Saturday, September 29, 2012

THE USSG BAIKAL DOUBLE RIFLE: MP 221 AND VARIANTS

I've got absolutely no real use for a double rifle. Until I discovered the Baikal and some variants that have been made of a side by side double rifle (also sold as the Baikal IZH and the Remington  at previous times), I thought realistically I'd never have the chance of owning one. But I'm strongly considering asking Santa for one, and I'll tell you why.

From:
http://grabagun.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/265x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/G/A/GAG_489976-60303.jpg_1.jpg


THIS ONE IS POSSIBLY A PICTURE OF THE REMINGTON VARIANT IMPORTED IN THE MID-2000'S, FROM:
http://imzcorp.com/res_en/0_value_8547_188.jpg
This is a Baikal .45-70 with a scope mounted on it.
From: http://schwandnerwaffen.com/img/Baikal_MP221_2.jpg

Here's the link to EAA's page for the Baikal MP 221. A 23.5" barrel and the .30-06 weighs 7.4 lbs. and the .45-70 weighs 6.8.

I've seen the new Baikal double rifle priced at a large gun dealer for in the mid-$900.00's and I saw them for sale at a online dealer for about $750 plus shipping.  Either price is cheap for a decent double rifle. On occasion, I've seen the identical version that Remington used to import from Baikal on some of the auction sites, going for in the $500-$700 range. Baikal also made this rifle under another model number until recently, calling it the IZH 94 I think. But now it is the MP 221.

Just this past week, I read a review of the MP 221 in some magazine that a co-worker gets at work, possibly Shooting magazine. The writer bought one and apparently he lives in Houston, Texas, where there is generally little call for a big game hunting rifle. Like most of us, the writer noted he never though he could afford a double rifle.

Of course, there's plenty of hunting fodder for a double rifle in Texas, like deer, hogs and big cats, which can be found all over the state of Texas, and some of those deer and hogs and cats are big ones needing a big, powerful bullet to bring them down. All of these can be hunted with a double rifle in a serious caliber.

The writer liked the gun, in spite of it's short comings, which mostly involved finish and not fit and his dislike of the heavy trigger pull of each of the dual triggers. As the writer indicated, he can get that fixed by his gunsmith. The writer felt it was a screaming deal for the grand he paid for it, and that's the MSRP, but as I said, I've seen the .30-06 online for the mid-$700's and that's retail, not wholesale.

I saw one a few months ago. My friend Cowboy's brother has a hog hunting outfitted jeep on the family ranch, which spans about 280 acres. It has several good sized ponds or tanks or small lakes on it, two of which are brimming with two pound bass and three pound cats.

Cowboy's brother bought the Baikal MP 221 for the same reason Cowboy and I and every other shooter I know our age likes them, because we were raised on safari movies on TV when we were kids and most of us have seen nice and fancy double rifles that are way out of our financial reach.

Cowboy's brother added this Baikal double rifle to his jeeps hog hunting arsenal, which also includes a Glock Model 22 mounted on the hump, a pistol gripped pump 12 gauge with an 18 barrel mounted on the dash pointing out the passenger side, and a  CAR-15 rifle in a rifle holder mounted in front of the passenger seat vertically.

He's got a pedestal mounted seat in the back of the jeep sort of like Rat Patrol had in their desert combat jeeps in the 1960's TV show I liked so much, and a mono-pod mounted gun mount that telescopes up and down as does the seat. It's some kind of deluxe bass boat seat and pedestal he mounted.  He can park on a hillside and take out several hogs with his CAR-15 and now, with his double rifle resting in the rifle holder. Or use his bow or cross-bow. He's got mounts all over the jeep for his hog hunting tools.

Their family ranch, like most in Texas and I mean all over this very large state, is overrun with hogs. The big, mean, tusk growing kind of Texas hogs. Some of the hogs on his place go over 250 pounds, and although you want to kill those, that's too big and tough for eating.

As an aside, if you think I'm kidding about having a hog explosion here in Texas, I'm not. We have hog overpopulation problems in every area of Texas, and numerous types of wild hogs and javalinas. Within the past few years, I've seen THOUSANDS of black, 40 lb javalinas moving like a black wave through a large far West Texas ranch, running through the waist high green grass like a black wave in the water. It was wild to see that many javalina at once.

While on a fishing trip at Matagorda Island, Texas a couple of years ago with Billy Ray and El Fisho Jr., we were at this spot on the Colorado River, very near where the mouth joins the Gulf of Mexico, looking across the river to the inaccessible part of Matagorda Island and the hundreds of hogs, big ole' Texas hogs with most going over a couple of hundred pounds.

It was late April and we had been having some rain in that area at that time, and there were pools of rainwater on the shore near the river as well as some grass growing.

They were some big hogs, and that's coming from a fellow who has grown up around big hogs. East Texas hogs, mostly, big ones.

All of them snorting and digging and grousing through the coastal grass and puddles at the shoreline and drinking some of the brackish yet fresher river water (about a mile or so up from the Gulf) than the bay or Gulf water. If you didn't think a hog could grab a bird or gull off the ground, then I'll tell you that you're wrong. I wouldn't have believed it until I saw it, but hogs can be mighty fast when they want to be.

The short of it is, we've got hog problems all over the state. There is no shortage of folks I can call, who live near and far in this state, and arrange a hog hunting trip on their place. Folks with stock, particularly sheep and goats, have much to fear from wild hogs, as do chicken and even cattle farmers.

I've seen the destruction one group of big coastal hogs in a couple of hours can do to a multi-million dollar rice farm, causing losses in the seven digits from a frenzied feeding and tromping of rice. Same with big corn farms. Some years ago, many years ago really, I used to drive to and from work through a rather large farm. Big corn farmers, as well as other crops. But it was the corn rows and watching the corn stalks grow on a daily basis that was fascinating.

And then seeing the damage a rampage of hogs can do to that well maintained corn field of say 500 acres in just one night. Almost a total loss. Farmer said he'd be losing money if he tried to harvest what little he had left. He said it'd be easier  and he'd lose less money to just plow it all under and get ready for the next planting.

Stories like this with hogs killing stock or damaging crops abound all over the state, and as I am aware, in other states as well. In Texas, we also have wolves, coyotes, various other varmints, wild cats of several kinds and lots of big ole' snakes that sometimes need shooting. Tons of snakes, actually. Most all of them very poisonous. Even our spiders in Texas can be deadly or at least, flesh eating, like the Brown Recluse, which of course is predominantly found in the areas where I like to fish in Central Texas and the Hill Country.

So Cowboy's brother's hog hunting jeep reminds me of the Internationals and the Land Rovers we used to see down near the King Ranch and the other big South Texas ranches. Some of their rigs were topless and doorless 4x4's with long gun scabbards either in the dash or on the outside of each door. One International, a very cool International, was a big 2 door (with a tailgate, like the old Blazers and Broncos) that had no top and no doors. Each side had a heavy metal box that held three leather lined scabbards for long guns.

I saw this fine ride at the GM dealer in Brownsville when I was about 13, and already appreciating cool vehicles like that one. It was new, and was getting something installed inside of it. We were getting a new radiator while visiting South Padre Island and towing a fishing boat.  So as we stood around while they installed the new radiator we got to admire the International and talk for the two cowboys who drove it in. They worked for one of the big ranches, and in their roaming the big spread they worked on, they encountered everything from rattlers and coyotes and wild cats and hogs and mountain lions that needed taking care of.

The owner of the dealership was also impressed with this ride and especially the gun racks. The dealer had a friend who custom made them for this vehicle, and was out there with us admiring the guns in the racks. One of the guns was a double rifle, I believe in some big game African hunting caliber, and everyone was particularly impressed with this gun because it was something you normally didn't see in non-rich folk circles in Texas, then or now. The bullets were also huge.

So that was the first double rifles I've seen, but not the last. I've seen a bunch of nice double rifles and drillings over the years, but my budget is more that of a combination rifle/shotgun shooter. Although one nice friend located a nice extremely low priced drilling a few months ago for me that was about $1,275 as I recall, when you buy an old drilling, particularly sight unseen off the internet, you don't know what you're getting. Parts most likely on an obscure, cheap and long out of production gun that is 70 years old or so have to be made, and they can't be bought.

You really need to have any gun like an old drilling examined by a gunsmith who knows something about drillings, and although there are some drilling knowledgeable gunsmiths out there, you'd probably want them lined up to inspect the gun during the inspection period before you bought a gun.

Most cheap drillings and double rifles start in the $4,000 range, give or take a few hundred, and quickly gain digits the nicer you get.

So all that is said to circle back around and talk about the Baikal MP-221, available in .30-06 and .45-70. A double barreled side by side rifle. Made in Russia. Some might say, crudely made, and I'll admit that the example I handled as well as the Baikal double barreled shotguns in the same line are rough and a bit crude in construction and finish, but seem to work very well.

I'll note that a cheap Romanian AK is also rough in appearance but shoots dead on straight out of the box using cheap ammo and has kept shooting straight and reliably for over 2,000 rounds with absolutely no issues at all. Very Glock like.

So Cowboy's brother said his gun sighted in and shoots basically two inch groups at 50 yards using the iron sights when he's resting the gun. He said double that to a 4 inch group when freehand shooting at the same distance, which isn't bad. He said he thinks he could fiddle with it more and close those gaps but doesn't see the reason to as that's good enough for him.

He's shooting the .30-06 version which is the one I'd like to have. It's got a bit more flat shooting range of distance than the .45-70 does, but the .45-70 is a hard hitting round at the right distance. Either one kicks a bit more than I care for after over 40 years of shooting .30-06.

I prefer a .308 these days, or the venerable .30-30. The .30-30 works for most of the shooting I do, but the rifles I like such as the M1A and the Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout don't come in .30-30.

I'd really prefer a double rifle in a .308 or a .30-30, just for the lessened recoil for  me. I'd also be interested in one of the Russian calibers like 7.62 x 39 or 7.62 x 54r. The latter caliber, the 7.62 x 54r is often called the "Russian .30-06". I do find it interesting that Baikal doesn't chamber the .30-06 version of the gun for this caliber, because it would apparently require just a little gunsmithing alteration (chambering, boring the barrel and rifling the barrel) to make a 7.62 x 54r gun.

The Mosin Nagant rifle is chambered in the 7.62 x 54r caliber, and the ammo is ultra cheap. Like 1980's surplus ammo cheap. You can get 440 rounds for $80 in my parts. It's a hard hitting round that will shoot some distance with quite a bit of speed and energy, hence it's nickname as the "Russian .30-06". By the way, don't shoot either caliber out of another gun made for a different caliber. I'm talking about having a gunsmith re-bore barrels and chambers to make such a thing possible and make sure it is a safe gun to shoot another caliber out of.

I'll write more about the Baikal MP 221 once I get to mess with Cowboy's brother's gun a bit and do some shooting with it. I've got a box of low recoil .30-06 around here, and a couple of boxes of different kinds of hunting ammo as well in that caliber, and I'd like to see how those shoot out of the Baikal. And how bad the recoil is with full power hunting rounds.

When I do shoot the MP 221, I'm pretty sure I'll bring several slip-on recoil pads in various sizes to add some hopefully absorb some recoil. My friends brother says it does kick a bit.

My next post will be about using a double barrel shotgun with slugs as a poor man's double rifle, something my family has done for years.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for your post. I've also always had a 'hankering' for a double rifle, but when I seriously considered them, all those I found that were (half way) affordable were old, in rough shape, and in strange European obsolete chamberings. I recently handled a Baikal combination gun in a gun shop and was quite impressed with the quality. Theyre strong, solid guns. Not fancy, but built like a tank - as are many other Russian arms. (I used to kinda 'collect' old Russian military surplus rifles. They were cheap to buy.) The combo gun wasn't in a chambering I would use, but it got me to start paying attention to Baikal. The use, or at least 'justification' for getting a MP 221 double rifle, (likely in .45-70, but we'll see. I'm early in the decision process) is that in my state we can't use dogs or put out bait when hunting black bear. Most guys hunt & stalk with mixed results. Some have found using a predator call to be very effective. But that definitely has a factor of being 'interesting', when a hungry black bear comes running in to eat the 'wounded rabbit' that he wants for dinner. It would sure be nice to have a double rifle for that kinda hunting. I'm also sometimes in grizzily country and this might be nice to have there too. I imagaine it would handle hotter loads such as those from Buffalo Bore. I'll have to do some more checking on that though. Regards, - - RJ

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  3. Thanks for stopping by, RJ. You put it better in a long paragraph than I put in MANY long paragraphs. I couldn't agree about getting a low priced ancient no parts at all anywhere for any price combo gun.

    I might want to have a backup shooter as well as a hearty sidearm for any kind hungry charging bear, but a good start would be a .45-70 with some Buffalo Bore loaded up.

    Just curious, what would be the backup handgun you'd carry in a hungry bear situation?

    Conventional opinion seems to hold .44 mag, followed by other and larger calibers. What about the 10mm?

    I have gotten to see a couple of Baikal double barreled shotguns, both side by side and O/U. As you say, not fancy but heavy duty and seemingly well constructed. Not the lightest doubles I've handled but they looked sturdy in all the right places.

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