Updated: Aug 22, 2022
That thing looks crazy! Is that an AK-47 shotgun??? The quick answer is YES, yes it is. But the proper answer is that it is a Saiga-12, and we were fortunate enough to get our hands on one and have a little fun with it.
The Saiga-12 is a Russian 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun that was designed after the AK-47 with a rotating bolt gas operating system. It looks like and has the same working mechanics as the AK-47, but it’s chambered in 12 gauge making for a great combat and sporting shotgun. The Saiga family also includes the Saiga-20 (chambered in 20 gauge) and the Saiga -410 (chambered in .410 bore).
Each of these designs are based on the AK-47 platform or more technically speaking the Avtomat Kalashnikova rifles designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. Which if you didn’t know, they are THE most popular and utilized weapons in the world. Known for being very robust and reliable, it makes sense why they would want to make a shotgun version that is lightweight and has minimum recoil.
Unfortunately in 2014 President Barack Obama placed a ban on the importation of AK’s and Saiga 12’s into the United States from Russia. This was not a direct ban against Saiga-12, but the overarching ban and sanctions placed on Russia at the time due to the war with Crimea made the Saiga-12 and AK’s illegal to import.
With no end in sight for the ban, they are becoming more and more of a collector item. Most people won’t let them go in fear they may not be able to get one again.
This is why Saiga 12’s are actually fairly difficult to find and find at a good price. If you are lucky, at the time of writing this article, you can find one around $500 but most are around the $1,000 mark. If it has been tricked out or customized it can get well into the $3,000 range.
One positive thing about the ban though is that it allowed American manufacturers to enter the AK space and create their own variants of this weapon system. The closest to the Saiga-12 being the KS-12.
Another interesting fact is that the Saiga 12 is actually named after the very rare and critically endangered Saiga Antelope. Seems that the name is fitting considering the circumstances.
With all that being said, is it worth finding one and paying a premium? We had a blast shooting the Saiga-12 and if we can add one to our own collection, we definitely plan to do so. Keep in mind that there are cheaper options that may be just as reliable and fun, if not more!
Whether you love them or hate them it sure is fun to shoot!