Due to numerous sanctions against Russia, many Western manufacturers of sportswear and equipment have refused to cooperate with Russian teams. For some sports, this has become a big problem, since Russian analogues are not always of the same quality.

Sanctions have not bypassed biathlon, where, in addition to skis, poles, boots and a number of small things produced abroad, German Anschütz rifles are also massively used, the purchase and maintenance of which is difficult for Russians in the current situation. There are only two factories in the world where biathlon weapons are produced, and, fortunately, one of them is located in Russia.

Together with the gunsmith of the Russian national team Ivan Titov and the biathletes of the Russian national team, we are figuring out what problems with rifles can arise under sanctions and whether the Izhevsk BI-7 can replace Anschütz.

Problems of German rifles

With the current political situation, going to a factory in Germany and buying a new Anschütz rifle is really difficult. It is also not so easy to buy German parts now, but you can still get them through other countries, it is not necessary to visit a factory in Germany for this.

But with cartridges, things are more complicated. Previously, the specialists of the national team purposefully went to the factories where cartridges are produced in order to select the best batches. This was done in the summer, during training camps in Europe. And now it is much more difficult to make a train to German Schönebeck, where the Lapua cartridges used by our athletes are produced.

“There is no particular clarity with cartridges yet. I know that now everything is fine and they are, but we will think about what and how to do next. Barnashov is doing this in the SBR, he orders and buys cartridges. I think that this can be solved, ”said Ivan Titov, a gunsmith of the SBR.

Eduard Latypov

Eduard Latypov

Photo: RIA Novosti

However, if it is not possible to buy German cartridges, this will become a problem for Russian biathletes shooting from the German Anschütz.

“For those who shoot from Izhevsk rifles, there will be no problems switching to a Russian cartridge,” says Russian biathlete Alexander Povarnitsyn. – As Ivan Cherezov explained to me, cartridges are made first, and then weapons are made under it. But those who are on Anschütz will need to look for an opportunity to buy foreign cartridges, because they most likely will not be able to shoot our Olimp cartridges.

Maintenance of German rifles can also become more problematic. Although there are qualified specialists in Russia who can work with Anschütz, in some situations problems with a rifle can only be solved at a factory in Germany.

“For example, the barrel is replaced at the factory. It is necessary to call on the production, arrange for the barrel to be taken away for you, set, and shot. We need to look at the accuracy,” Titov said.

That is, some difficulties associated with the purchase and maintenance of a German rifle and cartridges may arise, but Russian biathletes will still not have global problems with weapons – at any moment, athletes can be rescued by the native and reliable Russian rifle “BI-7”.

Why are our rifles worse than German ones?

Right now, there is definitely no need for Russian biathletes to abandon the German rifle. But let’s imagine that for some reason our athletes will no longer be able to shoot from Anschütz.

Will the Izhevsk BI-7 rifle be a worthy replacement?

A few years ago, Anschütz official representative in Russia Vladimir Nosikov noted that the main drawback of Russian weapons is the lower quality of the barrel, which affects the accuracy of shooting:

“Despite the cheaper products (the difference in price is five to six times), the Izhevsk plant has not yet been able to produce high-quality barrels. Without this, all statements about import substitution are empty words.”

However, other Russian experts do not agree that the Izhevsk trunks are significantly inferior to the German ones in quality. When buying a rifle, regardless of whether it is German or Russian, there is a lengthy barrel selection procedure. And among the Izhevsk trunks, just as in the case of Anschütz, specimens with the best accuracy of shots are selected.

Moreover, biathletes also talk about the worthy quality of Russian trunks. Povarnitsyn noted that the Izhevsk manufacturers of rifles “added barrels as the barrels themselves, and it became easier to find barrels with greater accuracy.”

Also, the advantage of the German rifle, athletes call it “a friendlier attitude towards the shooter.”

When reloading, the Anschütz quickly finds itself on the target, which allows you to increase the rate of fire: “It doesn’t wobble so much, and this makes it possible to quickly make a new target,” Russian biathlete Ilnaz Mukhamedzyanov shared his impressions, who, by the way, shoots from the Izhevsk rifle.

Biathletes at the shooting range

Biathletes at the shooting range

Photo: RIA Novosti

Also, the advantage of the German rifle can be considered a greater number of internal adjustments. On Anschütz, for example, you can set a smoother descent. The Izhevsk rifle cannot boast of this. Russian weapons are designed to fulfill their main function. No special amenities.

Weak point of a foreign rifle

The weak point of the Anschütz rifle is called by many its striker. If you delve into the details, the striker is a rod inside the bolt that hits the primer of the cartridge. If it is damaged, the rifle simply stops firing. Due to a broken striker of Akhatova’s rifle at the 2008 World Championships, the Russian women’s team lost their victory in the relay.

The shutter of the Izhevsk rifle is arranged differently, so this simply cannot happen with the BI-7. “Anschütz has problems ejecting shells,” says Ivan Titov, “Izhevsk rifles don’t have such problems, plus it has a very reliable striker – it’s like on a machine gun and takes a lot of shots. And on Anschütz it used to break down. German manufacturers have come up with something, and lately breakdowns do not occur so often, but still its reliability is much lower. ”

“You can not clean at least a year”

It is reliability that is called one of the main advantages of Russian rifles. Do not forget that the Izhevsk plant was engaged in the production of military weapons, “which were tested for dust, water, thrown from a height, after which it had to work out a certain number of shots without breakdowns,” Titov said.

“Russian weapons are much easier to use,” said Irina Kazakevich. “It doesn’t break that often, especially triggers, bolts. Somewhere in 2014-2015 there was a very good batch of Izhevsk rifles. The guys from our regional team are still running around with these rifles because they don’t break. And some elements, and the stem box itself is of very good production.

Biathletes also note the unpretentiousness of Russian weapons.

“Anschütz needs to be looked after very seriously – constantly lubricated with oil, cleaned frequently. The Izhevsk rifle forgives you in this regard. She is more reliable and unpretentious. It has fewer moving parts and less things that can break. Another plus that I myself noticed during the relay races is that an additional cartridge enters the Izhevsk rifle more easily, you don’t need to put it into the bore, like with Anschütz, but you can just put it on top, and the bolt will finally send the bullet, ”explained Povarnitsyn.

Maxim Tsvetkov

Maxim Tsvetkov

Photo: RIA Novosti

“The most important advantage of the Izhevsk weapons is their unpretentiousness, they work stably and retain accuracy even in extreme cold,” says Ilnaz Mukhamedzyanov.

“The Izhevsk rifle is more resistant,” says Evgeny Yemerkhonov. – The German one is more capricious and requires more care, for it you need to assemble some mechanisms, buy something, change something. And you shoot from Izhevsk, and you can not clean at least a year (smiles)“.

Representatives of the Kalashnikov Concern (former Izhmash plant), where the famous BI-7 rifle has been produced for more than 40 years, also talk about improving the quality of biathlon rifles.

“At the moment, more and more Russian athletes are choosing domestic rifles and cartridges. This is due not only to restrictions on imported products, but also to the improvement in the quality of Russian products, as well as the quality of service. As for testing: not many foreign companies conduct full-scale tests at sub-zero temperatures, but we test every product in this way, ”says the management of the testing station of the Kalashnikov Concern Design and Technology Center.

The main difference is in the price

But still, the main advantage of Russian weapons is their relatively low price. Rifle “BI-7” in the most expensive version can cost about 230-240 thousand, Anschütz – 500-600 thousand rubles.

Various mechanisms and parts for a German rifle are also expensive:

“Stores for Anschütz cost a lot of money – around 60 euros. For comparison, an Izhevsk store for an Izhevsk trunk costs about 300 rubles. The difference is quite obvious. Especially now you need to think about how to bring them. As far as I remember, they don’t make them here, ”Povarnitsyn noted.

Difficulties in buying German parts in the current situation may stop the transition of young Russian biathletes to German weapons.

“In this situation, I would not switch to a German rifle, because there is a high probability that spare parts for the barrel will not be found in the future. A rifle is a mechanism, and every mechanism breaks. The Izhevsk trunk wins in maintainability,” Mukhamedzyanov noted.

Athletes who already work with a German rifle are unlikely to switch to Russian weapons, but the number of young athletes who switch to Anschütz under sanctions will decrease. Moreover, it is practically not inferior in quality, and it will be much easier to serve it in the current situation, when our biathletes do not travel to Europe.

“The bureaucracy does not allow our rifle to compete”

But if the Izhevsk weapons are not inferior to the German ones in quality and reliability, and even cheaper by several times, the question arises – why now more than 95% of biathletes around the world choose the German version?

This is due to bureaucratic difficulties that make it very difficult to purchase and maintain Russian weapons:

“In other countries, everything is simpler, and biathlon rifles are not considered weapons. Arriving there, you pass through the green corridor without declaring weapons.

Near Munich there is a small factory – the center of the biathlon world. It is much easier to get there than to us, you can call, arrange, come, and during the day they will do anything you want with a rifle.

And our weapons cannot be sold anywhere because of the sanctions. But the most important thing is logistics. Imagine, you have to come here from Europe, get permits, visas and so on. All this bureaucracy does not allow our rifle to compete. Although they called us from Germany, they wanted to buy it, because I like everything very much: it is reliable and works without problems, ”Tcherezov said back in 2020.

By the way, in the 2000s, when buying weapons made by Izhmash was not yet so difficult, the German biathlon superstar Kati Wilhelm shot from Izhevsk weapons.

Kati Wilhelm

Kati Wilhelm

Photo: RIA Novosti

It is worth recognizing that the big plus of the German rifle is the guaranteed free service at the World Cup and the Olympics. And the Izhevsk plant, of course, cannot boast of the presence of its specialists at international competitions.

So it turns out that the Anschütz rifle is easier to buy and maintain during competitions in Europe. But if our biathletes do not go to international tournaments, then there will be no problems with Izhevsk rifles.

So the premature death of the Russian biathlon from a lack of weapons and ammunition should not be expected. Our athletes will not stop shooting.

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