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Saiga Rifle 101 - An Introduction

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    Saiga Rifle 101 - An Introduction

    The SAIGA RIFLE - An Introduction & Retrospective

    The Russian Saiga Rifle is an AK platform self-loading long gun manufactured for the civilian market in the Izhamash Factory, in the Udmart Republic, the very same factory that make military AK-74s. The late Kalashnikov himself held a title at the factory.

    The Saiga (pronounced Sigh-guh) -- Canta in Russian --is named after a hardy Russian antelope. Saiga_x2.jpg

    It is offered in the following calibers; 7.62 x 39 mm, .223, 5.45x39 mm, .308
    Several factory variations and barrel lengths are offered (see Izhmash link below).

    http://www.izhmash.r...uct/saiga.shtml Saiga_x12.jpg

    NY Times Business Article about the Izhmash Factory importing Saigas to America

    The receiver is a quality AK style receiver with sought after “dimples” on the mag well.
    The barrel is a mil spec AK barrel. The Russian authenticity and quality makes it one of the best makes to convert into an AK-47/74 build stateside. image_631.jpg

    Stock imported "sporter" version Saiga rifle (bottom) and "converted" rifle (top).

    --Saiga Rifle Schematic--


    As with any foreign made product, it must be imported into the US. Business deals are struck with importers stateside, and they get contracts to be dealers. These contracts expire and change over time.

    Years ago Russian American Armory (RAA) started out as an exclusive importer of Saiga rifles. Only a few big stores like Centerfire Systems sold them. Now many other importers sell them and some even immediately convert them into Pistol Gripped AK-47 types stateside, and sell them that way (Century Arms).

    The reason you see that fuzzy “Velcro” looking patch on many Saiga receivers is that the new importers will laser etch out the name of the old ones. This is very common. Basically the factory pumped out so many and this “Velcro mark” is an old importers name that has been scribbled out.

    Russian Weapon Company (RCW) in PA is the exclusive importer for Saigas. Izhmash announced this contract in 2012 and then Izhmash changed the name to Kalashnikov Concern. But since Obama's sanctions against Russia, import of the Saiga has stopped. Another US company exploited this (and the lack of international trademarks) and formed Kalashnikov USA. This is in no way related to the Russian Saiga and these AKMs are made to tighter specs using CNC machines (tighter specs not necessarily being a good thing for surplus ammo etc.).


    So why does this AK format rifle not look like an “AK”?

    Due to US import law, the Russian Saiga must be shipped into the United States devoid of any “military style” features. So Izhmash marketed it as a “sporter rifle” removed the pistol grip and added a sporter stock, removed or put a permanent integrated shroud over the threaded barrel, (and also the trigger group is now moved back to where the PG would be on most AKM rifles). Because this neutered version contains no military features it is a great option for ban states, such as NY, where the SAFE act would deem any semi auto rifle that accepts detachable magazines, with one feature such as pistol grip (PG) an Assault Weapon (AW) that must be registered. The sporterized Saiga rifles contain no such features and it would stand to reason that they are thus not defined as AW under the SAFE act.

    The import version is devoid of mil features, making it ideal for "ban" states.

    There are "bolt on" aftermarket stocks that allow for a PG without moving the FCG forward.

    Pre-2013 NY Saigas


    Saiga rifles are shipped with factory Izhmash 10 round magazines. These are very high quality magazines. However if you want to use AK magazines you may or may not have to do some minor modifications.

    5.45x39 mm -

    Saigas do not need modification to accept AK-74 magazines. AK mags will fit and feed fine into the mag well without any filing or other parts. Surplus steel, Bakelite, Bulgys, Polish, Tapco etc. all should fit and feed.

    7.62x39mm and others-

    You need a bullet guide drilled and tapped into the trunnion in order to feed AK-47 magazines (surplus and modern poly).

    You also need to file the mag catch lever a bit in order for the magazine to snap into place.

    carolinashooters's video Installation of bullet guide 7.62x39, 223, 5.45x39 Ak47 AK74 Saiga Rifle. The following link will take you to a list of all our Bul...

    The sporterized version is compliant for ban states such as NY. Although it is very plain-jane in it's factory look, some mods can be made for more AK-ish aesthetics.



    Again at it's core a Saiga is an AKM with a Russian AK receiver and a mil spec AK barrel. The 5.45 accepts AK74 mags readily with no modification...

    Sources for aftermarket Saiga Parts:

    Carolina Shooters Supply

    Mississippi Auto Arms

    Dinzag Arms

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    Last edited by Destro; 05-02-2016, 09:57 AM.

    pre/post... seeing those pre's is depressing.
    "Remove one freedom per generation and soon you will have no freedom-and no one would have noticed."- Karl Marx


      Great read ....thank you


        I'm glad I bought my Saiga, 762X39, added the dark wood furniture , she looks shoot also...


          Thanks again for posting this.


            Thanks for posting. Anyway to get a converted Saiga back to its original configuration?
            "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
            - Thomas Jefferson

            "Americans have the right and advantage of being armed, unlike the people of other countries, whose leaders are afraid to trust them with arms."
            - James Madison


              Awesome article, will have to get one soon.
              NRA, NYSRPA, GOA, NYSFA, SCOPE, SAFE, FOP Lodge 124, AOH Div 7.


                A blast from the past --Saigas in Centerfire Systems (KY) catalog (only a few years back, but prior to the Russian import sanctions that drove prices way up). I actually got a batch of Saigas when they were discounted at $299 each from J&G Sales (AZ).



                  Good stuff always enjoy reading you posts


                    Thanks for the article. Very sad that "the good old days" were only four years ago.


                      Well done ... Will be as usual a go to for years to come .

                      From the NY times article :

                      in the United States, Izhmash cannot be underpriced by Chinese competitors. The federal government has banned most imports of Chinese handguns and rifles since 1994.

                      But we can and do import billions of tons of cheap crap on a daily basis . F'd up !!!



                        Originally posted by Destro View Post
                        A blast from the past --Saigas in Centerfire Systems (KY) catalog (only a few years back, but prior to the Russian import sanctions that drove prices way up). I actually got a batch of Saigas when they were discounted at $299 each from J&G Sales (AZ).

                        I've been wanting a VEPR for a long time. I assume given the thumbhole stocks that they're no longer legal in this crap hole, and given obamas sanctions their prices have skyrocketed?
                        “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are." - Benjamin Franklin


                          Originally posted by sheeple View Post
                          I've been wanting a VEPR for a long time. I assume given the thumbhole stocks that they're no longer legal in this crap hole, and given obamas sanctions their prices have skyrocketed?
                          Yes, one of the changes in the SAFE act was specifically adding "thumbhole stock" as a feature. Under the old AWB many in NY used thumbhole stocks and the VEPR was an option. It's a beaut of a rifle (love the Super VEPRs).

                          The only other option now would be a VEPR Hunter in 30-06, which has a "sporter stock" and non-threaded barrel. It however is rarer and only available in auctions at a price. I am still looking for one (if anyone has one!).





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