Skip to comments.How I bought a rifle for self-defense in Russia
Posted on 08/12/2005 12:23:01 PM PDT by kiriath_jearim
How I bought a rifle for self-defense in Russia
18:51 | 11/ 08/ 2005
Moscow. (RIA Novosti political analyst Vladimir Simonov). When burglars killed a guard at my neighbor's summer-house, I started thinking about self-defense.
The Federal Law On Weapons adopted under Boris Yeltsin in 1996 has enabled five million Russians to buy guns for this purpose. In Moscow alone, some 400,000 people legally keep 470,000 weapons to protect themselves, their families, and property against potential assault in these troubled times.
The law in Russia is extremely conservative compared with that in the United States. Russians can only buy smoothbore hunting rifles of minimum 80 centimeters, gas pistols, or revolvers shooting rubber bullets. Safe use of this arsenal for five years allows purchase of a twin rifle or carbine. Stub-barreled firearms are a taboo for Russian citizens.
It took me several days to obtain a gun license from the Interior Ministry. I had to collect documents from the psychiatric and narcotics dispensaries confirming that I am not on their records. I also had to pay a modest state tax: 110 rubles (a little less than $4) for a hunting rifle, and 30 rubles for a gas pistol (slightly over $1). Then I had to undergo check-ups at several doctors: GP, surgeon, ophthalmologist, and ear-nose-and-throat doctor (a nice woman who ran to the corner of her office and whispered, trying not to move her lips: "Why do you need a pistol?" I passed the test.)
After that I had to submit a request to a regional police licensing department. Several days later a district police officer came to see me in order to check whether I had a metal case to keep the weapons. I had bought it in advance and screwed on to the wall, as it ought to be. After a month-long inquiry into whether I had any previous convictions - and, I believe, my civic loyalty - I eventually received a license allowing me to buy a gun.
However, it transpired that I could buy and keep it, but not carry it. To be able to carry a gun, I had to be a member of a hunting-and-fishing club. To join, I had to pay another 1,000 rubles ($35), and pass a test. In order to pass this test I had to know, among other things, the differences between hunting hare and hunting bear. An obvious answer that the consequences for the hunter may be different did not go down well with my strict examiners.
In the end I bought a smoothbore, 10-cartridge, Saiga semi-automatic rifle, a clone of the famous Kalashnikov, for 12,000 rubles (about $430). The only difference between the two is that Kalashnikov is failsafe, whereas the Saiga, as it transpired later, sometimes gets jammed because of the poor quality of "civilian" cartridges. This year, 15,000 Muscovites bought guns like mine.
In total, the number of legal owners of guns in Russia has gone up 10 times over compared with the Soviet era. But this has not reduced the crime rate. Every year criminals still kill an average of 65,000 people a year, the same number as before.
Successful use of long-stemmed guns is depressingly rare. Burglars have already broken in while you're still fiddling with the key to the case to get hold of your favorite gun. It is not allowed to carry such guns, or have them assembled and uncovered in a car. As for a "rubber" pistol, an attempt to use it for self-defense often only infuriates the attacker.
As a result, the public in Russia is increasingly leaning towards a more liberal law on weapons. For the last half a year the State Duma has been discussing the possibility of giving the people real firearms, as is done in the United States, for one.
American statistics are the main argument of Russian firearms advocates. According to the U.S. Justice Department, 34% of all criminals were wounded or detained by armed civilians, while 40% have altogether given up an idea of an attack for fear of reciprocal fire. In those states that allow citizens to carry concealed arms, the level of murders is lower by 33 %, and of robberies by 37%.
Advocates of legalizing firearms in Russia often refer to the experience of neighboring Latvia: After the relevant law was adopted, street crime dropped by 80%, and the Latvian police force has been cut.
The Russian Interior Ministry is adamantly against allowing firearms. The ministry is afraid that the crime rate will go up, and especially family shootings. Gennady Gudkov of the State Duma Committee on Security voiced a typical opinion: "If we throw 10 to 12 million guns into the streets, any teenager will be able to seize a pistol from a woman. He will start shooting whenever he can. Guns will be stolen from cars and desk drawers. The number of lost weapons will go up hundreds of times, and they will be beyond control, i.e. ready for crimes. This is a dream come true for Russian criminals."
To sum up, so far the heated first debates in the Duma on this score have only produced one result: Permission for State Duma deputies to have combat pistols and revolvers. Only six MPs voted for national liberalization of arms.
Today I checked the locks of the case where I keep my gun. Everything was safe. But am I?
It is not surprising that the leaders of a communist country hold the same position on freedom to protect yourself as do the Democrats. Thank God for the Bill of Rights.
There is a translation problem.
The Saiga is a 12 guage shotgun not a rifle. It is built on a scaled up AK semi auto action. They are available here and seem to be very reliable with western shotshells.
I recommend rifled slugs and 000 buck.
"American statistics are the main argument of Russian firearms advocates."
I'm not so sure I trust the Russian crime stats.
Saiga 12K with 430 mm barrel
Type: Semi-auto, gas operated, rotating bolt shotgun
Chamber: 76mm (3").
Length: 910/670mm (buttstock open/folded)
Barrel length: 430mm.
Capacity: 5 or 8 rounds in detachable box magazine
This shotgun had been developed by the IZHMASH Russian State Arms company in the early 1990s as a member of the whole family of semi-automatic shotguns and rifles, based on the famous and time-proven Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle design. All weapons in the Saiga family inherited the basic design of the AK-47, with long piston stroke gas drive, rotating bolt with two massive lugs, and box magazine feeding. The shotgun part of this large family includes guns chambered for .410, 20 and 12 gauge magnum ammunition. In each chambering, there's at least three versions, with long barrel and fixed stock, long barrel and folding, AK-74M type polymer stock and with same folding stock and shorter barrel. The latter versions intended as a security, police and self-defense weapons, and are widely used by numerous Russian law enforcement and private security services. The 20 and especially .410 gauge versions are very popular as a civilian self-defense and plinking weapons, and there's even some versions in .410 gauge (Saiga-410-K1) that mimic the original AK-74M very closely (same furniture, similar sights and even a muzzle brake).
As said above, the Saiga 12K is basically similar to the AK-47, but with obvious exceptions. First, it is restricted to the semi-automatic fire only. Second, the receiver and the bolt group were redesigned to accommodate large, rimmed shotshells. Third, magazine capacity was limited to 5 or 8 rounds in the single stack plastic box magazines. Gas system is fitted with gas regulator with "standard" and "magnum" settings, and this shotgun can fire either 3 inch magnum or 2 3/4 inch standard loads interchangeably. Standard open sights were replaced by the short shotgun rib on the top of the gas tube. Optional side mounts for red dot sights are available. Barrel is equipped with screw-on choke system. The black plastic furniture features a long forearm and an AK-74M-type side-folding solid polymer buttstock and a checkered pistol grip. Saiga 12K shotguns, made for domestic market, featured a special safety block that locks the trigger when butt is closed, so the gun is compliant to the local gun laws, which prohibit the firearms with barrels shorter than 500 mm (20 ") and with overall length less than 800 mm. As you can see from the specifications above, with the open stock the Saiga 12K is legal in Russia, and with folded stock it is illegal, so the block makes this gun totally legal on the domestic market. It is offered for export, but with such a short barrel it is illegal in many states. The longer barreled version, Saiga 12S, is similar to 12K in every respect except that it has a barrel 520 mm long (20 2/5"), so it has no block and can be fired with butt folded.
In general, Saiga 12K is a reliable and effective close combat weapon, being much cheaper than its famous western counterparts from Beretta, Franchi and other brands.
No surprise here. Liberals all over the world are all the same -- they want one set of rules for themselves, and another set of rules for the unwashed masses.
A rifle that is a smoothbore!!
These crafty Russians, what will they thing of next!!
"I recommend rifled slugs and 000 buck."
Why? Does he want to kill his wife or kid sleeping in the next room (or 2)? Slugs and 000 buck are waaay over-penetrating for home defense. A 1 oz load of BB or #4 buck will do in a home.
Slugs and 000 buck served me well in Detroit. They are for me, battle proven. (The lower Eastside is, well, a tough area.)
Definitely - #4 buck.
I think it is permissable for Russians to own a bolt-action hunting rifle that is not a 'smoothbore', such as the common surplus Moisin-Nagant. To own a semi-auto Kalashnikov other than a shotgun, or a handgun, would require privileges.
What the hell is a "smooth-bore" rifle? If it doesn't have lands and grooves aka "rifeling" how can it be a rifle? This sounds like a shotgun... not a rifle.
Saiga is the name used for both AK style rifles and shotguns, gussied up to pass the "sporting purposes" test. He could be talking of either, but he does say it's a smoothbore, so it probably is the shotgun. The shotguns can be had in 12 guage, 20 gauge, and .410.
The rifles come in 7.62x39, 5.56 NATO, and .308 among others.
SAIGA-12, with non-folding buttstock, 580-mm long barrel.
Well, there are such things as rifled shotgun barrels, so who knows. I have fired a smoothbore .22 bolt action, back when I was a kid. Broke clay targets, in the air, with it too.
Getting a permit to own a gun in Russia sounds kind of like the begging you have to do to own a handgun in the state of New York.