Saiga / AK conversion (LOTS of pics)

Discussion in 'AK-47 Talk' started by mgeoffriau, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. mgeoffriau

    mgeoffriau XDTalk 1K Member Founding Member

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    So shortly after purchasing my Saiga 7.62x39mm rifle, I got a hankering to convert it to a quasi-AK configuration. I decided to take pics along the way. There are plenty of guides and tutorials out there, so this isn't intended to be a complete manual of every step....I just wanted to hit the high points and the low points, as it were.

    This is what I started out with. A Saiga rifle, a buttstock, a pistol grip, and bags of parts.

    [​IMG]

    I've begun the basic disassembly here. Buttstock and foregrip are off, dust cover is off, and the bolt and mainspring are out.

    [​IMG]

    When you don't have the luxury of a real shop, you have to be creative when approaching problems. In this case, I need some way of supporting the uneven shape of the rifle while I was drilling. I had a block of hard foam handy, so I trimmed it to shape and it worked perfectly.

    [​IMG]

    This is pretty much the point of no return. I've drilled out the shoulders of the Saiga trigger pins and tapped them out with a punch. There's no easy way to reassemble the rifle in its original configuration at this point, so I have to go forward.

    [​IMG]

    Drilling out the pins allowed me to remove the internals, so I moved on to the trigger guard. The trigger guard can be reused if you are careful. You can see I've drilled through the front and rear rivets, and also through the spot weld immediately in front of the trigger guard, and I've managed to do it without completeing fubaring it.

    [​IMG]

    And once those rivets and that spot weld are drilled through, the trigger plate comes off. Underneath you find the original trigger hole and pistol grip nut hole, and bare metal.

    [​IMG]

    That bare metal has to be dealt with before you can move on, and on the recommendation of several folks I tried some Rustoleum High-Temp BBQ spray paint. It's not a perfect match, but it's tough, rated for high-temps, and will mostly be covered up anyway. After masking off the rest of the receiver, I did several light coats over a few hours, then "baked" it under a hot lamp overnight to make sure it was completely dry before I moved on.

    [​IMG]

    Here you can see I've moved the trigger guard forward. Many folks said you only had to bolt the rear of the trigger guard down, and that the pressure would be enough to keep the front in place underneath the magazine release. This is probably true, but I figured while I was here I might as well do it permanently. I carefully drilled through the magazine release. Lining up the screw and nut underneath the mag release was one of the hardest parts of the process but I am pleased with the results. You can just see the allen head through the mag release.

    [​IMG]

    With the trigger guard attached it was time to install the new pistol grip. This is an ErgoGrip brand pistol grip that I found the closeout section of their website. I like the shape, but I'm not wild about the open bottom of the grip, or with the fit against the trigger guard, but it'll do for now.

    [​IMG]

    It was at this point that I started reinstalling the FCG (fire control group), and then I realized -- I was missing some parts. Brian at DinzagArms had forgotten to toss in one little bag of e-clips, and I was stuck. He apologized profusely and promised to send some out immediately. Since I couldn't get any further with the FCG, I decided to skip ahead and install the bullet guide. Stock Saiga magazines have a taller front lip that guides the round into the chamber, and using regular milsurp AK mags won't work unless you install a guide to fill the gap.

    Brian at DinzagArms offers a bullet guide kit that includes a drill bit, a tap, the bullet guide and screw. I was extremely nervous about this process, as the "Woops!" factor is fairly high here, but I made a nice deep divot in the center of the trunnion, drilled a good straight hole, and then went REALLY, REALLY SLOW with the tap. I also dripped a few drops of oil into the hole as I was tapping it, and when I would feel it start to bind I'd back it off a half turn to break up the chips.

    Here's the bullet guide, nicely centered.

    [​IMG]

    Rather than wait on the e-clips to arrive in the mail, I headed to Lowe's and test-fit some e-clips until I found the right size. This allowed me to forge ahead with the FCG, and after a LOT of fiddling, everything was back in in place. I will mention that a lot of guys abandon the bolt-hold-open lever at this point, but I decided I wanted to retain it so I carefully ground down the lever to an inconspicuous size, and then reinstalled it.

    [​IMG]

    Once the FCG was finished, I was able to install the new KVAR NATO-length buttstock. I also received the forearm I was waiting on, so that went on too. It's a Surefire (not to be confused with the flashlight company) railed grip that fits directly on the Saiga without any handguard retainer. It's extremely solid and I'm very pleased with it.

    The finished product, with the stock Saiga mag.

    [​IMG]

    And a "just for show" pic with a 30 round Promag.

    [​IMG]

    As soon as I get some milsurp AK mags, I'll carefully file down the magazine release to fit those. I have no intention on using the Promags, so I figured I wouldn't mess with the magazine release until necessary.

    This was a moderately challenging process, but it was great fun and I learned a lot about the inner workings of my Saiga (there aren't a lot of inner workings, but what there are, I learned). I'm much happier with the length, balance, and feel of the rifle now, and I'm very pleased to be able to legally use any milsurp AK mag now.

    The most helpful resources for this project were:

    Cross-Conn Saiga Conversion Guide
    rjs3484's Youtube Saiga Conversion
    The Saiga 12 forum
    DinzagArms

    If you are thinking about buying a Saiga, or converting one you already own, I highly recommend it.
     
  2. billbrasky

    billbrasky XDTalk 5K Member

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  3. ilsrwy27

    ilsrwy27 XDTalk 100 Member

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    Nicely done and great post! What are you going to do about the holes in the reciever?
    I remember reading somewhere that Lowes or Home Depot sells plastic plugs that fit perfectly.
     
  4. mgeoffriau

    mgeoffriau XDTalk 1K Member Founding Member

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    bill -- Surefire (flashlights) does sell some forearms and picatinny rails, but this one is made by Surefire (not flashlights) heretofor best known for polymer AK mags.

    ilsrwy27 -- Brian at DinzagArms offers some little plastic plugs, I believe the same ones found at Lowes, on his site. I think they are maybe a dollar for a bag of 6 or 8.
     
  5. ilsrwy27

    ilsrwy27 XDTalk 100 Member

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    Thanks for the tip and the internet links... have fun at the range! :cool:
     
  6. billbrasky

    billbrasky XDTalk 5K Member

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    where did you get the grip/rail at.

    I have not been exactly in love with any for my .223 that werent darn near as much as my rifle. How much was yours?

    I have no experience with poly rails, i am skeptical, if they will wear or hold up over time.

    what are your thoughts on yours ?
     
  7. xjedix

    xjedix XDTalk 500 Member

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    Very nice little write up there!! You got lucky with yours having the pistol grip nut hole already there. Both of the conversions I have done did not have the hole so I had to cut it myself.

    I actually just did a Saiga conversion for a buddy of mine yesterday. He had a really old Saiga that was imported back in the early 90's I believe. The only differences I noticed was that it did not have a bolt hold open, the front handguard was mounted slightly different and it did not have the big ugly "Russian American Armory" import mark on it.

    They are really fun little rifles to work on. The conversion itself is an absolute breeze to do once you do your research. This one is the second conversion I have done and it only took me 1 1/2 hours to do the complete conversion from start to finish.

    mgeoffriau- Do you want to sell the stock front handgurad from your Saiga by chance?? Shoot me a PM, I'd be glad to take that off your hands.


    -Derek


    Here is a pic of the conversion I did yesterday:
    [​IMG]


    Here is a picture of my Saiga .308 I did a few months back:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2008
  8. ki4dmh

    ki4dmh XDTalk 100 Member

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    Dang nice!!
     
  9. nalioth

    nalioth XDTalk 2K Member

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    Nice writeup, but I'd like to touch on a couple of things.
    Drilling isn't necessary. A cold chisel to the shoulders of the roll pins will easily move them inward, at which point a punch can be used to knock out the pins.

    Which kinda touchs on the next point:
    That isn't "bare metal" under the trigger plate. The metal you see has been parkerized. When you drill out your rear pins, you run the risk of violating the parkerizing on your receiver, which can lead to rusting.

    Folks usually paint their conversions so that it matches, not necessarily for rust prevention.
     
  10. mgeoffriau

    mgeoffriau XDTalk 1K Member Founding Member

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    I got the forearm from Carolina Shooter's Supply. I considered some other options, including the Tapco Galil forearm, the UTG quad rail, and a KVAR forearm with one of DinzagArm's handguard retainers. Only the Tapco was cheaper, and I wasn't impressed with the limited hand placement and reports of poor quality. Rails aren't that important to me, but it's nice to have them there in case you want them. The Surefire forearm is also compatible with the Ultimak gastube optics mount, which is my future plan for optics on this Saiga.

    The Surefire is VERY rigid, much sturdier than the stock Saiga forearm. I don't envision any durability issues with the rails or the forearm itself. I feel more comfortable with a high density polymer like this than I do with aluminum. The polymer may get scuffs or dings, but I don't think it will bend like aluminum will.
     
  11. mgeoffriau

    mgeoffriau XDTalk 1K Member Founding Member

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    Yeah, I noticed in some people's conversion pics they had drilled into the receiver and you could see shiny rings of actual bare metal (not just unpainted metal as you rightly pointed out). I did it as carefully as I could do limit the amount of material I removed. I probably got a little, but there isn't much that's exposed.
     
  12. JhankG

    JhankG XDTalk 3K Member Founding Member

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    Do you care to say what the whole project cost you, inculding the rifle and parts?

    Great write up by the way!
     
  13. DanTheEldest

    DanTheEldest XDTalk 10K Member Founding Member

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    Nice job, mg. I'm planning on doing the same thing (but with some slightly different parts) as soon as I can some cash scraped together. :cool:

    What FCG did you end up using?
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2008
  14. mgeoffriau

    mgeoffriau XDTalk 1K Member Founding Member

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    I used a Tapco G2 FCG that I ordered from Brian at DinzagArms. If you order the one specified for Saiga pistol grips, he grinds down the hammer to fit the bolt hold open lever.
     
  15. DanTheEldest

    DanTheEldest XDTalk 10K Member Founding Member

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    Cool....that one was top of my list. Good to know about Dinzag; I've heard good reviews of his products and services elsewhere.
     
  16. RogueXD

    RogueXD XDTalk 5K Member

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    Looks good. I would like to get my Saiga 308 done that way. Looks sweet. I seen a used 308 for $699.00 yesterday and couldn't believe it!!!
     
  17. mgeoffriau

    mgeoffriau XDTalk 1K Member Founding Member

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    Brian's great to work with. One thing to keep in mind is that he's running about a 3 week delay on shipping orders. I expect that the rush on EBR's after the election caught him short. But if you order a little in advance of when you want the parts (like I did), it's no hassle really, and he's quick to respond to emails. He did catch a mistake in my order and emailed me promptly to inquire if I wanted to correct it, which is good customer servicel.
     
  18. nalioth

    nalioth XDTalk 2K Member

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    //thread hijack//

    Forum etiquette: One doesn't need to quote a whole big long post just to say "good job".

    This can get really tiresome if a few people do it, and is the reason the "Quote" button is missing from some forums.

    //thread hijack//
     
  19. JhankG

    JhankG XDTalk 3K Member Founding Member

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    ^
     
  20. xjedix

    xjedix XDTalk 500 Member

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    I just finished chopping the handguard on the x39 Saiga I converted a couple days ago. Here is an updated picture of it next to my .308 Saiga.


    -Derek


    [​IMG]
     

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