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View Full Version : Saiga Newbie Seeks Saiga Gurus Regarding Questions for Partial Conversion


Mattole
12-05-2009, 7:02 PM
I plan to purchase a Saiga in 7.62x39 with 16" barrel and want to do a partial conversion from the sportier version that it will arrive as. The intended purpose of the gun will be ranch pest control, self defense / SHTF, and occasional deer and pig hunting (I have other guns for hunting but want to be able to hunt with this gun as well if need be). I know the Saiga and the cartridge are not known to be tack drivers but I want the gun to be as accurate as it can be.

From the research I have done on this site so far, I gather that the stock can be configured in various forms, the trigger can be modified or replaced, and the front grip can accept an accessory rail. I see that there are different options for optics mounts, and that some sort of a conversion on the gun as well as a 'button release' can be done for the legal use of AK magazines.

Here's what I was thinking of doing to partially convert the sportier version of the Saiga into a version that is still mostly sportier but perhaps more ergonomic and refined. My initial thought was to not have a pistol grip but I am open to suggestions. Where I need guidance is in what to get, where to get it, and what I can do myself with a basic mechanical aptitude and what I need to have done by a pro:

- Replace stock sights with better quality iron sights (?);
- Replace trigger with a smoother/crisper trigger group;
- Replace buttstock and forearm with something more ergonomic. Forearm needs to be able to accept an accessory rail;
- Attach accessory rail for mounting a light;
- Quick detach optics mount for scope or red dot sight;
- Conversion to be able to use AK magus legally in CA;
- Comfortable sling;

Any guidance you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

NeoWeird
12-05-2009, 7:31 PM
Understand first that Saiga's come into the country as sporting weapons. Converting the weapon to a non-sporting weapon requires you to conform with 922.r and would require you to replace a number of components to make a 'domestic' weapon. So some of the things you want to do, such as converting it to accept AK magazines, may cost you $0 to actually do but will require you to spend a good chunk of change.

That said, you have two major options both with their own pros and cons.

First, you could do no major change to the weapon and simply do some work to the gun. The gun comes with a sling swivel installed so a bipod can be easily added and the forearm is thick enough that you can drill holes in it and attach some of those cheap add on rails that run something like $15 a pop. That would address your light issue for relatively cehap without negating it's sporting status. You could then fill in the buttstock with an epoxy or other permanent renforcement to make the stock feel more solid, which would also have the added benifit of adding weight which would shift the center of weight rearward and make the rifle feel better balanced and handle better. The trigger group could be polished and even fine tuned by someone who REALLY knows what they are doing to give a nice feeling trigger; they could even drill and tap for setscrews to take up creep and overtravel. You COULD use an American FCG without negating sporting status (as far as I know) but it would require heavy modification and may end up the exact same as the factory trigger because of the modifications. Saigas come pre-installed with quick detach rails so the optics again is pretty easy and straight forward. The only real con to this setup is being legally limited to 10 round magazines (and that's Federal law, not California law), but it retains it's ability to use detachable magazines.

The other option is a full or partial conversion. Once it takes large capacity magazines, or has a pistol grip, etc it's all out. You have to replace parts and a good chunk of them too (needs 10 or less foreign major components to be legal). A US made 3 piece stock set and new fire control group (which is required anyways) would be enough but it would take a lot of hand working with different pices of the gun, such as fabricating and attaching a new trigger guard. The front end is FAR harder to convert than the rear end but it's still very do-able. Because of this many people just convert the back half and leave the front end alone. If you plan on running high cap magazines I suggest getting a model with the mag well dimples. Whether they help or not is highly debated, but my stance is it doesn't hurt and it might help. I should note that it's debateable as well that if you run a fixed magazine build you may NOT have to follow 922.r. This is an area though that I think each person needs to decide on their own. Personally, I would just pay the extra money and follow it rather than take the risk of breaking the law down the line on accident.

I honestly think you will be better served, for what you want, to NOT convert and simply do some very inexpensive mods to your gun to have a weapon that does exactly what you want with little investment. Yeah, it can only use 10 round mags, but on the bright side, it retains it's ability to use detachable magazines.

Good luck and post pictures when you're done!

ETA: Wow.... my fingers move faster than my brain and I need to clean up some of these sentences...

Mattole
12-05-2009, 8:19 PM
Thanks very much, Neo - I'll call my local gunsmith to see what he can do with a Saiga trigger...

Can the iron sights be replaced and still have a legal gun?

Bucky G
12-05-2009, 8:52 PM
The sling swivel is worthless for attachment of anything including a sling
it has a screw running completely through it instead of a stud, it uses a split D type swivel ring which is too small for even the narrowest of slings

Tapco now makes a nice FCG that goes in factory sporting location

There's a nice wooden montecarlo stock set for the Saiga, one the members here has one... 135 bucks and it is teh sexy

Quick detach scope mounts are everywhere for the saiga, the nice one is the russian one marked belarus
the cheap ones are 16 dollars on ebay with free shipping from hong kong

that being said, I'm doing mine in plum :D

http://www.liveruckus.com/gallery/data/500/medium/fullerwasr1.jpg

SJgunguy24
12-05-2009, 9:22 PM
Thanks very much, Neo - I'll call my local gunsmith to see what he can do with a Saiga trigger...

Can the iron sights be replaced and still have a legal gun?

AK sights suck, I put HK G3 sights on my Saiga, it makes a world of difference. I can keep rounds in a 16" circle at 500+ yards.
This is Svetlana, she's one of my Russian girls. I've dropped her tossed her around on purpose just to see if she'll brake. She just keeps coming back for more. I like this gun.
http://i285.photobucket.com/albums/ll66/SJgunguy24/001-7.jpg

GearHead
12-05-2009, 10:52 PM
. The only real con to this setup is being legally limited to 10 round magazines (and that's Federal law, not California law), but it retains it's ability to use detachable magazines.


I am a total Saiga newb, so excuse my ignorance, but which Federal laws apply to 10 round magazine use? I was under the impression that there were no Federal magazine restrictions.

Quiet
12-05-2009, 10:58 PM
I am a total Saiga newb, so excuse my ignorance, but which Federal laws apply to 10 round magazine use? I was under the impression that there were no Federal magazine restrictions.

18 USC 922(r)

The Saiga is imported as a semi-auto sporting rifle.
Modifying it to use magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds, requires 922r parts compliance.

GearHead
12-05-2009, 11:01 PM
18 USC 922(r)

The Saiga is imported as a semi-auto sporting rifle.
Modifying it to use magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds, requires 922r parts compliance.

Thanks for the info. I have been thinking about getting a Saiga and had no idea about this stipulation. Looks like I will be buying 10 rounders for now. I don't plan on converting until I can drop standard cap mags freely (when I move to a free state), so this isn't immediately applicable but again, I appreciate the info.

Mattole
12-06-2009, 12:17 AM
18 USC 922(r)

The Saiga is imported as a semi-auto sporting rifle.
Modifying it to use magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds, requires 922r parts compliance.

So if I am understanding correctly one must either leave the sporting version pretty much as is or go the route of replacing many foreign parts with the US parts to be 922r compliant? How much does doing a conversion like this cost? I certainly see many of them on this site when I do a 'Saiga' search.

NeoWeird
12-06-2009, 12:57 AM
http://thegunwiki.com/Gunwiki/BuildAkVerifyCompliance

It depends on the parts you choose. You COULD get away with just replacing the magazine and gas piston and have a 'domestic' made firearm. Then again, it would be illegal to put an imported magazine into the weapon (which will negate 95% of all high caps). You could opt for a modified or Saiga fire control group that was made in the USA and another part and be fine with any magazine. It all depends on how you do it. Just be aware that the Saiga requires less part replacement because it doesn't use a pistol grip or muzzle attachment. If you do a full conversion and add a pistol grip, it would need to be factored into the parts count. Putting the pistol grip and muzzle attachment on would require 6 of the major components to be replaced; using factory configuration only requires 4.

Just as a personal note, I stay away from conversions that use magazine parts for 922.r compliance. I don't like the idea of putting the wrong magazine in my gun and comitting a crime. Better to have a firearm that is legal regardless of what magazine is used. Again, this is not required and is only personal preference, but it's a smart choice in my opinion.