While not ubiquitous by any means, the Saiga-12 has been used in competitions before. There have been a few smaller custom shops that have been making mods to these Soviet Saturday Night Specials with multigun in mind, but we haven’t seen much from larger manufacturers. In today’s guest article the blonde boomstick shooter Niki Jones, editor-in-chief of Sure Shots Magazine, brings us through the Russian Racegun she further customized specifically for competition. While not everything on it is going to be considered practical or pragmatic for everyone, it may give you some considerations for upgrading your old wood-stocked warrior. If you must have shotguns, only have cool shotguns. Mad Duo
Kalashnikov USA: 3 Gun Saiga
It was the eleventh hour of SHOT Show 2015—actually the last hour of the last day. The remaining attendees walking the floor had a whitish-green pallor and moved like zombies, including me and my tactical life partner, Carrin.
We were still determined to see something – that ONE new thing that we hadn’t yet seen – before we left Vegas. As we moved aimlessly among the walking dead on the main floor, suddenly we stopped dead in our tracks. On the wall directly in front of us was it. It was The Thing. It even had a spotlight shining down on it, possibly from heaven above.
It was a shotgun – a Saiga. It was silver. And it was specially made for 3-Gun.
While the majority of Carrin’s and my training back in Austin with Sure Shots (the ladies’ pistol league I started in 2010) is defense-based (Defensive Pistol, Defensive Carbine, Defensive Shotgun, Unarmed Defensive Tactics, etc.), we enjoy competing in IDPA or Steel Challenge matches on weekends. Before we left Austin for SHOT Show, we had kicked it up a notch by accepting the Austin Police Marksmanship Team’s invitation for the ladies of the Sure Shots to come train for 3-Gun with them, and then shoot a match. So, as Carrin and I headed to Vegas, both those events were on our schedule.
Carrin had shot a little 3-Gun before when she was working on location in Nashville. She swore by her self-converted MKA 1919XN Firebird Precision mag-fed shotgun (named Daria). I had to admit, I totally agreed that mag-fed was the way to go. I’d had too many pinched-thumb episodes on our Sure Shots Girls’ Dove Hunts, so the idea of pushing those 12-gauge shells into the tube under the pressure of the timer just sounded like a finger-disaster waiting to happen. Plus, I’m lazy.
So, back to the SHOT Show floor and The Saiga. The clearly (and understandably) exhausted sales rep from Kalashnikov USA, Rick, came over to ask us if we had any questions. We inundated him. But mostly, we wanted to know what made this Saiga 3-Gun specific?
As he went down the list of modifications, my head was swimming. I had to have it. Though I figured a big outfit like Kalashnikov USA would have a hefty minimum order of, like, a thousand guns, I had to ask, “Would they consider selling one… just one… to me?” (Honestly, the question made me feel a little like Chris Rock in his famous “Just One Rib” scene). Surprisingly, Rick the sales rep didn’t burst into satanic laughter in my face. He said the production manager, Jim Kelly, was in a meeting but would be available to discuss it in a half hour, and to come back to the booth then.
Carrin and I made ourselves scarce until it was time to return to the booth. Waiting for us was Jim Kelly, the very creator of the 3G himself. We got to talking about competitions, and how I was brand new to 3-Gun. I told him I’d love to buy one of the 3Gs, and asked him if it was a possibility. He asked if I would instead be interested in having him build one specifically for me, with my 3-Gun wants and needs in mind, to T&E for an extended period of time. YES! was my answer.
I left SHOT feeling elated and extremely lucky to be able to collaborate on such an awesome project with a really cool mad scientist like Jim. Over the course of the next few months, Jim and I talked at length about the specifics of my 3G. The two things at the top of my list were a Picatinny rail so I could switch and/or mount optics easily, and a mag well so that I could do mag changes more quickly (while I’m familiar with the “rock and lock” system of the AK platform, I have much more experience with seating mags in an AR, and wanted a mag well to help “guide” me into the right spot more quickly.
Here is the list of modifications Jim made to a standard Saiga to make it the 3G:
- Phoenix Arms Kick-Lite 6 position recoil reduction buffer tube
- Carolina Shooters Supply AR style forearm with vented slots
- Skeletonized Buttstock
- Pistol grip with interchangeable panels
- Top rail
- Aforementioned AR-style Magwell
- Molot Muzzle Brake with locknut
- Left side charging handle
- Jard adjustable trigger group
- Billet trigger guard
…And, my favorite modification: Cerakote in Snow White!
After three months and various rounds of teaser pics (aka torture), my gun was ready to rock! It arrived in Austin the day of a Sure Shots practice and I was over the moon at the way it looked. It was perfection. That night, I shot twenty-five rounds of slugs (since we were at an indoor range, only slugs were allowed) and it shot like a dream. Every weekend henceforth will be at the range and I will be signing up for every 3-Gun and shotgun match within 100 miles from here on out–so obviously I’ll get a lot more shells downrange and report back.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.
Niki Jones is the Founder and President of Sure Shots, Texas’ Women’s Shooting League, as well as the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Sure Shots Magazine. She has been featured on ABC News’ ‘Nightline’, CNN’s ‘Erin Burnett OutFront’, and many other news outlets regarding women and shooting. Niki is a certified pistol instructor and also holds her state commission as a Personal Protection Officer.
Read more of our AK related articles in Vodka Blasters.