In the market of ready made US converted Saiga-12s it is difficult to judge the quality of one conversion against another. There are features common to all conversions. The installation of AK-47 style butt stock and pistol grip, along with the improved ergonomics offered by that change, are the most basic and obvious feature of such conversions.
These pictures show a Delta Arms S-12 conversion next to an as imported Saiga-410. Both have the standard 19″ barrel. And from the rear edge of the receiver to muzzle, both measure 28 & 1/4″ in length. However, the over all length of the S-410 is 41″ compared to the converted S-12′s 37 & 5/8″. Converted Saigas lose over three inches in over all length by moving the trigger forward to where it is meant to be. Collapsible or folding stocks offer the possibility of an even more compact firearm.
All conversion must contain US made parts, for 922(r) compliance. This typically includes a US made fire control group because it counts as three compliance parts. More often then not, the US trigger used is the TAPCO G2, because of its combination of its reasonable price, good quality, and ready availability.
And a 922(r) compliant US conversion is necessary to legally use the larger magazines and drums available for Saiga-12s. In as imported configuration you are limited to five round capacity of the original magazines.
Delta Arms Company of Fairfax, Virginia does all the conversion work for the Saiga-12s stocked by J&G Sales. Of course, their conversions include all the common features listed above. But what sets Delta Arms’ conversions apart from others are the details addressed to deliver a truly high performance shotgun:
- Bolt hold open function retained
- Hammer & bolt carrier contoured
- Function tested & reliability tuned
- Check & correct magazine well dimensions
- All metal refinished with DuraCoat
Many are quick to dismiss the inclusion or omission of the Saiga bolt hold open. After all, it does not activate automatically after the last round is fired, as on the AR-15. However, the bolt hold open is a welcome aid when it comes to seating loaded ten rounds mags and/or twenty round drums. The bolt must be held back while seating these. Without the bolt hold open, you are looking at an awkward three handed operation. This also means the shotgun can be fired at ranges which require the bolt be held to the rear while the shotgun is set on a table, with out the use of an empty shell or other device.
Some reshaping of the G2 hammer is required simply to fit it to a S-12. Delta Arms goes on to contour the hammer and bolt carrier to improve the cyclic action of the gun. This results in a smoother recoil impulse. Additionally, it increases reliability with low base shotgun shells. And every gun is test fired by Delta to ensure functionality before they ship.
Another issue addressed by Delta Arms which is often unrecognized by others is the magazine well. Saiga-12 are commonly made with mag wells too small to correctly fit even the factory supplied magazines. Delta Arms gauges all mag wells, and corrects any undersized dimensions.
After all conversion and reliability work is done, Delta Arms strips the original finish from their Saigas and applies DuraCoat. This is a point easy to over look, many can not tell the difference between two black shotguns. However, DuraCoat is a substantial upgrade in quality and durability from the paint the Russians use.
When shopping around for a US converted Saiga, be sure to look at the specifications of the conversion and not just the price. Other conversions don’t look like such a bargain when you take into account the short cuts that may have been taken to get that low sticker price.