The recent introduction of the SAIGA SGL-10 has made for an excellent opportunity for an “almost factory” rifle at a great price. Former versions were more difficult to convert. This one was designed specifically to get around the US import ban on “assault weapons,” yet be a cost-effective conversion once it was here. The gun came in with a single stack 10 round magazine. Arsenal USA machined the magwells to accept a standard AK magazine (which on my sample, still didn’t fit, but more on that later).This tutorial is a step-by-step procedure for converting the “sporter” into a military style AK.
using a #11 drill bit, drill out the two rivet/pins on the right side, and remove them from the left side. Remove remaining trigger parts and retain
discard the rest.
At this point, you can either replace the entire trigger guard and magazine catch assembly (remove four magazine catch rivets) or use the existing trigger guard. I figured I’d use the existing one and if it came out well, I saved some money. If not, I could still replace the entire magazine catch and trigger guard assembly. Virgin trigger guards do not have the hole drilled for the magazine catch axle, and this is a critical dimension, so I figured I’d try to avoid it if possible. There is a selector stop plate between the magazine catch part of the trigger guard and the receiver. This selector stop plate is a critical dimension and controls both the front to back and vertical position of the magazine. I found out later that this was not cut to accept a standard AK magazine. It is much easier to adjust without the trigger guard in place. See the magazine catch adjustment section of the AK build tutorial for specific directions.if retaining the original trigger guard, shorten it to the same length as the standard AK. The SAIGA is 0.5mm wider, and is easier to adjust as a separate piece – 3 seconds on the belt sander and quench before you burn your fingers!
At this point you must decide whether you are going to leave the empty rivet holes on your rifle. I think they are ugly, but their presence has no ill effect. Some plug the holes with tiny plastic caps like might be found on the end of a ball-point pen. This decision will have the greatest effect on the time and cost. If you can tolerate the (UGLY!) holes, it will reduce your time and money dramatically.I choose to weld them in, which necessitates refinishing at least the receiver (I refinish the whole rifle to get a perfect color match). Here I sandblast the paint off to get a clean welding surface.
After refinishing, I tried to mount the rifle to my reassembly stand – which holds the rifle by the magazine well. To my surprise, my well-worn magazine wouldn’t fit. None of the 4 magazines I use for test fitting (various sizes and countries of origin) would fit. The selector stop plate had not been adjusted at all. So I had to narrow the plate with a small file with the receiver wrapped in thin cardboard to prevent accidently slipping and scratching the fresh paint. Had I realized I’d have to do this, I would probably have removed the magazine catch rivets. Then I can use the AK-Builder plate and 4 screws to test fit the plate during adjustment, before riveting it.It is critical that you adjust the selector stop plate and not the magazine catch. The SAIGA SGL-10 is of the AK-100 series – that is, there is no feed ramp, and it utilizes a rivet instead of the trunion to initiate bolt rotation (It also uses a 5.45 bolt body and bolt carrier). It feeds directly from the magazine. Adjusting the magazine catch will hold the magazine too low.