Saiga is one of the most feline-like characters in all of Upotte!! She has feline ears and a tail closely resembling that of the Siberian Tiger, like RPK with the distinction of her hair and fur colour being pink instead of blonde. When showing exaggerated expressions she usually gains three whiskers on each cheek and some type of fang.
Overconfidence and haughtiness are trademark traits of the infamous Saiga. When first engaging against the girls of Seishou she always wants to show them the "suppressing power of auto-shotguns", but when she is confronted with any opposition she tends to crumble with an "Impossible Nya~~~".
While she has run into many situations that should have subdued her bombastic demeanor, Saiga quickly rebounds to her excessive self-confidence shortly afterwords.
Authority and Saiga tend not to commingle well as she scoffs at those in charge, like PKM or the three-stripes that she viewed as "looking down on her" for being a two-stripe. In that vein, Saiga hates being treated like a child, as demonstrated when she lashed out at RPK for treating her as if she was Bizon.
Haughty, overconfident, and expressive, Saiga is a loud and boisterous auto-shotgun whose personality matches the loud and boisterous report of her gun form.
Design and Prototypes
After the dissolving of the Soviet Union and the financial troubles that followed, Izhmash started several ventures to regain the capital that it had lost from the loss of Russian government purchases due to budget windfalls. They expanded into the civilian market with first a civilian version of the SVD, known as the Tiger, and then a modified Kalashnikov-pattern rifle to fire shotgun shells which would become the Saiga shotgun.
Development of the Saiga shotgun began in the early 1990s, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, by Izhmash, and they wanted the project to succeed so strongly that they put one of their top designers, Nikolayevich Nikonov, as lead of the project. Nikonov designed many guns for the Soviet Ministry of Defense through Izhmash and is most notable for not only the Saiga but the AN-94 as well.
During the design phase, many things had to be changed from the standard AKM pattern to accommodate the much larger and more varied 12-gauge shotgun shell. The entire gas system was changed to a new gas system with an adjustable two-position gas plug to cover a range of shells from slugs to low-fps bird shot. In addition, the gas piston was shortened and parts of the bolt carrier were milled out to accommodate the rather large size of the 12-gauge shell and large 12-gauge bolt. Proper ejection of the 12-gauge shell is allowed by opening up the dust cover further back than a standard AKM dust cover. In a clever bit of design, the Nikonov team compensated for the loss of sealing against dirt and grime in the receiver by adding a small piece of stamped sheet metal to the center of the recoil spring that will seal the gun when not in use and at the same time move back with the recoil spring and bolt carrier group to allow for a wide enough opening to properly eject the large 12-gauge shell.
The last major hurdle for Nikonov's team was the design of a magazine to be used with the Saiga. Not only are the shells much larger that a standard round but they are rimmed as well. To get over this hurdle the design team had the round feed directly into the chamber instead of being picked up by the bolt first and then fed into the chamber like a standard rifle round. This solved both of the initial issues and allowed the use of rock and lock magazines from 2 rounds all the way up to 20-round drums.
With all these modifications, the Saiga-12 was born and sold throughout various markets were it picked up popularity for being an inexpensive, easy to own, and reliable magazine fed shotgun in both civilian and police forces use.
Saiga has seen large success on the civilian market the world over. Being inexpensive in the United States before the importation bans that were imposed on Izhamsh as part of the economic sanctions, the Saiga-12 was very popular to own on the civilian market because of the novelty of a Russian made magazine fed shotgun. It even gained popularity in the states with several law enforcement agencies and SWAT teams picking up the firearm as a specialist tool for the Urban environments that they operate in.
As Russian firearms are limited, and the easiest license to get is a smooth bore license, the Saiga-12 is the single most popular firearm in Russia because of the easy of obtaining it while still retaining the features of an AKM pattern rifle.
While there has been no official military adoption of the Saiga-12 as a combat shotgun, like the Mossberg M500 or the Remington 870, more and more federal and police units are picking up the firearm for special purposes. In the future we may see limited adoption in some military units and more adoption in police and federal units as the urban combat zone becomes more common.
Saiga 12 - Standard variant in 12 gauge. Can be in sporter configuration or with a standard AKM stock and pistol grip
Saiga .410 - Same as Saiga-12 but chambered in .410 gauge
Saiga 20 - Same as Saiga-12 but chambered in 20 gauge
Saiga AKS-12 - Like the Saiga-12 but uses the AKM gas system and accepts AKM style hand guards instead of the normal Saiga hand guards
Saiga-12C - Saiga-12 with skelentonized folding stock
Saiga-12K - Saiga-12 with a short barrel [16.9 inches]
Saiga-12S - Experimental version of the Saiga-12 that is pump-action instead of semi-automatic or fully-automatic
Saiga-12 EXP-01-030 - Heavily modified Saiga-12 with a Magwell adapter to use straight pull magazines instead of the traditional rock and lock magazines, along with a pic-rail welded to the dust cover and an AKM style sight. It also has a cap to lock in AKM style hand guards.
Saiga, being built on the AKM platform, has been built with a tested and reliable action that can handle a lot of environments. While this platform is well vetted for the AKM and it's successive rifles, dealing with the 12 gauge shotgun shell that the Saiga-12 uses brought new challenges and quirks in handling and reliability to the firearm.
With there being a large variety in loads of the 12 gauge cartridge that the Saiga-12 uses a two position gas regulator was added to cycle loads from slugs to bird-shot. However, with lower velocity bird-shot on a standard two position regulator there is cycling issues. This is usually solved by using a higher velocity load or having an after market three or six position gas regulator plug to more tune the gas system for proper cycling.
The other common issue with Saiga-12s is the larger recoil impulse when compared to other shotguns like the M500 or 870. The stock used on the Saiga-12 is a standard AKM pattern stock, meaning that it was designed for the recoil impulse of the 7.62x39mm or 5.45x39mm round and not a cartridge with as large of recoil as the 12 gauge. While in short sessions it is not that much of an issue, over a large duration of shooting bruised shoulders will become an inevitability.
Even with these two drawbacks, the Saiga-12 is a rugged and durable firearm that can handle any type of environment that it is implemented in and lay down lots of firepower.
- Badan Narkotika Nasional
- Police and Security Forces
- Министерство внутренних дел [Ministry of Internal Affairs]
At the time of writing the current political shenanigans of nation states means that current importation of the Saiga line of rifles is banned for the United States as part of the economic sanctions against Russia. The only way to get an actual Saiga, in any form, is from second hand markets which have taken the opportunity to raise the price well above the one-thousand dollar mark since they are "rare and banned".
There are alternatives to a Saiga if you want a Kalashnikov based shotgun and are in the United States. There is the Turkish Lynx LH-12, the DDI-12, the Kalashnikov USA (no affiliation with any Russian armories) KS-12, the Cheetah 12, and the Chinese Catamount Fury. However, none of these are an actual Saiga and until the restrictions are repealed the United States will only have the second hand market for an actual Saiga.
Unfortunately, our oppressed and freedom deprived friends in the great white north wastes of Canada can not own either the Saiga nor any of the clones as they are considered a variant of the original AK and are therefor prohibited to Canadian citizen.
In Switzerland these are available and are able to be owned with a standard license and purchase. A special note on another European country, in Russia the Saiga-12 in particular is one of and if not the single most popular firearm because of the ability to own one with just an easy to acquire smooth bore license.
- Cutshaw, Charles Q. (2006). Tactical Small Arms of the 21st Century: A Complete Guide to Small Arms From Around the World. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 335. ISBN 0-87349-914.
- http://archive.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/04/crisis_in_kyrgyzstan.html [Picture 5]
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