Should I pull the trigger on a Saiga 308?


January 12, 2011, 06:13 AM
General purpose firearm. Mostly range, occasional hunting, possible "oh crap" gun if katrina 2.0 happened. Must take 20 round magazines. Must feed a variety of ammo well. 2-3 MOA. Preferably 2-2.5. Must accept optics.

OK, I'm really torn here. I want a decent 16"-18" barreled semi-auto rifle in .308. I currently have a CETME which is plenty accurate but I hate the charging handle system on it. I'm also the kind of guy that wants something nice, but HATES to overpay needlessly for something. By the same token I'm totally willing to pay good money for a quality item when it's deserved.

I've been looking at the SOCOM system, probably the original without all the extra do-dads on it. I know they are a high quality weapon and are more accurate than I am. I also know what they cost but figured that was the price you pay to play.

But I keep seeing the Saiga 308 with the 16" barrel and wondering about getting it instead. Weight and size is about the same. I know it's reliable. I've read they are about as accurate as the M1A platform but hear mixed messages on this sometimes. I know you can get/install a tapco adjustable stock. I know even with extras it would cost less than half the price of a SOCOM.

How well do they take optics? Is the Springfield really worth the extra $1000? Talk to me Saiga people, talk to me. Should I pull the trigger on this or just pony up for a Springfield or AR10?

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January 12, 2011, 07:31 AM
I had a Saiga .308 16" bought from a member here for most of the same reasons you want one. It was very reliable rifle and ate anything, I can say that for the Saiga 308. That's where like ended. The ergonomics are awful it was not comfortable to fire in any position. The Saiga are rough looking guns, the fit and finish is crappy. When it is fired you and the shooters around you will be greeted with massive concussion and fireballing. Accuracy was okay but nothing special(I never liked shooting it so that may have contributed). To add optics would require the AK style side mount with a rail or going with a POSP scope. The trigger, is in a word, "bad", stock sight are rudimentary. I spent $60 on a rear peep for mine, which didn't do much to improve things. I realized that $60 was the start of the spending and work if I was keeping this rifle.....There is a "conversion" that can be done for Saigas that brings them into a more true AK format and improves the trigger and ergos. Stock they come with one ploy 8round mag....higher cap mags are hard to get and expensive plus there is the whole 922(r) compliance issues....
I decided to sell it and and move on before wasting any time or money.

The M1A or AR10 are much better choices.

January 12, 2011, 07:35 AM
There is always the FAL. Less money than your average M1A, as a nice lightly used/mint model can be had for less than $1,000 if you shop wisely. Shoots the same cartridge. Reliable, parts are reasonable, accuracy is good enough for most work.

January 12, 2011, 07:59 AM
You will be happy with the Saiga 308. I had one, loved it but sold it to fund my M14.

January 12, 2011, 10:17 AM
I have one that I converted, and it works well and is accurate. I will second what has been said already about the noise and concussion, but converted the ergonomics are good and the trigger is better than my ar. I bought an adjustable trigger, not the standard tapco, which is probably similar to my ar.
If the noise doesn't bother you (or others who happen to be near you) then they are a good rifle at a great price.

January 12, 2011, 10:39 AM
I had one... I had a 21" barreled model with the dragunov stock with the twisting cheek piece. That was a really cool stock... with the cheek piece twisted up, it was the perfect height for use with my scope. With it twisted down, it was perfect for using the iron sights, which I could see under my scope. That was a good SHTF feature... if the scope broke, I could get back on target with the irons in about a second flat. The rifle could probably pull off 3 MOA. The problem is that hi-cap mags are really expensive for these rifles... like at least 35-40 bucks a piece. Even the factory 8-rounders are expensive. It was a cool rifle, though... I liked how light it was. I wish I didn't sell it. It would have been nice to take hunting or something.

While the Saiga was cool, I like my Standard model M1A much better as a battle rifle. It has much better sights and trigger, is much more accurate, takes cheaper and more available mags, and I dare say it is every bit as reliable. Plus it just feels so right. I am confident in my ability to effectively engage man-sized targets out to at least 800 yards with iron sights with the M1A... I couldn't say the same for the Saiga, even with a scope.

A .308 AR is another option, if you want to sacrifice a little reliability for a little more accuracy and ease in mounting optics. Some options to look at are the Rock River LAR-8, the DPMS LR-308, the Bushmaster ORC .308, and the Armalite AR-10.

A FAL or an M1 from the CMP would be some more budget-minded choices. I have an M1, and I would not feel the least bit disadvantaged taking it into a SHTF situation, 8 round mags notwithstanding.

I also wouldn't go with a short 16 or 18" barrel for a SHTF role. That is fine for hunting, but for use on a 2-way range, those things produce a huge muzzle blast and flash that will blind you and give away your position in low-light situations. Plus they kind of cut the balls off the .308 round... that short of a barrel will limit your max effective range and make the bullet drop faster, making longer shots more difficult. The shorter sight radius also makes iron sight shooting less precise.

If you want something that is optomized for close quarters, you might be better served by a carbine in an intermediate caliber. A .30 battle rifle is more of an all-purpose rifle, for any enemy at any range. Putting a shorter barrel on one just makes it an overweight, over-recoiling intermediate range carbine, producing massive amounts of flash and noise. That's my opinion.

January 12, 2011, 11:24 AM
I have owned them in all available calibers and barrel lengths (unconverted). Saigas are not poorly built. They are probably the best-built AK type rifle on the market.

The only problem is the "sporterized" trigger and cast-off stock (for lefties). Since I am right-handed the stock works for me, but I would prefer a straight one. The trigger, well it is "clunky" but doesn't impede accuracy, IMO.

Good luck in your search for a reliable, robust, accurate, chrome-lined barrel, semi-auto .308 rifle for $500.


January 12, 2011, 11:41 AM
There are two ways you can go with the Saiga. I have a .308 with the 21" barrel. The first option is to leave it sort of stock, meaning don't go crazy with the modifications. I put the Saiga skeleton stock and a 6x24 POSP scope on it and it works just fine. Being a lefty, the cheek piece just gets in the way, but one adapts. The stock trigger is worse than a Daisy Red Rider trigger and there is some slap that gets real annoying after 40 rounds.'s typical AK accuracy @2MOA, fires absolutely any .308 you put into it every time and keeps coming back for more. It is also far less expensive than most other .308 semi platforms.
Option two is to do a trigger mod, stock mod, pistol grip and go on up from there. Realizing that it won't become any more reliable or accurate, but it will be more comfortable to shoot and you may gain some level of accuracy with the improved trigger.
For your parameters, it makes total sense as I'd trust it to hit a 4" circle at 300 yds as well as fire every single time I pull the trigger, plus you can get high cap mags for it making it a great SHTF rifle if it comes to that.
Decide just how often you are going to shoot it and then decide if the money spent in modding it are worth it. If you shoot it 1x per month or less, the mods are for fun and cool looks...not function. For the cost, you will not be disappointed whichever path you take as the basic platform sounds like it fulfills your criteria.

Col. Plink
January 12, 2011, 02:52 PM
Saiga308v.21 may be another choice, for many of the reasons noted above. It comes with a different trigger, apparently far better than the 'sporter' versions (mine's pretty good). Accuracy is supposedly better in the 16" model, the 21" can be made to be acceptably accurate or better (there are good scope mounts that attach and release quickly or with 3 allen screws; apparently dog-leg style mounts allow for disassembly with the scope on as well, which may or may not be necessary). I have not accurized mine (ver.21 comes with the thumbhole hogsback stock), have a decent scope on it and get 2-3 MOA with commercial ammo. The cost of the aftermarket mags has kept me away for a long time now though. Apparently the 16" models can be accurized to great effect, I believe RangerRuck will likely chime in to line it out.

January 12, 2011, 11:15 PM
I love my saiga .308. I had to sink about 100 bucks into making it comfortable though. Out of the box ergo and trigger are crap. Not saying don't get one but price out a new FCG, pistol grip and NATO length stock before you look into one ( if you are short a cheap surplus warsaw pact style stock may do fine). Be prepared to modify it, it's not a big deal. All the appropriate holes were there on mine, it's just a question of swapping out parts on one of he simplest semi autos on the market.

Col. Plink
January 13, 2011, 12:57 AM
ver.21 looks like this

January 13, 2011, 01:47 AM
Get a 16" Saiga .308 (they're as accurate or more so) and either install the Saiga skeleton stock or convert it. You'll have a handy battle rifle that doubles as an effective hunter. It feels great with the skeleton stock.

Col. Plink
January 13, 2011, 03:36 AM
scope mount

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