suggest that it is much quieter than we have found. Does anyone think that it could be faulty? Any advice or opinions would be greatly appreciated.

    Comment by: Lloyd     Posted on: 19 Jun 2010 at 11:04 AM

  • Try sub-sonic ammo as that does make more of a difference. Truth is a shotgun is always going to be loud, though from our expierence and even with standard ammo the moddy does make it quiter.

    Comment by: Pete Moore     Posted on: 20 Jun 2010 at 12:46 AM

  • I have a stealth .410 and it is a great bunny gun. I have found that when using standard 3" magnum cartridges it is only marginally quieter than a 12 bore at the point of firing but at 50 yards (my dad was in next field.) he said it was much quieter. using subsonics the gun is markedly quieter and with no loss in range or stopping power. The gun is also great for roost shooting/drey poking. my only complaints would be 1~no sling swivels. (easily remedied.) and 2~the finish is a bit sharp, when the action is open there are some sharp edges that need a bit of a rub with a file to take the edge off. But overall a great utility gun. (and for those wanting to add optics/holo sights there are the velcro mounts that do the trick on the action/moderator without drilling or screwing.

    Comment by: Gary Loker     Posted on: 26 Aug 2010 at 02:20 PM

  • I find this gun very quiet. It is a pity on the test that the reviewer did not use the Eley 2.5" cartridges. Not sub-sonic, but the quieter than the 3" subsonic and even the 2". Only disappointment is the lack of range as this gun has given me several unclean kills.

    One thing you find with this gun is that the sound of the shot hitting is louder than the report of the gun. This might explain why comment thought it was as loud as an unmoderated gun (which it definitely isn't). The ear is a very bad judge of true sound levels, and when the report itself if quiet, the sound of the shot hitting then sounds very loud.

    Very useful, no hearing protection needed, small and light. A great gun to have out with you on a walk.

    Comment by: Richard     Posted on: 30 Sep 2010 at 02:33 PM

  • I just bought one of these - went out yesterday using 3" subs (Eley) - as loud as an unmoderated .22! Atmospherics were cold, damp and foggy so maybe speed of sound was low, however I found it pointless and could just as well used a 12b as there was no 'stealthiness' whatsoever.
    Took it to the range today and put 70 rounds through it to see if it would bed in - result: better but still like a cannon. Ranges from 0yds to 50yds so I was easily able to differentiate shot hitting the target from the noise of the gun.
    Nice gun from Baikal, though. Mine is crisp and well made. Will try a different cartridge/ different weather before deciding to keep/ get rid.

    Comment by: Dunc     Posted on: 31 Dec 2010 at 03:55 PM

  • Let's be clear on this; it's never going to be as quiet as a 22 sub-sonic... However, I have found it a reasonably covert, short range bunny basher and far handier to use than a moderated 12-bore, why not try some sub-sonic loads?
    PM

    Comment by: peter moore     Posted on: 03 Jan 2011 at 11:24 AM

  • I find the comments here more polarised than any other review I have read for other guns. Some say very noisy and yet some say very quiet. Is this because of the different perceptions of the users or are the guns actually different? It seems that the best cartridges (for quiet performance) are the standard 2" or 2.5" loads - although not all the reviews mention these.
    I am still undecided between one of these (for vermin control) or the mossberg pump which one user says is quieter?
    There are no you tube videos (which are any good) which demonstrate the differences between the noise levels in different environments with different loads. I wish someone would post one - I am sure loads of people would benefit. One thing for sure, though, when I eventually buy either the Baikal or the Mossberg I will post such a video!

    Comment by: Gilfach05     Posted on: 14 Mar 2011 at 09:45 PM

  • Ive just brought one of these for shooting on a small holding that breeds Alpacas. (nasty spitting hateful animals!) I started out using 3.5 inch magnums, these cartridges were rather noisey at close range, but 100 yards away you didnt really hear them. These 3.5's really do hit hard. Next I tried 3' Eleys, these were much better, less noise but definately didnt hit as hard. Seems to get quieter the more I use this gun.
    Best result has been a sitting Woodpigeon at 48 paces. Probably luck more than judgement.
    One thing that does put me off is the poor sighting. There is no factory fitted bead and its a point and guess and this is a major flaw. Guessing where your shot pattern is going is a really stupidly bad idea. I added one of those self adhesive fibre optic site bead things to the barrel.
    This improves things but due to the external wall of the silencer part of the barrel being 3/4 inch away from the actual barrel, this means your shots are nearly always going to be very low and you need to compensate.

    I'd be interested to know if anyone knew of somewhere I could get a small site rail welded or somehow fixed to the top of the breech so I could fit a small red dot site?

    All said and done, nice gun, has its sighting flaws buts its very useful, light to carry. But it is overpriced for what it is.

    Comment by: Mike McNally     Posted on: 21 May 2011 at 04:44 AM

  • All the Stealths I have seen and used came fitted with a simple bead on top of the moderator, guess yours is missing...

    Comment by: peter moore     Posted on: 22 May 2011 at 08:10 AM

  • I have just bought a stealth, and took it along with my Winchester SX3 to my
    local clay bird shoot on Sunday. Clearly, compared to a 12g it was very quiet.
    However, we didn't try it until after the shoot had finished, and using ELEY 3"
    subsonics were hitting settling duck and others with ease. Despite not being the gun for the job, it was fun to use. Like others have mentioned, I am going
    to use a variety of loads to find the best compromise of suppression v punch.
    One thing that does seem peculiar, is that the staff at the gunshop I bought it from, advised never to clean the suppressor, just to let it build up inside, as this will help with progressive sound suppression. This seems to go against
    everything I understand about suppressors. Military people experienced in
    these areas tell me that unless suppressors are cleaned and re packed
    regularly, the effect degrades. Anybody have any comments ?

    Comment by: John Kirby     Posted on: 08 Jun 2011 at 03:16 PM

  • Yes it's a supper little gun and it will do a lot more than its calibre and build might indicate. Mike Yardley tested one in the July issue of Shooting Sports and he's over the moon with it, which for a man who knows a thing or two about shotguns speaks volumes...

    Moderators - rule of thumb suggests that when new letting them coke-up a bit does improve the effect, but you are correct in thinking that a build-up of fouling if left too long can have the reverse affect. However, all the gunk that gets deposited inside the can is seriously unhealthy. Most of the UK suppliers feel that if they are to be cleaned then an ultrasonic system is best. Failing that; do it outside and wear a face mask. Simpler and reasonably effective is to spray them with oil after each use, which tends to stop the fouling hardening and certainly reduces corrosion damage too. Given in the case of the Stealth it has ports in the barrel that allow gas transfer.

    If left uncleaned; certainly on a large volume unit such as this you will find they can lock up solid and might not even come apart. I'd also reccomend some form of grease on the threads to reduce this effect.

    Cheers
    PM

    Comment by: peter moore     Posted on: 08 Jun 2011 at 04:33 PM

  • Just invested in the Baikal .410 moderated (IZH-18M-M) version. Whilst I am impressed with the gun overall (weight, balance, ease of use etc) - one problem: when I put in the first cartridge (Eley 3" subsonic), closed barrel, safety off.. there was just a 'click' of the hammer action and then nothing. This happened a few more times, having changed cartridge (in case of mis-fire etc). In short, having tried approx a dozen shots, i do not know when or if the gun is going to fire.

    I have now stopped using it, for safety reasons and will take it back to the supplier for their advice / investigation.

    Has anyone else experienced this? Does the action need closing "firmly", or in a particular fashion?! the gun did, however, produce an 8" spread at 30 yds.

    Grateful for your observations and remedies.

    Regards

    Steve

    Comment by: Steve Brining     Posted on: 09 Jun 2011 at 03:12 PM

  • It could be a number of things:

    Short firing pin giving inconsistant ignition

    Hard primers in conjunction with a weak hammer spring

    A bit of crud or tiny piece of metal blocking the full fall of the hammer

    Or a combination of the above

    I have tested one and put a lot of rounds through it of various types with 100% reliability.

    Let's face it Baikals are tough and robust if basic guns and they do churn them out in their thousands, so it's not unsurprising that the occasional duffer gets through. If your not happy take it back - after all you are the customer...

    8" at 30-yards - good enough for rolling over bunnies

    Good luck
    PM

    Comment by: peter moore     Posted on: 09 Jun 2011 at 04:55 PM

  • Peter, Many thanks for your comments on cleaning the moderator, and the
    health and safety heads up regarding the toxicity of build up therein.
    I was intrigued by the 'ultrasonic system' you mentioned. Do you have any
    more info on what this entails ?
    Cheers.

    Comment by: john Kirby     Posted on: 10 Jun 2011 at 02:36 PM

  • I have a Hornady Sonic case cleaner, which is pretty much a small metal container, which you fill with water or a cleaning fluid and it's vibrated at some silly speed, which causes multiple waves or pulses that litterally vibrates the crud off surfaces. However, for the can on the stealth you's need a big one...

    PM

    Comment by: peter moore     Posted on: 10 Jun 2011 at 04:31 PM

  • I am looking for the quietest gun - Baikal Stealth or Hushpower. I like the reviews of both so which to go for?. For bunnies and pidgeons in 2 acre garden with a few houses on boundary

    Comment by: simon watkins     Posted on: 22 Jun 2011 at 12:15 AM

  • This to Steve,

    A few people have reported misfires with the stealth, all that I know of have resulted from closing the gun too gently, usually when stalking/creeping about. The gun needs to be closed firmly with a good snap; if you find that once closed, the lever moves with very little effort then you haven't closed it fully and the hammer will be blocked. I have found that the effort needed reduces as the gun loosens up.

    Love this gun, got some odd looks at the local clay ground.....

    Comment by: Bob Downer     Posted on: 11 Jul 2011 at 12:11 PM

  • "full factory choke" Would it be wise using it with slugs for foxing if it is full choke?.

    Comment by: Nick     Posted on: 09 Aug 2012 at 10:16 PM

  • just got the stealth,going to use it mainly for rabbits ,would subsonics be the best cartridge for them .tried the 2 in,2.5s and subs but realy want to get the best from this gun .also as any one fitted a lamp to one of these guns ? ifso how did it work out

    Comment by: trev     Posted on: 17 Aug 2012 at 12:54 AM

  • Copper grease is excellent for stopping the threads seizing.The type used on car brake pads to stop them squeaking..Available from car parts stores etc.

    Comment by: roebuck     Posted on: 11 Mar 2013 at 10:38 AM

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York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
York Guns Baikal ‘Stealth’ .410 shotgun
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