Converting a Saiga to Pistol Grip Configuration
How to Convert a Saiga to Pistol Grip Configuration...
(Taken from http://www.cross-conn.com/Saiga_Conversion/)
Converting a Saiga to Pistol Grip Configuration
WARNING! The instructions on these pages are for informational purposes only. The owner of this web page, the provider of this information, the web page hosting company, nor the internet service provider cannot be held responsible for any injury, damages, or other liability that may result from the use of this information. The Russian Saiga sporting rifle is one of the best deals on the market right now. At a street price of $189 (November, 2003) you can own a genuine Russian AK-47 style sporting rifle. This rifle comes in two calibers, the original 7.62x39 Soviet military cartridge (.30 Combloc) and 5.56x45 (.223 Remington), the U.S. military cartridge. The rifle comes with a plastic, detachable box magazine which holds 10 rounds. There is a beefed-up version of the rifle which is chambered in .308 Winchester (7.62 NATO), and there are variants manufactured as shotguns in 12, 20, and .410 gauge. This page focuses on the 7.62x39 and the 5.56x45 versions, as they are essentially the same gun and are easily and legally converted to homeland defense configuration. Here is what it looks like before the conversion:
And here is what it can look like after the conversion:
The above conversion was performed in about three hours, using mostly simple hand tools and a benchtop mini-mill. The mini-mill was not necessary, but it made the job easier. I lieu of a mini-mill, a Dremel tool may be substituted in true WECSOG style. The parts used to make this conversion legal were the following: First Son Enterprises simulated Krinkov buttstock from RPB Industries (RPB P/N AKKRST-E1). First Son Enterprises fire control group, consisting of (a) hammer, (b) trigger, and (c) disconnector (RPB P/N AK15). TAPCO M249 SAW style pistol grip (RPB P/N FSE014). AK pistol grip nut and screw (RPB P/N RPB1022). Bullet guide. Two 6-32 or 8-32 x 1/4 pan head screws (optional). This setup removes four inches from the overall length of the gun in it's original configuration. This makes it an extremely handy arm. Tools you will need to perform this conversion: Mill, drill press, or variable-speed hand drill Dremel tool with cutoff wheels or hack saw Marking fluid (or magic marker) and scribe Small triangular and rat-tail files (mill bastard) Needle nose pliers Drill-press vise or bench vise with soft pads 1/4", 1/8", and #33 drill bits
6-40 tap and tap handle Drift and center punches Screwdrivers Rubber mallet Three-inch or larger C-clamp (optional) Follow the links below for the start-to-finish process for legally converting a Saiga sporting rifle to a homeland defense rifle configuration. Saigas are available from European American Armory We will start out our conversion with a standard Saiga carbine, in this case, one that is chambered for .223 Remington (aka 5.56 NATO or 5.56x45). A word on this chambering: .223 Remington/5.56 NATO/5.56x45 is one cartridge. While the military has different ways of measuring pressure than industry, physics does not change. If a 55 grain projectile from a .223 Remington cartridge leaves a given barrel at 2800fps and a 5.56 NATO cartridge dispenses its 55 grain projectile at the same velocity, then the mean pressure for both cartridges is roughly the same. Fortunately, for military rifle shooters this is true. The main difference between .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO is the chamber dimension specification. Military chambers are cut larger than commercial chambers in order to remain functional in the presence of the dirty environment of combat. Now, let's get to work. The first step is to field strip the weapon. Here is what we are going to do: 1. Remove the magazine. 2. Check to see the weapon is unloaded. 3. Remove the dustcover.
4. Remove the recoil spring assembly.
5. Remove the bolt and bolt carrier assembly.
Next, we remove the furniture from the weapon: 1. Remove the tang screws from the buttstock.
2. Tap the buttstock off (gently) with a padded hammer. 3. Remove the fore end retainer screw. 4. Slide the hand guard off.
Now it is time to make the permanent changes to the receiver. Saigas are AKs with sporter stocks. This configuration allows them to be legally imported with a low capacity magazine. In order to accommodate this configuration, the designers at Izhmash Arsenal built a transfer bar mechanism and altered the standard trigger to work with it. Other than that, the internals are like any other semiautomatic AK. If you have questions about the legality of this conversion, now is the time to stop. You can get all of your questions answered at the BATF website. It is my belief that the conversion performed on these pages conforms to the letter and the spirit of the law. OK. Now we are ready for some surgery. While I will be using my mini-mill for this step of the project, there are a number of other options. In order of preference, they are a drill press, an hand drill, a DREMEL tool, or hand tools. The first thing we are going to do for this step is to remove the internal parts from the receiver.
1. Remove the sporter trigger and hammer axles. This is done by carefully removing the expanded shoulder on the side opposite the head. I used a hand drill and a 1/4 inch bit. Be very careful not to drill into the receiver! Drill on the right hand side, and drift the pins out from right to left.
Notice how the receiver is supported at the trigger guard and right side (bottom) with blocks of scrap wood. This is to keep the receiver from rocking while I drill.
In the next picture, you can see that I only drilled enough to remove the expanded shoulder of the rear pin, and not into the receiver.
2. Punch out the axles and remove trigger and transfer bar parts (save the springs!). The rear pin is the trigger pin and the trigger will fall out as soon as the pin is removed. The forward pin holds the bolt hold open (BHO) lever spring, and the spring will put tension on the pin as you drift it right to left. Just get the forward pin started, and if it binds, just pull it out from the left side with a pair of pliers.
When the pins are out, discard them. 3. Remove the standard fire control group axles and remove the hammer, disconnector, and springs. After the trigger falls out, you will have to remove the front pin retention spring (see picture below). It may take a little elbow grease and needle nose pliers, but be careful and do not deform it.
4. After the retention spring is out, you will have to remove the safety lever. It will take some wiggling and twisting to get it out, but do not force it. Rotate the safety lever up. From the inside of the receiver, you can see how to work it through the keyhole.
5. Remove the permanent fire control pins by pushing them out right to left. You should not have to force them. If they bind a little, pry or pull them out from the left side.
Once the two permanent pins are out, and the rest of the fire control parts are out, basic disassembly is complete and it is time to move on to the more complex aspects of disassembly.
The term "Saiga" comes from a medium sized antelope that makes it's home on the sub-polar Siberian steppes. It is characterized by bulbous nasal passages which scientists think allow it to warm the cold winter air it breathes before that air enters the lungs. Like it's African and American counterparts, the saiga is a wily and difficult animal to hunt, and is considered quite a prize by Russian hunters. Time to get down to brass tacks! First we are going to remove the trigger plate from the bottom of the receiver. This plate is a piece of sheet metal that is riveted to the bottom of the Saiga receiver. Because we have removed the internal working parts, we are able to grind/drill/mill the rivet heads down to remove them and the trigger plate.
1. File, grind, or mill the rivet heads flush with the trigger plate. Don't worry about damaging the trigger plate, because it will be discarded anyway. However, if you want to save a few dollars on the trigger guard (along with the hassle of riveting the new one on), try not to mangle it too badly. To remove the trigger guard in one piece, we must first remove the trigger guard spot weld. In the picture below, I have placed the receiver in a mill vise and am preparing to drill the spot weld with a 3/16 inch end mill. The receiver is placed in the vise only hand tight to steady it; any tighter, and the receiver would be crushed. A hand drill with a 3/16 inch bit would work, but you need to be sure to center punch the spot weld so that the bit will not wander. You may drill all the way through; the spot weld is under the hole that the new trigger passes through.
2. Next, because I will re-use the trigger guard, I will remove the rivet at the rear of the trigger guard. This time, I will use a drill bit to remove the rivets. First, I file the tops of the rivets with a triangular mill-bastard file. Then, carefully center punch each rivet. Be sure to use a backing anvil when you center punch, or you will distort the receiver.
3. Now, carefully drill each rivet where you have center punched. A hand drill is fine; this is not precise work. You don't need to drill completely through - in fact, it works better if you do not. I used a 1/8 inch bit and drilled until I could tell that I was completely past the trigger plate. I recommend drilling the rivets most of the way through once the heads are removed. This ensures easy removal with a punch without distorting the receiver. 4. Backing the rivet from the inside with a short 3/8 inch steel pipe nipple, carefully punch what is left of the rivets from the outside in.
5. When the rivets are all out, remove the trigger plate and discard. If you want to keep the trigger guard and reuse it, rather than purchase and install a new one, detach it from the trigger plate and put it aside. Here is what you should be looking at:
I am very fortunate in this conversion. Unlike the last one, the pistol grip nut hole has already been punched. I have been told that this is common on the .223 Rem versions of the Saiga, but not on the 7.62x39mm versions. Disassembly is now complete. The AK-47 was designed by a self-taught arms designer named Mikhail Timofeevitch Kalashnikov. He first conceived of the gun in a primitive form in 1941 while recovering from wounds during WWII. He built the first prototype in the machine shop of his former employer during his recovery. The final prototype, in carbine form and chambered for an assault cartridge was completed in 1946 and submitted for trials in 1947. It was judged to be the most reliable and effective entry to survive the trials, and the rest, as they say, is history. Cutting the Trigger and Grip Nut Holes
Once the sporter trigger plate is removed, your Saiga may or may not have the original military trigger hole in the receiver. Some do, and some don't. If yours already has the hole, go on to the next step. Otherwise, keep reading. The trigger hole has to be the correct dimensions and in the correct position. The first Saiga I converted had no trigger hole, and I had to cut one. Not knowing a whole lot about AKs, I downloaded the Ace Arms bent metal template to get measurements from. Unfortunately, Ace does not distribute this drawing free any more, so I made one up for you to use.
The trigger hole must be centered on the bottom of the receiver. The best way to make the cut is to draw the layout on the bottom of your receiver. I have known people to draw the layout with a sharp pencil. I have also seen people coat the receiver in Dykem Blue, a layout fluid. I split the difference and colored the bottom of my receiver with a black magic marker and drew the layout for the trigger hole
with a carbide scribe. Use a caliper or a high quality rule to do the layout. It doesn't have to be super precise, but it does have to be pretty accurate. I used a 5/32" drill bit to drill 5 holes, one in each corner of the rectangle that makes the trigger hole, plus one for the trigger hook clearance cut. Unless you have a quality drill press or mill, you will want to center punch these holes prior to hand drilling. Be sure to use a backing anvil when center punching. While I was at it, I went ahead and drilled the corners of the grip nut hole. Once the holes were drilled, I chucked a cutoff wheel in my trusty Dremel, and "connected the dots" to remove most of the metal (this can also be performed with a mill, if you have one). After that, I cleaned up the cuts with a triangular file. When all the holes are cut, reassemble the fire control group in the receiver with the springs and check for function. Then add the bolt carrier assembly and recoil spring and check for function. Because it is cheap, light to carry, and easy to clean and repair in the field, the AK series has become the most popular firearm in the world. In addition to being the standard issue arm of the USSR, and the eastern European countries behind the Iron Curtain, many other countries manufactured the AK or derivatives of it, including Red China, Finland, Yugoslavia, North Korea, and Israel. AKs are so easy to manufacture that during the Russo-Afghan War, Pathan tribesmen actually turned out great numbers by hand without the benefit of electricity. Re-installing the trigger guard using the bolt-up method The military AK trigger guard is integral with the magazine release. Unfortunately, because of the trigger position of the sporter trigger, on the Saiga, this is not the case. On this budget conversion, we are going to reuse the sporter trigger guard. If you would like to have a military trigger guard on your conversion, you may purchase one at K-VAR. You will need to purchase rivets, and possibly a new magazine catch axle as well. In this example, I will not be explaining how to replace the trigger guard/magazine catch assembly. I may do it at a future point in time. There are a couple of ways to reuse the Saiga trigger guard: one involves welding and one doesn't. For our budget conversion, we will focus on the method that does not
involve welding, but we will also cover the method that involves welding, too. You can read about it on this page. For now, we will attach the Saiga trigger guard with screws (rivets may be substituted if you are comfortable working with them). You will need two short pan head screws and nuts. The screws need to be just long enough to pass through the sheet metal of the receiver and fully engage the threads on the nut. The sizes 6-32 x 1/4 or 8-32 x 1/4 should be OK. 1. The pistol grip should be off of the receiver. First, make sure that there is a hole in the receiver for the attachment point at the rear of the trigger guard. If you have any doubts, consult the receiver bottom drawing. Once you have confirmed the hole is in the right place, go to the next step. On this conversion, the hole was already in the receiver, just in front of the pistol grip nut hole.
In order to get the trigger guard to fit, you will probably have to bend it a little. Also, we will need to trim a little off the front of the guard (the part that slips under the magazine release). In the picture below, the red line is drawn where you need to cut.
3. You need a hole for the front of the trigger guard as well. This hole will be located under the magazine catch assembly. Use the hole in the front of the trigger guard as a guide. The location would be on the receiver centerline about 5.25 inches from the rear edge of the receiver, or 2.75 inches from the center of the rear trigger guard hole. Once you determine the position for this hole, very carefully drill it with a 1/8 bit. Tip: I positioned the trigger guard in place with the front under the magazine release and hand tightened the rear screw. Then I used the hole in the front of the trigger guard as a template to drill the front hole in the receiver.
4. Now, with the receiver upside down, place the trigger guard in the position you would like it, and put the pistol grip in its final position. Take a look at the trigger guard. If you would like to re-shape the trigger guard, do so now. 5. Next, position the trigger guard in place, and attach the trigger guard at the rear attachment point using one of the screws. You will need to shorten the screw so it is flush with the nut.
6. At this point, the front of the trigger guard is between the magazine catch and the receiver. Use your C-clamp to hold the trigger guard in place if you need to. Do not over tighten the C-clamp, or you will distort the trigger guard. Now, with your hand drill, use the 1/8 inch drill bit to carefully drill the front mounting hole in the trigger guard through the hole that you drilled in step 3.
7. Mount the front of the trigger guard using the remaining screw. You will need to determine how much to cut off prior to attaching it. We will talk about the welding method of attaching the trigger guard here. AKs and AKMs have been manufactured with a variety of furniture. The early models had stocks made from solid blocks of wood, probably European beech. Later models were made from laminated lay ups similar to plywood. The most modern models, the AK-100 series are manufactured with synthetic furniture, usually black. Because of the insane gun laws in the United States, there is a cottage industry
which has grown up around providing US-made parts, and furniture is one of the easier items to manufacture. Consequently, almost any variety of furniture in any finish is available to AK builders. For the next step, we will add the pistol grip. We do this before adding in the new fire control group because the pistol grip nut sits between the receiver and elements of the fire control group. To complete this task, you will need: - A pistol grip - A pistol grip nut - A pistol grip bolt or screw - A pistol grip screw escutcheon (optional)
1. The pistol grip nut hole must be cut in the receiver. If yours has not been cut, see the receiver bottom drawing. 2. Place the pistol grip nut into the nut hole from the inside of the receiver.
3. Push the grip screw through the grip (along with escutcheon if necessary) and screw the pistol grip on to the receiver. The trigger guard should fit flush into the top front of the grip. The screw should not protrude inside the receiver beyond the top surface of the grip nut.
AKs come with either a single hook trigger or a double hook trigger. The double hook version is the older of the two and is usually found on the versions of the AK-47 with milled receivers. The single hook is the newer version instituted on the AK-74. I find it interesting that Americans show a distinct preference for the double hook triggers, while armorers in Eastern Europe show a distinct preference for the single hook variety. Installing the Fire Control Group For this conversion, I use the First Son Enterprises (FSE) fire control group. I like FSE parts because they come with a no-questions-asked lifetime guarantee, regardless if you are the original owner or not. Service like that is not common. 1. Acquire a set of fire control parts. For this conversion, we are using US-made parts in order to comply with the law.
2. I don't know what to call this assembly. This is the top part of a normal AK singlehook trigger with the disconnector attached by means of a sleeve. Let's call it the disconnector assembly. Anyway, our task is to dismantle it in order to retrieve the little spring inside the assembly, which we will use when we assemble the new parts into the Saiga receiver. We accomplish this by removing the keeper sleeve from the assembly.
3. Here us what the disconnector assembly looks like once the keeper sleeve is eliminated. The spring we require is protruding from the disconnector. To take the disconnector assembly apart, I needed to remove the keeper sleeve. I did this by using a nail set to drift the sleeve out of the assembly. The keeper sleeve is flanged on both sides to keep it from coming out of the disconnector assembly. One side has a larger flange than the other. I propped the disconnector assembly on the open jaws of my bench vise with the large flange down over the open space between the jaws. Then I took a nail set and carefully tapped around the small flange until the keeper sleeve had protruded about 1/8 inch on the bottom side. At that point, I held the disconnector assembly in one hand while I pulled the keeper sleeve out with a pair of needle nose pliers. BE CAREFUL!
The disconnector is under spring pressure and as you remove the keeper sleeve, it has a tendency to want to become a projectile. 4. Now, gather the parts that you will need to assemble the fire control in the receiver. You should have a hammer, hammer spring, hammer axle (pin), disconnector, disconnector spring, trigger, trigger axle (pin), safety lever, and some sort of axle retainer (more on this later).
5. The first part to go in is the hammer. Install the spring on the hammer as shown in the picture above. The hammer pivot boss must go under the bolt carrier rails while the hammer head must go over the reinforcement bar. See the picture below.
6. Once you have the hammer in place, line up the pivot boss with the forward holes in the receiver and insert an axle (pin) from left to right.
7. Next, insert the safety lever. Because of the way the safety works, it must be installed before the trigger and disconnector. Once it is installed, put it in the "fire" position (down). 8. Now, drop the trigger into place. Once it is in place, use needle nose pliers to pull the ends of the hammer spring up and over the rear trigger levers, as in the picture below (the safety has been removed for the purposes of illustration).
9. Now comes the hard part. We must install the little disconnector spring in the disconnector, then put the disconnector in place, and then line up the holes in the disconnector, trigger, and receiver. Because I am right handed, I find it easier for me if I use a slave pin, in this case, a drill bit that is of smaller diameter than the trigger axle. This helps me get the parts lined up in the correct geometry.
Once the parts are lined up, I push the slave pin out with the axle from left to right.
When the pin is in, you should be able to cock your carbine by pushing the hammer down with your thumb until the disconnector catches it. Then you can pull the trigger to release the hammer. Also, at this time, you can check the function of the safety. 10. There are two things left to do, one of which is very necessary. The necessary thing is to figure out a way to prevent the hammer and trigger axles from backing out of the receiver, and the other thing is to fill in the holes that are left from the sporter configuration. Fortunately, I found a way that addresses both at the same time. I do this with a type of fastener called a binding post, also known as a Chicago post or screw post. Binding posts are used to bind large loose leaf documents. They come in various lengths, so I bought a couple that were slightly longer than what I needed and trimmed about 1/16 inch off the threaded end. Basically, binding posts are a threaded tube with a head on one end with a matching bolt that screws into the tube.
I found these at my local ACE Hardware store. The technical description is "8-32 x 13/8 binding post and screw". The Hillman P/N is 3833-L. They are basically anodized, unfinished aluminum (steel would have been nice). They will be refinished when I refinish the receiver. 11. In order for the binding posts to work, they need to be slightly shortened, as mentioned previously. Also the holes on the right hand side of the receiver must be slightly enlarged just enough to allow the binding posts to be inserted. Once this is done, they can be inserted. First, the rearmost is inserted and screwed together.
Next, the forward one is put in place with the retention spring in position on the left side with the long part of the spring threaded under the hammer axle in the groove which is made for the retention spring, and over the trigger axle in the groove. You will probably have to hold the hammer spring towards the middle of the receiver in order to get the retention spring in the groove on the trigger axle.
Now your fire control group conversion is complete. Time to move on to the next step. The Automat Kalashnikov design, especially that of stamped receivers, is quite simple. The receiver merely serves the purpose of holding the trunions, front and rear, in the correct distance from each other, and to provide rails for the bolt carrier to ride on as it cycles. Typically, military AKs come with a bullet guide (feed ramp) riveted to the front trunion between the magazine well and the breech. Because of the design of the Saiga magazines, this feature is omitted. However, if you want to use high-capacity military surplus magazines, you will have to have a bullet guide in order for the ammo to feed reliably. There are two sources for these bullet guides. One is to purchase a Bulgarian part from K-VAR. The other option is to make one. Since this is a budget conversion, I will show you how to make one and install it. The bullet guide is merely a piece of curved metal that lifts the projectile into the breech as the bolt strips it off the magazine. Using milsurp magazines, the projectile would rebound off the breech face of the barrel below the chamber without the bullet guide. Now, it just so happens that the curve required is circular, so a section of pipe will work great. You can use any thick-walled steel tube or pipe to make this piece from. A really economical alternative is a 3/4 inch I.D. ( 1 inch O.D.) pipe nipple. 1. To begin, cut the threads off of one end of the pipe nipple. Cut it as square as you can.
2. Carefully measure the distance from the breech face to the trailing edge of the pipe. 3. Transfer the measurement to the pipe starting at the end you cut the threads off of. Scribe a line and cut with the kerf just inside the scribe line (between the scribe line and the cutoff).
4. The next task is to split the ring that has been cut from the nipple into two halfrings.
5. Now we need to shape the half-ring. If you look into the receiver on the left hand side above the rear of the front trunion, you will see a rivet head sticking out into the interior of the receiver. We want the left side of our half-ring to clear the rivet. We will do this by cutting a notch in the half-ring to get the position that we want. I will be doing this on my mini-mill, but you can saw or Dremel the bulk of the notch and dress it up with a rat-tail file.
6. Next, we will have to relieve the right side of our half ring if enough metal to allow the bolt and carrier to clear out home-made bullet guide. You can determine the index of the cut by placing the half-ring into the receiver, pushing the notch cut in step 5 up against the rivet and running the bolt assembly up to the half-ring. If you look into the magazine space, you can see where the bolt impacts the half ring on the right side. Mark this point and cut across the end of the right side of the halfring. Try to keep it as parallel to the carrier rail as possible. You will probably need to angle the cut from outside to inside. This can be performed with a file. Once the cut has been made put your home made bullet guide into the receiver, push it up against the rivet on the left hand side, and work the bolt assembly back and forth to ensure clearance. While the bullet guide is still in it's correct place, take a marker and make a dot at the lowest point (tangent to the trunion) in the center of the bullet guide. This will be where we make the attachment point. Here is a drawing to make this task easier. This drawing is for the .223 Remington carbine, and the dimensions for other calibers ma be slightly different.
7. The next step is to attach the home made bullet guide to the front trunion. To do this, we have to drill two holes, one in the home made bullet guide, and one in the front trunion. It is very important that these holes line up, because we are going to screw the bullet guide to the trunion. I recommend a 6-40 machine screw. It requires a Number 33 drill bit (0.113"). A 1/8 inch drill bit is too large and a 7/64 inch drill bit is too small. Number 33s can be found at Home Depot, Lowe's, or ACE Hardware stores. Chuck your bullet guide in a vise, concave side up and drill a hole through it where you made the dot in step 6 above. Once the 1/8 inch hole is completely through, very carefully countersink the hole with a 1/4 inch bit. When you are finished deburr the bullet guide with sandpaper.
8. Place the bullet guide back into position. If you have a center punch that will fit through the hole in the bullet guide, use it to mark the position of the hole to be drilled in the trunion. If you don't, chuck the Number 33 bit in a hand drill, and use the drill to begin the screw hole, but only enough to make a mark.
9. Remove the drill and bullet guide from the receiver, and then continue drilling the screw hole in the trunion, but this time, use the #33 bit. A word of caution: go slow when drilling the trunion. The metal is very hard and you could break your drill bit. Use a drop or two of oil while drilling. 10. Once the hole is drilled, it is time to tap it with a 6-40 tap. Again, go slow, and use oil. One thing you do not want to do is break the tap off in your trunion! (Ask me how I know these things). Use oil and make a 1/4 turn and back it out 1/4 turn. Continue till your tap is well through the trunion.
11. Remove the tap and place the bullet guide into position and screw it hand tight onto the trunion. Do not try to make it white-knuckle tight. A couple of lb-ft of torque will do for now.
The screw must be at least flush so that the bolt can pass over it, and the bolt carrier must be able to easily go into battery. After testing, I plan to polish the bullet guide with emery cloth and phosphate it. 12. Replace the bolt assembly and work it back and forth, checking for clearance. If the clearance is OK, reassemble the receiver with the bolt carrier assembly and springs. Retract the bolt all the way back and release it and allow it to slam into the breech under spring power. If it continues to work correctly, insert a magazine with a couple of dummy rounds and cycle them. If they cycle into the breech correctly, we have done a good job. If not, we may need to adjust the lips of the magazine or the position of the bullet guide. After a successful live-fire test, we will revisit the attachment of the bullet guide with more permanence. I use Loctite® brand thread locker, but any type of thread locker will do, or you may silver solder the bullet guide in place. There are a few options when it comes to butt stocks. A really neat option would be a folding butt stock. Unfortunately, the current law does not allow for the installation of folders on magazine fed autoloaders with pistol grips. So, you can
install a fake folder or you can install a traditional style stock. Because of the imported parts restriction, the furniture, especially the pistol grip and butt stock, are a prime area to substitute U.S.-made parts. For this project, I chose a traditional style stock. US-made traditional style stocks are available from K-VAR in two different lengths. Installing the butt stock 1. The standard length, also called "Euro length" is about 1.5 inches shorter than the "NATO length". Because this project will be used by the women in the family, I chose the Euro length. The rearmost binding post prevents this butt stock from being installed, so it must be altered slightly in order to fit around the binding post. Measurements indicate that the bottom forward corner must be relieved all the way across. The cut is 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch. It can be performed with a saw or knife, but it is real easy to perform with a mill.
2. After the cut is made, the fit is double checked.
3. Now, install the butt stock. when it is in place, you will have to drill holes for the two top tang screws. Use the 1/8 inch drill bit and drill the stock through the tang holes while it is in place. Then apply the screws that held the sporter stock in place. I plan to put one more smaller screw through the hole in the bottom of the receiver behind the pistol grip, but right now, I do not have the right size on hand. At this point the rifle can be completely reassembled and made ready for test firing. Here is a picture with a 50-round Galil magazine in place. The Galil magazine fits, but is a little loose. It will be tested for reliability at the range. The original 10round magazine can be used for testing as well.
In 5.45x39 or 5.56x45, there are not as many choices of magazines as there are in 7.62x39, but there are several to choose from. The most common are the East German "Weiger" magazines, which can be used in a SAR-3 unaltered. For the Saiga,
it appears that Galil magazines may be used. Galil magazines come in three variations, and there an adapter that allows for the use of M-16 magazines as well. Fitting the Magazine (5.56x45mm) For 7.62x39 instructions, click here. Military surplus high-capacity (greater than 10 rounds) magazines will almost, but not fit into the .223 Saiga magazine well without alteration. A close examination of the carbine reveals that the dimensions of the forward trunion at the front of the magazine well are different from most other examples of the AK in .223 Remington. We have a choice of (a) altering the front trunion, or (b) altering the magazines. Altering the trunion would require considerable machinist's skills, so in this conversion, the (b) option will be used. For this conversion, I am using steel Weiger (East German) magazines. I got them at AIM Surplus, which is also a good source for ammunition of Russian manufacture. I prefer these magazines because they are rugged and reliable. There are some plastic milsurp magazines for the 5.56x45 cartridge, but I am not familiar with them. Also, Galil magazines may be used, as long as they are not too loose. Several people have written me to tell me that standard AK-74 magazines for the 5.45x39 cartridge can be converted for use with the 5.56x45 cartridge by altering the feed lips and changing the follower. If you decide to try this technique, drop me a line and let me know how it works out. Below is a picture of the standard Saiga sporter mag, the Weiger mag, and the Galil mag.
1. The first thing to do is to insert the standard Saiga sporter magazine back into the magazine well (or magwell). From the top, look at the relationship of the magazine feed lips to your new bullet guide and to the bolt carrier rails. If you want to, take a pencil and mark a few index points that will help you make sure that the position of the milsurp mags is correct. 2. Next attempt to insert the milsurp magazine as you normally would. You will notice that it will not completely lock into place. This is because the front lip of the
mag will catch the shelf on the trunion, but the mag will not rotate into place. The reason is that the feed lips on the milsurp mag are too tall. See position A in the picture below. To get the magazine to work, the feed lips (A) will need to be deepened, the rear reinforcement (B) will need to be relieved, the top of the catch (C) will need to be lowered, and the bottom of the catch (D) will need to be raised.
There needs to be about 3/32 of an inch (2.4mm) removed from the feed lips. Looking down from the top of the mag, you will notice that there is a reinforcing strip behind the front of the catch. The feed lips will have to be relieved to be even with that strip and as far back as the first rib. 2. Next, disassemble the mag. On Weigers, there are two buttons that protrude from the floorplate. Depress both buttons simultaneously and slide the floorplate off to the rear of the mag. Then, pull the spring and follower out of the mag. Mount the mag in a vise without claming too hard, so that the mag's shape will not be distorted. 3. Now, with a file, Dremel, or mill, remove the metal from the front of the magazine. In the picture to the right, it would be the metal above the red line. The horizontal index for removal is the inner reinforcement at the center of the front of the magazine. The vertical reference is the beginning of the first rib. Use your commercial sporter magazine as a reference, too. The spot weld is very hard and will
take some elbow grease if you are using a file.
4. If you were to try inserting the mag now, you would notice that it rocks back a little more than before, but seems to be binding on the mag release lever. The job now is to relieve the catch tab and the area above it so that will lock into the correct position. First, I attacked the area above the catch tab, 'B' in the top picture, and relieved it with a fine mill bastard file about 1/32 of an inch (0.8mm). I use files with a safe edge so that I can only cut one surface at a time. 5. The 'C' surface in the top picture should not be filed. Understand that the 'C' surface and the front tab of the magazine determine the angle of the magazine in relation to the bolt and chamber when the magazine is seated. If you take any of the metal off of the 'C' surface, you will need a thicker bullet guide in order for the ammunition to feed reliably.
6. The final fitting step is to relieve the bottom of the catch tab, 'D' in the top picture. File it so that from the mag body, it's surface is parallel to the top of the mag catch tab. This is a file-and-fit operation. Take a little off and test fit. If the mage release lever does not catch the magazine, take a little more off and test again. You do not want the magazine to fit too loosely in the well, so do not take too much off. 7. When the magazine locks in tight, remove it and bevel all the newly cut edges with a small file or Dremel polishing wheel. Then reassemble the magazine.
8. Load the magazine, go to the range, insert the mag into the carbine, and test fire.
While the AK series of military weapons have an excellent reputation for reliability and durability, manufacturing methods have not always been the best. This is especially evident when considering finishes applied by the various manufacturing
facilities in which the weapons are made. Some countries do a better job than others; Bulgaria and the former Czechoslovakia produced guns with finishes on par with Western armories. At the other end of the spectrum, AKs have been manufactured with finishes that look like they were applied by kindergartners. The most common finish is a thick, black paint. Paint is much easier to apply than a phosphate or oxide finish and is at least an order of magnitude cheaper. Unfortunately, it is the least durable of military finishes. Since Saigas are finished with paint, this build-up will address the painting technique. However, phosphating, oxiding, or one of the more exotic finishes like Moly Resin® would be appropriate. Finishing Up