The Saiga-12 is a Kalashnikov-pattern 12 gauge combat shotgun available in a wide range of configurations. Like the Kalashnikov rifle variants, it is a rotating bolt, gas-operated gun that feeds from a box magazine.
All Saiga-12 configurations 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.
The rumored inaccuracy of Kalashnikov type guns is not an important shortcoming in a shotgun, a weapon rarely used beyond 50 yards. However, the loose and reliable design is an enormous boon on a semi-automatic shotgun, as this class of weapon had previously tended towards unreliability. The gun is also readily affordable and easy to maintain, made almost entirely from sheet-metal stampings.
The Saiga-12 is manufactured by the arms division of Izhmash, in Russia. It was previously 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.