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The Saiga was equipped with standard AK iron sights. Nothing wrong with them unless you want to shoot at distance and your eyes aren't what they were back in the day. In that case, it was time to pony up a few $$ and spring for a mount and scope. I wasn't looking to do a "spend more on the scope than I did for the rifle" kind of optics project. This is somewhat of a knock around rifle and the scope will most likely be subject to that too, when it is mounted on the Saiga.
I spent part of an afternoon gathering as much info as I could from some of the AK and Saiga forums. I made my decision and decided on getting what is commonly referred to as a Belarus BP-02 scope mount. The mount is made in Belarus (adjacent to Russia and Ukraine). I found a seller on e-bay that was letting them go for about $60 including shipping. It took 2.5 weeks to make it to my house but given the distance and the fact that it was during the Christmas season, I was OK with that.
The mount is a quick disconnect style and weighs in at just over 11 ounces.
Since it was made in Europe, I assume the main bolt used to torque it in place
is metric. I just might stop by the local ACE Hardware store and check out
their large stock of fasteners. If they have a Allen head bolt in the
correct thread pitch, I'll pick one up. It's possible the quick disconnect
may get changed out if that is possible. (have to check into it)
I had a slight problem fitting it onto the Saiga's mounting
rail. It would go on just so far and then simply stop. I determined where
the clearance issue was occurring and decided to take a very small amount of
metal off of the BP-02. I used a small jeweler's file for the "fix".
As I said, it was a small amount of metal that needed to be cleared up. I
think the actual offending item was the rail on the Saiga but it doesn't really
matter. It was easy enough to resolve.
During my research, one of the problems I noticed in more than
one of the scope mount threads was complaints about the mount not being properly
centered over firearm. The BP-02 was noted for not having this problem and
it was one of main reasons I opted for this particular mount. As you can
see, it is aligned very nicely over the Saiga's centerline.
As you can see, the BP-02 presents a very low profile over the receiver. It does prohibit the use of the iron sights when the mount is on the rifle.
I have to chuckle a little bit when I think about the e-bay ad
where I bought the BP-02. In the ad, it states that the mount is made out
of "solid seluminium alloy". I did a search on seluminium and the
only reference to it is the ads being ran by companies that are selling this
mount. The word is either made up for badly misspelled.
Another of the reasons I selected this mount is that the dust
shield can be removed from the Saiga without first removing the BP-02. The
research I did indicated that return to zero is not suppose to be a problem for
the BP-02 but I reserve that decision for myself once I try it several times
with my rifle.
The scope currently mounted on the Saiga may or may not remain. I have a Bushnell Trophy 1.75-4 x 32 on the BP-02 at the moment. If I can find a reasonably priced 1- 4.5x or there about, I may pull this scope off as I would like a 1X low power setting which makes it easy enough to shoot with both eyes open for close quarter situations. I'll see how this combination works out and decide when I get more info on how it performs.
The scope rings are "Maxima fixed ring" series made by Warne. I selected the matte black, medium height ring which gives .375" of clearance. As it was, I was picking from 4 different heights while I stood in the store trying to figure out just how much clearance I needed. I ended up making the right choice as the low rings would have put the ocular lens into the Weaver rail on the BP-02 and the next size up would have located the scope higher than necessary above the receiver. Using the medium height rings, there is approximately 1/8" of clearance over the Weaver rail. The part number for the Maxima medium height ring is #201M.
As I write this, I've not been to the range. I'll update this write-up when I get back from the range and let you know how it worked.