subscribe: Posts | Comments

Practice Day With My Saiga 12 Semi-Automatic Shotgun


As followers of ThruMyLens know, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time honing my rifle skills this year.  I’ve taken two courses (Tactical Rifle I and Tactical Rifle II) so far this year, and will be taking the third class in the series in just a couple of weeks.  With all rifle practice and training I’ve been doing this year, it occurred to me that I’ve been neglecting my Saiga 12 shotgun.  So, to rectify this oversight on my part, I brought it along during my range visit on Saturday – a beautiful Fall day here in Ohio:

Here’s a photo of my Saiga 12 semi-automatic shotgun (bottom) with my two AR-15’s:

A few more photos of my Saiga 12:

Perhaps I’m a little biased given all the work I’ve done to this shotgun, but it’s the sweetest shooting shotgun I’ve ever used.

I decided I would practice shooting at about 50 feet from the target, behind cover:

The zero on my Aimpoint PRO optic was slightly off  causing me to shoot a bit low (but nicely grouped).

Those 12 gauge slugs make slightly bigger holes in the target than .223 rifle rounds as you can see in the above photo.  With a few clicks of the vertical adjustment control on the Aimpoint PRO, I was shooting center of target…not that you need to be that precise with shotgun rounds.  🙂

Hopefully sometime in the next year I’ll have the opportunity to take a tactical shotgun course.  I have to admit that as much training as I’ve had (and very much enjoyed) with an AR-15, I’d be inclined to reach for my Saiga 12 before my AR-15 to deal with a home invader.  With the 20 round drum I have for my Saiga 12 (loaded with Winchester PDX1 rounds), I feel like I’ve got a much better chance for a 1 shot stop with a 12 gauge.

Stay tuned for more articles about my adventures with the Saiga 12!

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of, as well as and *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.

  1. While Saiga makes a fine shotgun, your weapon is well over the top as protection for a simple home invasion. Personally, I think either my 12 gauge Remington 870 or my 20 gauge Mossberg 500 would do the job just as well, likely better, without the risk (and annoyance) of a foot-long magazine (this is NOT a drum) dangling and just begging to be grabbed by a wall or piece of furniture. Frankly, the thought of firing-off twenty 12 gauge shells in a few seconds in the dead of night is just asking for problems… and loss of sight/hearing, not to mention potential death for your family on the other side of the bad guy. Over compensation perhaps? 😉

    BTW, you are correct about the AR being a lousy home invasion weapon… you might be much better off with a basic wheel gun, Colt 1911 (.45ACP is my prefered flavor) or a trusty Marlin 336 or 1895 carbine in 357, 44, or even 30/30. (I also love my Marlin Camp Carbine in .45ACP, and while it’s not my 1st choice for home invasion, I’d pick it up before an AR any day also.) I also think any gun with a wood stock will make the defense of my home easier for a future jury to underestand also!

  2. Knowing nothing about me or my intentions/planning, the fact that you would make critical comments about my weapon choices, pointing to your own as being superior choices shows your motivations are about self-justification and ego and less about trying offer any valuable meaningful advice.

    If you read my site, you know I have several weapons in the house, both handgun and long gun. All have specific purposes for specific circumstances. The Saiga 12 could be used in a home defense situation, but not every situation. The same goes for my AR.

    You prefer .45ACP? Great choice there. 9mm is mine. Studies have shown that “1 shot stops” are far more about shot placement than caliber (comparing all the major defensive hand gun calibers). 9mm provides more magazine capacity with equal effectiveness to .45ACP. And the fact that it is cheaper means I can shoot and practice more on the more important factor…shot placement. 🙂 Your comment about a gun with a wood stock and a jury is also very naive.

  3. Naive? Ever been on a jury involving attemped murder? I HAVE! (Of a police officer, actually… we found the accused not guilty on all counts!) You’d be AMAZED how many people (they couldn’t get off the jury, so how smart are they, me included…LOL) immediately gravitate toward stuff like the weapon used to defend. Even if they don’t own a rifle or handgun, they will likely remember their dad’s/granddad’s 12 gauge, 1911, 30/30 (or similar) with pleasant thoughts, as opposed to the Rambo-esque notions of a Saiga with a banana magazine (still not a drum) or pseudo military-ish AR weapon.

    As far as thinking my weapon choices as superior, you are right, I do not know your situation. However, I am quite sure that ANY number of experts would agree that a 870 or 500 12 (or 20, if necessary) gauge shotgun would be better choices than that huge and gangly Saiga. Below is the COMPLETE list of Shotguns recommended by Chuck Hawks in every price point:

    “The Best” side-by-side and over-under shotguns (Over $4000, price unlimited)

    Arrieta y Cia
    Pedro Arrizabalaga
    Boss & Company
    David McKay Brown
    E.J. Churchill
    John Dickson & Son
    William Evans
    FAMARS – Abbiatico & Savlinelli
    A.H. Fox
    Armas Garbi
    William James Grant
    Grulla Armas
    Holland & Holland
    Fratelli Piotti
    William Powell & Sons
    James Purdy & Sons
    F.LLI Rizzini
    John Wilkes
    Winchester Model 21

    Side-by-side shotguns under $4000 (2006 MSRP)

    AYA Model 4
    Beretta Model 471 Silver Hawk

    Side-by-side shotguns under $3000 (2006 MSRP)

    AYA Model 4/53
    SKB Model 485
    Weatherby Athena D’Italia

    Side-by-side shotguns under $2500 (2006 MSRP)

    H&K Fabarm Classic Lion
    Ruger Gold Label
    SKB Model 385

    Over/Under shotguns under $3500 (2006 MSRP)

    Beretta Model 687 Silver Pigeon Sporting
    Browning Citori Lightning Grade IV
    Franchi Alcoine SP
    SIG Aurora High Grades (TT 25, TR 40, TT 45)
    Weatherby Athena

    Over/Under shotguns under $2500 (2006 MSRP)

    Beretta Model 686, 687
    Browning Citori Lightning
    Franchi Alcione
    H&K Fabarm Silver Lion
    B. Rizzini Aurum, Artemis
    Ruger Red Label
    Savage Milano
    SIG Aurora
    SKB Model 505, 585
    Weatherby Orion
    Winchester Supreme Field

    Autoloading shotguns

    Beretta AL 391
    Browning Silver, Gold
    Remington Model 11-87 Premier
    Remington Model 1100 Classic Field, Sporting
    Winchester Super X3 Field

    Pump shogtuns

    Browning BPS
    Ithaca Model 37 (walnut)
    Mossberg Model 500
    Remington Model 870 Wingmaster

    Single barrel break-open shotguns

    H&R Topper, Topper Deluxe
    NEF Pardner

    Marine shotguns

    Mossberg Model 500 Mariner
    Remington Model 870 Marine Magnum

    On the web it is here:

    How many Saigas with 20 round magazines do you see? ZERO! I see a few different 500s and 870s on this list, and for good reason. (I have a boat and my 870 Marine is handy when on it overnight.)

    The 9mm is a pleasant little round… my wife likes this along with her 20 gauge. However, there is a reason why the .40 was created — because the 9mm didn’t have any stopping power. If the goal of a handgun is to incapacitate, then a properly placed .45ACP will do the job about 50% better than a 9mm. It’s also typically less likely to over penetrate, though ammo-selection obviously matters too. I happen to also like that my Camp Carbine uses the same .45ACP ammo and magazines. (Since you like 9mm, you should cosider a Camp Carbine in 9mm — they are fun little rifles and getting harder to find all the time.) This is why .357/38 is also handy, though not my first choice to protect in a home invasion — I own a wheel gun and a Marlin 1895 that share the same ammo also. There is something nice about being able to use .38 for practice in these same 2 weapons.

  4. I don’t see a Benelli M4 on that list either. Major red flag. But that’s just one guy’s opinion on the best shotguns…and its primarily a price based list. It’s certainly a poor list to use in this discussion as it isn’t particularly germane to the discussion.

    You also say that I’m right that you don’t know me, my situation, or my planned use for my Saiga 12…then go on to say that any number of “experts” (defined as anyone who agrees with your opinion, I’m sure…) would recommend about any other shotgun over mine .

    Your statement about the 9mm cartridge may have been true nearly 25 years ago when the .40S&W debuted, but no longer. Here’s REAL research from a true EXPERT which dispels the myth that the 9mm cartridge is underpowered:

  5. I hate to discount data from the great state of Ohio, but any report that claims (rightfully) that the .22 and .32 were the least likely pistol rounds to incapacitate a bad guy while also claiming that these same 2 tiny rounds were also the most likely to incapacitate a bad guy in only 1 shot… is suspect. My GUESS is that the issue here is either than some of the small caliber shots were professional murders OR that Ohio was unable to segments out .22 rifle shots from pistol shots since they include all flavors of .22s. (The .32 has me a bit baffled, UNLESS they somehow also included the rifle caliber .32 SPECIAL, which I doubt… as most of the time they’d likely think it was a handloaded 30/30 or .35 anyway unless they located the rifle.) Naturally, a single rifle shot is more likely to be properly located than a single non-pro handgun shot. That said, this report also agreed with me that it takes more shots from a 9mm to incapacitate than from a 45ACP (almost an extra one-half shot), but obviously placements is most important. I’m sure we agree there! I guess I just know that bleeding is what kills a bad guy and it also scares a wanna-be bad guy enough to say “no mas” IF he can still speak, and that bleeding is more likely to come from a larger slow-moving and expanding handgun round than from a smaller handgun round.

    As far as a shotgun goes, I also wonder why the M4 was not included. I got mine in early 2000 when they were brand new… perhaps this old list was not updated since then? While the M4 is indeed a terrific weapon (far better than a Robo-cop-esque Saiga), I would still grab my short-barreled 870 or 500 first — I am just more comfortable with a pump as I have been using one for over 30 years. While the Saiga is a capable weapon, everyone knows it was targeted toward potential buyers who need the extra… confidence… of larger… attachments. I presume your Saiga 12 has a 23 inch (perhaps more) ported barrel? (Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I don’t think your example has their 17″ short barrel, does it?) I just don’t want or need the extra muzzle flash of a ported barrel in a night fight, an extra 5 inches of barrel, or a silly foot long banana magazine (STILL not a drum) just begging to be jammed/knocked out of position on a door frame or by a bad guy. I also like being able to re-load a shotgun or lever gun as I go — one reason why I don’t like the Henry rifles as much as a Marlin or Winchester.

    All of that said, while I have weapons placed throughout my home, based upon what I own and have mentioned, my preferred SHTF/home invasion weapons are:
    1) 12 gauge, either 870 or 500
    2) 20 gauge Mossberg 500 (I don’t have a 870 in 20)
    3) 12 gauge M4 (but I prefer a pump!)
    4) Marlin Camp Carbine in .45ACP (even my kids can shoot it well!)
    5) Marlin 1895 in .357 (good rifle-caliber in the suburbs)
    6) Marlin 336 in 30/30 (Good for black bear, fine for BG!)
    7) Colt Commander .45ACP
    8) S&W 66 .357 (especially if I grabbed my .357 Marlin)
    9) Marlin 336 in .35,
    and well down the list:
    10) Marlin 39 in 22LR
    11) Mossberg .410 (40 years of family fun!)
    12) OLD Remington Sportmaster .22LR (75 years of family fun!!)
    …but I have a few others that should do the job just fine also. 🙂 Truth be told, I’d likely grab my dad’s old Browning over-under or Parker 10 gauge side-by-side somewhere in there before the .410 or .22s, as I doubt if I would need more than 2 shots for any single bad guy! (But THAT muzzle flash would be blinding from a sound sleep and my shoulder might hurt a bit afterwards… though less than it did when I was 12! LOL)

  6. I certainly like and respect the M4. But I’m also smart enough not to make a generalized statement like you have that the M4 is far superior to the Saiga 12 (or the inverse for that matter). Is the M4 always in every situation better than the Saiga 12? How about a situation where you need to make more than 6 shots and have no time to reload? Suddenly that banana magazine or my 20 round drum is looking REALLY good. 🙂

    For the umpteenth time you knuckle head, I wouldn’t use my Saiga 12 for house clearing. If there were someone in the house, I’d grab my Saiga and my cell phone, and my wife would take cover at a point in our house which has but one entry point, and call the police. If someone comes through that entry point before the police arrive, I unload the Saiga. 🙂 It’s a standard length barrel, with a muzzle break. In this situation, your pump or your M4 for that matter offer no appreciable advantage.

  7. Elm Creek Smith says:

    Thanks for the review of your Saiga 12. I’ve been considering one with a shorter barrel for work. Right now I’m using a Remington 870 with a Blackhawk collapsible stock. The other long gun I use at work is a Mini-14 which is waiting for a Tapco stock. My primary home defense gun is an AR SBR with a suppressor and an Eotech sight.

    I don’t know why others have to attack someone else’s choices without knowing there situation.

    Keep posting.


  8. Found your site while looking up the Colt LE 6940P; as far as the discussion about the saiga shotgun? To each his own- but from my view as a former military contractor and LEO, unless you don’t sleep or have capt. America reflexes that ogre of a shotgun is the LAST thing I’d grab for in a home defense situation. Up close and personal, a hand gun- 9mm, .38, .40,.45 will beat it in terms of point and shoot and “cqb” maneuvering

    And sadly yes, after the smoke clears next comes police investigations and possible court hearings. Even in gun friendly states and counties, a court sees “evil Ivan’s shotgun from hell” and they are gonna ask serious questions about your state of mind. The saiga shotgun was developed first and foremost for military applications- civilian and foreign sales came LAST.

    It’s a combat arm for combatants- but thanks to the Russians needing capital( who doesn’t these days?) and thanks to gun crazed America- we being the only western nation that focuses more on our shooting rights than our public education, they have customers.

    But at the end of the day it’s yours and you have the right to whatever you can legally buy. I see it was a fun gun to blast away at the range( for HD I have a Remington 870P, a mossberg 590 and a Remington 1187 that can alternate for shotgun effectiveness); only you know what YOU like and feel comfortable with if the last resort situation comes to it( does Ohio allow you to hunt with that thing? I think the game animals would see it and just drop from fright alone!!!)

    I did enjoy your observations on your Saiga and colt 6940P; stay safe and enjoy the fruits of your Lahore and your hobbies!

  9. Thanks for your insights!


  1. Practice Day With My Saiga 12 (with photos)>>>>>>>>> - XDTalk Forums - Your XD/XD(m) Information Source! - [...] I snapped a few photos and wrote up an article on my site which you can see at the…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: