Saiga 12


May 16, 2005, 04:13 PM
Tell me the negatives of the Saiga 12. Does it jam? Is it hard getting the rounds in the magazine? Can it be easily disassembled?

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May 17, 2005, 02:26 PM
I have two, and a friend of mine runs a third regularly (we play those silly 3-Gun games). They all run just fine.

The magazines are (themselves) easy to load, but speed-reloads (getting magazines seated in the shotgun itself) does take a bit of practice.

They are just as easy to take apart and work over as the AK's that the Saigas were based on.

The big drawback is the stinking 5-round magazines. Some slick folks (ahemcoughcough) figured out how to make 10-round magazines, and those eight-round mags are easily available from Russia or the UK (I've used both sources).

Here is Fred's Red Devil, internationally famous (he and it appeared in a Russian sport shooting magazine last month...his skull swelled up so much that he couldn't get through a standard door...):

And here is a pretty standard pistol-grip conversion:

Fun guns. They were more fun at $150/dealer, but even at $300/Gunbroker, they are pretty amusing.


May 18, 2005, 11:44 AM
Okay, last night at the range, I saw a Saiga 20. In my opinion, that's the cheapest--the crappiest looking shotgun out there. It's difficult removing and inserting the magazine and doesn't have the look and feel of a dependable shotgun. My mind has been made up, I'm going for the Remington 870 Marine.

May 18, 2005, 03:16 PM
yeah the saiga shotguns are not for everyone. i for one love mine. seems like a real AK, rugged like a tank & a work horse built to take it & then some. the mag insertion challenge is typically solvable by practicing technique or stimpsonjcat's stimpcatch modification. see: Stimpcatch (

May 24, 2005, 12:47 AM
I've shot one of the 20 GA versions. It wouldn't cycle 7 1/2 birdshot.

Also, you had to use different magazines for shooting 2-3/4 or 3 inch shells. If you loaded a 2-3/4 inch shell in a magazine meant for the 3-inchers, it would jam.

But other than that, it was a lot of fun.

May 24, 2005, 09:43 AM
Yep, unreliable piece of crap. I shot coming up on 5,700 rounds before I had my first malfunction. (screwed up that 3gun stage as I looked at the gun stupidly for a second before clearing it) Pure Ruskie garbage. Hell, I've got to clean it once every 1,000 rounds or so.

And those mag changes. So hard it is ridiculous. With lots of practice I can load eight rounds in two seconds. Geez.

If you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic. For an in depth review, use the search function. These things have been discussed here quite a bit, and a few of us actually took the time to really test them out to see how well they work. See my article in SWAT a few months back.

May 24, 2005, 04:55 PM
If anyone would like to see a whole squad of Saigas in action, drop by the New Mexico 3-Gun Championship this coming weekend and look for the San Angelo Gun Cart/Mechanized Infantry Fighting Vehicle And Car Pool Association (GC/MIFVACPA ;) ). There will be 12's and 20's in use all weekend :D


May 24, 2005, 06:33 PM
Okay, last night at the range, I saw a Saiga 20. In my opinion, that's the cheapest--the crappiest looking shotgun out there. It's difficult removing and inserting the magazine and doesn't have the look and feel of a dependable shotgun. My mind has been made up, I'm going for the Remington 870 Marine.

Wow, you havent been around AK's much have you?

May 25, 2005, 01:13 AM
Correia, i enjoyed that article you wrote in swat magazine. some of those russian firearms have a way of stealing from my wallet. saiga's, baikal's, oh my!!! 8^)

May 25, 2005, 02:19 PM
Thanks, Looney. I appreciate it.

May 25, 2005, 03:55 PM
Krebs Custom ( offers a pretty kick-@$$ conversion of the Saiga 12, for less than $800.00 (read: the same price as a Remington 11-87 Police). Observe. (

Question 1: Are folding stocks legal on these weapons, now with the death of the AWB?
Question 2: What are some good sources for the eight round magazines?
Question 3: Has the issue of magazine changes been resolved? Some have mentioned that it's impossible to seat a fully loaded magazine with the bolt foward. Is there any modification that can correct this?

May 25, 2005, 04:03 PM
Is there a new importer of these shotguns? I heard EAA is no longer importing them?

Just my .02,

May 25, 2005, 04:47 PM

Risking a repeat of searchable data, but have you made any changes to your Saiga or is it still stock? I have the plain jane 19" cylinder model, and have been thinking of doing a pistol grip conversion on her. She's fine as she is but I like to make changes for no good reason. :)

That Krebs Custom job looks great.

May 25, 2005, 06:35 PM
Beren, my current one is stock. The conversion is a piece of cake though. My partner at FBMG (shameless plug) can do them really easily.

The mags are still hard to find. There are sources for them. Wakal makes his own. I'm hoping with a new importer we will see more.

There is a new importer, but nobody has seen anything from them yet. Russian American Armory.

Folding stocks are perfectly legal. PvtPyle has a pretty groovy one with a Russian side folder on it, and he just built one for a friend with an M4 6 position collapsible.

Loading with the bolt closed is a challenge. But with practice you can get REAL FAST with manually locking the bolt back, loading, and then dropping the bolt. It makes loading in competition very quick. But it takes much practice to become smooth.

May 26, 2005, 06:50 AM

Can you friend thread the barrel to add a Saiga choke? Mine's just plain cylinder right now. Or is that going to chop too much from the 19" barrel?

(Posting instead of PMing so others can benefit from the answer.)

May 26, 2005, 02:33 PM
I have not idea, I would have to ask him. If not I would think that any capable gunsmith or machinest would be able to do it pretty easily.

May 26, 2005, 09:33 PM
Would it make any practical sense for me to have it threaded for chokes? I only use it for mutilating plastic water jugs. ;) If I ever had to use it for self-defense, it'd be within 20 yards, I think. My shotgun-fu is even less developed than my rifle- and pistol-fu. (Training class this fall, I hope, on the carbine side!)

Here's one Saiga-12 negative: you can get so carried away by blasting off 5 rounds before the first spent shell touches dirt that you forget to fully seat the buttstock. Ow, that left a bruise the first time. :what:

May 27, 2005, 02:16 PM
If you are happy with your patterns, I don't think it would be worth the added expense of getting threads cut. Personally I would just run with it.

Mine is threaded for chokes, but I've never changed it from the modified that it came with. However if this is the Russian's idea of modified, I would love to see what they consider full.

May 28, 2005, 10:37 AM
Ive never had a malfunction in my Custom 12 EVER.....functions all, breaks down and cleans easy...Light and fast, mag. changes are a breeze once the "Rocking" motion is perfected. 8Rd. max capacity, Quick reloads, inexpensive!!!....shall I go on! :) The Neg???.... :D I Dont have 2. My barrel is actually threaded internally like a standard shotty, Bolt hold open, Compensator perm. affixed and Gas tube adjustment replaced with Laser System directly from Russia made for the gun, it screws into to replace old regulator and finger activated on the foregrip...pretty cool :-) All work done by kalishnakov USA in Tampa....except the laser, which was one of a few Mack from brought back from Russia. Heck got the 8rd'ers on ebay before they got out of control expensive! Quite the formidable tool IMHO


May 28, 2005, 11:16 AM
Yes folding stocks and pistol grip configurations are legal NOW But make sure you use the correct # of US parts to stay of info at for ya! Eight rd'er are available through importers on that forum from time to time and still available on ebay although RIDICULOUSLY over priced IMHO. But there non the less.

Loandr. :what: :eek: :confused:

May 29, 2005, 04:13 PM
Krebs Custom offers a pretty kick-@$$ conversion of the Saiga 12, for less than $800.00 (read: the same price as a Remington 11-87 Police). Observe.That looks great! Now if he could just put a muzzle brake like this one ( on the barrel it would look perfect!

Still, $800 for a shotgun that I thought was $225 kind of hurts. :)

June 5, 2005, 09:25 PM
Is it okay to cut down the Saiga 12 barrel from 22" to 18"? I'm thinking of doing that, but will it still cycle reliably?

June 6, 2005, 01:41 PM
Mine came with an 18. It works fine.

My understanding is that they can go down to 14 in an SBS and still work fine.

June 7, 2005, 11:18 PM
I own the Saiga 12 w/ fixed cylinder bore 19" barrel. I couldn't ask for more out of a semi-automatic shotgun. I purchased it back when EAA was still importing and sat on it until the sunset in which I immediately added goodies (folding stock and cut tang, pistol grip conversion, new fire control group, etc) AND made sure it was 922r compliant in the process. Iron sights were kinda junky and the sight radius poor so I opted for a Kobra and a raised cheekpad. Loading magazines isn't an issue at all open-bolt; it's just rock-and-lock. Closed bolt might be an issue and require some wiggling or aforementioned stimpcatch widget with an optional light shaving of the bolt (which I did both and works marvelously). Newer Saiga's come with a manual bolt-hold open.

8 round magazines can be found, but they're at, or very darn well near the $100 mark each STILL; there are rumors of soon-to-be stateside manufacturing of these but I wouldn't hold my breath. The stock 5-round magazine that came with my Saiga fires 3" magnums or 2-3/4" shells just as well without jamming or causing issues. You could even mix aforementioned shotshell sizes if you desired to and proceed to empty the magazine but there is a specific gas setting adjustment on the firearm that is to be used for 3" magnum loads (can be set with a coin and depressing a spring-loaded pin)

I've eaten boxes of Walmart 100-round value bricks in Federal 7-1/2 shot to Remington 000 buckshot, and upwards to Federal 3" magnum rifled slugs. The only problem I've ever encountered was two light primer strikes on PMC 00 buckshot I got at the range (can't recall if it was light or full load--cases were milky white/clear) encountered over two 5-round boxes before I gave up on them altogether. No hiccups on any mix of Federal, Remington, or ("evil") Wolf buckshot/rifled slug loads I've tried yet and I'm going to surpass the 1000 round mark soon. Besides, it's good sense that one test and use ammo that their particular firearm won't hiccup on (especially critical for a home defense setup).

The internals are what you 'd expect in an AK-variant--simple; I did all the work myself with nothing more complex in my tool collection than a cheap drill press with end mills and a vice. The only negative thing I can think of (since that is the thread starter's question) is that EAA no longer imports them and prices are starting to rise. That, and the aforementioned short sight radius on the stock open sights.

It's not uncommon to see Saiga12c/k's going for $1000 and conversions going for a few hundred less. I've seen plain unmodified Saiga12's running $400+. Compare this to the going rate of $199 apiece at CDNN back in September '04. Firefly Arms used to do a conversion for dirtcheap (IIRC a few hundred dollars including lots of conversion parts sans a few customer-supplied parts) but they've stopped gunsmithing completely.

All in all the thing is built like a tank and handles remarkably well. It might look ugly (if AKs are considered ugly) but tanks are built around function, not form.

Included is an image of my Saiga 12 cuddling with my "Molon Labe" Khukuri!

June 7, 2005, 11:27 PM
GREAT looking shotgun, Cesiumsponge. Only thing I would change on it (and this is just personal taste mind you) is the taclite and MAYBE remove the forward grip - would have to test it out first. Now I need to buy a Saiga...

June 8, 2005, 12:00 AM
The front is a bit cluttered; I agree. I intend to reconfigure it sometime. It's for home defense...or "home offense" as I've referred to it before :p , hence the light for identification and the laser as a last lines of deterrance (would say intimidation but that sounds almost criminal) before I'd have to actually pull the trigger.

The real-estate-gobbling flashlight is a Pelican M6 with a pressure switch...was a personal carry but I got a cheapo Surefire Nitrolon since the aluminum M6 got pretty scratched up from my dropping it. The darn thing still has the original bulb even after all the 12ga recoil but it was a cheap fix for something that'll "get me by" til I upgrade to something like a Streamlight laser/light module and streamline the whole thing.

The sight is for frolicking at the range :)

June 8, 2005, 12:04 AM
Cesium, that is one damn fine looking Saiga. :)

Good news. We are talking to the new importer. A shipment will be coming in August, and we are trying to sign up as a distributor. I'll keep you updated. As of right now I have no idea what the new prices will be.

June 8, 2005, 05:30 AM
Good news. We are talking to the new importer. A shipment will be coming in August, and we are trying to sign up as a distributor. I'll keep you updated.Awesome! Any chance they'll come in with pistol grips and then the right number of parts can just be swapped to comply with 922r before they are sold?

June 8, 2005, 09:29 AM
I don't know yet.

But if they don't, then we plan on doing a batch of them and selling them preconfigured. Really right now I have no idea what it is going to be.

June 8, 2005, 11:40 AM
Correia if you have any more hard facts on you selling a converted saiga drop me a PM. My paychecks are backing up and I need a new toy to blow cash on.

June 8, 2005, 11:53 AM
Kace, I'll post as I know more. According to RAA the first shipment probably won't be here until August.

June 8, 2005, 12:00 PM

Sounds like a great premise for a group buy. Pistol-grip 19" Saiga-12 shotguns threaded for chokes, enhanced iron sights, and a forward rail for mounting lights and grips. And of course..8rnd mags! :D

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