When I first got my Saiga 12, I took it in its pristine, unconverted form down to the range to get some shooting. The ranges that are available to me are 1) indoors and 2) only allow slugs. Thus, I was to experience the Saiga 12 in its purest form: shooting high-powered slug loads.
Now, let's discuss recoil. I own a couple of Mosin Nagants, including the carbine M44. These fire a 7.62x54R cartridge, and a few clips out of the M44 will generally give me a rather sore shoulder in the morning. This is not a big deal for me, and I rather enjoy taking them out to play. I just want to make this clear up front so all of you understand my perspective on recoil.
I found the Saiga 12 to be pretty tough on my shoulder when firing those slugs. I wouldn't classify it as absolutely horrible, but I was really feeling it after a couple magazines. Since I hadn't done the conversion yet, I vowed to make sure I put some sort of recoil-reduction technology into it when I did.
The usual method for taming recoil is to use an Enidine shot shock. However, I wasn't planning on cutting off the rear tang from my S12, so some other method would have to be used. After some research, I ran across the Mako Group's "recoil-compensating collapsible buttstock tube for AK-47" and their "recoil-reducing M4/AR15 stock with cheek piece". They each have a spring inside to absorb energy and reduce felt recoil. There are some very nice cut-away pictures on the product web sites that illustrate how these work.
Reasoning that more recoil-reduction couldn't hurt, I ordered both for my conversion. You can find them online for about $165 total. Product links:
Both the stock and the tube seemed quite sturdily constructed. Some people may not be big fans of the polymer construction of the tube, but it seemed tough enough to me. (Metal bends and breaks, too, folks!)
I find the stock to be quite comfortable in the shoulder due to the curved back with rubber pad. The latch to adjust the stock's position is backwards to the usual M4 collapsible stock's orientation, but I didn't find it much more difficult to adjust once I got the hang of it. It has a battery compartment behind the rubber pad for a pair of AAs, but I didn't find it particularly intuitive to slide the rubber pad off - don't expect to do any super-fast battery changes if you're putting the batteries in this stock. It has the usual assortment of sling attachment points - I used a GG&G QD sling swivel in a QD point, and it held fine.
I did have a quibble with the cheek piece, in that the wheels for adjusting it seemed a bit too difficult to turn. Some oil might have fixed this, or perhaps it was intentionally designed this way? In any event, they did keep the cheek piece quite tight and in position - no simple task, given the heavy recoil of the shotgun. The other issue with the cheek piece is that it keeps the sling swivel from rotating freely... not a deal-breaker, but annoying.
When you mate the stock and the tube on the gun, you'll notice that you can't fully collapse the stock, and that to actually get full use of the recoil-reduction technology, you'll need to set the stock in position 2 or 3. There's a very small bit of play with the stock and tube, but it's minimal compared to what you'll really notice: your Saiga 12 is now very much like a pogo stick, due to the springs in the stock and tube. This bounce is not a big problem when it comes to normal handling of the gun, but it did have at least one negative impact...
Finally, in the looks department, I prefer this stock over the Magpul CTR that so many folks run with these days. Just a personal opinion. I have an MOE stock on another rifle, so it's not like I hate Magpul's stocks per se.
Above: the stock and tube
Above: this is as closed as it goes if you want recoil reduction
Above: the inside of the stock
The obvious question is, does this setup work to reduce perceived recoil? And I can answer with a whole-hearted YES. I shot off a few magazines and drums of slugs, and my shoulder is absolutely fine. I found that I could get off accurate follow-up shots almost as quickly as I could with my AR-15. I also had a new shooter try it, and he reported the same - the gun has kick, but the recoil-suppression works fine. No pain!
Perhaps most important of all, there was no apparent reduction in reliability when using slugs. I have not personally tested this gun with birdshot, but I did ship it off to a respected industry partner on this board for reliability testing and work, and he gave it up a thumbs-up with Federal bulk. And, to top it all off, my gun only has 2.5 ports - so if you've got a 3 or 4 port gun, you should be golden. I know that recoil-reduction technology has met with a lot of suspicion on this forum in terms of theoretical reliability issues, but I really saw no evidence of problems with it.
The one really big drawback to this setup was that loading magazines was somewhat more difficult than before. I'm used to tucking the gun in against my shoulder and slapping the new magazine in. But when you've got springs that are compressing when tucking in, it's much more of a balancing act. You will probably be wishing for that bolt-hold-open if you have this setup (or anything like it, such as the Enidine). That said, I could still do fast mag swaps with practice, even without a BHO.
As mentioned previously, the cheek piece did its part just fine. The S12 used for this review has HK416 sights on a Chaos extended quad rail, and I had no difficulty using them. I still had some room left to go in raising the cheek piece, so I think AR-15-height sights would have been fine, too.
Would I recommend these products to a Saiga 12 owner? Most certainly. They do what they're advertised to do, and have minimal drawbacks. If you're keeping that rear tang on, it's absolutely a setup you should consider using, in part or whole.
BIG IMPORTANT CAVEAT: the stock is foreign-made, and thus counts as a foreign part when determining 922r compliance. (The tube is also foreign-made, but I don't believe it counts as a part for 922r purposes.)
Saiga 12 19", DPH Russian-style comp/FH, Mako recoil-compensating tube, Mako recoil-reducing stock, CAA UPG47 pistol grip, Chaos extended quad rail, Tac47 auto plug, CSS puck, CSS trigger guard, modified Tapco G2 FCG, modified bolt for rock and lock, reduced power recoil spring
Edited by erwos, 27 September 2011 - 08:38 AM.