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Old January 2, 2012, 09:27 AM   #1
bfskinnerpunk
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Saiga questions (all purpose shotguns)

1. Are all Saiga 12g shotguns essentially the same? (same fundamental underlying parts and quality)

2. Are the shotguns effective for hunting as well as self defense purposes? (if not, can they made to be better for hunting?)

3. Do the Saiga shotguns enjoy the same reputation for reliability as the Saiga 7.62x39 counterparts?
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Old January 2, 2012, 10:29 AM   #2
Technosavant
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1) Pretty much, but the quality control is highly variable on them, mostly as it relates to the gas system. There's four gas ports from the barrel into the gas tube, and most guns only have three of them open (and they work just fine). There's some "vodka specials" out there with two, one, and even some examples with ZERO gas ports open. Those tend not to be as reliable. Some parts do not interchange from the S12 and S20 to the S410.

2) Depends on the kind of hunting. Personally, I don't find that they swing all that well and the design works against a decent sighting plane (the gas tube is shorter than the barrel, they're mediocre rifle sights and not a true front bead, and the barrel is well below that plane). Unconverted you'll get a far better cheek weld than if you convert it to an AK pattern pistol grip and shoulder stock. You can get two round magazines for waterfowl hunting if you like.

3) Kinda, but not fully. They're still the same design, but a shotshell is never going to load from a standard box magazine as easily as a rifle bullet. Just too thick and too flat on the nose of the round- the only failures mine ever experiences are when the nose of the shell is jammed into the top of the chamber (instead of actually being loaded into the chamber), and that happens once or twice every couple dozen rounds.
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Old January 2, 2012, 10:44 AM   #3
bfskinnerpunk
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Thanks!

I'm not a terribly informed firearms guy, but was hoping to make up for that by getting very familiar with very few platforms.

For handguns, I've selected the glock ... and am practicing doing detailed strips and handling that design. Crazy reliable, tolerates neglect, and simple...and not terribly expensive.

I also have an AK underfolder (bulgarian I think... or hungarian... whichever is the more common one)... and I love it. Will probably get another type of AK, too. AK's have the same benefits as the glock... tolerating neglect is a biggy for me. So anyway, I am going to get familiar with the AK design and...

... my idea was to get an AK type Saiga shotgun. That way, I'm already very familiar with the mechanisms involved in that design. I do like the familiarity, the capacity, and the ability to reload...almost instantly... another magazine full of rounds...rather than one at a time.

Now, I'm not so sure after reading your post and the posts of others here on the subject. Many think that a proper Saiga12 is too expensive and is physically cumbersome for most purposes... and especially bad for interior defensive work because of size. I'm not interested in using it for interior work, but... it is a nice feature.

At the moment, I'm starting to look at other suggestions... like the Mossberg 930 SPX.

I'm looking for reliability, simplicity, and some flexibility... with a focus on defense (and not necessarily indoors defense).

Thanks
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Old January 2, 2012, 10:47 AM   #4
bfskinnerpunk
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Saiga (or other options)

Side note... for $930... there are some (apparently) high quality Saiga 12 conversions.
Check the Saiga 12 AK converted Shotgun WA109
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Old January 2, 2012, 03:35 PM   #5
Technosavant
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There's some good conversions out there. I did mine myself, and it's quite easy.

The thing to note is that swapping mags isn't as quick as you'd think. There's no last round bolt hold open (wouldn't be surprised if somebody has modded that, but I haven't seen it), so you're inserting a mag on a closed bolt. Due to the size of the 12ga rounds, it's a little difficult to get it locked in properly. There are indeed magwell conversions you can do to help with this, but I've never tried it.

As you noted, the length is also an issue. It's just a really long action for a shotgun, and with the 19" barrel out in front, there's a lot of length there, so it also isn't terribly maneuverable.

It's a fun gun to be sure, but in practice I'm still not convinced that it's as good an idea as it sounds. There's some guys on here who disagree with me, and that's fine, but I haven't found it as flexible, as reliable, or generally as good a shotgun as a more traditional design that can be had for not much more (say, a Beretta 390, Remington 1100, Benelli something or other, and so on).
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Old January 2, 2012, 04:39 PM   #6
B. Lahey
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Quote:
the only failures mine ever experiences are when the nose of the shell is jammed into the top of the chamber (instead of actually being loaded into the chamber), and that happens once or twice every couple dozen rounds.
That is not normal. Send it in for service, a Saiga 12 that horribly unreliable is quite rare, and it should be fixed.

I can't get mine to malfunction. The only times it has quit was when I had a few 1st generation AGP mags break off at the front locking tab while endlessly blasting through piles of 3" 15 pellet 00 and 1.25oz slugs. Since then (at least 1,500rds) not a malfunction to report.
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Old January 2, 2012, 05:11 PM   #7
M4BGRINGO
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I like using the Saiga-12 for knockdown steel. I hold the butt against my gut, use my right hand to hold the bolt back, use the left hand to drop the empty mag and load another in. Not too hard to do after you have done it a few times, and I have done it a LOT!

Never, ever had a problem with the gun. Had to break it in with buckshot before birdshot cycled with no issues.

It is a FUN gun, but the Rem 870 is my home defense gun.
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Old January 6, 2012, 07:26 PM   #8
Flopsweat
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Quote:
...
There's no last round bolt hold open (wouldn't be surprised if somebody has modded that, but I haven't seen it), so you're inserting a mag on a closed bolt.
...
To be fair, there is a BHO, just no LRBHO on the IZ109. You can manually lock the bolt back, which makes inserting the mag much easier. If you have the bolt carrier cut and polished for improved cycling, it also makes mag insertion easier on a closed bolt. Lots of folks have this mod done. I have and I recommend it. Just be sure to read up on 922r compliance before you do any mods.

I'm aware of one reliable aftermarket LRBHO kit. It's made by Cadiz Gun Works. I haven't tried it myself but I know of several people who have had good results with it. One of my Saiga 12's has a bolt carrier modified by Tom Cole, the owner. He did a great job on it and was a pleasure to deal with.

And actually there is a new model with a LRBHO, but it's poorly designed IMO. They also require a different (or modified) magazine for the last round feature to function. I had one for almost a year. I only got to shoot it a few times. It failed (the LRBHO self-destructed) the first time out. It was repaired under warranty and worked for a few shots and then failed again. I don't think I got to put more that 25 rounds total out of it. This was a bit frustrating since my other Saigas have been very reliable. When the importer determined that the gun could not be repaired they sent me a replacement which I recently traded for an 870 and some accessories. I'll keep the Saigas that I have now - I really like them - but I have no interest in this new model. The new parts for the LRBHO feature look flimsy. I'm very surprised that this design made it out of Izhmash. They moved the bolt stop to the front of the bolt and attached it to a thin, narrow and apparently easily bent strip of what looks like sheet metal. Given what a rugged, elegant design the rest of the gun is, I find it hard to believe that Mr. Kalashnikov had anything to do with this travesty.
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Old January 6, 2012, 08:37 PM   #9
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I think a customized Saiga is the baddest assed shotgun out there. With a short barrel and some work on the guts, they can fire 5 to 6 shots a second and they can do it with buckshot,birdshot or slugs.

With a 10 or 12 round mag, there is no other shotgun that can compete with the speed or the rapid reload capability.
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