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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks,

I posted this on Arfcom before I left the office and hope to get even more input from here on the 'Forum.

We just got in relatively small shipment of twelve Saiga 7.62x39 rifles. I couldn't resist today and we already converted one over to an AK-103 configuration. Here is what we did to convert it...

- installed a standard handguard retainer
- installed the FSB with 24.5mm threads
- installed K-Var black furniture (stock, handguards and pistol grip)
- installed and plug welded a new factory bullet guide
- relocated the trigger group and installed a G2 set
- removed the "lug" from the left side of the trunion (inside and out)
- move the trigger guard forward and rivet the rear portion to the receiver
- cut and threaded the cleaning rod
- installed a new upper gas tube and K-Var upper handguard
- installed Bulgarian military-issue 24.5mm muzzle brake
- TIG welded the holes where the old trigger pins and trunion "lug" were located
- removed the ridge in the rear of the magazine well to use standard magazines

Now, here is where I need some opinions. Do you folks think these would sell in the mid to upper $700 range? It sounds pricey but it looks REALLY nice and it's starting out has a completely hardened receiver and chrome-lined hammer forged barrel and EVERYTHING on the rifle is new. It's not a put together from a kit (even an unissued kit ). For that price, I will include a matching 30-round magazine, cleaning kit, sling and AK74 bayonet that installs on the FSB/brake combo just like a military model. Lastly, the rifle will be refinished with Molyresin so the paint doesn't run when it's gets sprayed with brake cleaner/Gun Scrubber

Am I way out of line on the price or do you guys think that's a reasonable price? I will expect nothing less than a couple of "it should be priced at $300" posts but I can live with that Also, we may start using these rifles as the basis for the Khyber Pass and other models that we have listed depending availability and cost of the parts and rifles.

thanks,
Ron
 

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DoctorCheney223 said:
- removed the "lug" from the left side of the trunion (inside and out)
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- TIG welded the holes where the old trigger pins and trunion "lug" were located
I would be concerned about reliability after the above operations. The 'lug' exists to start the bolt rotating into battery. Without it, you get 50% (or worse) bolt-fully-locked-in-trunnion reliability.

When you tig'd it back up, did you recreate the existing depth and diameter of the original 'lug' or tig up a 'shoulder'?


I believe the Russians have gone to the use of this 'lug' to lower their costs of making barrel trunnions. They can use a different sized 'lug' in the same barrel trunnion depending on the caliber of rifle they are making.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
When we installed a factory bullet guide it has the original "rail/lug" for the bolt to run rotate into battery. I figured most people would want their AK to look as original as possible so we removed it. Are those "lugs" what current issue rifles have instead of the rail on the bullet guide?

Also, we notched the barrel to keep the factory handguard in place just in case anybody had any questions about that.

Here are some pics that I just took....





thanks,
Ron
 

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DoctorCheney223 said:
Are those "lugs" what current issue rifles have instead of the rail on the bullet guide?
Yes.





...and coming from the nose-in-the-air department . . .

If you want it to look as 'original as possible', it needs to have a side folding stock.

I think more folks care about what the outside looks like than the insides.
 

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DoctorCheney223 said:
When we installed a factory bullet guide it has the original "rail/lug" for the bolt to run rotate into battery. I figured most people would want their AK to look as original as possible so we removed it. Are those "lugs" what current issue rifles have instead of the rail on the bullet guide?

Also, we notched the barrel to keep the factory handguard in place just in case anybody had any questions about that.

Here are some pics that I just took....







thanks,
Ron
I would be in for one with the proper folding stock on it!

T:smile:
 

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You are doing it right. That little lug will where out over time. They will sell easily for that price. I think everyone else will be in the 800's. I dont know how you will make much of a profit at 700. Lancaster's will be in the mid 800's. They are doing the same thing. They are building mine now. I will post when its finished.
 

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This is constructive criticism intended to help you make a product that will compare well against other similar products already available.

First of all, the tuck-n-roll trigger guard is a deal-breaker in my opinion... It screams "I don't want to take the time to do this right so I'll just tuck this little thing under here and hope nobody notices". :goof:



Since you've already got the tig torch out, just take the extra 20 minutes and do the trigger guard right. Yes it takes more time, but it's no more expensive because you just reuse the Saiga trigger guard hoop. Bamaak (a builder here) has proven that skillful deployment of this method is virtually indistinguishable from a riveted trigger guard.

Also, try to find dimpled Saigas. With as much talk as the 'dimpled Saiga' subject gets, that could be a barrier to sales also (for those customers who are aware of this little detail).

As for the welded bullet guide, that looks reasonable to me. Definitely takes less time than riveting, and is more secure than the tap/screw/loctite method. Other pro builders have used this method on Saigas in the past, so I presume that metalurgically this is safe - otherwise we probably would have heard about a kaboom.

And lastly, KEEP THE LUG! That's the so-called 'third rivet', and it's a feature of the later AK74M and AK100 series rifles.

Will at RedJacket was making these for Atlantic Firearms I thought. Not sure what he was selling them for but I think they were in the $700 range.

-Thirtycal
 

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I'd definitely cut and weld the Trigger guard then smooth it out. I'd leave the lug in place too as it is what the Russians do on their modern variants.

Looks good over all... If you can polish up the product and keep the price to a minimum... you could have a winner.

I've seen some of the noobie post over on www.ak47.net with guys talking about "AIM HAS THEM $150 CHEAPER" and what not... The saiga conversion they talk about is a hunk of shit. Bead weld feed ramp, still the oringnal front end, no muzzle device, rough finish, holes from old Trigger group... The stocks tend to come with only 1 screw installed holding it in instead of 2... Just work on that trigger guard issue and I think it will be a seller.
 

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thirtycal said:
First of all, the tuck-n-roll trigger guard is a deal-breaker in my opinion... It screams "I don't want to take the time to do this right so I'll just tuck this little thing under here and hope nobody notices". :goof:
The 'tuck-n-roll trigger guard" is just fine. It is a 'no load' part and the vast majority of folk will never look twice at it.
thirtycal said:
Also, try to find dimpled Saigas. With as much talk as the 'dimpled Saiga' subject gets, that could be a barrier to sales also (for those customers who are aware of this little detail).
I suspect he'll be able to sell his rifles quickly, no matter a dimple or not. They are just cosmetic in the Saiga, anyway.
thirtycal said:
As for the welded bullet guide, that looks reasonable to me. Definitely takes less time than riveting, and is more secure than the tap/screw/loctite method. Other pro builders have used this method on Saigas in the past, so I presume that metalurgically this is safe - otherwise we probably would have heard about a kaboom.
Metallurgically safe? The bullet guide can be made out of dried cowflop. If it f*(**x up, all it does is fall out or jam the gun.
thirtycal said:
And lastly, KEEP THE LUG! That's the so-called 'third rivet', and it's a feature of the later AK74M and AK100 series rifles.
That seems to be the general consensus here.
 

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DoctorCheney223 said:
Do you folks think these would sell in the mid to upper $700 range?

YES! But a "lower" 700's price would be better. That would put you just slightly higher than a Romanian or a kit build, but still lower than Krebs, or an Arsenal SLR107, etc.


If your conversion is sound and the rifle remains reliable and durable (i.e. your welding doesn't compromise the strength of the receiver or anything), then I definitely would want one.

If they're REALLY nice, I might even be persuaded to part with an Arsenal AK to get another.

I think the important thing is that $700 price tag.

I was on the waiting list for a Krebs Saiga at better than $900 (probably more like $1,100 by now). I never heard back from them.

I'd be willing to do without dimples, folding stock, 100% accurate trigger guard, authentic guide lug or whatever AS LONG AS THE GUN WORKS, IS DURABLE, AND REMAINS AROUND $700.


One question: being that the gas block is missing the cleaning rod loop, I'm assuming the only issue this creates is a more "rattly" cleaning rod, correct? In other words, it still can't "fall out" as long as the front loop is there and the muzzle brake is in place, right?
 

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Don't forget the "K"!

Here's one of mine in progress, waiting on rear sight, a G2 set &, yes, I'm going to go back & add a cleaning rod & bayo lug.

 

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I own a rifle built by Henderson Defense and I am on the list for one of their Bulgarian AK-74 folders soon to be finished. I can tell you their build quality is excellent and the rifles are 100% reliable. Their quality is excellent!

I wish they still had E German clones in stock still. I would be all over that in a heart beat!!
 

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nalioth said:
thirtycal said:
As for the welded bullet guide, that looks reasonable to me. Definitely takes less time than riveting, and is more secure than the tap/screw/loctite method. Other pro builders have used this method on Saigas in the past, so I presume that metalurgically this is safe - otherwise we probably would have heard about a kaboom.
Metallurgically safe? The bullet guide can be made out of dried cowflop. If it f*(**x up, all it does is fall out or jam the gun.
I'm not talking about the bullet guide, I'm talking about the front trunnion that just got zapped with the heat of a welder. The trunnion is not extremely thick at the point where the bullet guide would be welded, so it would be possible to blow through that area if you use too much heat. Also if that trunnion is heat treated or tempered, heat from the welding process can affect that. I doubt this is a worry though since I don't think the trunnion is heat set in any way. I think it's just work-hardened as a result of forging. I don't know for sure though I'm kinda guessing here, and my guess is that welding is safe and definitely quick compared to all other methods. The only danger is if it falls out. It's not likely, but it is possible that a dislodged bullet guide could cause a fire-out-of-battery and a kaboom.

You and I will have to disagree on the tuck-n-roll trigger guard. To me it sticks out like a sore thumb - this is how RedJacket did the Atlantic ones. Henderson will need to decide if it's worth the trouble to have this 'advantage' over RedJacket.

As for the dimples, yes you might be right - most people probably won't notice, but it's guaranteed that some will.

Xcibes: Here's a photo of two Saigas I'm working on right now. On Saiga #1 I've removed the Saiga mag latch tower and am riveting in a brand new trigger guard. On Saiga #2 I've kept the mag latch tower and am welding a trigger hoop. There are advantages to both methods, but ultimately I think welding is the better in my opinion if it's done skillfully. After I've welded mine I'll post more pictures and let everyone see if they can tell the difference. Here's the before pic:



BTW Xcibes, your AK-103 from Chris at AKUSA is the "standard" I'm trying to duplicate with my two builds. I have all of the photos you posted and compare against them orten. Today in fact I'm doing the millwork on the FSB and GB to do add the simulated punch press dimples, just like Chris did on your AK-103. It's a crazy detail, but it's a big part of getting that authentic AK-103 look. I don't think that Henderson needs to bother with that detail: :cool:



-Thirtycal
 

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wgallc said:
Don't forget the "K"!

Here's one of mine in progress, waiting on rear sight, a G2 set &, yes, I'm going to go back & add a cleaning rod & bayo lug.

Is that SBR or is the muzzle device pinned/welded? Nice job by the way - looks great.
 

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Blind pinned AKUSA brake & welded FSB. Not an SBR, just the look of one.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hi folks,

I really do appreciate the opinions and advice because it's needed. I am trying to combine quality and authenticity with cost on these rifles and make them available at a fair price.

Here is what I want to do at this point...

- Keep the original lug inside the front trunion. I thought that it was part of the sterilizing but now that you guys have steered me in the right direction, I know better. I may offer the removal as an option on a "classic"-type build if somebody prefers it.

- Clip and weld the trigger guard. Our lead gunsmith used to be a fabricator for Indy and NASCAR teams (he was injured and can no longer work in that industry) and can weld anything. His welding skills are amazing and will not have a problem with making those trigger guards looking factory in a brief amount of time.

- Magazine well dimples.... I really doubt that will happen. The rifles that I just received do not have the dimples and they don't know if or when they will receive any with the dimples (might be allocated for a certain distributor?).

- AK-103 folding stocking option. This stock requires a substantial amount of machining time on the receiver. We use a full-size mill in our shop and not a Dremel and grinder (like a bunch of receivers that we received and immediately returned :evil: ) and this takes a bit more time. We have to add six more holes, weld two of them up and trim all three rear edges in order to accommodate a side-folder trunion. It's labor intensive AND the parts are expensive. I will have to work the numbers but it can be done and I am sure at a fair price.

I am cross-posting this thread in order to get the most opinions possible. Please let me know if you folks have any other opinions or ideas. I REALLY DO APPRECIATE IT!!!

thanks,
Ron
 

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thirtycal said:
I'm not talking about the bullet guide, I'm talking about the front trunnion that just got zapped with the heat of a welder. The trunnion is not extremely thick at the point where the bullet guide would be welded, so it would be possible to blow through that area if you use too much heat. Also if that trunnion is heat treated or tempered, heat from the welding process can affect that. I doubt this is a worry though since I don't think the trunnion is heat set in any way. I think it's just work-hardened as a result of forging. I don't know for sure though I'm kinda guessing here, and my guess is that welding is safe and definitely quick compared to all other methods. The only danger is if it falls out. It's not likely, but it is possible that a dislodged bullet guide could cause a fire-out-of-battery and a kaboom.
1) If he just taps it with the tig (it doesn't take much), I doubt the heat will be more than what the trunnion catches during a range session.

2) Why don't you take a Saiga, place a bullet guide in it and see if you can get the bolt to go into battery enough to create a "kaboom" condition?

If the bullet guide isn't secure, it'll fall out or jam up the works. I seriously doubt a 'kaboom' condition could be created by a loose bullet guide. It's not like it's a small part and could wedge the bolt just slightly, it's a large part and will certainly gum things up if it comes loose.

I think you're making much ado over nothing.

DoctorCheney223 said:
- Keep the original lug inside the front trunion. I thought that it was part of the sterilizing but now that you guys have steered me in the right direction, I know better. I may offer the removal as an option on a "classic"-type build if somebody prefers it.
I do hope you look at the reliability aspects of this.

If your bullet-guide-with-lug does the same thing as the 7th rivet, great.

OTW, you're throwing a pair of dice into the reliability, imho.
 
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