Saiga IZ-107 12 Gauge, $640
Gun Tests magazine tested four high-capacity 12-gauge shotguns in the November 2012 issue. Here’s an excerpt of that report, used with permission:
We are often asked what firearms we recommend for home defense, and based on the circumstances, we often say that a shotgun may be the best choice for a number of reasons: ease of operation, stopping power, and multi-shot capacity, to name three. Most shotgunners know that defense shotguns have long held 5, 6, 7, and 8 rounds, usually in tubular magazines under the barrel. But there are bigger-capacity shotguns out there, and we recently had a chance to test four of them. Our test guns were the Akdal Arms MKA 1919 3-inch 12 Gauge, $799; the Kel-Tec KSG 3-inch 12 Gauge, $1075; the Saiga IZ-107 12 Gauge, $640; and a Red Jacket Saiga RTS-SBS-12 Short-Barrel 12 Gauge, $1939.
Our older Saiga 12, still in very good shape, was manufactured at the Izhmash Factory in Russia and imported through EAA Corp. What we believe is an identical gun, the IZ-107 12 Gauge, $640, is available from K-Var Corp. of Las Vegas (K-Var.com,  364-8880). Because it’s currently available, we listed K-Var’s model number throughout. So you can either look for a used gun like ours, or if you want a brand-new gun of this type, you know where to start. Designed as an all-purpose shotgun, this Saiga comes with a chrome-lined barrel which allows the use of many different types of ammunition, including steel. The Saiga 12 is capable of cycling both 23⁄4- and 3-inch magnum shells. As with all Saiga 12s, this shotgun is not designed to use low-pressure shells. Saiga 12 gauges now come standard with the bolt hold-open feature. This allows for a quicker change time between magazines. This shotgun was manufactured utilizing the Kalashnikov gas system. This gas system reduces felt recoil dramatically.
Because the Saigas are only supposed to use 1.25-ounce or heavier shotcharges, we fired them mostly with 12 gauge Winchester Super-X Game and Field Loads (23⁄4 inch #6 Lead, 11⁄4 ounce, 1330 fps), which we bought at Cheaper Than Dirt! for $16.51/25, #2-WNX126BX. Other CTD loads we used included Hornady Zombie Z-MAX 00 Buckshot rounds (23⁄4 inch, 8 pellets, 1600 fps, $10.29/10 #AMM-8212); and Fiocchi Exacta Aero Slugs (23⁄4 inch lead, 1 ounce, 1560 fps), which cost $7.91/10, #6-0309542. We also fired Remington Slugger 3-inch 1-ounce rifled slugs ($5.34/5 @ 1760 fps, currently out of stock); and Winchester Supreme Partition Gold 3-inch 385-grain sabot slugs SSP123 ($12.55/5 @ 2000 fps, also out of stock). Our plan was to shoot all four shotguns for function and to check features, then shoot groups with the slugs to compare their accuracy. However, the second part of that turned out not to be necessary because we had function trouble with the Akdal, KSG, and Red Jacket guns, making the Saiga the winner by default.
Saiga IZ-107 12 Gauge, $640
The Saiga-12 is a Kalashnikov-pattern 12-gauge combat shotgun. Like the Kalashnikov rifle variants, it is a rotating bolt, gas-operated gun that feeds from a box magazine. Saiga-12s are recognizable as Kalashnikov-pattern guns by the large lever-safety on the right side of the receiver, the optic mounting rail on the left side of the receiver, and the large top-mounted dust cover held in place by the rear of the recoil spring assembly. As we noted earlier, our test shotgun was imported into the US by European American Armories, although their agreement expired in 2005 and Izhmash is now exporting through the Russian-American Armory Company. Izhmash also manufactures Saiga 20 gauges and .410 bore shotguns, as well as the Saiga semi-automatic hunting rifles in a number of centerfire calibers.
NIB Saigas like ours were recently listed at GunAuction.com with “buy it now” prices of $600. Or if you prefer, you can order a test gun similar to, if not identical to, Saigas carried by K-Var Corp. with the model number and price listed above. Our test shotgun and several extra magazines came from Fountain Firearms in Houston, FountainFirearms.com.
Other similar models listed by K-Var include the IZ-108 (19-inch barrel, adjustable sight, $670), the IZ-109 (19-inch barrel, $640), and the IZ-122 (24-inch barrel, adjustable sight, $650). Most retail versions of the Saigas ship with one five-round Russian magazine, cleaning kit, cleaning brush, oil bottle, & Saiga adjustment tool.
Our test shotgun was manufactured at the Izmash Legion Factory in Russia, utilizing the Kalashnikov gas system. This gas system reduces felt recoil and is capable of shooting in either single-shot operation, allowing use of all the gases to increase the velocity of the round, or in the standard semi-auto mode. It will shoot both 23⁄4-inch and 3-inch magnum shotshells, using an adjustable two-position gas system. Using the higher setting prevents high-power loads, such as slugs and buckshot, from damaging the receiver. The looser clearances offered in an AK design result in high reliability, which we saw in our testing. We had no function failures of any type with the Saiga, even though we used several different magazines with different capacities, including a massive drum magazine.
Though we loved the Saiga’s reliability, there are some nits to pick. The metalwork is rough and sharp, especially on the mount on the left side of the receiver. The lack of a rubber buttpad makes the stock slip around in the shoulder socket and does nothing to soften recoil.
The trigger pull isn’t overly heavy at 6.6 pounds, but it has about a half-inch of takeup before creeping toward release. The rear sight was crudely fashioned and was only drift-adjustable in a machined-in slot in the barrel. If we were buying new, we’d pick an adjustable sight version for just a few dollars more.
Our Team Said: Despite its flaws, the Saiga 12 gauge is a hoss that’s affordable. It accepts stick magazines up to 30 rounds that make it faster to fire and reload than the KSG, and it cycled with a 50-round drum magazine if it came down to fighting off a horde of zombies. It’s a lot of gun for the money, in our opinion.