All About the Dallas Shooter’s Saiga 5.45×39 Saiga AK74

Despite what Mike “The Gun Guy” Weisser told us, the weapon used by the Dallas police shooter was not an AR, nor was it any kind of an AR variant. From the latest information that has been provided so far (after earlier reports ID’ing the gun as an SKS), the rifle used by Micah Johnson was apparently a converted Saiga AK74.

Here’s a pic of a rifle that is purportedly the one Johnson used from lawofficer.com:

MicahJohnsonAK-1

This isn’t the most common rifle in America. The Saiga is made in the Izhmash Machine Works factory in Izhevsk, Russia. In order to get around import rules, the Russian factory “sporterizes” these guns before shipment. That means the rifle we have seen in photos likely showed up in this country looking radically different in appearance, and nominally different in function.

When they get to the US, companies do quite a bit of work to get them back into something like their original configuration. To get to what we see in the pic, at a minimum, then likely:

Removed and changed all the stock furniture, trigger guard, and fire control group
Installed a bullet guide
Removed the barrel, gas block and sight blocks
Fit in a new gas tube
Reinstalled the gas block and sight blocks, along with reinstalling the barrel and setting the correct headspace.
And then rails, optics, maybe a muzzle device, sling, and more.

Of course, that fire control group is semi-automatic.

The Saiga is pretty well known for being one of the better quality AKs, originating in the Motherland itself, and not a cheap knock off of an already inexpensive design and manufacturing process. If I were going to pick up an out-of-the box AK, the Saiga would be a good start. It’s fairly accurate, for what it is, and of those I’ve fired, I’ve found 2 1/2 to 3 MOA to be the norm. It’s supremely reliable and durable.

What’s particularly uncommon about this rifle is it’s caliber. The AK74, or Kalashnikov Automatic Rifle model 1974, fires the 5.45X39mm round. That’s a round I know particularly well, as one struck me in my side plate while in Afghanistan. The single sniper’s round punctured a metal door, struck me at an obtuse angle as I stood behind that door, gouged my side plate, and carried on to hit the man standing behind me in his thigh, shattering his femur. I still have the round.

We don’t know the particular type of round the Dallas shooter used, and, like the various versions of 5.56 NATO rounds, 5.45 ammo varies widely. The round that struck me is easily identifiable as an armor piercing round with it’s red ring around the bullet. I have seen rounds like that go completely through one wall of a Connex and have its tip still stuck out of the opposite wall, having been fired from more than 200 yards away.

That kind of round — and most of the variants of the 74’s round made after 1992 — would be considered illegal for import into the US. However, since there were 20 years between their creation and the ban on their importation, many of the rounds designed for “improved penetration” are already in the US. I’d be interested to know what type of rounds were used in Dallas.

comments

    1. avatar Burley says:

      It’s definitely a Saiga, and nothing in the fore-end has been converted. From the barrel pin forward, that’s a bone-stock Saiga…

      1. avatar NineShooter says:

        The curve of the magazine indicates it is NOT a 7.62×39 caliber.

    2. avatar Elijah Decker says:

      How can it possibly be a Century C39? The C39 has a milled receiver, whereas this rifle has a stamped receiver. It’s also clearly a 5.45x39mm rifle judging from the curvature of its magazine. It’s almost certainly a half converted Saiga sporter rifle. Kalashnikov USA is apparently working on a US made clone of the Saiga sporters, but I haven’t seen any “in the wild” yet, and I follow the AK market very closely since I collect AKs.

      1. avatar Vv ind says:

        *you mean you collected, until your unfortunate boating accident?

      2. avatar Jeremy says:

        Definitely a Tapco 5.45×39 magazine

  1. avatar Chadwick says:

    “red ring around the bullet”… If it was 7N6 ammo or certain Eastern European 5.45×39, they use a red sealant(looks like nail polish) to seal the primer and projectile to the case. I highly doubt this was AP ammo because 5.45×39 AP is very difficult to find.
    Fun fact: 7N6, Russian surplus 5.45×39 was banned for import back in something like February 2014. That sucks because it was less than $0.19/rd.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Not the sealant, it’s the identifier. The black ringed rounds were very rare, but the purple or red were not, especially in the winter. But what do I know.

      1. avatar AnOregonian says:

        It’s both sealant and identifier, but a red ring only means 7n6, not armor piercing.

        1. avatar pwrserge says:

          Um… You guys did catch that these were round fired by the Durka Durka brigade? Right?

          They can easily have access to 7N6M, the modernized 7N6 with a hardened steel penetrator and red identifier band on the bullet or even 7N22 armor piercing with a red identifier band and black tip.

    2. avatar M2AP says:

      It may well be regular 7N6 that the author is referring to, but any other 5.45 like commercial lead core would also defeat soft body armor quite easily as well as cause those spark showers people report seeing (bimetal jacket). As for post-1992 5.45, there is 7N10 which is a ball round with a better steel core for enhanced ability to punch through armor (but still not a true AP round). As far as I know, that stuff was never imported.

      Here is a good article explaining the different 5.45 cartridges. It’s translated from Russian.
      http://gunrf.ru/rg_patron_5_45x39_eng.html

      1. avatar Jeremy says:

        There is a lot of the 7N6 around even after the import ban a couple years ago. The 7N6 is similar to green tip in that it is a soft steel core with lead.

    3. avatar Naz says:

      Actually the round is easy to find – online. I have a DDI AK-74 and it is a very flat shooting high velocity projectile that at 300-400 yards is deadly accurate.

      The ammo is super light, same kick as an AR-15 and will just pulverize concrete blocks like they are bricks made of mud.

      .23-.27 cents a round and occasionally you will see cases from the old eastern block selling a little cheaper.

      The thing just never malfunctions, clip after clip (if you use the stripper clips) or magazine after magazine it just spits out each round after round.

  2. avatar Comedian says:

    100%. The handguard is exclusively found on converted Saiga rifles. The mag is the right angle for a 5.45, not a 7.62. Dead giveaways.

    1. avatar Sian says:

      Definitely a 5.45 from the distinctive Tapco magazine.

  3. avatar Chadwick says:

    “Removed and changed all the stock furniture(no, the handguard is factory Saiga), trigger guard(perhaps, but I doubt it was a full sporter conversion), and fire control group
    Installed a bullet guide
    Removed the barrel, gas block and sight blocks(no idea why you’d do this because it has the factory gas tube and barrel. Sight block might have been replaced with a threade 74 style)
    Fit in a new gas tube(Nope)
    Reinstalled the gas block and sight blocks, along with reinstalling the barrel and setting the correct headspace.(the barrel pin only goes back in the existing hole so… For the rest refer to above notes)
    And then rails, optics, maybe a muzzle device, sling, and more(lions, tigers, bears, oh my!).”

    1. avatar frank says:

      my thoughts exactly, pretty sure mine weren’t converted when they shipped in. Sporternized just means no scary stuff like grenade launchers, welded on thread protector, no bayonet lug, etc.
      All the Clinton era crap.

      1. avatar Jeremy says:

        I believe it was Bush in 1989 that did the whole import feature bans.

    2. avatar 688smag says:

      I converted mine myself. No bullet guide, haven’t had any problems. I swapped out the handguard so I had to pick up a regular gas tube, which was a simple swap.

  4. avatar Mikele says:

    It’s an Assault Weapon cause it has a humongous clip-a-zine and the thing that goes up in the back! We must ban everything! Ahhhhhhh!!!
    Overheard from Libtards.

  5. avatar frank says:

    Why not, the Sandy Hook AR15 turned into a shot gun….

    1. avatar BlinkyPeteReturns says:

      No; no it didn’t.

    2. avatar Blacque Jacque Shellacque says:

      It was actually the Washington Navy Yard shooting in which the perpetrator’s shotgun was referred to as an AR-15 by the lame stream media. http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/358704/journalists-guide-firearms-identification-charles-c-w-cooke

  6. avatar formerwaterwalker says:

    Pardon me but Mike the gun goof doesn’t care if it’s an AR,AK or SKS…just an evil apparatus supported by the NRA. But very interesting info nonetheless…

  7. avatar Hoplopfheil says:

    The URL is “dan edit post please.”

    🙂 I bet JWT wrote this on his phone over lunch.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Wrong. In my truck, on my phone, at stop lights.

  8. avatar Bdub says:

    Wait. I have it on good athourity that this is an AR-15 machine-gun.

    /s

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      … and the AR-15 designation stands for “Assault Rifle capable of killing 15 people per second”

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        15 people at a time, per second.

        1. avatar Bdub says:

          It also shoots down planes.

        2. avatar Chris. says:

          and can derail a freight train!!!!!!

    2. avatar Vv ind says:

      *AR 15 assault machine gun or close variant there of

  9. avatar Sixpack70 says:

    Looks like a Zhukov stock, U.S. Palm grip, TWS Dog leg scope mount(might be just a weird scope mount with lots of pic rail), Tapco mag, and Tapco G2 trigger. The front end is bone stock it appears. Not sure what scope that is. It’s a fairly standard partial conversion. Ammo could be anything.

  10. avatar TelemDan says:

    Based on the Pic above the rifle is appears to have the following:

    a. Magpul zhukov stock – using standard factory rear trunnion.
    b. US Palm AK-BG AK Grip or Tango Down – aftermarket.
    c. Factory trigger group removed; standard AKM trigger group installed (probably Tapco G2).
    d. Trigger guard added, hex screws to cover old factory Saiga trigger group holes.
    e. Aftermarket top cover / rail with optics.
    f. Tapco magazine – 5.45×39 or 5.56×45 – Saigas were chambered in both.
    g. Factory hand guard and gas system (carrier piston unknown for 922(r).
    h. Bullet guide likely installed.
    I. After market muzzle brake / flash hider; front sight post may have been swapped difficult to tell from pic.

  11. avatar Joe R. says:

    The gun guy gets a lot of play here for a guy that seriously is out of play with guns.

  12. avatar Forrest says:

    All I know is the rifle survived 1lb of C4 up close with no visible damage. Even the magazine survived.

    It may not be politically correct to say, by that should sell each and every one of us one of these rifles. They’ll outlast us all.

  13. avatar hello from illinois says:

    Did you note that his supposed plans for a larger attack being reported are based on him having Tannerite and acetone and TWO more guns?

    Can you imagine how law abiding citizens have far more than that in our supposed “arsenals.”

    1. avatar Vv ind says:

      Have they released the info on his other guns yet? Super soaker? Staple? Brad nailer? Pellet? Radar? Cap gun? Spud gun?

      1. avatar George says:

        He had two bug-a-salts complete with high capacity salt shakers

      2. avatar NineShooter says:

        No,but I did see some hyperventilating in print over the fact that the cops had found firearm BOXES at his house. As in, the box a gun comes in. They hadn’t yet found the guns that fit the boxes, so the boxes were worrying them.

        Like the unsupervised guns are out running around town on their own, causing problems, after the bad guy “set them free” or something.

        Idiots.

  14. avatar Mike says:

    Little known fact: “Connex” is short for “Connection Express.” Learned that when perusing the physical security regs. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Mike, I’ve worked in and around for decades, even lived in a Connex for almost 2 years, and no one could tell me what it stood for. Muchos gracias.

  15. avatar Hannibal says:

    I think the guy with the shattered femur should have been able to keep the bullet.

    1. avatar Bollocks Troy says:

      I think JWT was kinda at fault here for not taking the hit himself, and passing the buck…er, bullet on to the other guy. Insult to injury, he also keeps the bullet as if to say, look at what I can do like a trick pool shock blow yer femur up bruh.

    2. avatar Von Schmitto says:

      Last guy I saw that took one in the femur didn’t keep anything.

    3. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I thought that at first, but you know, then I saved his life and all. So…I figured we were square.
      That femur was absolutely jello. It is also the first time I’ve seen an entrance wound larger than an exit. I think it might have already been tumbling when it struck him. The round fell out of his pants when I took his boot off.

    4. avatar John E> says:

      I once took a ricocheted 7.62 in the left shoulder. Didn’t penetrate but knocked me on my ass. Still have the round, it had flattened out like a half dollar.

  16. avatar The Dude Abides says:

    5.45>7.62

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      54-46 that’s my number.

      1. avatar JD says:

        Great song!

  17. avatar Rob says:

    Rifle looks pretty clean for being blown up.

  18. avatar Darol says:

    I’m thinking at the very least those rounds were steel core as one could see lots of spark in the video of him at the ground level shooting at what I presume was a cop.

  19. avatar MintMar says:

    Hmm, no info on the hadgun yet? He appeared to use a hangun later in the pillars shootout.

  20. avatar Fred Frendly says:

    Saiga sporter. These were selling for 299.00 back in the early 2000s. This one has the 16″ barrel instead of the 20″. Doubt that there was any bullet guide installed, these feed rounds without it but leave a ding on the bullet. These accept high cap mags without modification. No need to mess with the gas tube, fire control or any of that mentioned, just a Tapco stock, a replacement cover with a rail, looks like he added some kind of screw set flash hider, and voila. Just a generic souped up Saiga, but it fits the leftist narrative of evil “assault rifles.” Interesting choice considering this guy was in the Army. He probably got it really cheap due to the caliber which is not as easy to get ammo as it was 7 years ago.

  21. avatar Josh says:

    The scope is a primary arms 5x prism scope with acss ranging reticle

  22. I’m a no-kidding MSM reporter trying to get an answer to the question you folks have been discussing here: What kind of gun is it?

    Anybody willing to weigh in for attribution, I’d love to talk to you. jweiss@dallasnews.com

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