Range Report: A 40yr old wuss and his Saiga train at the Public Safety Range
Ok, to start, let me give you a quick bio:
I'm 40 and very soft. For the past few months I've been in this forum asking what probably seem like very noob questions, but mostly just lurking. The rigors of my job are the same as most software engineers (as I am): my job keeps me in front of a keyboard all day. Occasionally I dust off some piece of fine literature that I read when I was an English Lit major at a very nice private University that I graduated from over a decade ago. No, I don't take bubble baths and burn scented candles while listening to Kenny G, but if you punch me in the arm, tears are going to well up in my eyes before I run away. I'm just that big of a wuss
I'm not a gun nut going waaaaay back as many of my Saiga brethren seem to be. I'm actually pretty new to firearms, and I own a grand total of 3: A Ruger 10/22 that I bought 2 yrs ago, a Saiga-12 and Kel-Tek P3AT, both of which I bought in the past few months. I have very little shooting experience and would rate myself a novice/beginner.
I mention all of this because I know there's been a lot of people rushing in to buy BBG's these days, and many of them not traditional gun owners. Although I bought my boom stick before the stampede, I am probably not a traditional Saiga owner. If you are a non-traditional gun owner or Evil Black Gun owner, this review is for you in particular.
My Saiga was converted by my gunsmith Jessee down in Albany, OR, who does a great job for crazy good prices. That's a deserved plug for Jesse who does it right or, when things go astray, makes it right. He put on an Ace folder, moved the trigger group forward, and installed a plain AK plastic grip.
We've got several ranges in the Portland, OR area. The one I've attached myself to the most is the Clackamas Public Safety Center. In my view, this is an amazing resource: 22,300 sq foot facility that is owned by the county and serves both the public and law enforcement. This very partial bio of my instructor, Stu Nakamura, gives you an idea of the excellent quality of trainer we had. Look at the last paragraph on the page for the most complete bio.
So I decided to sign up for the Defensive Shotgun Basics class. I should train if I can, yes? Good gun citizenship, can't get enough training, etc. So, yesterday I took the class, and I'd like to offer a range report from the point of view of someone you really would never mistake for a gung-ho gun totin' Super-Bubba. My health isn't especially good either since I suffer from a stomach complaint, am badly out of shape, and overweight.
The class I took was 8 hours long, and actually ran overtime. From 8-noon was class time, and from 1pm or so to about 6:30 was shooting on the indoor range while practicing gun safety habits. I ran probably 20+ shotgun shells that were either slugs, 00 or #4, and about 50+ bird shot shells. The class was oriented to pump action shotguns which made a lot of the class different for me, and kind of difficult to adjust to. Everyone had a Mossberg 50x or Remmington 870, so when most in the class were reloading, I was either shooting or waiting to shoot. But I muddled through kind of making up what I needed to do as we went.
This is the first shotgun I've ever fired.
So how did it go?
Here's the shocker for me: although I'm sore today, I'm mostly sore from the rigors of keeping the shotgun up at a ready position and NOT so much from shooting the shotgun. The recoil was mitigated by 2 factors. First, I put an Ace folding stock with a 1" pad on it when I converted. Second, I kept the toe of the stock as close to my breastbone as I could while holding a cheek weld. I'm only slightly sore from the recoil, and as far as I can tell, it's only because when going from a ready position to a firing position, I'd place the heel of the stock a little closer to the shoulder. But I'm not bruised and there are no tears in my eyes ;-)
This gun shoots very well and I was able to keep a pattern with 00 or slugs at the extreme end of the range (and I don't even know how far that was). In fact, this big ol' black gun is a lot lot lot more fun to shoot than my little Kel-Tek P3AT. The latter hurts my hand. The Saiga blows things up and doesn't hurt at all when held properly and a 1" pad on the stock.
The day ended with us going through a very nice simulator that allowed us to use a sim-shotgun w/laser against a computer-driven, larger projection screen meant to simulate home invasion situations.
Final verdict: if a big wuss like me can shoot this gun and have this much fun, anyone can. I advise the shotgun novice to seek training on how to properly handle the gun, wear hearing and eye protection, and practice. And make absolutely certain to have fun while you do. I can't wait to go back out again. I highly recommend the Public Training Center and the Saiga 12, even for a big wuss like me.
Oh, yeah. On the simulator, I was killed once for not taking the damned safety off the gun (wouldn't have happened with my Saiga. Safety is off when you charge the handle. In another two simulations, one BG tossed his weapon, and another suffered the consequences of going for his.
Here are 2 things I feel would improve the Saiga for self defense:
1. LRBHO for finger reloads when necessary. When Cobra?!?! WHEN??? (Just kidding. Take your time and do it right.)
2. A magwell and mag release near the trigger. It's a pain in the ass to rock those magazines back and forth to get them in and would be a real bitch in the dark. With a BG down the hallway, every moment there are no shells in the gun, I've lost my Boom Stick blast-o-matic and have instead a rusty boat anchor while the clock is tick-tick-ticking fast and loud.
So that's all. Thanks everyone.