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One of the more interesting design tweaks to come out of Russia in the last few years is the new Saiga-9 rifle, a 9mm version of the iconic AK-47 design. We’d only seen pre-production pictures of the gun before now, but as promised the rifle showed up at IWA this year and I was glad I was on the scene. So naturally, I grabbed it and fondled furiously. And you know what? I really like it . . .

There’s not a whole lot of information out about the gun yet, but it’s obviously an effort to produce a pistol caliber carbine that uses the same manual of arms and cleaning procedures as the main infantry rifle. They have a pistol caliber AK already (the Bizon) but it uses an odd circular magazine and so switching back and forth might be problematic.

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In my hands, the rifle just feels…right. It’s nice and lightweight, and inserting and removing the magazines feels solid. It seems like a well-built gun, and all of the operating bits feel exactly like a normal AK-pattern rifle. The integrated rail along the top of the receiver cover is a nice touch as well, but there’s an accessory rail along the side if you want to use your more traditional AK bolt-on accessories.

In short, it seems like a good product. Heck, I’d buy one. But the pricing hasn’t been announced yet — and neither has US availability. Stay tuned.

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105 Responses to IWA: Hands-On with the New Saiga-9 9mm AK Pattern Rifle

    • Or removable. It shouldn’t be too hard to handle without one, although a front pistol grip would help.

      • It is a left folder. There’s a push-button on the receiver. This is the standard stock design in use on military AKs in Russia, Bulgaria, etc.

        If only they made it in a larger caliber. Oh wait…

        • The problem with left folders (for American sport shooters, at least) is that they make it impossible to use the standard left side scope rail if you want to be able to fold the stock. The rail on the receiver top on this gun solves that problem. The same problem crops up with under folders. I wish receiver top rails for AKs were a bit easier to find. As it is, if you want a scope AND a folding stock all that will work is a right folder. These sometimes interfere with trigger access when folded, and for some reason, seem to always be more expensive than left or under folders.

    • Go to hades. Why would I want it less compact by removing the folding stock? All stocks don’t have to be AR stocks.

    • My first thought also. I want, but not if they’re going to be proprietary. But seriously, who can I give money to, and when?

      • I sorta hope it uses MP5 mags since those are easy to get in Norway. They would have to make a hunting version that is 84 cm (33.5 inches) long though. Doubt that is gonna happen.

  1. All I really want in life is a sub $800, accurate 9mm carbine with full features and full capacity.

    If this comes stateside, I will be first in line.

    • Mech Tech for Glock. built like a tank, accessories galore, and you could easily get one (sent to your house because the Mech Tech is not a firearm) and a new Glock for less then $800.

    • So you buy a Hi-Point 995TS for $300. Built in Ohio, it’s the rugged, accurate, reliable portion of your shopping list. It even has picatinny rails for all your accessories and a lifetime no-questions-asked warranty on the gun.

      As for the full-capacity portion, you could buy 30 extra 10-round magazines for $450 and you’re still under $800. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Now-a-days, there is really no excuse for max capacity being 10 round single stacked mags in a carbine. Even if they are cheap.

    • Yeah I think there are actually quite a few options for what you’re looking for, Cameron. I guess depending on what “full features” means to you. You can build a 9mm AR carbine for under $800. Heck, since it shares the AR lower that you likely already have then it’s even less of an investment.

      But… the gun I really want is a CZ Scorpion Evo3 in civvie version, whether that means semi-auto and 16″ barrel or semi-auto and SBR, as SBRs are now legal in WA. I’d happily pay the $200 stamp to get one of these bad boys registered as an SBR! http://www.cz-usa.com/products/view/scorpionevo3a1/ Czech language PDF: http://www.czub.cz/zbrojovka/cz-prospekt/CZ%20SCORPION%20EVO%203%20A1_CZ.pdf

    • At 7 lbs, 2 lbs lighter than an MP40, almost 4 lbs lighter than a Thompson, 1 lb heavier than MP5, 3 of the greatest pistol caliber submachine guns in history. Weight is not an issue and 9mm is not an anemic round especially from a longer barrel.

        • Whatcu you talkin bout Bill? 9×19 usually reaches .357 levels of performance from a 16 or 18 inch barrel.

          I just have a strong dislike toward the .40 (I am a big fan of 10mm Auto though).

        • Thanks for the link to BBI, read there before. Only thing I dislike is that they haven’t tested CCI standard velocity and other 40 grain 950-1050 fps loadings (for .22lr).

    • If 10mm were more affordable, it would be my pistol caliber carbine round of choice. 9mm is a lot of fun. Yeah, compared to a 4″ or 5″ barrel you can expect 100 to 300 fps of additional velocity with a 16″ barrel. Whether that’s a whole lot or not very much is subjective to some degree, I suppose. Hot 10mm loads gain a significant amount through a long barrel, and start pretty high to begin with haha

      I most definitely wouldn’t call 9mm silly or worthless, as it has been used by law enforcement, military, and all sorts of special operations in carbines for many decades to great effect. Doesn’t mean there isn’t better out there, but there are always some downsides to larger calibers, too (weight, reduced capacity, increased noise in some cases, increased recoil, increased costs, etc etc). If those sorts of things weren’t considerations then nobody would ever use a pistol caliber carbine in the first place. You’d use a rifle chambered for a rifle round.

  2. PCC fetish is returning. I’ll take one registered as s pistol with an 8 inch barrel and the arm strap “stock”. Oh yeah, please accept m&p mags…..fingers crossed…….

    • Rechamber regular AK (many good 9.3mm bullets), get hands on mags.

      First one not too hard or expensive, second one much harder (unless you know someone in Russia or go there).

    • Two main advantages of the pistol caliber carbine variant of an intermediate cartridge carbine are reduced ammo cost for training and the ability to fire subsonic heavy 9mm ammo (147gr+). Being an AK, these has neither: both 7.62x39mm and 5.45x39mm are less expensive and AK’s are loud even with a suppressor because the gas system releases gas. The suppressed AKs that are effectively suppressed are those designed with suppression in mind. The 9x39mm weapons or the Red Jacket ZK-SD that covers the gas block. Maybe this could be useful for long-term civil disorder as a reliable weapon chambered in a common caliberโ€”you could be able to fire several cartridges across a few different AKs. But other than the sake of variety, this seems to me impractical. It makes a lot of sense for 5.56mm weapon where 9mm is much cheaper for practice, but in this case I see no reason not prefer an intermediate AK round. Now, a relatively reliable .22LR AK, that could be quite practical. Cheaper to shoot (usually), widely available (usually), and good for basic instruction in fundamentals and manual of arms.

      Many of the 9x39mm weapons are dream guns for me. Man, a VSS Vintorez in a briefcase with a couple of SR-3M 30-round mags on the side? Awesome. I’d need a bunch of VSS 10-round and AS Val 20-round mags too, of course. While I’m at it, I’ll take a 9x39mm OTs-14 Groza bullpup rifle, a PSS pistol, an OTs-38 Stetchkin revolver, an SR-3M, a VKS/VKKS Vykhlop (I’ll take it hunting!) and several crates of 9x39mm (SP-5/7N8 and SP-6/7N9), 12.7x54mm, and 7.62x42mm (SP-4) captive-piston ammo. Got any old PB pistols I can have? Oh, and hand me an NRS-2 shooting knife. Convert it all to semi-auto where applicable, please. Thanks for the gifts, Putin! Oh, and you wouldn’t happen to know where I could pick up an SEK PSDR-3 revolver and a set of Knight’s Armament revolver rifle and handgun with ammo, would you?

      • AKs are quite good to suppress. Subsonic ammo can easily be made. 300 BLK is almost the same as 7.62×39.

        There exists a .22 AK, search for “Saiga-22”.

  3. OMG…please come to the US, please!

    Please also make this capable of using the Bizon helical mags. Just so we can say “FU” to mag capacity bans.

    • There is no way it could use Bizon mags. If you look at the Bizon, a portion of the front of the receiver under the chamber has to be cut away to allow the mag to sit flush with the bottom of the barrel. It looks like either you can have standard AK style rock-in 9mm mags, or Bizon helical mags but not both in one gun. Bizon disassembled http://pookieweb.dyndns.org:61129/bizon/bizon-2.jpg

      Also I don’t know if Bizon mags can be imported, or what that would mean for Calico. I think they hold the original US patents on the helical feed mag.

      • You may well have more experience with a Bizon than I do. It wouldn’t take much because I don’t have any.

        But the two don’t look mutually exclusive. The helical magazine looks like it simply does away with the “rock in” part of the magazine at the front. The “rock in” part of the helical magazine is the two hooks at the front of it that snap in on the bottom of the front sight base. So I’m thinking that no modifications to the magazine well had to be made.
        Another issue would be that the front sight base on this rifle doesn’t have those hooks that support the weight of the helical magazine.

        IIRC, the Russians make a 53 round helical magazine for the 9mmx19 version of the Bizon, but it can also use stick magazines. I think.

  4. So in all fairness, what does this have over an AR in 9mm or the JRC, Kel-tec, Beretta, carbines aside from appearing to take proprietary mags?

    • Well at this point it’s probably more available then the Kel-tech Sub 2000 since I just saw one above. Also at least it doesn’t have its charging handle under the stock….

        • Wrong side?

          I assume then you shoot bolt actions with the bolt handle on the left (if you are right handed).

        • LOLINSKI, apples to oranges, bolt-actions?? Son, we’re talking semi autos, not bolt actions. Yes, you must be right, hence all the new semi-auto designs placing charging handles on the right hand side of guns these days.

        • I am fast and accurate with either one. Both make a hole where I point it, not a too big difference. I just find people that complain about this or that annoying (ooh the charging handle moves! The controls aren’t exactly the same like my previous rifle, AAAGH!).

          Also consider that you don’t charge your gun that much, especially if you leave a round in the chamber.

    • Same manual-of-arms as an AK, and if they do it right, same dead-nuts reliability.

      It’s a PCC for AK guys. Does it really need more than that to justify its existence?

      • absolutely not, I love the answer “because we can” as much as anyone else, but in my own situation, I buy according to needs and niches that need filling, and I imagine many others without limitless wallets do too.

  5. Yea that looks like a hell of a good time. Im currently debating on buying a 9mm upper that comes with the mag block attachment to take the Colt SMG mags, this looks way more fun.

  6. If they import them as pistols or carbines for $600 to the consumer or less and keep mags $20 a pop or less and are reliable and have decent threads (bore concentric, hopefully) it will sell like hotcakes.

    $1000 with $40 mags? Sorry.

  7. Kinda begs the question of “why”?

    As one who has toted either a 9mm or 10mm subgun for almost 25 years, it boils down to the fact that its just a big pistol. When at the same weight and handiness point, I can have an M4 or variant thereof, it makes no sense to limit myself to a pistol caliber.

  8. +1 Bill. Or even a HiPoint carbine. And I’ve owned a Keltec Sub2000 I paid $350 for. But sure LOOKS cool.

    • No doubt, the Kel-tec is a cool 9mm or my preferred PCC caliber .40 platform and the Hi-point is very functional and cheap, why would I want something that costs as much as the CX4, weighs as much as the Hi-point, and uses odd mags like the Taurus.

  9. You keep bringing up the Bizon, which is the previous generation of this gun. The Saiga-9 is a civilian version of the Vityaz, which is the revised model of Bizon that uses box magazines very close to MP5 design – in fact they may be somewhat compatible.

    I believe the Vityaz is available in 9×19, 9×18, and .380 ACP.

    Izhmash has a massive catalog of products, only a few of which are available for sale in the US. Most are sold in Europe.

    • Including a .22 lr AK (much cooler than it sounds).

      And we can get the SVD and Tigr (+ suppressors for us in some countries).

  10. Interesting, but I don’t know that it would be my first choice were I to be in the market for a pistol-caliber carbine.

  11. Too many guns on my “must buy first list” (which just got shorter yesterday, I got a 10/22), but maybe by the time I’m ready to get a pistol caliber carbine it will be available and affordable.

  12. I guess I don’t understand the appeal of a pistol caliber rifle. If you’re going to carry a big-a$$ rifle, why would you not carry one chambered for a rifle cartridge?

    • The mag-well in the grip design of the CX4 and the Kel-Tec make for short platforms, the foldability and weight of the KT makes for extreme concealibility so they have their niches, but this is big, heavy, odd and offers no bonus over existing platforms, unless it costs less than $400 then I’d give it a 2nd look. May as well just go for style points and get an UZI carbine. At least the mags are prolific.

      • Good points. Something about the size, weight and portability of Sub2K that really sets is apart. Now if only they would make an ‘anniversary edition’ made out of the highest grade materials and of the highest quality craftsmanship, with a few minor mods (sling attachment point, higher rear sight, etc)

  13. As much as I would love to have this gun, the Russians wont see any of my money until they bow out of the Ukraine.

      • You don’t understand.

        The native population and majority of Crimea were the Tatars. Russia sent a big number of them to gulags to die (deported) then introduced their own peasants to fill the gap and get a majority in the future. This happened a time ago.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Crimea

        Press CTRL and F at once and then type in “ethnic deportations” without the quotation marks.

        Regarding the “USA knows best” line, I despise the average American as much as I despise the average Russian. That is, not very much but I dislike the government of both and both have done some unforgivable things.

        • So because of something that happened close to a century ago, the current citizens of Crimea should be forced to belong to a country that they do not want to be a part of?

        • You don’t realize that they exterminated the people who would vote against? And if they want to be independent then why are people protesting against that?

        • The people living there now didn’t do anything and should not be punished because of the actions of others nearly 100 years ago. Just like no one in the US today owned slaves and shouldn’t be punished for what Americans did 150 years ago.

        • >> The native population and majority of Crimea were the Tatars. Russia sent a big number of them to gulags to die (deported)

          Tatars were in the minority in Crimea long before “gulag” was a word. Russia conquered it (from the Ottomans, technically, though it was a vassal state largely independent in practice) way back in 1774, and annexed it shortly after. Almost immediately, Russian settlers (not necessarily ethnically Russian, but sent there on behalf and sponsored by the Russian govt) started pouring it. Already in the middle of the 19th century Tatars were under 50% there, and by the time Soviets took over, they were at 25%. Deportations reduced it pretty much down to zero, but in 1989 the remaining Tatars came back – and now it’s about 15%.

  14. Is this a blowback or does it use the AK gas piston?

    Ralph, if it’s available get the 9×18 version. Ammo is available and getting cheaper.

  15. Wow-wee! I’d like one of these. It would even cause me to stop disliking 9mm.
    Hell, I’d throw my mom to the crocs for one!

    • Where I am from we call it hacksaw.

      Note: this is a joke, I don’t suggest that you do something illegal, if you get the tax stamp approved then go for it.

  16. Hmmm does look interesting…. and certainly attractive.

    Of course, lots of questions to be answered (Reliability? Proprietary mags? Availability? Cost? Accuracy? Offered in a 40 by chance?, etc, etc)

    Guess we’ll see. I’m personally saving up for a Desert Tech MDR (if and when they materialize), so will probably be out of the buying game for a while…

    • This guy gets it! if you’r going to do a PCC thats not F/A, use a caliber that really benefits from it. .40, 357 sig, 10mm, revolver cartridges, etc. Don’t do it in 9mm, .380, 9×18, .32 acp, or .45 ACP, they just don’t benefit ballistically.

  17. Awesome. I agree with others who stated they want to see a U.S. importable version of the Saiga-9. Anyone know what happened to the VEPR-9? Looked import-ready with its thumbhole stock. Used some type of double-stack 9mm handgun mags, I believe. Tangfolio mags? Remember seeing a vid a couple years ago…

    • The VEPR 9 prototype used Glock mags, and yes, it seems to have disappeared, along with the VEPR-15 5.56 AK that came with a factory STANAG magwell. Molot was planning to export both to the US, then… nothing.

      • Too bad the Molot VEPR rifles seem to have vanished. I still see a few of them for sale, but not nearly as many as just a couple years ago. Who is the most recent importer or importer(s)? As with Saiga’s it seems to change weekly. I think a 9mm VEPR or Saiga would be great to compliment .223 and 7.62×39 carbines.

  18. I keep wanting a PCC (had a 9mm Beretta CX4 Storm, a 9mm AR, and a .357 Marlin once upon a time) but I keep talking myself out of it because, well, I can’t justify it.

    With the price of this 9mm AK unknown, but being less prevalent on the market than 30-cal AKs, I’m going to assume that it’ll cost about the same to buy the 9mm one (possibly more initially) as a 7.62×39 one. And let’s say the mags are the same price.

    But the real cost these days is feeding it. 9mm looks to be about $0.23-25 a round for cases of the cheap range stuff. 7.62×39 is…the same price. That’s what keeps making me eventually give up on the PCC…why should I go with that when I can get a 7.62×39 version which has a lot more oomph for the same price, or even a bit less?

    I guess those who find the traditional AK’s recoil unpleasant could love the 9mm version, but the 7.62×39 round has never been unpleasant for me.

    Then again, as a “bump in the night” carbine…7.62×39 has always seemed fine to me while outdoors wearing ear protection, but at night, in the dark, with no earplugs, indoors…maybe a 9mm carbine has a purpose after all…

    Darn. Talking myself into it again.

    • And just imagine shooting 9mm out of that little beast at a five-gallon bucket 150 yards away. See the bucket jumping around with an occasional round or two missing by a foot and scattering huge chunks of muddy dirt all about the range.
      No recoil, not much noise, cheap fun… it’d be hard to pass up.

  19. Dudes, you seriously have to do something about the content from ads.yahoo.com. It pops up way too often. Most times it completely borks my comments.

  20. Left folders are the s—! Tht way you don’t have to worry about brass ejecting incorrectly if your firing from inside a vehicle. I don’t know about a 9×19 mm AK variant. Seems to me I’d rather have a MP5k in the PDW configuration, or an MP7…

  21. It sure as hell does look like just the thing to spend the afternoon destroying aluminum cans and hub caps with… I’ll give you that!

  22. There is a guy that makes a parts kit for these. He is on the akforum under M-I. It takes Mp5 mags and is available with different options.

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