12, 20, .410

Saiga-12: A Russian Legend of Firepower

The Saiga-12 shotgun is a formidable firearm with a rich history and a reputation for reliability and versatility. Hailing from Russia, this shotgun has captured the attention of gun enthusiasts, hunters, and military and law enforcement agencies worldwide.

Production and Service History

Origins and Production: The Saiga-12 traces its origins to the Russian firearm manufacturer Izhmash, now known as Kalashnikov Concern. It is based on the Kalashnikov design, specifically the AK-47, which was renowned for its durability and reliability. The Saiga-12 was introduced in the early 1990s and initially intended for the civilian market.

Civilian Sales: The Saiga-12 was initially sold to civilians in Russia as a semi-automatic shotgun. Its popularity quickly spread among Russian sportsmen, hunters, and shooting enthusiasts due to its robust construction and the ability to use detachable box magazines.

Service Adoption: Beyond civilian use, the Saiga-12 also found its way into the hands of various law enforcement agencies and military units. Its adaptability and firepower made it a valuable asset for personnel requiring a reliable semi-automatic shotgun for close-quarters combat and riot control.


The Saiga-12's design incorporates several key features that contribute to its reputation for reliability and adaptability:

Kalashnikov-Inspired: The Saiga-12 borrows heavily from the Kalashnikov design philosophy. Its receiver, gas system, and overall construction are similar to the AK-47, which is known for its ability to function reliably in harsh conditions.

Gas-Operated: This shotgun utilizes a gas-operated system that vents excess gases to cycle the action. This design reduces recoil and contributes to its reliability, even with different types of ammunition.

Detachable Box Magazine: One of the standout features of the Saiga-12 is its detachable box magazine. The shotgun is typically chambered for 12-gauge shells, and magazines come in various capacities, allowing users to quickly reload and engage multiple targets.

Choke Options: The Saiga-12 offers users the flexibility to change chokes, allowing adjustments for different shooting scenarios. This versatility is highly valued by both hunters and competitive shooters.


The Saiga-12 shotgun has seen several variants and adaptations to cater to diverse needs:

Saiga-12K: The "K" stands for "Kompakt" (compact). This variant features a shorter barrel, making it more maneuverable in tight spaces. It is a favorite among law enforcement agencies and tactical shooters.

Saiga-12S: The "S" variant includes a folding stock, further enhancing its portability and making it easier to store and transport.

Saiga-12C: This variant is configured for hunting, with a longer barrel and traditional wood furniture, giving it a classic shotgun appearance.

Saiga-12K-030: Designed with military and law enforcement in mind, this variant includes a Picatinny rail for optics and accessories, making it suitable for specialized applications.

Interesting Facts

Wild Boar Hunt: The Saiga-12 gained significant popularity in Russia for wild boar hunting, where the semi-automatic action and detachable magazines allowed hunters to quickly follow up shots, which is essential when dealing with potentially dangerous game.

Clay Shooting: The Saiga-12 has also made a name for itself in the world of competitive clay shooting. Its gas-operated action reduces recoil, allowing shooters to stay on target more easily.

Export Limitations: In some countries, the export of the Saiga-12 has been restricted or banned due to concerns about its potential misuse. This has led to the development of similar shotguns in other countries, inspired by its design.

Conversion Kits: Some enthusiasts have undertaken projects to convert Saiga-12 shotguns into configurations resembling the famous AK-47 rifle. These conversions are often referred to as "Saiga-12 AK" or "Saiga-12 Kalashnikov."


The Saiga-12 shotgun is a testament to Russian engineering and the enduring legacy of the Kalashnikov design. Its production and service history, combined with its unique design features and versatile variants, make it a standout firearm in the world of shotguns. Whether in the hands of hunters, competitive shooters, or professionals in the field, the Saiga-12 has earned its reputation for reliability and adaptability. It continues to be a symbol of Russian firearms innovation, appealing to both collectors and those who rely on it in various shooting disciplines.


  • Saiga-12 - Name
  • shotgun - Type
  • Kalashnikov Concern - Manufacturer
  • www.kalashnikov.ru - Website
  • 12 - Model
  • 12, 20, .410 - Caliber
  • gas operated - Action type
  • Mikhail Kalashnikov - Designer
  • 1990s - Designed
  • 1997 - In service
  • 3,6 kg - Weight
  • 1145 mm - Length
  • 70 m - Firing range

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