September 12, 2011
Shotgun Review: Low-Priced Baikal MP 153 Returns to U.S.
By Phil Bourjaily
Since Dave and I get crabby letters whenever we write about anything that costs more than $500 it pleases me to report here on the return of a great, cheap semiautomatic shotgun to the U.S. market.
The Baikal MP 153 enjoys a reputation as a no-frills, inexpensive, very reliable semiauto and unfortunately, it hasn’t been available in the U.S. since 2008, until now. Originally imported from Russian by European American Armory, the MP 153 became the Remington SPR 453 for a couple of years when Remington introduced its “Spartan Gunworks” line of imported Russian Izmech guns. Since the Spartan line went away in 2008 the MP 153 has been unavailable here. Now EAA is bringing it into the country again, at a price so low I would be suspicious of it if the gun didn’t have a proven track record.
A 3 ½-inch 12 gauge gas gun, the MP 153 is not much to look at, some of the parts aren’t very well finished, and it is not high tech: you adjust a collar inside the barrel ring with an included wrench to make it function with light or heavy loads. It also has its action spring on the magazine tube, where it is easy to inspect and clean.
I shot mine with a variety of ammunition from 3 dram, 1-1/8 ounce trap loads, high velocity 1-ounce field loads all the way up to 3 ½-inch high velocity steel. It functioned fine, both on the range and in the dove field, and recoil with the 3 ½-inch loads was surprisingly manageable. My test gun weighed less than I expected from a Russian 3 ½-inch 12--a little under 7 ½ pounds with a 26-inch barrel. The stock dimensions are 1 ½ at the comb, 2 ½ at the heel over 14 ¼-inch length of pull.
The gun comes with four extended choke tubes either in black or brown camo. The best part is that the black models list for $427 and I have seen them for sale for much less. You can look at them on the EAA website.