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Old 04-07-2012, 8:38 PM
2nd Shot 2nd Shot is offline
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Default Review: A reliable budget 3.5" auto - Baikal MP-153

Alright guys, today I finally picked up my MP-153 and after a thorough cleaning, took her straight out to Angeles to shoot some clays and do the break in (more on that in a second). For those of you unfamiliar, the Baikal MP-153 is a 12 gauge gas operated 3.5" auto made by Izhmash of Russia, well known for the AK rifle and a good number of other famous Russian firearms. And, like most Russian weapons, the big Baikal is known less for its fine craftsmanship, and more for it's ruggedness and reliability. On that note, there's an Italian article documenting a test where they fired 50,000 rounds through one of these in FIVE days. Google it.

I don't have pictures yet, but this is the model I bought:

The gun is pretty solid. No rattles or looseness. The plastic furniture is thick and very rugged, you could probably drive a nail with the forend without breaking it. Despite that, it's not as heavy as I expected the "Russian tank" to be. My (petite) girlfriend thinks it's lighter than my 870 Express Tactical, and did indeed have an easier time holding it up. The machine work is noticeably more advanced than on the AK, showing modern CNC machining, and virtually none of that nasty, torn up finish that looks like it was done with a broken end mill turning the wrong direction. There are some rough spots and crudeness in internal areas that don't appear to matter, and a couple of parts that are sanded or ground to a smooth finish for functional or aesthetic reasons. The trigger and the inboard extractor (it has two) appear to be MIM. As picky as I am about machining, fit, and finish, for a 350 dollar gun, I really have no complaints. I'm quite satisfied with it.

Upon disassembly, it's fairly obvious that the gun was designed to last. Anybody that has an 870, 11-87, or 1100 will see some similarities in the bolt, trigger group, and general shape of the receiver, but the similarities end there. The solid stainless bolt features dual extractors, with one on each side. The chamber, bore, and all gas system surfaces are hard chromed. The dual action bars are quite thick and sturdy, and the massive piston uses a steel ring just like a piston in an engine instead of an O ring. In the case of overpressure, or the gas system set too light, there's a solid steel block at the base of the magazine tube (that also functions to hold the recoil spring) that the piston stops against before the bolt can slam into the rear of the receiver.

The manual recommends firing 100 rounds of 1-1/4 oz or heavier loads before attempting to shoot lighter loads or adjusting the gas settings. I started out with 25 rounds of high brass Remington 1-1/4oz, 1330 fps Pheasant loads, and the gun cycled flawlessly. I then switched to Estate 3" steel 1-1/4oz loads, and the gun continued to run flawlessly. I noticed that the higher velocity of the steel and higher payload made hitting the clays easier, heh. I then switched to Federal 1-1/4oz High Brass Game Loads, which the gun also cycled without a hitch. I still had 25 rounds to go until I was done, but decided to try my luck with 100 round bulk pack Federal 1-1/8oz 7.5 shot. The action sounded a little less snappy, and each empty just flipped out of the ejection port, but I finished a box of 25 without a single problem! Well, what do you know, we have a winner on our hands.

I had my girlfriend try a few of the low brass rounds and found that with her shooting, they would not extract. She's tiny to the point where the recoil just scoots her back, making it hard for the bolt to just barely fly all the way back while trying to chase after the moving receiver. When I picked the gun up, the gun ran flawlessly again with the low brass bulk ammo, so it appears that on marginal loads, you need to be able back up the gun firmly to make sure it cycles. Or adjust the gas down for more bolt speed, though I think I'm going to leave mine set where it is.

At the end of the session, I also carefully tried 5 rounds of 3.5" shells ("What do you mean I can't use 3.5" supermagnum 00 buckshot for shooting clays? Did you see that last shot? It DESTROYED that clay, man!") without turning down the gas as mentioned in the manual. The gun barked and kicked much harder, and the empty really zinged out of the gun, but the recoil was less than 3" mags out of my 870 - semis really do soften felt recoil. I didn't see any peening, but I will probably adjust the gas down some before shooting a large number of lead 3.5" loads. The factory setting should be fine for steel 3.5 loads, as per the manual.

All in all, 150 rounds fired from 100 round bulk low brass up to heavy 3.5 mags without an issue (minus a couple fail to eject with low brass with my g/f shooting). I'm very impressed, and a satisfied customer! If you're looking for a budget auto, and especially if you "need" 3.5", and want a rugged, utilitarian tool for hunting or sporting use, give the MP-153 a look.
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Old 04-07-2012, 11:04 PM
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ElvenSoul ElvenSoul is offline
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Nice review
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Old 04-08-2012, 3:34 PM
2nd Shot 2nd Shot is offline
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Update: Too nice of a day to be inside so I went out to BBB Clays and shot 50 targets of Sporting Clays. For only a 24" barrel, I had pretty good first timer luck connecting with the majority of shots, missing a few of the very fast crossing, long distance, and bouncing ground shots. I particularly enjoyed one station where the bird launches from high overhead behind you at two different out going angles. I was using the "IC Steel" marked choke, though I don't know how that translates over to lead shot. I forgot to mention that the gun comes with 4 chokes, including an "XF Steel" that is a bit longer than the rest.

In 50 rounds, I didn't have a single malfunction with 100 round bulk 1-1/8oz 7.5 shot, with the exception of when I purposely tried holding the shotgun off my shoulder one handed, where it didn't eject. The rest flip right out of the ejection port and land a couple feet to the right.

Anyways, a (much more brief) summary of my thoughts on the gun, if you want to avoid the wall of text above:

- Shoots straight - I was keeping up with much better equipped, more experienced shooters today.
- Bomb proof, simple design. Chrome plated gas system, chamber, and bore.
- Well proven. Test gun fired 50,000 documented rounds in 5 days without a failure.
- Reliable with heavier (3 dram 1-1/8oz) cheap bulk ammo without adjustment, takes up to 3.5" Supermagnums.
- Features a magazine cutoff/bolt hold open, cocking indicator, traditional style crossbolt safety.
- Comes in your choice of 24", 26", and 28" barrels, with 4 chokes included
- Cost less than $400

- Machine work, fit, and finish ok, but definitely a working tool, not a showpiece.
- Guys with Krieghoffs, Perazzis, and matched pairs of hand built guns may laugh at you.
- 922(r) makes installing extended mag tubes and the like questionable. (Remington mag extensions supposedly fit, otherwise)
- Not commonly found at your LGS, may have to order or buy online.
- Manual claims the gun comes adjusted to fire 1-1/4 oz loads to "steel 3.5" magnums" and that turning the gas down to fire heavy lead 3.5 mags, or up to fire lighter ammo may be needed (not always the case, at least with standard trap loads, as mine is still at the stock setting)
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Old 04-09-2012, 11:33 AM
HilaryForPresident HilaryForPresident is offline
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Looks like a good hunting gun. No one would be afraid to drag it through a swamp
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Old 04-09-2012, 1:06 PM
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Capybara Capybara is offline
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For the price, that looks like a pretty good gun.
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Old 04-14-2012, 10:28 PM
2nd Shot 2nd Shot is offline
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Update: It looks like the gun will also reliably cycle cheap Federal 3-1/4 DR 1oz. loads as well. The gun was still dirty from the last time I took it out, to boot.
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Old 04-15-2012, 8:32 AM
esnipe esnipe is offline
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Good review. Do you duck hunt? I am curious to see how it preforms in adverse conditions. I am in the market for a budget duck gun.
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Old 04-15-2012, 1:32 PM
9mill 9mill is offline
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^ look on youtube there are many russian vids with guys dunking the gun in a lake and shooting them. apparently they are ultra reliable.
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