Russian Saiga-308 carbine is a self-loading AK under the NATO cartridge

An amazing review of the Saiga-308 carabine published in Yandex Zen. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – Kalashnikov assault rifle – a legendary and even a cult weapon. But in order to get a “piece of the legend” into one’s hands, it is no longer necessary to enter military service. For those who want to become the owner of AK since the 90s, saiga rifled carbines have been produced.

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Unlike military personnel, hunters are not so limited in their choice of ammunition. In addition to the ammunition of 5.45 and 7.62×39 mm, various modifications of the carbine can use other ammunition. Often – more powerful, for example, the .308 Winchester cartridge. For hunting a large beast, it is better than small-caliber cartridges.

History of creation

Kalashnikov assault rifles for many years remained purely army weapons. And the birth of the Saiga was not associated with market requirements, but with state necessity — in the 70s, agriculture suffered from herds of saigas. They decided to create a rifled carbine to solve this problem on the basis of AK. The first Saiga used a 5.6x39mm cartridge and was not widely used.

Much later, in the 90s, Izhmash gave rise to the whole Saigi family. Under this name, many variants of hunting rifles and carbines created on the basis of the Kalashnikov system were combined. One of these options is Saiga-308.

The .308 Winchester cartridge (7.62x51mm) was developed in the United States in the 50s and imposed on NATO countries as standard ammunition.

In fact, the ammunition is a shortened cartridge .30-06, but coinciding with it in ballistics due to the use of new gunpowder.

7.62×51 turned out to be unsuitable for the role of intermediate ammunition, but it turned out to be a successful rifle-machine gun cartridge, and quickly gained popularity in the civilian market. It is also used in Saig-308.

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The Saigi-308 device is based on the same principles as the ancestor of the family – AK (specifically, AK-74). The general layout remained unchanged, the system for removing powder gases from the barrel, the trigger trigger mechanism. Present in the design of the carbine and changes that distinguish the “Saiga” from AK combat weapons.

There is no self-timer mechanism, the trigger retarder is abolished (on automatic machines it increases the duration of the automation cycle). The use of a more powerful cartridge, compared with the original machine gun, also required changes.

A heavy barrel made by cold forging is mounted on a carbine. The shutter design also became different – although it still locks the barrel with a turn, now it has three combat ledges.

A side bracket for attaching optical sights is optional. Carabiners are targeted at a distance of 100 m. The maximum range at which you can set a sight is 300 m. Of the optical sights, it is popular, for example, 4×24 software. This is a civilian version of the PSO-1 sniper scope designed for weapons of the Saigi type. Installation of collimator sights is also possible.

“Saiga-308” was produced in various designs, differing mainly in fittings. “Saiga 308-1 isp. 21 “had a wooden butt with a cutout for the thumb,” isp. 100 ”- a“ rifle ”polymer box that completely covers the receiver.

There were options for a carbine with a stock from a solid piece of wood. Options with “rifle” boxes were distinguished by the fact that instead of a flag fuse, a button was installed on them. In addition, due to the changed position of the trigger, a special trigger pull was introduced into the mechanism.

Subsequently, the Saiga lineup was reduced, and only two versions remained in production – “46” and “61”. Like carbines of the Saiga MK model, they are unified by accessories with AK-100 series assault rifles.

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Executions differ from each other by barrel length. For the “46” version it is 350 mm, and for the “61” – 415. Previously, carbines were produced with a barrel length of 555 mm. The barrel channel is chrome plated; universal fasteners of the Picatinny rail type are mounted on the forearm.

The stock, like on the AK “hundredth series”, is folding, while shooting from a carbine with a folded butt is impossible. Previously, the Saiga-308 was equipped with either a simple flash suppressor or a muzzle brake simulator (or they might not have muzzle devices at all). Modern versions are equipped with a functional muzzle brake compensator.

Shops are made of plastic and have a capacity of 8 rounds. Discontinued versions with “rifle” boxes had stores for 3 rounds. As for ammunition, at present domestic manufacturers produce .308 Winchester cartridges with half-shell and expansive bullets weighing 9 … 11 g.

The order of incomplete disassembly of the Saiga is similar to that of Kalashnikov assault rifles. The receiver cover is removed after pressing the protruding part of the return mechanism.

After that, the return mechanism itself is removed along with the spring. Then the bolt frame and bolt are removed from the receiver, and after that the gas tube is removed. Assembly is in reverse order.

A complete disassembly of the carabiner is carried out only in case of severe contamination or if damage is detected. And also when preparing weapons for long-term storage. The complete disassembly sequence is described in the manual and in general terms corresponds to the AK disassembly sequence.

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Technical characteristics and comparison with analogues

Among domestic self-loading carbines “Saiga-308” is not alone. Moreover, it is not the only civilian weapon based on the Kalashnikov system.

The Hammer factory produces the Vepr 308 rifle. The Vepr was different from the Saigi in that it was created on the basis of not a machine gun, but a Kalashnikov light machine gun (RPK). And in Izhevsk for some time the Tiger 308 carbine was produced – a civilian version of the Dragunov sniper rifle.

“Tiger” .308 caliber, despite its “sniper” origin, was not popular and was discontinued. It was probably due to the fact that Russian hunters did not see big advantages over the Tiger of 7.62×54 mm caliber. But abroad they preferred a rifle more similar to the “real” SVD.

It is traditionally believed that a light machine gun taken as a base provides the Boar with an additional margin of safety. There were also statements that the quality of the Veprey assembly was better than Izhevsk. Often you can find allegations that the Saiga does not need “tuning”, but a “file completion” immediately after the acquisition.

On the other hand, we are talking about .308 carbines, which are structurally different from both the classic AK and the traditional RPK. But the differences in ergonomics are the consequences of using different stocks or stocks, and not the inherent qualities of the design.

To date, however, both carbines have occupied certain niches. “Saiga” is produced with shorter barrels and accessories, providing the appearance and ergonomics of military machines.

“Boar”, on the contrary, is equipped with longer trunks and has a more “hunting” appearance.

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In the foreign market, Saigi-308 had many more competitors – not only hunting carbines, but also numerous civilian self-loading modifications of .308 caliber rifles, such as M1A. In the West, the popularity of such a “Saiga” was not very high – although smooth-bore models were in great demand.

Perhaps he is not the best choice for those shooters who need high shooting performance.

However, the ancestor Saig inherited, first of all, the legendary reliability, reliability and simplicity of the device. We must not forget about the ease of finding spare parts in case of malfunctions. All this, coupled with a low price, and ensures the popularity of “Saiga”.


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