Educational Zone #36 – Interesting Firearms – Saiga in 7.62 X 51

My old buddy Tman just completed a new project.

He purchased a new Saiga rifle imported by Russian American Armory and manufactured by Izhmash of Russia and did some work on it.

Here’s the rifle as he got it.

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Here it is after his modifications.

As you can see, he moved the trigger forward, installed an Ace Galil grip and an ACE non folding stock.

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Here he is at the range this morning.

It has a 20 round US made magazine by FBMG.

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Continued below...

Here’s what makes it “special”

It shoots the 7.62 X 51 NATO round.

It also has a 16 inch barrel.

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It sure barks loud.

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Recoil is more than an AK in 7.62 X 39, but not punishing. 

Kicks about like an FAL.

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The project did not require any welding or special tools. You can find lots of details over at the Saiga Forum. Pretty straight forward project and lots of fun.

Cost of rifle $350 plus $110 for ACE non folding stock & Ace Galil grip = $460

The 20 round mags are by are by FBMG and cost $45 each and work great. Some folks have tried the m14 mag modification to these rifles with mixed success. With the new mags available, I would avoid the problems there.

I have nearly 100 rounds through the single 20 round mag that I have without a single problem and would not hesitate to buy more were there a need.

You can add the folding mech to the stock if you want a folder for about $58. Folders are neat, but of limited value to me for this rifle. Folding stocks were a lot more interesting when they were not legal. I have a folding stock .223 AK in the Truck O’Truth for those times when nothing else will do.

Yep, you can add a FH or brake to the end but not an easy or simple project due to the front sight base and short extension beyond. I don’t like set screw devices on the end of my rifles since I actually shoot them.

Accuracy is pretty good for a 16″ rifle but not a benchrest or sniper rifle. The bolt is a three lug design and the ammunition is of better quality than the typical Wolf ammo shot in AK’s. I would rate it is better than your typical AK recognizing that the short radius open sights are limiting.

The manufacturer’s standard for accuracy on these guns is a four shot group at 100 meters less than 100mm ( about 3.9 inches ). Ammo not specified. Most military ammo we have tested will group about 2″ to 4″ at a hundred yards with a highly accurate AI and a 24 power scope.

That kind of accuracy and ammo does not in my judgement merit or require a scope. The 7.62×39 is about the same as the 7.63×51. Each caliber has a few differences as to number of welds, rivets, how the FCG retainer is installed etc. 

You would have to study the various threads your particular rifle to determine all the differences. None are really that difficult. One of the big differences is that a feed ramp would have to be installed to use standard, unmodified 7.62 AK mags.

One of the guys on that forum sells a feed ramp kit for about $30. You could use modified mags by Surefire that cost about $40 each with a built in feed ramp to avoid that. Study the various threads when you modify a Saiga to make sure you stay in compliance with Federal laws on imported rifles.

The base 7.62×39 rifle costs about $100 less than the 7.62×51. Frankly, I would lean toward a stock Romanian at about $300 that is already to go if you just want a basic AK. The .308 is unique and I like to tinker. 

The .308 does not have the side holes common to some of the other calibers. There were two holes on the bottom of the receiver that fell outside the pistol grip footprint. One rivet hole near the bottom rear of the receiver which I filled with JB Weld and painted over and a rivet on the bottom of the receiver near the front of the trigger guard. This one I finished flush and painted over with Dupli-Color flat black engine paint. I would try and finish all flush in any future conversions.The other people on the Saiga Forum report using 3/16″ black nylon hole plugs from Lowe’s to plug the holes on the other calibers where needed.

Lots of shotguns have been converted in a similar manner and you find them at the shotgun portion of the Saiga forum.

Conclusion:
It shot great and we enjoyed shooting it.

Thought you guys might enjoy seeing how the project came out.

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