Removing the R&R Targets Saiga shotgun from its box inside, I felt a little like the Crocodile Dundee movie character who when drawing his bowie knife against some miscreant armed with a switchblade exclaimed, “Now, that’s a knife!” My coworkers cast their shocked glances in my direction and I believe I heard one exclaim, “You got a flamethrower?” Not really but in a manner of speaking, I guess I did.
The Saiga-12 shotgun is a Russian made, 12 gauge, magazine fed, gas/piston operating, semi-auto shotgun. Based on the ubiquitous Kalashnikov design the shotgun is manufactured in Russia at the Izhmash factory. It is a solid piece of weaponry, as you would expect from the designers of the AK. The problem is that as it comes from the factory, the Saiga has some design characteristics that are less than ideal due to importation restrictions placed on the design. It comes with a trigger group placement that is rearward of the standard AK, a standard stock, no choke and a limited sight radius. The appeal of the shotgun is that it is box fed with 10-, 12- and even 20-round drum magazines available. Although the Saiga shotgun has developed quite a following with tactical shotgun shooters the first thing most owners do is seriously modify the shotgun. This involves time with a gunsmith and parts replacement. The end result is that you may get a better designed semi-auto shotgun but still with some design issues, i.e. charging handle and safety on the right side of the receiver that are less than ideal. What if you wanted to incorporate the best of the AK and AR into your Saiga? Could it be done?
Robert Wright and the fine folks at R&R Targets have done just that. Taking the solid design of the Kalashnikov they modify, refinish and insert new parts to make their Saiga a more solid shooter that does not require a separate manual of arms than the AR with which many of you are intimately familiar.
R&R Targets supplied one of their Tactical Packages for testing and evaluation. According to Robert Wright no part is left alone. A partial list of the work done includes: Weld fill holes in the receiver and mill slots for new safety, magazine release and stock adapter; ream the forcing cone for more uniform shot patterns and less felt recoil; cut and thread barrel to accept Remington chokes; polish and smooth action; install R&R Targets proprietary aluminum parts including aluminum triggerguard, magazine well, magazine release, safety, grip adapter, and vented handguard; and install new adjustable stock, grip, choke, trigger (with trigger job). R&R then does a ceramic coating of the barrel and frame. The result is an aesthetically pleasing Saiga with an ambidextrous safety, standard AR magazine release, and left side placed charging handle that shoots very well. The R&R rework is a very intimidating design with the full-length vented handguard that incorporates a saw-tooth design on the business end for possible use as a breaching shotgun. From the muzzle end this makes the barrel look enormous and certainly intimidating. The standard Saiga-12 is big and heavy, but the R&R design reduces overall weight by replacing steel with CNC machined aluminum.