The Saiga-12 is a 12 gauge Kalashnikov-pattern combat shotgun available in a wide variety of configurations. Similar to the Kalashnikov rifle variants, it is a gas operated, rotating bolt gun that is fed from a box magazine.
Each and every Saiga-12 configuration is easily recognizable as Kalashnikov type pattern gun by the optic mounting rail on the left side of the receiver, the oversized lever-safety on the right side of the receiver, and the oversized top-mounted dust cover secured by the rear of the recoil spring assembly.
Inaccuracy is often rumored of the Kalashnikov type guns however it is not an important shortcoming in a shotgun that is rarely used beyond 50 yards. However, the reliable and loose design is an extreme benefit within a semi-automatic shotgun, because this class of weapon was previously considered to be unreliable. The gun is also easy to maintain and readily affordable. The shotgun is made almost entirely from sheet-metal stampings.
The Saiga-12 is produced and manufactured by the arms division of Izhmash, in Russia. The weapon was previously imported into the United States by European American Armories, however their agreement expired in 2005 and Izhmash is now importing the weapons through the Russian-American Armory company.