November 28, 2022
By Ilya Koshkin
Certain people are bad influences. When I was told of a review-worthy gun, I had a gut feeling it would be both expensive and irresistible. The gun in question is a Mosin variant called the “Obrez” manufactured by the gunsmiths at LugerMan. Before we get into the details of this unique gun, it is worth spending a few sentences on the company that makes it.
LugerMan is a small manufacturer, gunsmithing shop, and retail store in Pennsylvania. It is the brainchild of two brothers who grew up in a place where guns were largely illegal, the Soviet Union. After immigrating to the U.S., they were bitten by the gun bug, and the rest is history. At some point in their journey, they became hooked on the many Luger variants and stumbled onto one of the rarest firearms ever made — the .45 ACP 1907 Luger. Allegedly, only two of these were ever manufactured for the U.S. Army trials. That’s when “LugerMan” was born. Through a clever combination of engineering and reverse engineering, they managed to recreate the .45-caliber Luger and began making them in limited quantities.
What is Obrez?
The Obrez is not a Luger, but for anyone who grew up in the Soviet Union, it is one of the most iconic firearms ever made. The story of the Obrez is interesting. The direct translation from Russian simply means “chopped off” or “sawed off,” and while it could be a shortened version of any long gun, mostly it was a shortened Mosin Nagant rifle.
The image of the Obrez was so ubiquitous in Soviet cinema that it was expected to make an appearance in any movie related to the Civil War, World War II, or organized crime. The Obrez was be wielded by good or bad guys and would emerge from the most interesting places: beneath trench coats, taped under a table, or carried around in suitcases impossibly small for such a powerful weapon. It was a short-range weapon, usually fired from the hip or pointed at something essentially at arm’s length.
In Russia, the most common long gun after the first World War was the Mosin Nagant. The majority of Mosins ended up in civilian hands after Russia’s defeat and withdrawal from World War I. When the Tsar’s government collapsed, many Russian soldiers simply turned around and went home, usually with their issued Mosin rifles. Many of these were cut down to make them more concealable for defensive purposes at close quarters.
All the chop jobs I have ever seen in the past were decidedly crude weapons. LugerMan’s Obrez is anything but crude. It is beautifully made and finished, with excellent bluing on the metal, a perfectly contoured and finished stock, and a few useful improvements to make it more pleasant to shoot. I was so impressed with it that I went to visit LugerMan at their facility and meet the gunsmith who created my Obrez.
His name is Salvatore Cicalese, and I am beyond impressed with the quality of his work. The craftsmanship is superb, especially since Mosins start out as crude guns. To get something of the quality of the Obrez out of the donor rifle, Sal had to work over every possible detail.
The grip is subtly recontoured to make it easy to hold and ensure your hand does not get too beat up by recoil. The forend features a Schnabel tip so your support hand does not slide in front of the muzzle. All metal edges are dehorned, and the bolt handle is slightly curved. It still uses the same internal five-round magazine and is chambered for the 7.62x54R cartridge.
The muzzle is outfitted with a muzzlebrake and a tall front sight, so that you can sort of aim the Obrez but not terribly precisely. It is very much a short-range weapon, with no rear sight of any sort, but I found that looking down the barrel and lining up the tall front post was sufficient at “across the room” distances. The muzzlebrake does an excellent job of taming the recoil. Unlike the original, this is a rather pleasant gun to shoot. It does make it loud. I would not recommend firing it indoors without two layers of hearing protection, and even then, I’d think about it. Even outdoors, the sound signature was somewhat jarring. The muzzle flash was impressive, too. Without that muzzlebrake, the Obrez could probably double as a flame thrower.
Given how pretty this gun is, I did not want to shoot corrosive ammo in it. The only noncorrosive 7.62x54R ammunition I had on hand was Yugo 180-grain FMJ that fires a bit over 2,600 fps in full-size guns. My original plan was to chronograph it out of the Obrez. I changed my mind when I saw the target after the very first shot.
Thanks to the very short barrel and famously loose Russian barrel making tolerances, there is no evidence of the bullet stabilizing as it comes out of the muzzle. Every shot resulted in a bullet going through the target in every possible version of sideways. I suspect that the wounds produced by a projectile flying this way would be quite horrific, which likely explains the rather gruesome reputation for lethality the Obrez has. With all that, I had no problem hitting a silhouette at 7 to 10 yards. At some point, I’ll experiment with lighter bullets and see if those stabilize better. If they do, I’ll risk shooting them under the chronograph screen.
Is it a viable defensive tool in the modern world? The lethality of the Obrez was proven during the first decades of the 20th century, and the laws of physics have not changed since then. However, we have much more user-friendly options today. Still, having spent some time with this gun, should you need to defend yourself, you could certainly do worse.
In a world of increasingly sophisticated firearms, the $1,295 LugerMan Obrez is mostly a curiosity piece, and boy does it generate curiosity. If you want to attract attention, walk over to the firing line during a busy range day and pull the trigger on LugerMan’s Obrez. No modern gun will have quite the same effect.