V. I.   Lenin



Published: First published in 1929 in the journal Proletarskaya Revolyutsiya No. 6. Sent from Shushenskoye to Podolsk. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 37, pages 224-227.
Translated: The Late George H. Hanna
Transcription\Markup: D. Moros
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work, as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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January 26, 1899

I have received your letter about guns and hasten to reply without awaiting the promised price list. I have the price list of the gunsmith’s shop belonging to I. Schönbruner (Stary Gazetny Street, between Tverskaya and Nikitskaya Streets, in the house of Tolmachov), which Mark sent me last winter. The most suitable on the list seem to me to be the centre-fire guns by August Francott in Lüttich, pp. 6-7 (45–55 rubles with a choke barrel—incidentally, is it true that the choke increases the concentration of the shot and the accuracy of the gun, as the price list claims and as I have heard from sportsmen? If so, it must be a very useful thing—12 and 16 calibre, weight about 7 1/2 lbs) —and on page 22, a light gun by the same firm (6 1/2 lbs, and a barrel of 14 1/2 vershki[1] and not 17, also with a choke, 65 rubles for a 12 calibre).[2] You ask about calibre and weight. I have a 12 calibre gun and I have some cartridges (brass) of that calibre left (made by Y. Torbek; I paid 12 kopeks each for them); this is the size.[3]

However, you’ll probably have to buy new cartridges (25, brass, will be enough, I think) because the cartridges have to fit the gun exactly. And so you must choose the calibre and weight yourself; it is not important, as long   as it has a good range (it goes without saying that, all other things being equal, a light gun is preferable; perhaps it really is better to have a heavier barrel, in case of necessity it can be scoured, and it won’t break or buckle so easily. I have been spoiled, you know, with my light plain-bore gun!). I was particularly interested in the terms Schönbruner offers; “selection of the gun is made by the purchaser if he is present at the test, or by the shop” (p. 3), and not a word about any special payment for a test! But you should not leave it to the shop, of course, to make the selection, you must test the gun yourself and measure the spread of the shot[4] and take the test sheets. It is strange that they should test it “at 50 arshins[5] ” (p. 3 N.B.)! What the devil do they mean by that? What game can you shoot at a distance of 17 sagenes?[6] I always tested my gun at 25 to 30 sagenes. That, incidentally, may be due to my inexperience. If you “hold a consultation” (oho!) all this will probably be weighed up. I was extremely surprised to learn that Schönbruner considers the weight of a gun for transport purposes to be 35 pounds (sic! p. 108—“over long distances”). That’s scandalous—17 rubles 50 kopeks! The gun weighs 7 1/2 lbs which is 4 rubles and for the box (you write) about 2 rubles, which comes to about 7 rubles, just as I wrote to you and as I have been told in Minusinsk. Would it not be better to order a box yourself and send it? A device for filling cartridges, the simplest kind (I have one that cost a ruble seventy-five kopeks; the thing for getting the caps out is just a spike on a stick. In Schönbruner’s price list, p. 75, fig. No. 133, the “ordinary local” kind are 1 ruble 75 kopeks). I do not need a game bag (when I kill anything I bring it home on a bit of ordinary string!), I have a cartridge pouch, a soldier’s (leather) cartridge box that holds 12 cartridges, and the other 8 or 9 go in my pocket; there is also a sling, although it would be better to fit a ring for it in the shop, if it can be done. What do you mean by “caps of a suitable calibre”? Caps are the same size for all breech-loaders, aren’t they? I am marking out the size   of my caps at the top[7] ; if they are not the same size you had better send about 500, of course, or even more; here only the kind I have are available.

With regard to wads—I use ordinary newspaper and thought buying them an unnecessary luxury. If I am wrong in that (if wads are important for striking power) and if they are really cheap (as you write), then send me either some wads or an instrument for cutting them (in the price list p. 92, 75 kopeks; I have heard that it is a very convenient thing to have. Write and tell me whether you use one and what sort of cardboard you use). There is no need to buy a cover specially—I have a simple one, the old one they gave me in the shop in Krasnoyarsk with the gun.[8] One of the comrades tells me that wire brushes are very useful.

I think that is all. If there is a second-hand gun that has been tested and has no defects in the barrel, of course it is worth while taking it. Address the gun to Yelizaveta Vasilyevna. There is no great hurry—it should be here by March 1, and even the end of March will be all right.

I am very, very glad that your case is taking a turn for the better, and that there are fresh hopes of getting into the University. The mistake at the beginning of § II of Chapter IV (p. 346) you did well to notice; thanks for that. It should read 41.3 million chetverts[12] and not 14.3.[9] In my first rough copy I had it right, in the second rough copy I made a mistake and did not notice the absurdity. Please send the correction immediately. With regard to the word “rational” in the quotation from Kablukov, there is no need to change it; there is no doubt that here Kablukov means “reasonable” and not technically rational; I also understood “rational” to mean “reasonable” and not “technically rational”. I ridiculed him on this point because   his argument is pure tautology, since the Narodniks consider natural economy to be “reasonable”. Should the reader understand “rational” in the second case differently from the first (i.e., different in Kablukov’s words than in mine)?[10]

Tobacco plantations actually number 75—95—650 thousand(i.e., 75,000, 95,000, 650,000).[11]

Skating is something I do with the greatest of zeal. In Minusinsk, Gleb showed me a number of tricks (he is a good skater) and I have been practising them with such industry that once I hurt my hand and could not write for two days. My old skill has not been forgotten. This kind of exercise is far better than winter shooting, when you flounder up to your knees in snow, spoil your gun and rarely see any game!

All the best,
V. U.


[1] About 25 1/2 inches; vershok=1 3/4 inches (approx.).—Ed.

[2] There are cheaper guns: 42 rubles (p. 10), 35 rubles (p. 14, fig. No. 18, without choke). If it shoots well and is reliable, that will do. I am not interested in the ornament. 12 calibre is a bit big, perhaps 16 calibre would be better. —Lenin

[3] Here Lenin drew a small circle in pencil.—Ed.

[4] It is as well to take the measurement if they test the gun in the shop, otherwise there will be a lot of trouble getting it. —Lenin

[5] Arshin=28 inches.—Ed. —Lenin

[6] Sagene=seven feet.—Ed.

[7] Here Lenin drew an arrow pointing to the margin where he showed the size of the cap in pencil.—Ed.

[8] Will the cover from a single-barrelled gun do? Incidentally, I think it would be better to get one made here, they sting you badly in the shops. —Lenin

[9] Collected Works, Vol. 3, p. 257—Ed.

[10] Collected Works, Vol. 3, p. 256.—Ed.

[11] Ibid., p. 300.—Ed.

[12] Chetvert—a Russian measure of capacity used prior to the introduction of the metric system; it equalled about 45 gallons.

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