Guns > Shotguns

Review: Baikal MP 153 Shotgun

Low-tech, roughly finished and extremely reliable, the MP 153 is a solid shotgun with an affordable price tag for today's hunters.


Every once in a while, a preconceived notion turns out to be right on the money. For instance, if you asked me to describe a Russian semi-automatic shotgun I would guess: low-tech, roughly finished, inexpensive and extremely reliable. Turns out that description fits the Baikal MP 153 perfectly. The 31/2-inch, 12-gauge gas gun is what you would expect from a shotgun produced in the massive firearm manufacturing Izmech plant (virtually a city in itself) in the Urals city of Izhevsk, home to AK-47 designer Mikhail Kalashnikov. The MP 153 is solid, simple and almost unbelievably low-priced. And, it’s available in the United States again.

After its original introduction in the United States in 2002, the MP 153 won a cult following among budget-minded waterfowlers who came to love its low maintenance and high functionality. In 2006, Remington began its “Spartan Gunworks” partnership with Izmech and re-designated the MP 153 as the SPR 453. After Remington discontinued the Spartan line in 2008, the gun was no longer available here. Now it’s back with original importer, European American Armory, and that’s good news for hunters without much money to spend—and that’s a lot of people these days.

An inspection of my test gun as I put it together confirmed my ideas of what a Russian semi-auto shotgun would be. There were visible tool marks on some of the internal parts, while some exposed metal surfaces like the bolt and carrier looked as if they could stand more polishing. The gun was camo-dipped, except, unaccountably, for the magazine cap, which was blued. In place of the metered valves of more sophisticated designs, the MP 153’s gas system handles 23/4-inch to 31/2-inch ammunition by means of a valve spring that must be hand tightened or loosened to function with a range of loads.

And yet, after putting the gun together and hefting it, I was surprised by its comparatively light weight. I expected a fence post and instead shouldered a gun weighing 7.3 pounds with a 26-inch barrel. The balance was somewhat weight-forward although in a good, swing-through-the-target way, not in a bad, pig-on-a-shovel way. With fairly standard stock dimensions (141/4-inch length of pull, 11/2-inch drop at comb, 21/2-inch drop at heel) and no cast, the gun didn’t feel “foreign” to an American hunter. The trigger was squishy at 5.5 pounds.

I had no trouble hitting skeet targets with the MP 153 from a low-gun start. At the range I shot a variety of ammunition and found that the gun cycled fine with loads down to 3 dram, 11/8-ounce, as well as 31/4 dram, 1-ounce Estates. The only complaint at all about the gun’s cycling is that it makes a metallic “boing” sound that reverberates after each shot. Curious about the gas system’s recoil reduction, I emptied the magazine of 31/2-inch, high-velocity steel loads a couple of times. While the recoil of three shots in quick succession was hefty, I have definitely shot 31/2–inch semi-autos that kicked much harder than this one. After some range time I was able to take it out for some shots at mourning doves during Iowa’s inaugural dove season. The gun cycled the Winchester Xpert 1300 fps, 1-ounce steel loads perfectly.

Adjusting the gas system for various loads is simple—loosening the spring with the included spanner wrench adds give to the gas piston, allowing heavy loads to vent excess gases. Tightening the spring directs more of the gases backward to work the action bar and seal. The manual recommends a 100-round break-in period with 11/4-ounce or heavier loads with the ring left in the factory setting before you start tweaking the gun for light or heavy loads. Given that most people will use this as a gun for heavy loads, adjusting the gas system isn’t that much of a chore. Many owners will set it for heavy loads and forget it, or perhaps change the valve once a year so they can get in some preseason clay practice and dove hunting before adjusting the tension for magnum goose loads.

The MP 153 has some handy features. The recoil spring is mounted on the magazine tube, where it is easy to inspect and maintain, unlike springs in many guns that are hidden away in a tube in the stock. The bolt has a carrier stop like those found on Beretta and Benelli shotguns, which has to be pressed to lock the bolt in the open position. It’s a useful feature as it works as a de facto magazine cutoff since you can empty the chamber or switch loads without chambering another shell simply by pulling back the bolt handle, then either loading a shell or letting it close on an empty chamber. The gun also has a cocking indicator inside the trigger guard, which is of debatable utility but kind of fun.

The gun is basic in appearance. It has a synthetic stock with textured grip panels and it comes in black or tan. The barrel has a narrow vent rib with a small metal front bead, and it comes with extended choke tubes. It has a hard rubber buttpad and a crossbolt safety behind the trigger.
In all, the MP 153 delivers exactly what it promises: no-nonsense performance at a list price of just more than $400 in black, which is incredible for a proven semi-auto. One of the most frequent reader questions I get is, “What’s a good shotgun for about $500?” So I am glad to see the MP 153 available in the USA again so I can put it back on the “bang for the buck” list.

Type: gas-operated semi-auto shotgun
Gauge/Chamber: 12-gauge; 23/4", 3”, 31/2"
Barrel: 26" (tested) 24", 28"
Magazine Capacity: 5 23/4" or 3" shells, 4 31/2" shells
Sights: metal front bead
Safety: crossbolt
Stock: camo synthetic or black synthetic; LOP 141/4"; drop at comb 11/2"; drop at heel 21/2"
Overall Length: 46.375" w/extended tube
Weight: 7.3 lbs.
Metal Finish: camo or blued
MSRP: $527 camo; $417 black

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35 Responses to Review: Baikal MP 153 Shotgun

Larry Glover wrote:
January 14, 2015

Looking to purchase a Baikal mp 153 in canada at a reasonable price that works well.

akram khoso wrote:
December 25, 2014

price please this gun

Dan wrote:
December 23, 2014

I just handled one in a shop and I find it is really unbalanced forward. i wonder if adding some lead in the stock would not improve its balance. The gun itself is not that heavy to make it unhandy if I would add 5- 8 ounces of lead. I wonder if it's possible and if anyone did that.

JOHN wrote:
December 12, 2014

bought one about 8 years ago, and a camo one about 4 years ago, since I like the first one some much, for the price you really can't complain to much about the gun, yes the finish it's that great, but does work really good, my first one is now having some jamming issues, but not many, i adjust it and then seems to work just fine. i shoot 3-1/2 for waterfowl, and it was locking the bolt all the way back, and i would have to disassemble it out in the blind in order to get it to work again, which isn't that bad, and readjust the spring, then worked fine. like i said for the price, i really still do like the gun. brown camo looks nice to

Afzaal wrote:
November 03, 2014

I also lost bolt handle but people in my country are very good in making clones

chad wrote:
October 22, 2014

looking for a recoil spring for my baikal mp-153 thanks

ChrisL wrote:
September 30, 2014

My SPR 453 is about 3 years old. I Iost the bolt charging handle and cannot locate one. Does anyone have any ideas. EEA doesnt handle them anymore. Thanks

nick wrote:
September 25, 2014

You need to fallow the break in directions. I got mine back in either 2002 or 2003, and after over 10 years and ALOT of use it still shoots and cycles like a dream. I have never had a single jam with this gun, or any other problem.

Chad wrote:
September 03, 2014

For anyone who picks up this gun fir first time, please don't screw with the gasblock right away, shoot 100 rds of high brass pheasant loads after that itll loosen up and cycle anything you put in it on its own. Nmine has never jammed after break in

brandon gutierrez wrote:
May 16, 2014

I just got one for 200 flat

Brennon wrote:
April 15, 2014

I have the 453 I shot it about 30 times the other day and the handle or whatever you call it on the action slide came out I put it back in and shot it again and it came back out how do I fix it

Steven Gerber wrote:
December 28, 2013

It absolutely astounds me when people have a complaint about a firearm that is so easy to figure out! Come on guys read the owners manuel for once in your life lol. These guns do have a break in period, roughly 100 rounds of 3 1/2' heavy loads for the break in. Won't cycle 2 3/4' well break it in first even if u bought it used it still needs it.

William I wrote:
November 20, 2013

Where is the best place to buy one of these around Virginia and Maryland?

Tony G Hodge sr wrote:
August 05, 2013

My boy relieved me of most all of my guns so I bought one of these worked every shot right out of the box no complaints

SPO wrote:
June 30, 2013

I bought my MP153 brand new for a $150.00 and you can't beat it. It is a work horse. Very durable and reliable. Great gun

jon wrote:
June 30, 2013

Dont super tighten the gas block but turn to its last tightest click and back it off two clicks

dino wrote:
April 28, 2013

my buddy just got is, Will not cycle 2 3/4 shell's. tryd ajusting gas spring to the lightest setting , still wont eject.switch to 3 1/2 in.shells and works perfect. very disapointed

w. armstrong wrote:
March 07, 2013

By far the best shotgun i have ever owned. from muddy corn fields,to snow covered in winter coyote hunting never fails.Took my 153 to be cleaned by a professional.He said never saw a gun so dirty still working any other semi would have jammed.Im rough on my guns this has stood the test.

François wrote:
January 04, 2013

Owner of a Tula TOZ 78-04M I'm very very satisfied and happy !!!

waqar ahmed khan wrote:
November 16, 2012

i love all the russia shutguns but specilly my aj 58 ussr s by s ,mp153,and tula toz 87

duck slayer wrote:
October 31, 2012

i got a bakail and was wondering if there is any other choke tubes you can buy for this gun... like will remington chokes fit bakails

waqar ahmed khan wrote:
September 25, 2012

i love all the russian weapon specilly ak47 and 12 bore shutguns i have s by s ussr and tula semiuto but 153 baikal very beutiful shutgun i will gate it i love it

matt wrote:
December 12, 2011

hi please someone email me back. I am 16 and i just got this as my first semi auto shotgun(have a rem. 870 express mag) and when i shoot it does not eject the shell out. how do i turn up the gas? thanks love the gun!

Ed wrote:
December 12, 2011

If this gun is half as good os my Baikal double side by side I use for cowboy action, it is a winner. Cowboy action is rough on a gun and after wearing out a popular double, I bought a Baikel and it was exactly as you described. But after 3 years of hundreds of rounds, it is as tight as the day I bought it. Great value!

Marshall wrote:
December 12, 2011

I have had one since they were first available in 2002. It has had thousands of rounds pass through it with no malfunction. It has made a dependable duck and dove gun with 3 1/2" to 2 3/4". I knew nothing about the gun and bought it because of the rediculasly low price thinking it would not last long. Ten years later it is just as good as ever. Why punish $1000+ guns duck hunting when these are so dependable. I also bought one of their O/U 12s at the same time. It is also great gun and my son's favorite dove gun. They may not be finished as well as some but they are shooters. My Remingtons and others are often left at home.

Forever Knight wrote:
December 11, 2011

I've owned one for several years now ever since Remington imported them and i've gone toe to toe with Beretta's, Benelli's, and Remington's and in al honestly I still like the rough and rugged Baikal over all of them. I have yet to find something it cant do. I've even had to run it packed full of pine staw and sand and it still did not fail the first time. I deffinatly endorse this as a go-to shotgun for the hunter on a budget needing a 3.5 inch chambered shotgun

Stephen Black wrote:
December 11, 2011

Great piece. Where can I get one?

Jason wrote:
December 11, 2011

I have one from the Remington era. It simple, tough, and handles heavy loads in all weather conditions. I use it for duck in the timber to skeet out in the back yard. Hard to beat for the money and hangs in with all the other guns at 3 times the cost.

Todd wrote:
December 11, 2011

Being a left handed I find the behind the triggers to be a pain when you have to hit it quick.

Ted Meislahn wrote:
December 11, 2011

Can you get a rifled barrel for it?

Bart wrote:
December 11, 2011

Are there any dealers in the Sacramento, CA area that are currently selling this shotgun?

Benjamin wrote:
December 11, 2011

I used to have one in walnut. It wasn't a great gun at all! It was heavy, didn't cycle right, and kicked like a mule. One of my daddys favorite sayings about it was ' I gotta give Baikal this, they make some real nice boat paddles'. And from my experience, he was right. Maybe the one in this article is a newer version

Steven Youngblood wrote:
December 11, 2011

I have one of their dbl barrle SXS and it is awesome. came with dbl triggers, and screw in chokes, 28 inch barrle and I love it. $300.00 with shipping and TBI background check. I keep it in my truck for hunting. a high priced gun would just sit in the rack, but this is a working gun, just what I wanted and needed. put a cylinder choke in the left barrle with a slug and a modified choke in the right for #6 shot and I can squrrel hunt and if I jump a deer, I got him. 2 guns in 1.

Gary wrote:
December 11, 2011

I have a mp153 and love it,it is my first semi-shotgun,and for 350$ I am very pleased.It would not cycle right out the box but a little turn of load adjuster did the trick.It has a very low re-coil with the 2 3/4 shell,,highly recommend

StanSki wrote:
December 11, 2011

When it was stated that the gun was way affordable I was thinking in the $300 range. The price stated at the end of the article is like $150 more than my rent!