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Bubba Zanetti

“Saiga Defender” Concept in 7.62 x 39

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Note: This is my first post on this forum.  I’ve given this idea a lot of thought.  Maybe I'm not the first to do this, but I thought I’d submit it to you guys to see what you think. – Bubba Zanetti, March 2014.

 

“Saiga Defender” Concept in 7.62 x 39

 

I bought my Saiga 7.62 x 39 “Hunting Carbine” at a gun show three years ago.  I’ll never forget my wife’s surprise when I brought it home: “What’s this box that says $349!??”  That seemed like a lot of money to her, but I knew the Saiga was substantially undervalued.  Unboxed, it looked plain and non-threatening, a kitten.  But I knew it retained its tiger heart in the form of the Russian made AK 100 receiver.  For a time, I kept my 7.62 dressed in its black polymer pajamas, but it wasn't long before I wanted more. 

 

What to do?  The most popular Saiga conversion is the “Classic AK”: the modern, semi-auto version of the rifle that would have been used by hordes of dismounted Soviet infantry as they stormed NATO defenses.  Much fun & satisfaction can be had when smithing your Saiga into this tiger!  Valid option, but no…not for me.  I thought briefly of adding a scope and converting it to a “Scout Rifle”, but decided that’d be more fitting for the Saiga .308.  What else…

 

I’m old school, a Cold War guy with a taste for older milsurp main battle rifles and carbines.  I like carbines.  I have an old IBM production M1 Carbine, and it’s still pretty tight.  Those .30 carbine rounds hit like a .357 at close range.  Good defense against home invading Hobos, but at longer ranges .30 carbine lacks the “ass” of the 7.62 x 39 round.  Inspired by my M1 Carbine, I evolved the “Saiga Defender” concept.

 

The Defender retains the rear mounted trigger assembly, eliminating the need for a pistol grip.  Wood furniture replaced the factory issue polymer stock.  Wood brings the classic lines of an old-school military carbine, married with the solid “smash” capability generations of soldiers took for granted.  To get this, I refinished a surplus Romanian AK butt stock and an American walnut forward hand guard.  A hard rubber pad extends the butt stock an inch and gives the shooter a bit more rifle to work with. 

 

This Defender wears a heavy bolt-on muzzle break.  It was not cheap, but I believe this is an excellent example of you get what you pay for.  It mounts over the barrel and slides up snug on both sides of the forward sight post.  A separate piece secures the brake behind the post, locked down by 4 long hex screws.  It’s solid and effective.  It will not come off until I want it too.  Others may opt to thread their barrel and install a permanent brake – that’s cool.  I like this muzzle brake.  When you combine this brake with the heavy wood furniture some of the wild “jump” is negated when firing the 7.62 x 39 round.

 

I have not yet made the bullet guide modification.  This will be a summer project.  Who doesn’t want to use AK mags & drums? 

 

It did wear a surplus SKS sling, but it didn't match the new wood stock.  I replaced it with a  3' long brown leather cobra sling, polished the sling to match the wood grain. 

 

The Defender is meant to be fired from the shoulder, delivering US style “aimed fire” (versus Soviet volume of fire).  It retains the standard AK sights, but these are “zeroed” via standard 25 meter targets simulating the 250 meter silhouette.  I have swapped out the standard Saiga dust cover for a US made cover that has a built in dovetail.  If you have bad eyes, you can mount an optic.  I’m searching for a low profile peep sight or leaf sight that I can use with the AK forward sight post.  My goal is to increase the sight radius and accuracy to mirror the M1 Carbine.  (UPDATE: Will be adding Tech-Sights model AK200S sights to meet this requirement - thanks Inebriated & Think1st).

 

My end game combines the accuracy and physical ruggedness of an M1 Carbine, with the firepower and reliability of an AK.  It is heavy, defense of compound weapon.  It is meant to be fired from cover at short to mid-range.  Not intended for CQB (we're not clearing jihadi’s in Fallujah) but if pressed, you could swing it like a club – old school!

 

I attached a photo of the Defender, on the bench in my workshop.

 

What do you think? 

 

Regards,

 

Bubba Zanetti

post-49217-0-81552100-1395493313_thumb.jpg

Edited by Bubba Zanetti

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I like it, I was so happy with the handling of my Saiga that I almost left it as it was!

 

I do have two suggestions for the defender, though.

 

1, I would make or try to find a wood stock similar in shape to the factory plastic one. Having that little bit of pistol grip would make it feel more like an American rifle, rather than a Russian one. I've tried the exact same thing as you, AK stock on unconverted Saiga, and it felt like a Mosin. If you're okay with it, then obviously no need to change it.

 

2, that needs Tech-Sights! You will love them for what you're going for.

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I like it, I was so happy with the handling of my Saiga that I almost left it as it was!

 

I do have two suggestions for the defender, though.

 

1, I would make or try to find a wood stock similar in shape to the factory plastic one. Having that little bit of pistol grip would make it feel more like an American rifle, rather than a Russian one. I've tried the exact same thing as you, AK stock on unconverted Saiga, and it felt like a Mosin. If you're okay with it, then obviously no need to change it.

 

2, that needs Tech-Sights! You will love them for what you're going for.

Inebriated, thanks for the feed back!  I actually have a 91-30 & a 44 carbine as well.   I only spent $20 on the Romanian stock & have my eyes pealed for something better.  I'll look into the Tech-Sights, thanks!

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No problem, I am quite fond of the American battle rifle design, despite not actually owning anything in the form factor (Garand, Carbine, M1A, Mini-14/30, etc). It's honestly my favorite form factor, just hasn't worked out for me to get one. They just feel so "right" in the hands.

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Bubba Zanetti, here is a link to the Tech Sight website.

 

http://www.tech-sights.com/ak.htm

 

I use their sights on my Kel Tec SU-16, and I can tell you that they make a quality product.

 

That is a beautiful rifle.  I have an IZ-132 that I bought a couple of years ago, and I didn't want to take it out of its original configuration, either.  I actually bought another Saiga that was already converted from Classic Firearms so that I could keep the first rifle original.  I really like what you did with yours, and I am really glad to see one done like it.  Doing something similar has actually been creeping through my mind.

 

I have a couple of questions:

 

#1:  Where did you get that muzzle break?

 

#2:  Did you have that for-end custom made, or did you carve it yourself?

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Bubba Zanetti, here is a link to the Tech Sight website.

 

http://www.tech-sights.com/ak.htm

 

I use their sights on my Kel Tec SU-16, and I can tell you that they make a quality product.

 

That is a beautiful rifle.  I have an IZ-132 that I bought a couple of years ago, and I didn't want to take it out of its original configuration, either.  I actually bought another Saiga that was already converted from Classic Firearms so that I could keep the first rifle original.  I really like what you did with yours, and I am really glad to see one done like it.  Doing something similar has actually been creeping through my mind.

 

I have a couple of questions:

 

#1:  Where did you get that muzzle break?

 

#2:  Did you have that for-end custom made, or did you carve it yourself?

Think1st, thanks for the compliments!  I spent a fair bit of time with the wood working. 

 

1) Muzzle Break on Amazon for $39 + 5.99 shipping.  I know it says 2 screws, but mine came with 4 to hold it in place.  Maybe they screwed up and sent me a more expensive version?  Who knows? - link here:

 

http://www.amazon.com/MDI-SAIGA-RIFLE-PORTING-SCREWS/dp/B00CTCGQR8/ref=pd_sim_sbs_sg_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=15N5K6BHWJPBSYJS1JE0

 

2) Handguard from Rhineland Arms in Texas - $35 - link here.  They sell a "Saiga Scout Rifle" stock set in tiger maple and walnut.  You can request an "unfinished" or "finished" handguard/stock.  I requested unfinished so I could try and make it close to my rear stock (almost made it!).  My surplus Romanian stock was $20 at Apex Gun parts. 

 

Rhineland Arms - http://www.troupsystems.com/saiga.htm

 

The Rhineland handguard  also has two 10/32 screw holes so you can hang optics or a rail or (in my case) a sling.  It mounts to the barrel beneath the gas tube and held in place by a U shaped bracket and two long screw that thread up through the hand guard.  The Saiga Scout rear thumbhole stock looks pretty good, but is $100.

 

3)  I added the rubber extension pad for $12.95 also at Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008FEMFIS/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Inebriated / Think1st: The Tech-Sights (model AK200S) are on my birthday list!  Thanks guys!

Edited by Bubba Zanetti

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Forgot to add...  The rear stock is a simple laminated Romanian AK stock.  Typical east-block, crude but effective.

 

I stripped, sanded & refinished it.  A laminated stock is really just a piece of plywood, so you can't sand it too much or it starts scuffing the next layer down.  But, since it only cost $20 at Apex, I did a little woodcarving (another hobby) as well. 

 

The Greek Helmet & "Molon Labe" tab were carved in with my Dremel tool & then painted with copper metallic spay paint.  The copper gives it a "bronze" look...

post-49217-0-68672500-1395612508_thumb.jpg

Edited by Bubba Zanetti
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Bubba Zanetti,

 

I was out of town for the week and didn't have a chance to check the sight while I was gone.  Thanks for the links.  I really like the traditional look of the scout rifle in wood and can't wait to do something like that with my own rifle in the future.

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