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cfortune

New here... Is conversion a do-it-yourself job for a newbie?

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Hey there, I'm new to the board. Not a Saiga owner yet but will be by the end of the week.

 

My question is, how hard is going to be for someone like myself, who has very limited access to tools (I don't even own a drill :( ) and very little knowledge of the inner-workings of a rifle, to throw a new hand guard, stock, and pistol grip on a .223 Saiga? I plan on using the rifle as is for a while but figure I might order the parts now because it's definitely something I want done.

 

Anyone have an idea how much a gunsmith would charge to do the work if it's going to be out of my league?

 

Should I have any concerns if I purchase all TAPCO parts (i've read mixed reviews)?

 

Any help is greatly appreciated.

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Let me put it to you like this: In 26 years I never did anything of consequence with tools... Until my husband made me convert my Saiga myself. Just have somebody that is mechanically inclined on speed dial, and you'll be fine.

 

It's a great confidence booster too!

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Watch and read the guides here.

http://www.stu-offroad.com/firearms/saiga/saiga-1.htm

http://www.cross-conn.com/Saiga_Conversion/#AK_top

It will be a cake walk after you have the tools in hand.

 

 

The video on Vimeo is pretty good. Beats the vids filmed via cell phone on youtube. Definitely have a lot better idea of what I'm going to need. Thanks for that.

 

and thanks for the confidence bohound.

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I too have little experience with working on guns and it scared me thinking about drilling into one I liked so much. The whole process is very easy though. I used the cross-conn site that datastick has listed and it's pretty good. It leaves a few small things out but you will be able to figure it out with no problems. If you can't, there are people on this forum a lot smarter than me who can help you out. My one piece of advice would be to get a GOOD drill bit. I have a cheap set at the house I used and broke one while drilling. That scared the piss out of me. I tried 3 or 4 before I got one that would cut into the metal good.

 

I have the SAW PG and Tapco 6 position stock on mine and love them both. Some people have said the Tapco 6pos stock drops (has a downward angle coming off the reciever, if that makes sense) but mine doesn't, fits me good and feels solid. I have heard their handguard isn't the best though.

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I'm waiting to get my gun back to get the front sights fixed (make sure yours are straight), so I can't really say personally how hard it is, since I haven't done the conversion yet. But the videos look pretty straightforward. You might want to copy/paste a full parts list before you mash the order button just to make sure you got everything. Like for example, the bullet guide install that most conversion videos leave out. It's optional, but you won't be able to use regular AK surplus mags. The shepherd's crook and replacement trigger guard are optional too, but make things easier.

 

Regarding tools: if you don't have a drill...well, you should! They come in handy for lots of stuff besides just guns. Dremels, well...not as much, honestly.

 

If you just want something cheap and basic that will be okay for occasional use, try Harbor Freight. Yeah, it's all chinese stuff. Guess what, so is the low-end stuff at Home Depot that still costs twice as much. Buy from a local HF store if you can and keep the receipt. They have drills for $20, and Dremel-esque tools for $20~$30.

 

Don't cheap out on your drill bits though. Cobalt (the material, not the Lowe's brand name) is what you want, or I think DeWalt has tungsten carbide bits (?) for cutting metal too.

 

Tapco...eh, they have the most popular trigger group by far. Their solid plastic buttstock looks okay, I mean how can you screw up solid plastic. Ditto for the pistol grips. I'm not sure how sturdy their collapseable buttstock is (the way it angles down looks odd to me compared to a CAA), and the intrafuse foregrip is a bit weak for a forward pistol grip, although a flashlight would probably be okay. I think I read about someone here that had their melt against the barrel though (?).

 

Whatever you do, don't do one of those cheesy Tapco non-conversion conversions. Where the buttstock/pistol grip is one unit, and you leave the factory trigger in place, and you have to use american mags just to avoid a 922r felony. Do, or do not. There is no try. :)

Edited by BaronVonBigmeat

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It's easy to convert yourself.

 

Use a taper bit to take the rivets out--this is one place where a drill press would really help. This was the most frustrating part for me, it wasn't hard but took a while with just a hand drill.

 

All of the new trigger parts, etc fit right in once you get the factory plate out. Aside from the second hole for the trigger guard (optional) there is no need to make any new holes. Some of the newer Saigas are lacking the PG nut hole, but this wouldn't be hard to create.

 

Use the floss trick to reinstall the BHO lever spring. That's the only tricky part if you don't know the secret.

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It's easy to convert yourself.

 

Use a taper bit to take the rivets out--this is one place where a drill press would really help. This was the most frustrating part for me, it wasn't hard but took a while with just a hand drill.

Easier to use a cold chisel and sledge hammer.

 

Less likelihood of screwing something up with a wayward power tool . .

 

. . and lots quicker.

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My question is, how hard is going to be for someone like myself, who has very limited access to tools (I don't even own a drill :( ) and very little knowledge of the inner-workings of a rifle, to throw a new hand guard, stock, and pistol grip on a .223 Saiga? I plan on using the rifle as is for a while but figure I might order the parts now because it's definitely something I want done.

 

I'm not exactly skilled with tools, but I went with everyone's urging and did it myself. The first one took a little while, because I was afraid of screwing things up, and I was using tools that made the job harder. Now I've done three, and the third one (with much better [borrowed] tools) took a bit over an hour.

 

You may want to take it in stages though. Do the basic conversion, and do the handguard later. Handguards can be a little more problematic, if you want a standard AK handguard. My wife is happy with the factory handguard on hers.

 

Jim

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Saiga conversion tutorial site

 

Read the tutorial and decide for yourself. You will need some basic tools like a hand drill, drill bits, channel locks, etc.. I recommend a Dewalt or Ryobi 18v corldless - very handy to have.

 

I'm fairly handy with stuff and this conversion was a breeze. Much easier than demiling and building an AK from a kit...

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Saiga conversion tutorial site

 

Read the tutorial and decide for yourself. You will need some basic tools like a hand drill, drill bits, channel locks, etc.. I recommend a Dewalt or Ryobi 18v corldless - very handy to have.

 

I'm fairly handy with stuff and this conversion was a breeze. Much easier than demiling and building an AK from a kit...

*sigh* not this again . .

 

When you read that dinosaur, keep in mind that it's the opinion of one man with a machine shop.

 

It shows vastly complicated methods of converting, that are simply not necessary.

 

O.S.O.K, please don't drag out that dinosaur any more, as it's turned more folks off of converting that you know (it makes it appear as if you need lots of expensive tools and to be a machinist).

 

P.S. That site is over 11 years old and no longer accurately reflects a Saiga conversion (the laws no longer exist, and the Saigas have changed somewhat). Personally, I'd recommend sharing the vimeo video to those interested - not the cross-conn site.

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I didn't find it a turn-off - but I understand what you're saying. Its still a good referrence for the process. I found it very useful.

 

ETA - watching it now - I definately like the pic at the stare :D

Edited by O.S.O.K.

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Thanks for all the input guys. I haven't ordered anything yet. The rifle won't be here until Monday according to the tracking. But I think I've decided to spend the money on some tools instead. I just bought a house and will end up needing them anyway I'm sure. Once again, thanks for the input.

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Thanks for all the input guys. I haven't ordered anything yet. The rifle won't be here until Monday according to the tracking. But I think I've decided to spend the money on some tools instead. I just bought a house and will end up needing them anyway I'm sure. Once again, thanks for the input.

 

Let me say that the cheap drill bits that say they cut metal are worthless. Being cheap, I did all my drilling with the cobalt bit I got from Dinzag's bullet guide kit. Once you knock out the first two pins, you'll realize that this isn't so bad, and at that point it is no more difficult to convert than to try to fix what you just did anyway. From there you are mostly reassembling which is something that you should learn anyway. The trigger plate on the bottom is no big deal--it is actually something that we are thankful for (compared to cutting the receiver). I think putting a drill to the rifle was harder (mentally) than any of the actual conversion work.

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I did my first conversion with Dinzag. Although there are others that supply conversion parts, I'm glad I did it with Dinzag first. Brian/ Dinzag, makes it easy by providing all the necessary tools/ drill bits you need in doing a conversion. Now that he has the new trigger guard that eliminates the need for cutting a PG nut hole, that job for converting is even easier. I would suggest one thing to get from Dinzag, that would be the retaining plate. Its only $9 but it makes for a nicer and easier build.

 

BTW, CSS Carolina Shooters Supply has some tutorial videos. Although, its for an S12, you can still use it as a guide for your S223.

 

One more thing, if there are others in the house when you are doing the conversion, make sure they have ear protection because you'll be doing a lot of bitching and moaning as you do it. Also, most importantly, take your time. I did mine over a period of three evenings. I would try a little bit then if it got tough or I can't figure it out, I'll stop recheck it on the Net and take another stab at it again the next night. It helps to have a fresh look at it the next day when you run into problems. If you do it slow and steady, you'll eventually get there.

Edited by FrustratedInCali

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Conversions are easier than most people think; I'm 19 and have done 3 already. Easy as pie if you're even somewhat handy with basic power tools and can fiddle with a fire control group. Like people have said, read up beforehand- it'll come in handy later. Also there's some good step by steps on youtube that work well, at least for a basic conversion.

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