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Saiga .223 AK Conversion

I initially started by using a file to remove the rivet heads but found it to be slow going.  I soon switched to my rotary cutter tool to continue removal of the rivet heads.  Be careful when grinding the rivet at the rear of the trigger guard.  That rivet goes through the trigger guard and I assume you intend to reuse the trigger guard during the conversion.  As such, you don't want to grind on the trigger guard. 

I took my time grinding down the three rivet heads.  There was no reason for me to get into a hurry and ruin the trigger guard....or have the rotary grinder go zipping across the receiver and leave a trail of grinding marks. 

Once I had the heads removed, I center punched the rivets and used a 1/8" to partially drill them out.  (Note that when center punching, I used a socket as an anvil...see details below).  Drilling the rivets makes them easier to drive out and so reduces the possibility of distorting the receiver from unnecessary hammering from the punch.

Once the rivet heads were flush ground and drilled, I used a punch to pop them out of the holes.  To prevent undo stress on the bottom of the receiver, I used a deep well socket as a hollow anvil to support the bottom of the receiver.  This allowed the rivet to be driven out of the receiver where it could easily drop into the socket. 

With the rivets completely removed, the trigger plate and trigger guard is removed from the receiver.  You can see where I've started to drill the hole in the spot weld.  I used a center punch to mark a drilling point but it barely made a scratch.  (it was then that I knew I was in for some work on this thing) 

I started with a 1/8" bit but found that hard pretty hard going.  I moved up to a 3/16" bit and finished the job, but not without a lot of effort.  I've never encountered anything as tough as that spot weld piece of trigger guard.  Amazing it was!  Once the spot weld was drilled out, the trigger guard was set aside for reuse and the trigger plate tossed into the trash. 

Using some of the painter's tape, I masked off the receiver and prepared it for a coat of black spray paint.  I found a partial can sitting on the shelf that had been used to touch up my rocker guards on my TJ.  After a coat of paint, I set the receiver aside to let it dry overnight. 

The trigger guard's original mounting hole was no longer needed.  I used my rotary cutting tool and cut the end off as indicated above.  A little work with a file smoothed off the sharp edges left by the cutting wheel.  A couple of well aimed shots of spray paint covered up the marks left from grinding the rivet head off (hey, I never said I was perfect). 

Since I opted to use a double hook trigger (instead of the single hook) from Tapco, a little extra cutting was necessary on the bottom of the receiver.  I cut a 2nd slot for the 2nd trigger hook using the rotary cutter and cleaned it up with a small round file.  I also ended up trimming a small part of the receiver as indicated in the above photo. 

None of the conversion wirte-ups I had read mentioned having to do this, but then again, most (all?) of them used a single trigger.  It might be a slightly different casting dimension that Tapco has on the double hook trigger.  I had already partially assembled the receiver (see above photo) when I discovered the trimming was necessary and so I had to remove everything (including the trigger guard) so I could remove the offending metal.  Just a heads up....might be something to look for on yours before you put everything together and find out the trigger was catching on the receiver.  You can see the slight overlap of the trigger on the receiver in the red circled area in the above photo.  When I would try to pull the trigger, it would move just a slight amount and then it would contact the bottom of the receiver and stop any further movement.  Hopefully you won't have this issue but if you do, you know the easy fix for it.

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