The MP-445 Varjag (MP-445 Варяг), also known as the MP-445 Varyag, is a Russian made semi-automatic pistol, manufactured by Baikal Trade Firm. The Varjag (named after the old Greek word for the Vikings (Vanangian), whom ruled most of what is now named Russia in the 9th-11th centuries) was intended to be sold to the Russian Armed services.
The MP 445 is made entirely (bar the barrel) from thermosetting plastic, making the MP 445 lightweight, strong and reduces the chance of the MP 445 being detected by metal detectors. This means that the MP 445 has, on occasions, been considered to be part of the arsenal of the Russian special forces.
The MP 445 is manufactured with a v-notch rear sight and post front sight, very basic iron sights. This reduces the cost of manufacture of the MP 445. In other versions of the MP 445, such as the MR-445, fully adjustable sights are added, improving the usefulness and accuracy of the MP 445.
The MP 445 Varjag, being intended for military use, has been upgraded and updated several times, meaning the MP 445 is avaliable in several versions.
The MR 445 is an automatic version of the MP 445, and is fitted with a basic tactical rail, allowing for a tactical light or laser sight to be added. The MR 445 also uses a longer, 142mm, barrel (but same overall size) and is slightly heavier than the MP 445. The sights are also fully adjustable.
The MR 445S is a compact version of the MR 445 weighing the same as the original MP 445 but with a 132mm barrel. The MR 445S is also shorter than the other two, at 188mm in length and 38mm in height. The MR 445S also combines the tactical rail of the MR 445 with the basic iron sights of the MP 445, improving the versatility and cost of the MR 445S.
The MP 446 is a vastly improved version of the MP 445, replacing it in military circles. The MP 446 is manufactured by both Baikal and the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant (which is considered its chief manufacturer) with main difference between them being a change in caliber, the MP 446 using the 9×19mm Parabellum.
The MP 445 is considered, by some, a flop, having a very niche market. Due to an agreement between the US and Russia the MP 445 cannot be imported into America, meaning its sale is limited to Europe. Furthermore as it is considered a specialist pistol only Special forces, such as the SAS, are issued with them, therefore only limited numbers are purchased at any one time.
The MP 446 is not considered a success for Baikal, with the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant receiving the majority of orders and US sales (the MP 446 is allowed for sale in the US).
Nevertheless, the MP 445 is considered a very accurate and reliable gun, the main reason being the lightweight, high quality frame (made from thermoplastic) and well made sights.