Baikal review 201

Baikal produces a comprehensive imfireange of products including shotguns, rifles and airguns. Its shotgun range covers all types – single-barrel, side-by-side, over-and-under, pump and semi-auto. Baikal also produces good single-shot, over-and-under and side-by-side rifles, plus combination guns. All Baikal products are robust, and offer exceptional value for money. 

The world’s largest manufacturer of sporting arms produces Baikal in Russia; its shotguns and rifles are made from top-grade steel using state-of-the-art machinery and production techniques. With the exception of the budget models, rifles and shotguns are stocked in beech or walnut.

The MP221 Artemida is a unique combination of an ‘express’ style side-by-side gun featuring a basic appearance, but in classic lines, with an innovative barrel concept that incorporates a unit which provides for close and stable patterning of mean impact point by self regulation. If brand or cartridge load is changed, the mean impact point of each barrel can be zeroed to a common centre via a ribless joint of barrel unit, and the loose fit of the right barrel in the sleeve. This is easily done by moving the jack-type horizontal adjuster.

Baikal review 604The gun is a cheap and cheerful chance to own a double rifle that effortlessly maintains a genuinely elegant appearance even though, retailing at £650, it would be well within budget for many British boar hunters that sporadically partake in boar driving weekends on the continent. Indeed, more and more Brits are adding an annual boar battue to their calendars, and for the shotgunner who is a non-stalker, or rarely uses a bolt-action rifle, there could not be a better option than Baikal’s best.

The stock and forend are made from basic beech – there is also a walnut option – and finished with a rubbed oil finish. Chequering on the pistol grip and forend panels is well cut, even, and surprisingly smooth, making for a comfortable grip. Unfortunately, the stock is a little short, a fault I remember from my old Baikal shotgun from yesteryear. However, this can easily be remedied with the addition of a butt extension sleeve or, for the purist, an extra piece of wood can be shaped and fitted professionally to extend the length of pull. The stock is finished with a black recoil pad.

It features a traditional push-forward shotgun-style safety catch that locks both sears and triggers when engaged. Both triggers on my test rifle were an even three pounds.Baikal review 302

Adequate iron sights come fitted, with the rear sight sitting to the forefront of the long scope rail. I have never been a fan of fitting scopes to doubles but apparently, this particular scope rail on the rifle is being replaced on newer models with a picatinny rail mount. After some initial head scratching, I managed to regulate the rifle using the unique regulating screw provided between the barrels to ‘tune’ them to shoot to the same point at a desired range with the chosen ammunition/bullet weight.

The rifle I had on test was chambered for .30-06 Springfield and, using Norma 180-grain Dual Core ammo, I achieved a 4in three-shot grouping at 60 yards from the bench, which is beyond adequate for driven boar using the iron sights.

The rifle pointed well and was fast-handling due to its low weight of 3.3kg. It did, however, kick like an enraged donkey, but this was mainly because the rifle was a little short in the stock. This problem is easily solved with a rubber stock extension sleeve.

Baikal review 906As the gun is a non-ejector, I was worried about empty cases sticking in the chamber when the rifle became hot in a rapid fire situation. These fears proved unfounded when I fired off 20 rounds and encountered no problems replacing the empty shell cases. Let’s face it, 20 successive shots on a driven boar hunt would be one hell of a good day. Though the top lever was a bit stiff, stiffness isn’t uncommon with new rifles, and it could not be considered a fault in any way.

I took the test rifle to Germany on the last boar hunt of the season, but unfortunately I didn’t get the chance of a shot because of the excessive snow. I am certainly going to put this rifle through its paces next season. It is a shame that the MP221 Artemida side-by-side is a non-ejector as I believe many more hunters would give this rifle serious consideration if it were. That said, the rifle is a workhorse that will stand the test of time and, with its low retail price tag, it ought to be in most shooters’ cabinet if they enjoy a weekend’s driven boar shooting across the pond.

The rifle breaks down as per a shotgun for transport and storage and, as with all Baikal products, it is extremely well-made and very strong. There is an over-and-under option – the IZH 94 Express – which uses the buttstock, trigger mechanism and up-rated action from the IZH-27EM ejector shotgun fitted with high-quality 600mm (23.5in) hammer-forged barrels. The furniture is walnut and is available in .223 Rem, .308 Win, .30-06 Springfield and 9.3×74.

The side-by-side model reviewed here is offered in .308 Win, .30-06 Springfield and .45-70 calibres.  PC 

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