THE BEST OF
The Russian Saiga shotgun has taken the U.S market by storm as of late, due to its magazine-fed capability, AK-47 conversion looks, and reliability. After-market conversion parts abound and blanket the Internet.
Clyde Woods, Sales and Marketing Director for importer Russian American Armory Company, stated sales are at an all-time high: “The 12-gauge Saiga is so popular we just cannot get enough of them into the country.”
Most of this new-found popularity is due to conversion specialists such as Krebs Custom Inc. (KCI). Owner Marc Krebs started his gunsmithing career studying under Master Gunsmith Bob Dunlap at Lassen College. After graduating in 1984, Marc began making a name for himself producing quality 1911 custom pistols, but his first love was for military small arms, specifically the AK-47 design. Marc’s desire for a real Russian AK led him to producing rifles identical to current Russian models, legal to own in the United States through KCI. Marc’s Saiga 12 gauge conversion sparked my interest for both law enforcement and civilian use.
KCI’s Saiga starts with a standard gasoperated, 19-inch barrel converted to pistol grip configuration. The buttstock on this model is a six-position Vltor collapsible with SOG butt pad. The forearm is standard issue black poly. The trigger is a custom two-stage that breaks cleanly at an average of four pounds as measured by a Lyman digital trigger pull scale. A Krebs Custom Mk IV safety is used, with bolt hold-open notch that works smooth as silk.
Sights consist of Krebs Combat System using a barrel clamp-type front housing with an AR- 15 style post and detent. Rear sight is a custom “ghost ring style” that can accept a replaceable aperture. An AK-type scope rail is standard on the left side of the Saiga 12 from the factory that accepts a variety of available scopes and mounts. Krebs’ finished product weighs seven pounds with an overall length of 39 inches.
The shotgun is magazine fed and comes with a standard five-round magazine. Also available and tested herein are ten-round magazines from AGP Arms, Inc. and the new 20-round drum from M-D Arms, Ltd.
Testing of KCI’s Saiga 12 consisted of accuracy and combat stages using slugs, buckshot, and target loads. Ammo tested included five slug loads, eight 00 buckshot rounds, and Federal #9 target loads. Testing in the slug stage was multiple three-shot groups fired from a rest with each load at 50 yards and averaged for overall performance. The buckshot stage consisted of shots fired with each load from a rest at 25 yards. Patterns were checked in categories of percent on target, kill zone hits, misses and average spread. Speed drills on hanging steel were run with the light #9 loads in stages of Five to Go and Double Trouble.
Slugs in the accuracy stage consisted of standard and low recoil loads. KCI’s Saiga fired everything that was put through it without a hitch. Overall average of all five loads combined was 4.10 inches. The number one load in this shotgun was Remington’s 1-oz standard slug load averaging 1.69-inch, three-shot groups. Second place went to Winchester’s Reduced Recoil load, which averaged 2.83 inches. This stage was fired on Law Enforcement Target’s B21E 25-yard target.
Buckshot performance stage was fired using Speedwell’s B-21 PC targets. These targets are more life sized than the B-21E target used in the slug accuracy stage. Percent on target was calculated by dividing the number of rounds on target by the number of pellets in the load. Kill-zone hits are just that—number of rounds in the kill zone of the target. Misses were the number of pellets that did not hit the target, and spreads were measured center-to-center from the farthest two pellets on target, centerto- center. (Look closely at the chart for this stage, as no load was 100% across the board in testing.)
Remington again had the number one load in this stage of testing, using their L/E 9 load. The KCI Saiga put all nine of the 00 pellets on target for 100%, no misses, two kill-zone hits, and a spread of just 12 inches at 25 yards. However, when we look at the stats for the number two load in this shotgun (Remington’s Reduced Recoil), we see 88% of pellets on target, one miss, six kill-zone hits and a spread of 16.5 inches. The number three load was Remington’s Tact-8, showing 87% of pellets on target, one miss, four kill-zone hits, and a spread of 13.5 inches.
Speed stages were used to see how well the KCI Saiga functioned with multiple rounds fired and being user friendly. The Five to Go stage consists of 10- inch hanging steel targets spaced at 7, 10, 12, and 15 yards with a stop plate back at 7. A stage starts at the beep of a timer, whereby a shooter fires one round to each target with time stopping at the last target. These were run in five strings of five rounds each for average times. Double Trouble for this stage was modified somewhat in that 10-inch plates were fired at from a distance of 10 yards. Plates are placed one above the other with the centers being about two feet apart. At the beep, stage of fire is to fire one round to the bottom target and a second round to the top target as fast as possible with good hits.
Average runs in both stages using the KCI Saiga were checked against runs using my custom combat competition Remington 1100 as a standard of gauge performance. Five to Go runs using the KCI Saiga and Double Trouble were impressive. Comparing these to the average runs of a shotgun set up with every advantage shows the KCI Saiga very capable. The pistol grip design made it very controllable for its weight.
Conclusions on the KCI Saiga 12 are nothing but positive, to say the least. Nothing broke or had to be repaired, and I put a lot of rounds through this shotgun. In my opinion, this type of shotgun offers premium performance over conventional types for law enforcement and civilian self-defense modes. Like the AK-47, it shoots no matter what is dished out in the form of weather or conditions. Tactical advantages of a collapsible buttstock and pistol grip not seen from other manufacturers only enhance performance of a semi-auto for the user. When one adds the advantage of magazine fed 10-round magazines from AGP or the 20-round drum from M-D Arms, it just keeps getting better. This shotgun fired every time the trigger was pulled, with all types of loads using 5-, 10-, and 20-round magazines.
One of the most surprising aspects of this shotgun was recoil. One would think shooting buckshot and slugs in a seven-pound shotgun would have a stout punch, but recoil was very manageable.
After educating myself on the positive aspects of the KCI-converted Saiga 12 AK-47 type shotgun, I would not hesitate to use it for duty or home protection.
Krebs Custom Inc.
1000 Rand Road
Wauconda, IL 60084
AGP Arms Inc.
1930 East 3rd St. #12
Tempe, AZ 85281
M-D Arms, Ltd.
P.O. Box 13746
Dayton, OH 45413