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Just completed my first build... Any thoughts?

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Having been recently smitten by the Saiga-12 bug I finally succumbed to its allure,

so, ... here I am... Hi, Everybody!


Right off the bat I knew there were a few things I wanted to change about a stock Saiga

to better suit my idiosyncrasies (actually, my wife calls it my 'need to tinker') and,

of course, this forum was THE place to research my ideas first. Although I have a bit

of experience with firearms, none of it included anything in the AK/Saiga world, and

not wanting to be just another noob on the forum (with all due respect for noobs

everywhere), I read just about every post, and followed every thread I thought may

have been pertinent, prior to buying and building MY Saiga. This post is to share with

those that may be interested how I went about MY build. Yes, I realize some of you

might have made different choices, and you probably would have had great reasons for

doing so for YOUR build. I welcome any constructive criticism or questions from anyone

and promise to reply as may be appropriate. Now here's my story.


As I learned on the forum, the Saiga-12, as imported into the US, has had a few changes

over time. Looking at the date of a post helped me put into perspective its content as

far as the vintage and the importer relative to applicability for MY intended build.

Also learned that some posters just repeat stuff they heard/read somewhere but lack

personal experience, knowledge, common sense, or some combination thereof. This

observations helped explain some of the apparent conflicts in facts and opinions,

enabling me to make better use of the information. I will stick to providing factual

details, evidence-based analysis and opinion, and verifiable references.


The first building block is a NIB, current production (March 2012) IZ 109, imported

by RWC and purchased at retail. The intended use is exclusively for high-power slugs,

maybe some ocassional magnum loads of buckshot for hunting hogs - not tactical, not

skeet, not urban warfare, not PD, not 'zombies', not inexpensive plinking fun, etc.,

just hogs. This meant I would disregard 'low brass reliability kits', flash hiders,

CQB and door-breaching accessories, and other such useless (to me) items.


The following list shows the functional objectives, the selection criteria, and the

chosen solution. Comments or other clarifications are included as I felt warranted.


Objective Criteria Solution


Reduce muzzle climb Consistent, reliable, JT Engineering brake installed with

and perceived rugged, compatible a barrel lock nut, both steel, from

recoil for faster with all full-power loads, Carolina Shooters Supply (CSS) and

second shots low or no maintenance LimbSaver recoil pad from WalMart


Comment: This brake includes crenellations for door-breaching which I don't need

and will machine off in my lathe and then refinish.


Multiple Picatinny Same as above Billet Tri-Rail and rear sight

rails for lights, dovetail rail from CSS

lasers, red dots,

forward grip, bipod


Comment: The rear sight was staked in the dovetail. Using a small cutoff wheel and a

hacksaw I made a vertical cut on top of the sight to within a few thousandths of the

bottom and then tapped it out. This allowed installing the dovetail rail.


Avoid battering Same as above Tromix Full Power Recoil Spring

damage from recoil and recoil buffer from CSS

of regular full-

power loads use


Comment: After installing the recoil spring, testing showed the bolt carrier still

hitting the rear trunnion; only then was the recoil buffer installed. I didn't know

the pin retaining the guide rod to the return spring guide was slightly tapered - it

only came out, and went in, one way (I mic'd it to be sure it wasn't just burred).


Buttstock with Same as above but without ACE Hammer from Del-Ton. External

adjustable LOP cutting off rear tang or Receiver Block Extension and Pignose

and cheekpiece welding. Strongest made Adapter from CSS


Comment: The bottom of the External Extension required drilling and tapping for

securing to the bottom of the receiver using existing screw hole of the replaced stock.

This precluded keeping the trigger there, requiring to be retro-fitted forward to its

Kalashnikov-intended location (See next item). Greg Queen from CSS was very helpful

in confirming this workaround and in responding very quickly to my emails asking

specific product questions. I very much appreciate his prompt, knowledgeable, and

candid answers. Without his help this whole project could have turned into a nightmare.

Thank you Greg.


Move trigger forward Use highest quality JT Engineering Main Spring, Axis

components pin retaininjg plate, BHO kit,

Tromix FCG, Carolina Trigger Guard,

and trigger group hole plugs, all

from CSS


Comment: The instructions and videos from CSS were invaluable. I didn't use a 3/16 drill

to drill out the trigger guard rivets; I center-punched the rivets, made a 1/16 pilot

hole and then drilled out the rivet to its O.D. only, keeping the holes at their

original size. I did notch the BHO lever for the spring but only after watching the

video several times while playing with the parts to better understand why and how. I

installed the main spring upside down at first, and it worked, but didn't look right.

After I installed it correctly I tested it and found the trigger pull to be rather

light; it tested at an average 2 1/2 lbs. That seemed too light for safety on a high-

recoil shotgun so I chambered and cocked on a 12 Ga. snap cap. Multiple hard inline

impacts on the butt and on the muzzle failed to allow the hammer to strike the firing

so pin so now I won't be worried about a light trigger pull inducing accidental



Rear pistol grip Same as above, non-slip, Hogue Monogrip for AK from local

no pinch points, feels store

good in MY hands


Comment: The screw hole in the grip needed to be elongated to match trigger guard's.

I used a Dremel tool to do it. It wasn't much, but removing that material made me

feel like I had compromised the structural integrity of the grip's fastening so I

built a thick rounded-rectangle-shaped washer to fit inside the grip's bottom surface

to distribute the screw's tension over the entire surface and not just the thin 75%

area beneath the screw head. This would increase the load-bearing capacity of the

grip's mounting while allowing for a little more tightening torque on the screw; both

important to me on a high-recoil shotgun (It might be a little disconcerting if the

grip comes off while a disgruntled hog is charging at me).


Other accessories on this Saiga include a Grippod, a green Beamshot, CenterPoint

red/green dot scope, Ergo rail slot covers, fitted case, YHM 45 degree rail adapter

with an AR grip adapter and generic AR pistol grip.


Checking out this Saiga for 922r compliance found 9 foreign parts out of a max of 10.

This is including the original 5-shot magazine which counts for 3 parts all by itself.

I think I am OK there.


The ammo intended to be used includes, in no particular order, the following:


Ddupleks Hexolit 32

Sauvestre Balle Fleche

Dan Arms Gualandi

Nitro Company Gualandi and '200 Yds Slug

BPI DGS Thunderbolt

Hornady SST

Lightfield Hybred and Commander IDS

Remington Slugger

Federal Fusion and Power-Shok

Various domestic (US) buckshot loads in lead, and non-lead alloys


and my own 600 gr. hollow-points I machine from copper stock, loaded in custom brass

shells from Rocky Mountain Cartridge with Hodgdon Longshot and CCI primers... not

for use by the timid or pain-intolerant (higher recoil, much, much louder than a church



I am considering a couple of other possible tweaks as they may be needed. It seems,

even with the recoil buffer, recoil impact on the rear trunnion is excessive; an

even stiffer recoil spring, modified gas plug, enlarging the gas vent on the gas

block, or reducing the barrels's gas ports, may be options. A low-profile scope

side mount and a Hi-Lux EER 2-7X32 scope are also future options. A sling, and a

rifled barrel are also subjects for future consideration.


That's it for now...


I can't think of anything else right now. Long-winded post... (Sorry, moderators)

I tried to edit for brevity but couldn't decide on what to leave out. Ill try to be

more succint in the future.

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I think you have over looked one important item. What happens if you break ANY ONE SPARE PART? Consider chucking the entire platform for something you can AT LEAST GET spare parts for....or haven't you thought of that? Duhh. HB of CJ (old coot) (who is pissed off right now)

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Mitch535 - Thank you, and ... Noted!


HB of CJ - All parts used were purchased from stocking vendors as listed on the post. I believe most,

if not all, of those vendors would be able to Overnight to me any part I need badly enough. But

your point is well taken, Which part(s) do you feel are so more likely to break that I should

keep spare(s) on hand and what makes it(them) so vulnerable? Please be specific.


kukurilynch - What part or section would you like a picture of? Please keep in mind the system has a

2 MB size limit per picture.

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philip271 - Yes, I think I know what you mean... Didn't Playboy magazine and the local library have the same problem, not enough 'readers'?

Let me know which part or section you would like to see a picture of and I'll try to accommodate your need for visual gratification.

Do remember the system has a 2MB size limit per picture


deadeye - Thank you. I will look into that right away. Tell me a little more why you believe this to be worth consideration, Will it likely

increase reliability, longevity, smoother function, lower maintenance, etc.? Please keep in mind this whole Saiga world is new

to me and I am willing to learn all I can handle. Now, about the projectiles... I purchase 3/4" copper round stock and turn it down

to around .730 (to match actual bore dimension), face and centerdrill the nose and put a live center on it, measure back to

where I'll cut off later and groove it, cut three pressure relief grooves on the rear to the depth of the rifling, cut the nose to its

final shape, remove the live center, drill the nose and square broach it (to provide a weak point for it to tear and expand into

four petals. I have also made, for test purposes, a plastic spire point insert that helps the BC while in flight and then initiate

expansion upon impact. I don't have CNC equipment so these I make one by one and it is a slow process because everything

is being monitored with dial indicators and mic's as I am cutting. All dimensions are specific to the particular shotgun they are

being made for and for this new Saiga I'll have to start almost from scratch, and then work up the loads for pressure, pattern, etc.

And I don't have a rifled barrel yet for the Saiga anyway. Copper stock is expensive, the time factor is ridiculous and there is a

an unequivocal negative ROI... unless you factor in the pleasure derived from doing the work, the satisfaction of success, and the

therapeutic benefits of the whole thing (that's what I tell my wife).

Now about your alleged lack of hogs in Oregon... I've heard there are substantial numbers around Salem, and they have been

known to often congregate in or around 900 Court Street NE. In fact, every state, and Washington DC, has large populations of

that breed. However, that particular city breed doesn't taste the same as the four-legged feral country kind and those might be the

ones you don't have in Oregon... NO PROBLEMO! Most farming communities in the South would be willing to donate all Oregon

want as they are considered pests by many farmers and ranchers. A local rancher killed 14 last year and I was invited by a

local plantation manager to help him do some "pest control". I don't even consider that as hunting anymore than rabitt control would

be in rural Australia. Anyway, Don't you just love the smell of wry humor in the morning?

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My favorite part of the novel....

"I would disregard 'low brass reliability kits', flash hiders, CQB and door-breaching accessories, and other such useless (to me) items."

I view most products with this mindset.


The bolt will almost always "hit the trunnion" (trunnions support barrels, but I know what you mean). The weapon is designed to do so. Unless you are going to fire the weapon while mounted solidly in a solid mounted rest, use meticulously handloaded ammunition with projectiles which weigh exactly the same, and replicate all other factors while firing, it will either "hit the trunnion" or not eject. I do not recommend buffers. If you fire the weapon a lot, you will figure it out on your own. If you don't fire much, you will never know the difference.

Edited by evlblkwpnz
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Welcome to the forum. Hint: most people won't read that much info in one post. I'd try and break the info up into several posts.


This is true and good advice. I used to do this, combine every possible question I could have into one post thinking it was a good thing instead of creating a new thread for each question. But such posts would end up getting few replies. And if you have a question chances are more than likely someone else has had the same one and asked here. The back pages of this board contain a wealth of information.

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Well I read the whole damn thing..... Waited for that punch line pic at the end.....

Boomboom, either resize the pics, or link pics from photobucket, imageshack.........


Also learned that some posters just repeat stuff they heard/read somewhere but lack

personal experience, knowledge, common sense, or some combination thereof.

^^^^^^ Made me giggle^^^^^^^^

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evlblkwpnz - Thank you for your reply... I used the word 'trunnion' in deference to its use as such in the parts diagram I downloaded

from imageshack and assumed it was correct. I have since learned it is a misnomer. The Saiga Service Manual received

with the firearm calls it the "Butt plate" - I stand corrected. I thought I had observed the ejection process be complete

at some point before hitting the butt plate but after I read your reply, I went back to check... on this particular Saiga (the

only one I have ever handled) the ejection process is complete at about 7/16" before contact... and inertia will likely allow it

to travel the rest of the way. So your comment makes perfect sense. That is, unless I develop loads, and also control other

variables, to allow only just enough energy to reach that 7/16" mark consistently, the alternatives are mostly going to be

impact at some level of force or FTE. All else being equal (seldom is), oencene grain of powder could make that difference.

Obviously the enemy is not the impact itself but, rather, excessively forceful one. Thank you for helping think it through. Now,

although I don't always succeed, I do prefer to learn from the mistakes of others. Would you be so kind as to share with me

what it is about buffers that you already have learned? Figuring it out myself might be costly to me in so many different ways...


Squishy - Yes, thank you. As replied to Mitch535... Noted!


red-cedar - Thank you!... Let me know what part(s) or section(s) you would like pictures of and I will gladly provide them. Do keep in mind

system has a 2MB limit on each picture.


akastormi - Sorry... It wasn't meant to just be a 'tease'. As you may have noticed, I have been already called to task for not having included

a centerfold section. As a new member, I didn't realize this was going to be such a visually oriented crowd. I also didn't expect

what I considered a very plain post, judging by the elaborate productions of some posters, to generate such interest. Different

members might have different interest on what pictures to see. I'll gladly send you pictures of the part(s) or section(s) that you

might be interested in if you just let me know. Now, that giggle... was it a good giggle or a bad giggle? BTW, I wasn't making a

put down of any specific person in this forum; this is true of people in general and more so when people can express themselves

with the relative anonimity on potentially controversial subjects that forums provide.

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Sounds like you have a gun that will meet your needs.


The only thing I see missing from that list is a winchoke adapter and rifled choke or internal choke modificaiton and a permanent slip install of your brake with clearance for a rifled choke tube.

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I read this whole thread and enjoyed it. Pics are always good and as stated above, Photobucket is great as you can simply upload and direct link to the forum. I'll alway's look at pics of guns. But in this case, I'd really like to see the pics of these rounds your making.

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photobucket and image shack suck for forum posting though because if your picture has been viewed a few times they kill it. Thus any picture or thread worth multiple views becomes a dead link.


That's why I use Picassa instead.

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Resizing pics in "Paint" is the easiest way that I have found.


With Windows....

Open the file (pic)

Click the "open" tab

Click "paint"

Click "image"

Click "resize/skew"

The rest is fairly obvious. With my cheap HD camera, I usually resize to 35-40% of the original image. That seems to work well here, but may be different for you.



If you fire a lot, the buffer will come apart. Pieces of rubber in the action are not desirable and you would really have to be checking the thing regularly to see it coming. If you don't fire much, it won't matter. The system wasn't designed to have a "buffer" other than the spring. I fire a little more than the average shooter and have never seen any notable damage or wear. Try all loads on the most restrictive gas setting first. If they don't eject, increase gas as needed. That is your best protection.

Edited by evlblkwpnz
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Hi again,


As I had expected to do, I took the brake back off and chucked it up on the lathe and faced the crenellations off

(See picture attached just_cut.jpg).

And, to protect the finish from corrosion until I have it ceramacoated, or powder-coated, or parkerized, I blued it to

match the factory finish (See pictures attached blued_1.jpg and blued_2.jpg)


Now let me address some of your replies...


memhrd -For shame, for shame!


Shankspony and misterT - See above... and below...


deadeye and fast2gnt and Big John! - (See picture attached slugstuf.jpg) At the rear you two pieces of the 3/4"

copper stock I use. The forward-most of the two shows where I had cut on it on the lathe. On the left are three of

the brass shells I had made by Rocky Mountain and to the right of those are three pieces of tooling I made for

reloading the brass after shooting. The tall chunky one is for resizing; it has a first stage (on the bottom, rough

finish exterior) that brings it close and the second stage (on top and smoother finish exterior) for the final size.

The tall skinny piece is for decapping and the flat one is a base for sitting the shell on while it is being worked.

The first two I made out of scrap 4140 and the third is Inconel. The plastic pieces are used for making the ballistic

tips that go in the hollow point. I have not yet measured the chamber or bore on this Saiga so I have not yet made

any rounds for it. I do include, for loose reference only purposes, a couple of different prototypes I had made way

back. The hollow copper cylinder with a side split is for chucking up individual projectiles if I need to. And inside it

is my homemade square broach mentioned in an earlier email. Sorry that's all I have to show right now.


deadeye - Researched your advice and found you were right on the money. Ordered a Tom Cole piston today.

Thank You!


gunfun - Thank you. A rifled barrel (as soon as my rich uncle I didn't know I had dies and leaves me enough money)

or a rifled choke tube (a la Paradox) are items being considered.


evlblkwpnz - Thank you. I am still using the factory gas plug set to 1 and too much gas is still geting through.

Greg Queen from CSS suggested a DPH plug as one that was settable to a more restrictive setting than the

stock one at 1. I will keep at least one eye, maybe both, on that rubber buffer, and it's coming off permanently

as soon as I can alleviate some of the heavy battering going on. Maybe that DPH plug will do or I'll get a stiffer

spring. Thank you again. Your advice, so far, has been very good and is most welcome.


everybody else - Please note that the three member's requests for specific pictures have been honored. Why

those? Please indulge me for the following allegorical narrative as an answer:

In the original post i mentioned using a 45 degree forward pistol grip on this Saiga. That's because that angle is

more natural for my wrist. Ergonomically, the more straight I keep my wrist, the better it should withstand heavy

recoil without injury. I have never seen anybody else use a 45 degree forward grip. I thought mentioning it would

catch somebody's attention and they would ask for more information and a picture. But since nobody asked,

obviously, nobody is interested. So, Why should I take time to photograph, crop, resize, and attach such a picture

nobody wants to see?. It would be a waste of bandwidth, your time and mine, to post pictures nobody wants to see.

Of course, if only just now you've become aware of that 45 degree forward grip thingie on my Saiga, Why do you think that is? Is it possible there may have been other stuff there you might have found interesting enough to ask

for more information?

As I mentioned before, you tell me WHAT you want to see and I'll try to take care of it. I will take and post pictures

for which I get a specific request. I don't think I am being obtuse here, but if you disagree, please, help me,

respectfully, to reason and understand your point of view; I promise to pay attention.

BTW, given the above, please notice I led this post with information and pictures NOBODY asked about...


Ok... I think I'll go take my Ritalin now...





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DistalRadius -What could I do?...


A little fire oughtta take care of it.


Again, just kidding. I'm assuming theres a recoil pad under there? Looks like youre running some kind of AR stock so there should be plenty of recoil pads that will fit it either by attachement via two screws or the slip-on variety.


No gun should be subjected to tape, IMHO.

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