View Full Version : Saiga Vs Bolt action .308. Which would you choose?

Pond, James Pond
July 2, 2012, 02:57 PM
I like the idea of a bolt action. I like the bolt's movement and simplicity.
I like the idea of a semi. I like the higher rate of fire and I like the looks.

Although I hadn't planned on another purchase a decent deal has arisen on a 22" Saiga in .308 coming in at just over €400. It is 2 and half years old and has allegedly only fired 250 rounds.
This is possible if it was a hunting weapon.

It is way cheaper than even the secondhand Zastava M70 I had referred to in another thread. That Zastava with cheapo Tasco scope is already €500. A new CZ550 is €650 and over, depending on the model.

I want to learn to shoot long range. I'd have the .22 for the technique and the .308 for thrills. For me, given range regulations, that would be out to 300m. I could also be something to rely on in uncertain times. I would reload.

I think to myself that a 10rd mag is better than a 4 round mag and
faster firing rate can only be better.

I think that bolts are simpler and so less to break, but then I also think this is an AK variant, known for not breaking!

But then there is accuracy, and I notice that all those doing Youtube scope adjustment videos and long range shooting demos all seem to have bolt actions. Coincidence?

Help me decide if I should pounce on this or just wait.

Teach me the relative merits and qualities, faults and failures of semis and bolts.

July 2, 2012, 03:19 PM
Between those I'd take a short 308 bolt carbine. Much lighter, more reliable with a wider range of ammo power levels that a semi can't match. More accurate, and probably cheaper. Depends on the individual gun. With pratice bolt guns are surprisingly fast for aimed repeat shots. You can get off a string of shots a lot faster with a semi, but if you actually take the time to return the sights back on target between shots it is a lot closer than you'd think. I'm good for about 1 aimed shot per second with my bolt guns.

In a lighter recoiling rifle such as an AR the much lighter recoil makes them much faster to get back on target with a semi-auto. A 223 round has less than 4 ft lbs of recoil vs 15-17 with a 308 depending on the rifles weight and the load.

July 2, 2012, 03:28 PM
A Saiga isn't necessarily an "accurate" rifle but people's definitions will differ. You can get 4-3moa maybe out of it standing and slightly better off a bench. Once you get used to it your accuracy will only improve marginally. AKs are not for hitting something between the eyes at 300yds with.

Bolt action rifles tend to be more precise. If I wanted surgical precision for hunting I wouldn't take a 7.62 Saiga, I'd grab the bolt action but I don't know what you're doing with it...

You want to know the faults and merits of either bolt action or semi?
The main and obvious ones are that semis have more parts, manual bolt action is more simple, easier to maintain...
Bolt action is typically more accurate, especially if you are comparing it to an AK...
Semi autos like the Saiga will take detachable mags but there are nice bolt action rifles with box magazines too if it matters...

I don't know, you take your pick on this one.

Pond, James Pond
July 2, 2012, 03:30 PM
So as things stand a semi has more capacity and faster firing rate (provided the shooter is proficient and practiced), but heavier and with a narrower range of ammo.

Conversely, a bolt action is slower until you get really good, when it is only slightly slower and is lighter, but carries fewer rounds although they could be real thumbers or very light charges.

Bolts are more reliable by virtue of fewer parts, but then Saigas seem pretty robust, so perhaps it's even on that point!

And accuracy, although perhaps not a Saiga's winning hand, is still partly down to the actual gun.

Does that sum it up?

July 2, 2012, 03:34 PM
Pretty much.

Howabout a lever-action? ;) I got pretty quick with one, I can have another round chambered by the time I recover the sight picture from the preceeding shot. Lol.

July 2, 2012, 03:40 PM
Your scores will be higher at 300m with the bolt gun. The semi-auto would need lots of tuning to acheave the same level of scoring.

Pond, James Pond
July 2, 2012, 03:57 PM
No lever actions really on sale here.

I did investigate .44 mag levers as I am starting to reload 44s in the next couple of weeks (just waiting for the bullets to be delivered).

Truth be told it is either a bolt or a semi.

the only other personal advantages is that if ever I leave this little country that has made gun ownership possible for me, I with want to consider which guns may be more acceptible in other parts of Europe. Bolts action is more likely to be OK.

The flip side is WKWTFH? (Who knows what the future holds?). I sometimes worry that Europe is experiencing moderate unrest at the moment, and then there was the Russo-Georgian conflict which was a bit of an eye-opener, given some of the borders this country shares.

Admittedly, it is a somewhat paranoid tangent and it would not be decisive in which type I buy. Ultimately, I guess I just want something I will nejoy and get good at....

The other choice was an AR, but they are über expensive at about €1800, starting prices with nothing on them!!

A new €650 CZ 550 is as high as I would go, hence why the punch of a €400 Saiga or €500 Zastava M70 are quite appealing!
Other options are the Savage Axis XP and Marlin XL7 (although the last is in 30-06: I'd prefer .308)

July 2, 2012, 07:49 PM
I have a saiga 308 i need to post pictures of, shoots great, accurate as i am or better only thing is these guys were right all along saying the sights stay on target better for faster follow up shots with 223. This gun cycles fast and feeds anything and it also kicks like a mule compared to some. I like the gun it was worth the money but it almost negates the purpose of an autoloader Id say. Id go with a bolt gun if i had it to do again i believe, and build a saiga in 7.62x39 or 5.45.

July 2, 2012, 10:01 PM
Sold my Saiga .308 and bought a Ruger GSR. GSR is far better for handloading.

gun nut
July 2, 2012, 10:10 PM
Bolts are what I prefer for accuracy. Semis can be fun to blast with but expensive to feed. I feel I get my money's worth out of a box of ammo taking slower deliberate shots (with a bolt). In the long term I enjoy an accurate rifle far more than one that I can "unload " quickly by just pulling the trigger. Even more fun is multiple targets with a bolt gun!;)

Te Anau
July 3, 2012, 07:44 AM
Saigas are great guns,but in general I'd recommend a bolt action.

TX Hunter
July 3, 2012, 08:29 AM
I would go with a Bolt Action, but I think the OP may be happier with an AK.

July 3, 2012, 10:20 AM
I am also going with the majority.
A good bolt action is hard to beat for accuracy,normally the bolt action rifles have much better triggers from the factory opposed to factory semi-auto rifle. I have both bolts and semi auto centerfires for hunting and long range target shooting I prefer the bolt actions.

July 4, 2012, 02:12 PM
A Saiga can shoot 1.5 moa with handloads. This is within the Soviet sniper accuracy standards for an issue sniper rifle.

I'm on my second Saiga 308 and 4th heavy barrel bolt action 308, so I think my opinion is applicable to the subject at hand. If you want to study accuracy you won't get it with a Saiga, what you will get is acceptable accuracy for tactical and hunting shooting. For precision shooting a bolt action rifle, or semi-auto much more expensive than a Saiga is necessary.

Saigas are a lot of fun.


Pond, James Pond
July 4, 2012, 03:10 PM
I have to say, this is really tough.

Contrary to what some have suggested, I am far from decided.

Both platforms are very attractive to me, and I find my decision swinging firmly from one to the other, that last one pushing me back toward the Saiga!!


I just don't know. I don't think I would regret getting either, but if I don't get the one that really fits, I'll have an itch that I can't scratch until I've bought the other and I really can't do that without selling something as my safe will in fact be full. Law says they must all be locked away!

Once I have my licence issued with the .22 listed I can take it to the range and try it out. That will help me get more of a feel for bolt actions!! then perhaps my range can let me shoot some of both to see how they feel. I run the risk of losing that good deal!!

Pond, James Pond
July 4, 2012, 03:21 PM
A Saiga can shoot 1.5 moa with handloads.

I'm still struggling with some rifle terminology and standards. When you say 1.5 MOA, do you mean at any distance so like 1.5 inch groups at 100yds, but 3 inch groups at 200 yds.

Is this correct?

TX Hunter
July 4, 2012, 05:05 PM
You got it Pond Pond James. Thats exactly what MOA means.
I will tell you how to figure out your delima, If you catch your self day dreaming about going out to the range and shooting. Whatever gun you day dream about the most is the one you should get.
You know which one you like best, and if its close between the two, buy one of them now, then save a little here and there and eventually buy the other one. Good Luck.

Pond, James Pond
July 5, 2012, 12:50 AM
I will tell you how to figure out your delima, If you catch your self day dreaming about going out to the range and shooting. Whatever gun you day dream about the most is the one you should get.

As it happens, I often find myself day-dreaming of one or the other!!

Test runs are the way forward!!

As for buying both, well, this could be tough as there is not enough space in my safe for what would be 3 scope rifles and my handguns... and they all need to fit!!

July 5, 2012, 01:03 AM
If your primary use for a rifle is punching holes in paper out to 300 yards, or hunting white tail deer sized game, go with the bolt gun. If you’re looking for down and dirty rock and roll fun at 100 yards or so, go with the Saiga. Had my Saiga out three days ago, shooting 100 yards at half sized silhouette targets. 200 rounds later, I walked away with a smile on my face. But for serious paper punching, the Saiga won’t cut it.

July 5, 2012, 08:52 PM
I'd rather hit what I aimed at 3 out of 4 than miss 9 out of 10. That's the difference between a good bolt action and an AK(unless you spend big bucks on it).

July 5, 2012, 10:12 PM
Good luck, I had to have both. The Saiga is alot of fun,Mines 308 & a great little hog & deer gun but 300yds is pushing it.300yd. bolt action 308 is just to easy & 500 is fun.;)

July 6, 2012, 09:29 PM
The Saiga is based on the AK, world famous for being tough and reliable in combat. It has good combat accuracy, but will be left for dead by any decent bolt gun. It serves its purpose well. To get a highly accurate semi auto combat rifle, better get ready to spend.

July 6, 2012, 09:49 PM
For your situation I would go with the Saiga. This is why: You said it was a really good deal. Such a deal may not come around again and you could be kicking yourself for not getting it when you had the chance for years to come.

Also it is 150 euros cheaper then the bolt action. That gives you more money for ammo, mags, optics, and etc.

You can save up and get the bolt action later, then you will have both. And if you are anything like me eventually you will want to have both, so get the one that is a good deal now and save up for the more expensive one later.