Kit built AR vs. converted Saiga AK


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Blackwolf
February 7, 2011, 08:05 PM
Hello thehighroad.org. I'm a young fellow with a great interest in firearms and a long time lurker of this site.

Introductions out of the way, I'm wanting to buy my first semi-automatic centerfire rifle. I have narrowed it down to either:

1: Del-Ton parts kit w/ complete upper
http://www.del-ton.com/Rifle_Kit_p/rkt102.htm
2: Saiga AK to convert

I have the knowledge, ability and tools to assemble an AR or convert a Saiga.

By my calculations, either option will cost me $600 plus or minus $20. That, plus the cost of a few extra magazines and some ammo is my limit.

I'm leaning towards the AR right now because of greater availability of parts, accessories and ammo. I don't know of any American manufacturers that produce either 7.62x39 or 5.45x39. Nor do I know of any American manufacturers that produce quality AK replacement parts including barrels, bolts, etc. I know that I'll probably never wear out a barrel and that I'm probably being too paranoid, but still...

The reason that I'm being so very picky is that (relating to my youth) I probably won't be able to afford another gun in this price range for a long time. If I could buy both I would.

The rifle will be used for target shooting and maybe killing some pesky coyotes.

I've looked at other options but, I don't like the SU-16, any SKS in my area is overpriced and I wouldn't buy a century AK without inspecting it first, and none of the local shops stock century AKs.

Any advice or suggestions are greatly appreciated. :)
Just to let everyone know, I have to do something and won't be back for at least an hour, probably more.

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d2wing
February 7, 2011, 08:33 PM
As an owner of both, the AR is better suited to coyote shooting and target practice as it has more range and accuracy. Both are fun to shoot. Also the AR can be reconfigured easily to shoot other ammo. The AR is more expensive because you can do so many things with it, it's hard not to.

Z-Michigan
February 7, 2011, 08:33 PM
Welcome to THR!

I actually own both a DTI-kit built AR, and a Saiga (as well as a "factory" Saiga conversion SGL-21). Both are good options. The Saiga is basically a military-spec combloc weapon, while the Del-Ton is a quality hobby/plinking/hunting AR but does not meet all of the US military specifications. DTI has however improved their specs over time and the gap is getting smaller. Mine is from about 2 years ago before they made many of those improvements, and has nonetheless been just fine. (I also own higher priced ARs from several companies, so this is not a "my DPMS is best of all" type statement).

The AR allows a lot more options for accessories (most of them unneeded, of course) and very easy repair and upgrading over time, if desired. The Saiga will start out well, but there's not much you can or would want to upgrade/accessorize, and once it wears out (a very long time away) it's basically scrap metal. Barrel replacement is possible, however, though not as easy as the AR. But you'll have to shoot something like 40,000 rounds to wear out the Saiga's barrel.

The 20" AR you're looking at will likely (1) be easier to shoot accurately at a given level of skill/practice, and (2) have more intrinsic accuracy than the Saiga. The Saiga is among the most accurate AKM types, however.

Just to let everyone know, I have to do something and won't be back for at least an hour, probably more.

Nice of you but no need to make statements like this - no one will think anything of it you take a day or two to reply, much less an hour.

Girodin
February 8, 2011, 12:31 AM
Here is my prefered order of guns:

Top tier AR, Top tier AK, lower end AK, lower end AR.

I personally based on the way I use my guns would not be happy with a Del ton AR. Others might be and I have no issue with that. I am happy with all of my Saigas and think they are the way to go with an AK unless one wants an SBR.

Just to throw a wrench in your thinking. The Saiga also is available in .223. These rifles are probably as accurate as certain ARs and in anycase more accurate than most shooters from field positions can manage. They do not have as good of sights, that is probably their main limitation accuracy wise.

The reason that I'm being so very picky is that (relating to my youth) I probably won't be able to afford another gun in this price range for a long time.

If this is the case and you really want an AR, I'd wait a few more months, be frugal and buy something nicer. I've never regretted buying a nicer piece of gear over a lesser. The inverse is certainly not true.

1stmarine
February 8, 2011, 12:37 AM
I can tell you about the delton is they are superb kits, I have a couple.
Same thing about the saiga conversions only nice experiences here too.
You might not like the SU16 but they are awesome carbines. I have one with 4K rounds w.o a single hiccup. (other than a few duds)
So I think that you should look at your purpose and what you really like. Once you decide many folks here will be able to help you if you decide to build or convert or whatever.

Sorry not to be more helpful but you mentioned systems that I have, I use them all and I love them. They are different but great systems. I can tell you this from first hand experience with all of them.

Now that I am reading again if cost is a concern get a saiga in .223 and consider reloading. Yes you can get a saiga in 7.62x39 and 5.45 but you will be spending more than reloading and the .223 is a great round. Nothing wrong with the others but I am saying a saiga out of the box will be able to enjoy w/o going for the conversion right away and will have enough money to buy some .223 ammo and still have money left. Then add and convert as you go. Reloading .223 you can do with a cheap LEE press and brass is virtually free at the range pickup.
If I was tight on the money I would rather to have a $350 saiga and 1000 round of ammo than the Awesome delton (great system) and 50 rounds of ammo.


Cheers,
E.

Z-Michigan
February 8, 2011, 09:22 AM
I personally based on the way I use my guns would not be happy with a Del ton AR.

And that's key. I suspect the OP will have a DTI half worn out before he determines if he needs the better specs on higher end stuff. As I mentioned, I own a DTI complete kit which I built; I also own complete rifles from Bushmaster and Armalite, and complete uppers from Daniel Defense and Spike's Tactical. I can find the differences between DTI and DD/ST, but they are not significant for most people just getting into ARs. Remember that a 20" rifle setup with a rifle buffer is far more forgiving of a lot of things than the common M4gery setups that are usually overgassed and require heavy buffers, extractor upgrades and all that nuisance.

But, again, a Saiga would be fine too.

Quentin
February 8, 2011, 10:55 AM
Here is my prefered order of guns:

Top tier AR, Top tier AK, lower end AK, lower end AR.

I personally based on the way I use my guns would not be happy with a Del ton AR. Others might be and I have no issue with that. I am happy with all of my Saigas and think they are the way to go with an AK unless one wants an SBR.

Just to throw a wrench in your thinking. The Saiga also is available in .223. These rifles are probably as accurate as certain ARs and in anycase more accurate than most shooters from field positions can manage. They do not have as good of sights, that is probably their main limitation accuracy wise.



If this is the case and you really want an AR, I'd wait a few more months, be frugal and buy something nicer. I've never regretted buying a nicer piece of gear over a lesser. The inverse is certainly not true.

Blackwolf, this is an excellent answer!

zoom6zoom
February 8, 2011, 11:06 AM
Correct gun forum answer is, get both! (eventually)

mcdonl
February 8, 2011, 12:55 PM
With the saiga you can lay out less then $400 and start shooting today... add the conversion later.

Also, the Del-Ton kits are 4-6 weeks out at best. I was going to buy one but ended up going a different route.

1stmarine
February 8, 2011, 07:57 PM
Most of the parts for Delton and Rock Rivers are cut in the same mill as the colt. you will see the bolts magnetic particle tested w/o asking for it, the M16 BC (upon request) and the whole nine yards. They also come very well squared.
So no doubt they know the business and they have a good price point.

My point with the saiga is that they are also chrome lined, mil spec grade systems with a great price point that will give you access to more ammo.
More ammo means more practice and means you get better and more fun.

Unless you want the system to show or to hung on the wall.

Cheers,
E.

offthepaper
February 8, 2011, 10:08 PM
Ihave a couple of entry AR's, a 16" carbine and a 20" A2.
I love them both. Both are great shooters that serve as range toys. They both eat everything I send down the throat with no FTF's or any other trouble. AR's are pricey, no doubt. But if $$ was a real consideration, I'd have no problem going with a Saiga in any configuration. A 223 model sounds like a good choice. Thinking of the long term, it would also be practical if you decide to stay with the same AR caliber should you later decide to add a AR to the collection. You would already be stocked for ammo. That and the fact that the 223 in the Saiga will likely be the most accurate of the other models.

1stmarine
February 8, 2011, 10:15 PM
The saiga to start and then a nice AR for next Birthday or Christmas or whatever :)

Z-Michigan
February 8, 2011, 10:36 PM
Just keep in mind, the quality .223 mags for a Saiga .223 are the Bulgarian ones sold by KVar for $26-30 each, and the future supply is unknown. Decent AR15 mags are starting at $6 now and really good ones run only $10-14 each.

minutemen1776
February 8, 2011, 10:57 PM
Your question could provoke endless AR vs. AK responses. There really isn't a right answer, though, except what works best for YOU. Handle some ARs and AKs and decide which feels best. You may find that one simply appeals to you more. I'm certainly that way. I respect the AK platform a lot, but I've never thought it fit me that well. Hence, I have ARs. Of course, you might be 180 degrees different.

1stmarine
February 8, 2011, 11:40 PM
There really isn't a right answer, though, except what works best for YOU.
Minutemen1776,
That's is always a very good advice.

Blackwolf,
If you can shoulder something do it, if you can try something at the range before you jump even better, do it. Never miss an opportunity to actually try something you are considering, ask friends and people at the range.
I have both ARs and AKs and I like both a lot in different ways. So think slowly and be honest to yourself about purpose, budget, likes/dislikes and everything.
People here can help you decide but we might also drive you crazy. Once you decide one route there will be people to help with further choices or whatever.
And hey, if you are in love with one system because you earned it and you want to have it that is also a good reason.

So, here, if you feel like it, two projects I have going. One about an AR (in 6x45 round) waiting for the barrel to arrive.
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=564287
And the other for SAiga .308 that evolved into all sort of different conversion Q and As.
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=567005

At the high road you will find many other good posts and great knowledgeable people to help you with whatever direction you take.

Cheers.
E.

suzukisam
February 8, 2011, 11:46 PM
when you get down to nuts and bolts an AR is an AR unless your getting into lwrc and other piston systems. most AR parts are machined from the same stock. at one point there were only 3 forges in the world even making ar reciever blanks.. cardinal, cerro, and one other... it's all the same stuff don't let people fool you. by the time you find out what the real differences are, EBR syndrome will have set in and you'll have an AR for everything. I had none a few years ago, I've built 7 and currently own my three favorites

1stmarine
February 9, 2011, 12:04 AM
suzukisam,
There is more than just pistons. I would agree with you that the receivers and external stuff really doesn't matter. But there are some parts that are critical to a good functional AR. First and foremost the Bold Carrier Group. You will be surprised how many are coming out without being properly stacked. Also you want shrouded firing pin, etc...
If something is failing this should be addressed first (ie: a faulty trigger group) but when you get into some of the really cheap internals you have to be careful. Overall you do not see this that often but even some brand names are coming out with some SO-SO internals. Many times this is not an issue for the average use but if you are doing tactical shooting or similar things then need to consider this.
My ARs I have them properly stacked, check headspace, and overall square them out real well although I find sometimes this was not even required. At least with the latest ones I got. I do this myself anyway since I have time and I like to do it. In the process I might change a few things like the gas block or a floating handguard, grip, etc..... the typical.
For the piston ones I have I am really liking the Adams piston. Have 3 of them. I am also building my own piston system. Home recipe.

Cheers,
E.

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