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AR-15 Mag Adapter for Saiga .223

My pre-Obama stimulus package was a Saiga .223 semi-auto rifle.  I got it before the 2008 elections.  After shooting it for a few weeks, I took the plunge and did the Saiga .223 conversion.  After the rifle was converted, I decided to try the Magnolia State Armory (MSA) Saiga .223 magazine adapter.  The adapter lets you use regular AR-15 magazines in the Saiga.  Given the higher prices of the Saiga factory and after market magazines, it made sense to go with the adapter.  I already had a number of Colt, Brownell, Magpul, and MidwayUSA Stoner AR-15 magazines for my Eagle Arms EA-15 rifle.  It only made sense to use a common magazine for both rifles.  I contacted MSA and put in my order. 

I was one of a number of Saiga owners that would be getting their adapter from the first production run.  I knew about this prior to ordering it.  It is not uncommon for a first run of anything to come in behind schedule....and so it was here.  Early estimations promised a delivery date for early December, 2008.  It was early March before I received mine.  However, having to wait did result in a couple of design changes which benefited us early buyers....and at no additional charge to us.  The design changes included the adapter being upgraded to aluminum from a synthetic material and an ambidextrous magazine release.  Props to MSA for absorbing those production costs and giving us a better product.  That says a lot about a company and their take on customer service. 

The adapter is not a drop in fit.  Some of the Saiga's receiver material must be removed in order to provide clearance for the adapter.  You have a couple of options.....use your friend's Bridgeport milling machine or use a Dremel tool.  I opted for the first choice.  When Saturday rolled around, I headed over to my friend's house with the Saiga and adapter and some AR-15 magazines.

Prior to Saturday, I checked the adapter thread on the Saiga-12.com forum and got as much info as I could.  I found a couple of photos from a beta tester and got some numbers from the thread.  The numbers provided me with a width dimension of .96" and the maximum cut depth of .94". 


I arrived at Troy's place with most everything I needed and ready for the milling machine.  A quick field strip got the Saiga's receiver exposed enough for us to get started on the project.


We needed something by which to protect the receiver when we clamped it in the machinist's vice.  A couple of scraps of wood were pressed, literally, into service.  After positioning the wood against the side of the receiver, over the rivet heads, I squeezed it against the receiver as hard as I could.  Doing so left small dimples in the wood which was then put in the vice and a small hole made over each dimple.  Doing this allows the wood to sit flush against the receiver instead of possibly getting the receiver crooked when we put it in the vise.


With the same done to the other scrap of wood, we gently clamped the receiver in the vice and proceeded to get it squared up and ready to go. 


We increased the opening at the front of the receiver to a width of .96", as was suggested in the adapter thread.  This meant that the sheet metal was trimmed back a bit as well as the metal on sides where the rivet is staked in place.  You can do this by just barely bringing the mill up against the rivet's head.  You can get the .96" width while just barely taking any metal off of the rivet. 

As for the max depth of .94", I found that number to be off by quite a bit.  Granted, it was a maximum depth but we did not need nearly that much.  While I didn't get an exact measurement, I would suggest a depth of approximately .80" and then increase it as necessary from there.  The zero reference for the depth cut is the edge of the magazine well opening on the receiver. 

Note:  Information obtained later from MSA indicates a depth of .88" to .89" is optimal.

We had one heck of a time getting the adapter to fit.  We were reluctant to remove the receiver from the vice as all of our reference numbers (x, y, and z axis) would be lost.  Because of that, we probably made it more difficult for ourselves than was necessary. 

The biggest issue we came up against was the length dimension of the magazine well opening.  Where we got the width milling taken care of in fairly short order, we struggled to determine what was preventing the adapter from fully dropping into position.  We ended up milling to the .94" maximum thinking we were bottoming out the adapter but eventually realized that was not the problem.  Hence, my earlier recommendation of NOT needing nearly that much of a cut for depth. 

The front of the adapter would seat into the Saiga's magazine well but when we would try to push down on the rear of the adapter to latch it in place, it would not.  A closer examination revealed the rear of the adapter body was actually contacting the Saiga's magazine latch mount. 


Carefully we milled about .005" off the front trunion shown in yellow above.  Another test fit showed an improvement.  Another .005" was removed.  This time we were able to push the adapter flush against the receiver although the Saiga's magazine latch would not engage the adapter properly.

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