Jump to content

Saiga 12 Performance Projects

Recommended Posts

A number of months ago I participated in an ongoing discussion regarding FTE, and FTC issues. The same issues had been coming up again and again, with posts appearing daily asking for help with these problems.


In many cases members had spent hundreds of dollars for after market fixes like fixer plugs, gas pistons, reduced recoil springs, and hundreds of rounds of high brass break in ammo, with mixed and often disappointing results.


Even members who were relatively happy with their guns avoided certain types of ammo, because it simply wouldn't cycle reliably, or at all.


As a builder, I had been able to overcome these problems by refining and rebuilding my guns with extensive modifications and refinements to the OEM and Tapco G2 parts which allowed the guns to cycle virtually any - even the cheapest 12 gauge ammo flawlessly.


In those discussions there was some skepticism that the work I am doing would cure all of the problems being discussed, and deliver a fast reliable battle ready S12 that would cycle whatever the owner could get his hands on.


OK, I said -- I will take one forum members problem gun (problem usually meaning it has FTE issues with low brass ammo), I will rebuild and mod that gun, and all I ask in return is that the forum member provide an unbiased write up regarding the performance and reliability of the gun when I had finished the build.


As it turned out, two forum members contacted me about my offer. One member had a gun that had problems cycling low brass ammo, and the other had an absolutely beautiful professional S12 conversion that basically did not cycle at all.


The issues with the guns were different enough that I felt both would be worthy for the project, the owners agreed to send them to me, and I agreed to rebuild the guns in exchange for an unbiased write up.


Both owners now have their guns back, and I am still awaiting their write ups - but since I will be away from the bench for the next couple of weeks, I decided that over the next couple of days I would post range test videos and my own assessment of each project.


This post will deal with Post Apocalyptic's S12. PA had done his own conversion with top quality components. Everything was solid and well done. PA had broken the gun in cycling high brass ammo, and added a fixer plug, and a twister puck, but as much work as PA had done, the gun refused to reliably cycle low base shells, and would not cycle Winchester Universal at all.


Long story short, I did extensive work to the entire gun, refining, reprofiling, and mirror finishing the bolt carrier, carrier contact surfaces, carrier rails, and the bolt itself. Additional modifications to the bolt included reshaping and sculpting the underside to allow the gun to be loaded with a full mag, honing and polishing the external and internal bolt contact surfaces, and tuning the extractor. The receiver itself was checked for burrs, catch, and friction points, and was refined accordingly. The BHO received a mod that allows the safety to be removed so for cleaning and maintenance of the receiver, and the receiver was provided with a safe position detante to prevent unintentional safety over travel.


The gas system recieved an intensive overhaul. The gas block was removed, existing vents ported to the correct diameter. Additional vents were added, and the port between the barrel and gas chamber modified and shaped to facilitate efficient gas exchange. The OEM piston was polished, and the edges deburred. The gas chamber itself was honed and polished, and finally the OEM gas plug was reprofiled, shaped, and mirror finished to enhance and direct gas distribution.


Finally, before refinishing the gun, I filled the old factory trigger pin holes with a durable composite, and blended the material with the receiver.


PA had an excellent tri rail hand guard, but I asked him to send the OEM handguard for me to sculpt, vent, and mod.


Before I sent PA's gun back to him, I took a couple of photos of the finished build, and headed out the door with it for a range test with my 17 year old son as videographer.


I won't spend any more time writing up the range test since I am embedding the range test video below the shots I took of the finished build.



post-18546-12663761943605_thumb.jpg post-18546-12663767479849_thumb.jpg

post-18546-12663766086077_thumb.jpg post-18546-12663768586653_thumb.jpg



  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

damn that looks slick, and i liked his gun before too. A+ sir.


Thank you for the A+. I like the way it turned out as well... Where I spent the real time on this gun is on the inside. How do you feel about the way it puts lead down range?

Link to post
Share on other sites

i like the ease at which the gun loads and i appreciate you showing that. I would have preferred that the cameraman be over your right shoulder to show the shells ejecting instead of the last inch or so of the barrel and the dirt, but that'll come in subsequent videos i'm sure. It seemed to cycle great i'm sure PA will be pleased when he gets his gun back. i'm interested in seeing a before and after picture of the gas puck. I also dig the fore end work...i saw one of your conversions on gunbroker and thought "that looks slick!". All in all great work. looks like you guys have nice weather down there............well shoot, i guess there isn't a "middle finger" smiley...oh well :lolol:

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to all for the positive feedback. Snoofer, I see you're a camera man. If you are ever in Albuquerque, you have a standing invitation to the range to shoot a couple of Lone Star S12's, and of course some video of the guns in action to post on the forum;)


The handguards came about as an extension of the performance work I did on my first build (I'll post a photo below). I had that particular gun completely torn apart and back together at leas ten times before I was finally satisfied with the performance, and I learned a great deal about how even the furniture has a direct relationship to the way the gun performs.


One of the things that I discovered is that the unmodified OEM handguard has two major issues. 1. It acts as an insulator isolating heat around the barrel causing the barrel area to heat up, and stay hot . 2. The upper lip covers the gas relief port at the back of the gas block causing resistance to gas escaping behind the piston, requiring more gas pressure at the front of the piston to move the piston and bolt carrier back.


The obvious solution for issue 1. was to vent the hand guard and allow the barrel to air cool. The solution to 2. was to clear the obstruction to the gas relief port.


I ended up photographing the handguard and using graphics programs to design venting, and define a shape which would allow the OEM handguard to function as an asset instead of a liability. It was also obvious that the gun would benefit from a vertical grip and Tac light, but I wasn't convinced that elaborate, and often uncomfortable rail systems were necessary for a shotgun with an effective self defense range of 30 yards.


The resulting design not only exceeded my expectations, it REALLY looked good on my new S12 build. Visually, it just "worked".


After the handguard was finished, and all of the details and modifications worked out, I felt that this was the handguard that should have been made for this gun from the beginning, and copyrighted the design as an artistic and sculptural work.


The reasons for going with copyright is that it offers enhanced protections over design patents, and has a much longer shelf life. Also, in an economy like this one, it is my experience (from my other life as a jeweler/designer), that while manufacturers don't want to spend the money and time to develop their own designs, for some reason they will not hesitate to take someone else's work, spend fortunes in legal fees defending an infringement action, and end up losing, or settling anyway. It never ceases to amaze me.


Anyhow, I digress... Photos of my first build, and a later more elaborate handguard design follow.


post-18546-12664091378395_thumb.jpg post-18546-12664091904092_thumb.jpg

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

WoW! That is some great work Michael!!! Can I send my gun in too, or the lead time is "crazy" already?!?


Max, I'm very honored that you would consider having me do a Lone Star performance build for your gun. The S12 forum project was actually completed just prior to my coming on board with you as a business member - so my work (except for another write up and video for the other project gun) is complete.


As far as lead time goes, I finished everything else prior to last weeks joint surgery, and I should be back at the bench to take on new projects in about two weeks. Give or take, If I receive your gun in the meantime It should be done roughly four weeks from now. Once I have a better understanding of the project, and your needs, I'll be able to give you a more accurate time frame.


I usually keep one or two finished guns in reserve for my clients just in case there are time constraints. Please PM me, or give me a call at 505-263-8822 (I'm home today), and we can discuss details and pricing.


With best regards,


Michael Rogers

M. M. Rogers Design

Lone Star Arms

Albuquerque, NM

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

After my S12 was floating around the U.S. for months and to my disappointment never cycling correctly upon return, I got in contact with Mike at Lone Star after viewing his many posts on the forum. His work could not be more superb. My S12 came back functioning flawlessly, the action much smoother, and with a new bad ass look. Needless to say, I shoot my S12 now with a huge grin every time.


My write-up and video of Mike's work will be up after I can get to the range with a camera this this weekend.


BTW, thanks again Mike :D



  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Two members participated in the S12 Forum Performance project. PA's gun was covered in the previous post. This post describes the issues with ViperRy's gun, and the work performed to correct cycling issues and enhance performance.


Upon receiving ViperRy's gun on Dec. 01, I took the gun out to the range with 2 12 round mags. The first mag was loaded with 12 rounds of Federal low base #6 bird shot. The second mag was loaded with Rio Royal high brass 9 pellet, 00 buck shot.


After arriving at the range I loaded the Federal low base, and confirmed that the gun refused to cycle the ammo. Of 12 rounds, not one ejected. The bolt carrier consistently either moved back only slightly, or the shell would stove pipe with the brass being lodged between the bolt and eject assist tab located on the lower receiver bolt guide rail.


Upon removing each shell, I observed that on the shells that had FTE'd resulting in a vertical stovepipe, the metal lip of each shell was deformed at, and just above the edge of the lip (indented in and slightly twisted). The stovepiped shells were also firmly lodged in the receiver requiring that the bolt be forcefully yanked back, and the shell pulled in the opposite direction to remove the damaged and deformed shells. The high brass Rio royal 00 buck was tested with the same results as with the low brass ammo.


I saved samples of the deformed shells to provide to the gun's owner, and returned to the workshop to repair and performance tune the gun. A full report of the work performed is detailed in the .PDF file attached below.


S-12 forum service report.pdf


Text of above Service Report PDF:

""Received Dec. 01 2009 one Custom Saiga 12 Shotgun -Forum member reports gun not cycling FTC, and FTE issues. Forum member reports gun has been at at least three other shops for conversion, repair, and customization work, with no resolution of FTC, FTE issues.

Examination and Findings:

Disassembled and examined shotgun: Hammer too high in receiver causing excess resistance to bolt carrier. Conversion FCG issue. Gun has three gas ports. Only one is visible. Gas block partially covering two ports. Holes for ports have been serviced, but drilled out of alignment with gas aperture between gas block and barrel. All surfaces, incl. carrier rails, carrier, bolt, bolt internals are parkerized. Gas aperture appears to have slight irregular offset. Izhmash factory QC issue/defect. Bolt hold open spring is free floating and not anchored by trigger group axis pin, shoved in place.

Work performed – Receiver Area

Milled down, re profiled and polished hammer 'in situ'. Removed striations and parkerization from, honed and mirror polished carrier rails. Removed parkerization,deburred and polished feed area. Removed trigger group, anchored BHO spring with axis pin, replaced and secured trigger group. Replaced shepherds hook with e clamps to permanently secure FCG axis pins. Removed parkerization, milled, sculpted and resurfaced bottom of bolt carrier for enhanced action. Deparkerized, & polished bolt carrier rail channels, resurfaced and mirror finished bolt carrier body. Deparkerized, disassembled sculpted, and resurfaced bolt for enhanced action and to allow mags to be inserted with the bolt closed. Deparkerized remainder of bolt, incl. interior srfcs. Honed and mirror finished bolt shaft and contact surfaces incl. Interior contact surfaces. Modified BHO to allow safety removal and re installation for easy receiver cleaning/maintenance Re-tensioned extractor spring for more efficient extraction eliminate FTE issues. Created recessed safety “safe position” detente on receiver, to eliminate AK safety over travel.

Work performed – Gas System

Removed gas block Opened up three existing gas vents to correct diameter, and added additional venting as needed to facilitate adequate gas exchange required for efficient cycling of wider range of ammo.

Ported and shaped gas aperture to accommodate venting and alllow efficient gas distribution. De parkerized, modified and resurfaced factory gas plug to correct obstruction of gas vents facilitate unrestricted gas flow and enhanced gas expansion within gas piston chamber.

Resurfaced gas piston sides, and deburred and polished front, back, and side piston surfaces. Deburred and resurfaced/polished gas chamber interior surfaces. Replaced gas block.

Range Test Performed

Reassembled S12 with stock Saiga furniture and took the S12 to Zia range for function testing. Gun was set to gas setting 2. Full gas. Loaded 1st 12 round mag with Federal 100 pack, low base #8 bird shot. Firing from shoulder at a rapid rate of fire, all 12 rounds discharged and ejected flawlessly. Loaded 2nd mag with the same ammo, and emptied the mag at an extremely rapid rate of fire from the hip. All 12 rounds discharged and ejected flawlessly. Range test satisfactory. Concluded with two mags low brass ammo 100% efficiency.

Project Completed – Additional notes.

Pursuant to the range test, the gun was cleaned, repainted reassembled, Halo rail reinstalled and the gun boxed up for shipment back to the owner.

Project completed Dec. 03, 2009

M. M. Rogers (Waffenschmied) Owner, Licensed Gunsmith, Lone Star Arms

Post Script

Although the value of the services performed are estimated between $750 and $800, all of the work performed for this project was provided for the purposes of review by a member of the Saiga-12 Internet forum. The services have been performed solely for the purposes of review and not in exchange for financial compensation.

I have asked the reviewer to post an honest and unbiased assessment of the work and and services to members of the Saiga-12 forum. ""


After ViperRy received his gun, he took it out to the range to test it, and reported that all ammo had initially cycled flawlessly with the 5 round factory mag, but that he continued to have cycling problems with his Surefire and AGP mags. We spent a fair amount of time on the phone examining his mags for defects. Our conversation was concluded with ViperRy deciding to sculpt the backs and sides of the upper edge of his aftermarket mags to more closely match the original factory 5 round mag.


Pursuant to modding his mags, ViperRy returned to the range to field test the mags again. This time he returned reporting that he was now experiencing cycling problems with all of the mags. After the extensive work that had been performed on the gun, with excellent initial results, we were both stumped, and I asked him to return the gun to me for examination, and further modification/repair if needed.


Upon receiving the gun for the second time I took it out to the range to test it with ViperRy's modded mags, and two brand new Surefire mags. Although the gun performed better than it had before I had done extensive work to it, every second or third round stovepiped, again with some deformation of the brass at, and just above the lip of each shell.


Now I was really perplexed. The gun had performed flawlessly when I had tested it before with a factory stock, and one of my own modified factory handguards. I had a hunch, and decided to remove the Halo Rail and examine the area which covered the relief port at the back of the gas block.


Sure enough there was a heavy deposit of grey powder residue right where the Halo Rail would cover the relief port. Using the power residue deposit to determine where to drill, I bored a hole through the rail where it was blocking the relief port, reassembled the rail and headed back to the range. After going through several 12 round mags it was apparent that opening up the port had improved cycling, but shells were still catching on the eject assist tab, with the rim deforming slightly. Now I was getting pissed off!


I took the gun back to the shop again and went over the gun examining every detail. Then, I saw it! The rearmost edge of the Halo rail was resting atop the dust cover. Not just above it, but directly on top of it exerting downward pressure on the dust cover, and the bolt carrier beneath it. Was this what was causing the shells to catch on the ejector assist tab? It seemed logical, so I took it apart, and went after the underside of the 1/4" thick cast aluminum top rail with a jewelers flex shaft, and 1" grinding wheels, shaping and relieving the bottom of the rail so that it would sit ABOVE the dust cover, and would not force the bolt carrier down as it moved back and forth.


After getting everything clear, I put the top rail back on and headed back to the range. This time with a video camera to document the range test. I was certain that I had found and resolved the last remaining impediment to efficient cycling and fully expected the gun to run the way it had with the factory butt stock and Lone Star modified factory hand guard.


When I arrived at the range, I set up the camera tripod and went to work.... Well, it was better but it STILL wasn't cycling right! I put mag after mag of Federal bird shot through the gun it would cycle for a round or two, or three and then stovepipe! I checked the shells and everything looked fine... and then I got another hunch. I didn't really trust the hunch at first because this was a $350 rail, it was absolutely beautiful, and a ton of them were out there, and wouldn't I have heard something about on the forums if what I suspected were true?


Well, no use second guessing the hunch. I took the top rail off (it seemed like it weighed a ton), inserted a mag and BINGO! The gun started cycling. By the second mag it was cycling flawlessly, exactly the way it had when I had tested it back on Dec. 03.


My conclusion. In addition to the issue of the rail blocking the relief port, and applying pressure through the dust cover to the top of the bolt carrier, the top rail felt like a boat anchor, seemed like it weighed a ton, and was sitting directly over the gas system at the front of the gun dampening the effect of the gas piston being forced back, and counter syncing the back and forth action of the bolt carrier!


Once the top portion of the Halo rail had been removed, the gun was finally free to cycle exactly the way it had been designed to cycle.


When I got back to the shop, I called ViperRy to share my findings with him, and I could practically hear him smoldering with anger, silent on the other end of the phone. When he finally responded, he remarked that he had paid over $350 for the rail, and was (understandably) distraught, and in disbelief that it was in fact the rail itself that presented the final impediments to his gun cycling. He felt he had been led to believe that the rail would in fact improve the guns function, and that had been a factor in deciding to spend the kind of money he had shelled out for the rail.


After we got off the phone, I emailed the range test video to him. After watching it, he called me back and said "Wow, I am so pissed off! I've had this gun for almost a year. I've got over sixteen hundred bucks in it, I've had it in three different shops (now four), and from day one, it never cycled, and although every shop I sent it so assured me that they had fixed it, when I got it, it still didn't cycle.... I thought I was totally f*cked, that it had to be the gun, and that I would just end up eating this one and buying one that worked!"


I assured ViperRy it that it did work, obtained his permission to remove the Halo rail completely, and replace it with one of my modified factory hand guards. When he got it back, he called me again to let me know it was cycling flawlessly, and that he was going to replace the Halo rail with one of Cameron Hadley's Chaos quad rails. He later called me again to let me know that it continued to cycle perfectly with Cameron's rail in place, and that after a year of total frustration, he was now thrilled with the way his gun was cycling.


This concludes my involvement in the project. I talked to ViperRy this week, and he said to let everyone know he would be doing his own write up and posting a video of his gun with the Chaos rail installed over the Lone Star performance build.


The range test video I sent to ViperRy is embedded below. Watch what happens when I decide to remove the top rail:




Photos of ViperRy's gun before the Halo quad rail was removed.


post-18546-12666927052216_thumb.jpg post-18546-12666927417095_thumb.jpg



Thanks to all who take the time to read my field reports on this project, with special thanks to Will and Ryan who took a leap of faith, and provided their guns for work.





Michael Rogers

Lone Star Arms

Saiga 12 Performance

2501 Baylor SE

Albuquerque, NM 87106



  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Link to ViperRy's comment posted on PA's project thread.




Post text:

"After my S12 was floating around the U.S. for months and to my disappointment never cycling correctly upon return, I got in contact with Mike at Lone Star after viewing his many posts on the forum. His work could not be more superb. My S12 came back functioning flawlessly, the action much smoother, and with a new bad ass look. Needless to say, I shoot my S12 now with a huge grin every time.


My write-up and video of Mike's work will be up after I can get to the range with a camera this this weekend.


BTW, thanks again Mike :D



Link to post
Share on other sites

Once again thanks to all who contributed to this thread. It was getting a bit long, so in the interest of brevity, some posts were redacted. Many thanks for the great comments and feedback! - You guys are the best! We're on to shoot and later have a brewski or two down at Kelly's whenever you guys are in town!


PA, I'm looking forward to your range report!



Link to post
Share on other sites

Yet another reason why the first generation rails (HALO Mfg.) were garbage, although this seems like a rare instance, they had other issues. Good thing we've got guys like Michael Rogers and Cameron Hadley as regular forum members. Great work!

Edited by Azkamidaka
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I went out to the NRA range this past weekend and put some Remington sluggers through my S12 to sight in my Burris FFII. After I got it sighted in I put 3 more holes dead center, loaded the factory mag and put another 5 right in line with the same group. The damn thing was consistent! Well the cool part is after reading Apocolyptic's post I went out the next day, left my S12 on 1 and loaded up a mag full of bulk birdshot. Well holy sh*t, I never thought it would happen... cycled through the mag flawlessly! No need for adjustments anymore I'm staying on 1. My S12 keeps impressing me Mike.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Your S12 is a very impressive gun! I got a chance to shoot it before it shipped back to you and it ROCKS!


Thanks for the great feedback Ryan! I sincerely appreciate it, and I'm really pleased to hear that YOU are pleased;)





Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Chatbox

    Load More
    You don't have permission to chat.
  • Create New...