Two Combo Guns: Savage 24V Versus Baikal’s Model MP94
Members of our staff have been afield hog hunting and walk≠ed into a mess of quail and wished for a shotgun to knock down a bird or two. Or weíve been grouse hunting with a shotgun and saw a nice rabbit pop out 45 yards away, making us want a rifle. The solution in both cases would have been a combination rifle and shotgun. Though far less popular in the United States than in Europe, combo guns such as the Savage Model 24V, .222 Rem./20 gauge, $400-$425 and the Baikal Model MP94 #489330 223 Rem./12 gauge, $790, have a legitimate place in the birding/game sports≠manís gun closet.
The 24V and MP94 are break-action firearms with two barrels in an over-and-under configuration. One barrel is a rifle barrel, the other is a shotgun barrel. Combo guns are designed for hunting, and depending on the caliber and gauge, a variety of game can be stalked, from rodents in a barn to whitetails in the big woods, or perhaps pigeons, pheasant, or ducks. They are guns for opportunistic hunters, since the barrel set up allows the hunters to bag a squirrel, or if by chance a grouse, or whatever game the hunter happens to comes upon. In that respect they are flexible, but since a rifle is aimed and shotguns are pointed, their features compromise elements of both firearms types. Getting the balance right is the trick.
Probably the most common combination gun manufactured in the U.S. was the Savage Model 24, an iconic firearm that was first produced in 1949. We were able to lay our hands on a Model 24V specimen built in 1968 to test as a used gun versus Baikal MP94, which was first imported from Russia in about 2001. The reason for that pairing: Savage doesnít continue to make a larger-bore shotgun model to compare to the 12-gauge Baikals. Savage has only one combination gun still listed on its website, the Model 42, a 22 LR or 22 Magnum over 410-bore gun that lists for $485 (#19666). We hope to put Savageís smaller combo gun up against Baikalís #489392, the MP94 set up as a 410-bore/22 LR ($562) or the #489394, a 410/22WMR ($511). Interestingly, Baikal still produces several combo guns, our #489330 12/223 Rem., the #489338 12/30-06 Springfield, the #489334 12/308 Rem., and the #489342 12/7.62x39, all $790. We reviewed and recommended the European American Armory-import≠ed Baikal IZH94 12 gauge/7.62x39mm in the July 2002 issue, when it sold for a paltry $425.