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- Last updated: 30/01/2017
Baikal make guns that are famous for their near legendary bomb proof build quality and are a firm favourite with budget conscious hunters. This Russian company has a massive conglomeration of factories called the Federal State Unitary Plant “IZHEVSKY MEKHANICHESKY ZAVOD” (FSUP “IMZ”) or IMZ for short. This started in the dark days of World War Two, making amongst other things, Degtyarev and Simonov anti-tank rifles, Nagant revolvers, PT, AT and TT pistols, and also the legendary Makarov pistol, subsequently recognized as the best pistol of its class. In total more than 5 million pistols were produced at the plant.
The MP-512M - A Budget Priced Spring Rifle
This break barrelled spring piston rifle is fitted with an ambidextrous wooden stock and open sights. It comes complete with a metal cleaning rod for the barrel, a Russian/English instruction manual, and a spare mainspring, something unheard of in most European made air guns. The rifle is sturdily built, the stock is made of birch wood and stained a light brown colour.
The MP-512M is fitted with open sights, the front sight being housed in a plastic shroud on the end of the barrel. The rear sight is metal in construction with elevation and windage drums. Over the chronograph the .177 calibre version gave readings of 560fps with 7.9 grain pellets. That is just over 10.1ft/lbs of power. The .22 version gave 570 fps with 14.3 grain pellets. Giving it 10.4 foot pounds, both are all you need for normal airgun hunting ranges. The shot to shot consistency was good, with both calibres not varying more than 10fps. You can also fit an optical sight as there is a 120mm long sight rail attached to the top of the steel cylinder of the action. This takes standard 11mm scope mounts.
The stock is nicely finished and has a solid butt pad instead of the more normal rubber type, the auto safety catch comes on when you cock the action. The catch is very well situated right in front of the trigger blade. Once set you take the safety off by pulling the catch back towards the trigger, using your trigger finger. It cannot be re-set to safe again without breaking the barrel and re-cocking the rifle. Another safety feature the gun has is an anti-bear trap device. When the safety is off you can see a red dot at the base of the trigger, this is on both sides of the curved steel trigger blade, a plus for lefties. The trigger pull was 3.3kg, which for a basic spring rifle is ok. Testing initially at 10m with the open sights the accuracy was very good. The .177 shot a 19.8mm five shot group and when moving out to 15m for the bigger .22 it was 24.4mm for five 14.3 grain Crosman Accupells. With SMK .22 Spitfires it produced 24.2, 24.1 and a 22.1mm groups. Fitting a 4x32 magnification scope the group sizes halved to 12.9mm for the .177 and 13.9mm for the .22, both at 15m. With a retail price of £122 it really is good value for money.
The MP-654K – A Multi-Shot CO2 Powered Pistol
This CO2 powered MP-654K is based upon the Makarov pistol. Solid is a word I am forced to use again as this is the most robust CO2 pistol I have ever seen in my life.
The top slide can be pulled back to cock the hammer and there is a safety catch on the rear of the slide on the left hand side. Pushing this up locks the trigger off, as well as the top slide. Pushing it back down again and you can see a red dot, meaning the pistol is ready to fire.
The standard 12g CO2 bulb is housed in the magazine, here is where the one and only fault with the whole gun can be found - the magazine release catch. Unlike other pistols this cannot be operated by the hand which is on the gun, as the catch is buried at the very base of the grips underside, right behind the magazine. With the CO2 piercing screw on the bottom of the magazine, which has a larger steel hoop for turning the screw, this gets in the way of the hard to get at catch. Fast magazine changes are impossible with this gun. Which is just as well as each magazine is matched to each gun, even bearing the gun’s serial number on its base. Spare magazines are also impossible to get hold of. All that being said it is also the most accurate BB co2 pistol I have ever shot. The magazine holds 13 BB’s in a slot on the front face. It has a spring plunger which can be locked down to allow BB’s to be fed into the magazine via the exit hole, the plunger can then be released and the magazine put back into the gun, once of course a 12 gram CO2 bulb has be fitted. The simple screw system worked but as I mentioned before the hoop gets in the way of the magazine catch.
The grip has a chequered grip pattern on the sides and rear, the body of the gun also has a diamond grip pattern on the front face of the grip. The gun can be stripped down by pulling the trigger guard down, it pivots on a pin at the rear of the guard. The top slide can then be pulled off the action. It is not a function you really need on a CO2 pistol but it looks very realistic and very cool. It is both single or double action, and the slide can be pulled back to cock the hammer as mentioned before. Over the chronograph it produces half a foot pound of power with enough juice for around 3 magazines. It shot sub 10mm groups consistently at six yards with steel BB’s. This is a quality pistol, heavy and accurate, it would look better with brown grips to match the real Makarov and the magazine catch is fiddly but otherwise I rate this CO2 pistol very highly indeed. (As a footnote Baikal started to produce the MP-654K with brown grips in April of 2011, but York Guns haven’t received any yet, shame!)
The Baikal MP-46M Match Pistol
The finest gun here is of course the most expensive; the Baikal MP-46M match grade single shot pistol. It uses a single stroke charging system via a larger under-swinging lever.
It has multi adjustable wood grips and a multi adjustable match trigger making it possible to tailor the gun to the shooter for best fit and therefore the optimum in accuracy. It does not have a safety catch and the lever is locked into position under the cylinder with a spring loaded catch, breaking this lock allows the lever to be swung forward, via a sheet metal catch under the barrel it pulls open the breech cover, you can also hear air being sucked into the compression chamber. With the rear breech cover open this can be pulled back to cock the trigger, only when this is done can the lever be closed and the air compressed in the cylinder.
A pellet can then be loaded directly into the breech and the rear cover locked back down into position.
The trigger weight was 402 grams (14oz) on the test gun. The pad of my trigger finger sat in the perfect position on the trigger when I had adjusted the grip to fit me. It has further adjustments for pull weight, travel etc., but I left these alone as it was not affecting the pistols performance for me.
The MP-46M is the current production run of the original MP-46. The only visible and mechanical difference is the MP-46M is built with a slightly longer (½ inch or 12 mm) air compression cylinder. As all other components except chamber length and piston stroke are the same, visually the original MP-46 barrel appears to extend further beyond the air compression cylinder than the current MP-46M. The extra length of the air compression cylinder allows the 46M to have a 60fps increase in muzzle velocity over the original 46.
It has a hammer forged barrel, which in my experience make the most accurate airgun barrels. It comes with additional sight elements, both front and rear, as well as spare seals and a coated cleaning rod for a fabric patch.
Over the chronograph the 46M gave readings of 465fps with 7.9 grain match flat headed pellets. That equates to 3.8 ft/lbs. It can be dry fired for training purposes and as you would expect it is very, very accurate. I am no match pistol shooter but I was pleased with the groups I shot at 6 yards, including a 6.7mm centre to centre five shot group and when I shot single shots on five aspect targets I was close to getting five bulls eyes.
Shooting the Baikal trio has been a bit of an eye opener for me, I did expect the guns to be, shall we say, sturdy and rustic, but their performance down range was a revelation. I will buy a MP-654 when they get the brown gripped models in and the MP-512M will get a recommendation from me to any new shooter asking me what to buy for a cheap entry level spring gun. As for the super accurate MP-46M, it was a bit wasted on me. Match shooters on a budget however should give one a good coat of looking at.