My New Saiga 12 Semi-Automatic Shotgun!
Earlier this month, I was visiting Grand Rapids Michigan and one of my favorite gun stores/gun ranges – Silver Bullet Firearms. I had been considering purchasing a 12 gauge shotgun for a few months – something to augment our home defense arsenal, and potentially fill in the missing firearm needed for me to do three gun competition. I haven’t really shot a shotgun since I used to shoot clay pigeons my father and his friends when I was a teenager – my father and I had Remington 1100s ( I had a 20 gauge, and he had a 12). My memory is a little foggy but my father claims I used to regularly beat he and his friends shooting with that shotgun. There may be more than a little proud father’s embellishment there, but I do recall shooting well with that Remington 1100 and more importantly, I enjoyed it.
As I was considering which shotgun to get, I knew I wanted another semi-automatic. I considered getting another Remington, but of course the Benelli M4 seems to be the 3 gun competition weapon of choice. I had also become familiar with the Saiga 12 from Izhmash – a premier Russian manufacturer of the famed AK-47. In fact, the Saiga 12 is essentially an AK-47 designed to fire 12 gauge shotgun shells – it is a rotating bolt, gas-operated gun that feeds from a magazine. The Saiga 12 has been shown several times on the popular Discovery Channel show “SONS OF GUNS” – in fact, Red Jacket Firearms (on which the TV shows centers) is a premier Saiga 12 conversion and customization service provider. I became intrigued and decided to investigate the Saiga 12.
Looking around locally here in Dayton, I ran across only one which was used in the $800.00 range. I was almost ready to go back and get it when I walked into Silver Bullet in Grand Rapids and they had a few Saiga 12 shotguns for just over $700 each. I didn’t hestate on the purchase – you can find them online for almost $100.00 cheaper but being able to do an in person purchase was worth it to me. The manual has both the serial number and a production stamp indicating it’s a very recent production, which my research indicates is a good thing:
I have a considerable amount of customization work that I plan to do to my Saiga 12 – new trigger, trigger guard, pistol grip, stock, rails. It should be an interesting undertaking which I’ll report on when the project is complete. But here’s how my gun looks as of this writing:
In terms of ammunition, I purchased 10 rounds of Winchester’s 12-gauge Supreme Elite PDX1 for home defense, and 30 rounds of standard slugs for trying out the shotgun at the range. In retrospect, a less shoulder-punishing round (like bird shot) would be been more prudent. NOTE: Recoil reduction will be a key goal of the modification work I’m doing. 🙂
Here’s some targets from my session at the Miamisburg Sportman Club with the Saiga 12 – I was shooting at fairly short range (about 15 yards).
Single shot – the gun is surprisingly accurate:
Subsequent shots grouped well, but after a couple of rounds, the target is pretty devestated:
Here’s a short video of me shooting my Saiga 12:
I’ll report back once I have all the parts needed for the conversion work I intend to do, and have all the work completed. Many thanks to the folks at Saiga 12 Forums for answering all my newbie questions!
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.