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Saiga .223 AK Conversion

Let me start by saying that there are many, many conversion write-ups on the net that detail the make over of the Saiga Sporting Carbine.  This one is not meant to replace those but rather supplement your research and give you yet another view on how this conversion was accomplished.  Sometimes it's that one extra photo or paragraph that makes everything click into place.  If you find it here, I hope it was what you needed to make your conversion successful. 

Disclaimer:  Since I've no control over how you implement anything I may have documented here, you assume all liability for any actions taken as a result of the information you obtain from this web site.  What worked for me and my rifle may not work for you and yours.  Your actions can result in your changing the primary operating components of your rifle which is not something to be taken lightly.  Should you have any questions or concerns regarding any modifications you are considering for your firearm, consult with a gunsmith.


Here is my Saiga .223, just like it came out of the box, with 50 some rounds of factory and my reloads shot through it to verify proper functioning.  The last thing I wanted to do was modify a firearm that wasn't working properly to start with, especially when it was but a month old when it started the transition.  Having digested a diet of Wolf FMJ and some of my 55 gr. Hornady reloads, it was ready to go under the knife and hopefully emerge looking more like a traditional AK.

I started with the forearm while I waited for the other parts to arrive.  I looked at the options available for replacing the factory forearm with something more traditional looking.  The few alternatives I came across were either too expensive or too involved.  Dinzag Arms offers a bolt on lower handguard retainer (which allows you to use a traditional AK handguard) for around $70~$90.  That fell outside the range of my conversion budget.  A cheaper alternative (~$30) was also available but this is a press on version and it requires you to press off the front sight block and the gas block in order to install it.  For me, that was beyond the scope of my tool and skill set so it too was dismissed as a possible option.  That left me with modifying what I already had and that would work for now.


There is but a single screw that holds the factory forearm to the rifle.  It is located at the forward edge of the receiver.  Remove the screw and set it aside as it will be used when you are done with the forearm work.


With an idea in my head as to what I wanted to do with the forearm (at least for a start anyway), I grabbed a roll of blue painter's tape from the garage and started laying out my "pattern" on the tape.  Painter's tape works well for this as it doesn't leave any residue behind and it readily accepts the marks from the fine point marker I keep at the work bench.  If you really mess it up, peel off your mistake and start over.  (which I did a couple of times)


I decided that a couple of slots along the upper portion of the forearm would work fine for now.  Since I don't have a mill for doing such things, I used my drill press to drill a series of holes at the appropriately marked locations.  I suppose I could have drilled an entire row of evenly spaced holes along the forearm.....but I didn't and so I'll leave that one for you to try.


I chucked a cut off wheel in the end of my rotary tool and carefully "connected the holes", yielding a total of four slots (two per side) in the forearm.  It was not my intention for this step to yield the correctly sized slots.  That would come next using a couple of files.  All I wanted to accomplish here was to make enough room to allow use of the files and also remove a significant amount of material so I didn't have to file as much.  I took my time, steadied myself, and carefully cut within the lines I had made.

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