Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Range Trip and The Saiga 12

On Sunday I went to the fabled Lapeer pit with my friends Craig, Craig's son Daniel (up for a visit from Chicago) and Aaron. Thankfully, Aaron's name is very easy to remember.

The only problem was that on the way up he was driving and I was navigating so we were in front and Craig and Daniel behind. The conversation went something like this:

Craig: Hey, Aaron?

Aaron: Yes? Aaron: Yes?

Craig: No the other Aaron.

Aaron: Him? Aaron: Him?

Craig: No the other Aaron.

Aaron: huh? Aaron: huh?

Craig: The one driving

Aaron: Oh, Ok. Aaron: Yes?

Craig: How about...(discussion ensues)

Aaron: Aaron, while you were chatting you just missed a turn...
We got there via a circuitous route indeed, but it all worked out.

The range has been neatened up recently by the DNR, the big rocks removed, the area regraded, some concrete berms put in to form a shooting line, so ts pretty nice.

It was pretty busy but we eventually got set up and put our targets out.

Daniel, Craig and the other Aaron had never shot an Uzi before, and after safety instruction and a demonstration by yours truly, they really enjoyed themselves. Unfortunately when I told them to buy 9mm fmj (full metal jacket), they went out and bought a ton of the not very common 147 gr truncated cone fmjs that the Uzi really did not like. Luckily I brought along a lot of round nose fmjs and much fun was had.

They also got to shoot my AR15 pistol, which I'm happy to report after a complete detailed cleaning, disassembly of the bolt, and lubrication ran like a top.

We also got to shot my Saiga 12 shotgun. The Saiga 12 is a 12 gauge, semi-automatic, detachable box magazine fed shotgun. Based on the famed Kalashnikov action it offers Kalashnikov-level reliability and good ergonomics and excellent shooting with the 12 gauge.

The Saiga arrived because of restrictions on how it can be imported into the country for sporting purposes looking like this:

This would not do for real sporting purposes and so I sent it off to Alex Wakal of Dreadnaught Industries to be suitably restored.

A few words about Dreadnaught Industries. Unlike another smith to whom I sent an inquiry who then failed to respond after a very short exchange, never getting an answer or a real quote, Alex responded and took this Saiga newbie through the multitude of Saiga possibilities, giving me excellent guidance as to what worked and didn't work as opposed to just looking cool.

Indeed, Alex saved me money by straightening me out to build what I needed rather than what I mistakenly thought I wanted. Because he shoots the Saiga in 3-gun competition, the same sport for which I wanted to use the Saiga, his experience and knowledge were invaluable in the decision making process.

That kind of interaction sold me on him and off the Saiga went.

It came back with the quickest turnaround I could have dreamed about and it came back looking like this:

Now that's a sporting Saiga!

US-made parts are nicely installed, replacing the foreign parts to reach the appropriate parts count to permit it to have a pistol grip and folding stock. A sight rail is beautifully and nicely machined on so that you would think it had always been a part of the firearm, the trigger much improved, an extended magazine release installed for quicker magazine changes, the bolt modified to allow a loaded magazine to be loaded with the bolt closed, an ergonomic Tromix stock affixed, and the usability factor was thus highly increased.

The acid test of course was how well did it shoot? The answer - darn well. With my EOTech mounted on the rail and firing 00 Buck it shot 5 rounds quickly, accurately and with far less perceptible recoil than my 870 pump - the gas system helps bleed off some of the recoil impulse and every shot was a winner.

With 7 1/2 shot it was a bit finicky, jamming on Winchester Super X but liking the Federal brand once the gas system was set to "2" for lighter shells rather than the standard "1" setting. Given that it was brand new and unfired before Sunday for lack of an opportunity to head to the range, a little breaking in period is not uncalled for.

Chris, Aaron and Daniel were very impressed with the Saiga, as was I. Of course after shooting I had to clean all the firearms I had brought along. For cleaning, the Saiga comes apart like any Kalashnikov clone and cleaning is simple and straightforward, as is reassembly.

I can heartily recommend Alex Wakal of Dreadnaught Industries for any Saiga work you might need, he certainly knows his craft and has truly excellent and responsive customer service and he can build you a fantastic Saiga.


Murphy's Law said...

OK, I dislike the Siaga on principle because it's NOT an 870 or a Bennelli, but yet I feel myself drawn towards it. Is that wrong?

Scott said...

Oh man, I have been wanting one of those for a couple of years! I want it for the house, and perhaps a little Turkey hunting in the spring! Do you have a fixed choke, or does it have interchangeable chokes?

Oh, and Lagniappe's Guy: different strokes, man. You don't want to be an elitist Zumbo, do you?

Aaron said...

Lagniappe's Keeper: The Saiga kicks the Benelli's stock. If you like a fast-firing, reliable semi-auto shotgun I'd really recommend the Saiga. Once you try it, you'll never look at Benelli again, and you'll start to seriously consider putting your 870 up for sale.

Scott: I believe the chokes can interchange or you can install a polychoke, haven't looked into that yet. The shot groups were nice and tight.

Next up, buy a tri rail to replace the foregrip and mount a light on it.