Tag Archives: Saiga

Tuning SDS 10 Round Magazines for Saiga and Lynx Shotguns

Well, Scott, Brooks and I went shooting a few weeks back. I was really excited to take my new SDS Lynx out and I had bought four brand news SDS 10 round magazines that I took out of the wrapper and threw in my range bag. That turned out to be a mistake. The photo above is of Scott trying to clear yet another jam from the Lynx with one of the 10 round magazines inserted – they had feed failures constantly.

One of the things I was told years ago was to test everything before you rely on it. Now granted I was just going to the quarry to shoot with my friends but I really should have tested those magazines. Of the four, only one kind of worked. The followers were all hanging up about an inch from the top. The five round SDS magazine that came with the shotgun ran great but five founds at a time is not the most exciting thing. It was frustrating and disappointing at the same time.

The Lynx and the mags went back in the gun case and I felt pretty stupid for not checking the mags before going. On the other hand, they were brand new and should have worked. I was more than a bit miffed also – clearly there was a manufacturing issue, Followers should spring to the top of a magazine like a rocket – not get stuck part way down. A person should not need to buy magazines and then tune them inside – getting them to fit an AK-style weapon, sure that happens all the time, but not needing to redo the internals.

In the following photos notice how the followers are not all the way to the top compared to the small 5 round magazines.

At that point I made a decision – the SDS magazines really did look well made and rather than send them back, I decided to tune them and document what I did to share with others.

The Lynx shotgun uses Saiga magazines so this design is common and writing up what to do might very well help others out. So with my mind made up, it was just a matter of finding the time to do it.

A couple of weeks went buy before I could dig in but finally the time came. I’m going to try and show you what I found and explain what you need to do to correct it. You’re going to need a Dremel (or similar rotary tool), rubberized polishing bits, felt/wool polishing bits, and a plastic polish – I use Plastix a lot but even toothpaste would work. Yes, toothpaste is a very fine grit polish – you can even use it to polish plastic headlights.

Disassembling a SDS Magazines

The SDS magazine comes apart just like any AK magazine – you push the button on the bottom with a screw driver and slide the floor plate off of the magazine body. Now take a look at it. It can only push off one. All of the magazine Parts in the SDS can only go one way.

So push the button down and shove the floor plate in the direction of the opening. You may need to use a small Mallet or something hard to give it a little bit of a whack to get it started.

Now once you get that floor plate off the rest is going to want to spring out so use your thumb to keep it from flying across the room or in your face.

Fixing The Problem Area

The problem area in the magazines seem to be in the upper inch to inch and a half. You’ll see a mold seam that needs to be erased using the Dremel tool with the rubberized abrasive tips as well as it being tight in general all the way around.

So the first thing I did was to use a small rubberized abrasive tip to erase the mold seemed entirely that runs around the inner area of the magazine. In the next two photos you’ll see a shiny protruding lip inside the magazine that is just above the follower — that is the mold seam I am speaking of. It’s important to note that the follower is binding even before getting to that seam.

I used a small rubberized fine abrasive tip in my Dremel to literally erase the mold seam flush with the rest of the mold body.

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At this point I blew out the magazine body with compressed air and the overall fit of the follower to the magazine body was just too tight. It and the body needed to be thinned a bit – not a bunch, just a bit.

In terms of the trimming, I would definitely recommend that you use the abrasive tip to remove just a little and test over and over. I can’t stress this enough – don’t try to do it all at once. As the saying goes, it’s easier to take more material off than to try and put it back on.

I wound up switching to a bigger rubber abrasive wheel when I did the follower and as far as I could reach in with the bit on the Dremel. The bit is still fine, I would not recommend using anything very aggressive. I used this bit on the follower and the inside of the magazine body. You just need to take a little bit of material off. I went all the way around the magazine body and the follower in that top area. You’ll see just below the scene there is a little elevated area inside the magazine that guides a follower up into position that is too tight.

Now I found I needed to do a second step to really smooth things out. The abrasive bit leaves a rough surface and the next thing I did was to use a felt bob/bit with felt on the end in my Dremel along with Plastix polish to finely polish all the surfaces. I tried skipping this step with a couple of the magazines and the end result was so much better that I went back and polished the surfaces I worked on in all of the magazines.

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The polishing with the Plastix really made a big difference and I would recommend you do it as well. You could tell the parts were smoother. Definitely wipe everything down and do not leave the grit in the magazine.

Next, I sprayed the Dupont Teflon dry film lubricant in the magazine body and on the follower. I would not recommend using oil or anything that leaves a residue that dirt will stick to. Instead you want something that is going to leave a dry film behind. This really fixed everything once and for all.

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I then reassembled the magazines. As mentioned the parts can only go one way. I never took the spring off the bottom plate so I didn’t have to worry about its orientation.

I went ahead and did one final spray of Teflon around the follower and let it run down in. While it is still a liquid, the lubrication will not be very good. You need to let it dry. In my case, it shot up like a rocket. Job done.

End Result

The magazines all seem to work fine now. I think the problem was a combination of the mold seam and that inside area being just a tad too tight. I hope this post helps you out. Small side note to SDS – you really ought to fix this.

10/15/18: First thing this morning SDS reached out to me and is sending replacement magazines. I will test them and report back. They have sold over 3,000 magazines with just a few problems so I might just literally have a bad batch.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

The Lynx 12 – Post 1 of 3: Unboxing and First Impressions

For some reason, I never really got into the Saigas when they were the hot conversion ticket. I guess it was because I was mainly working on rifles and had a Vepr 12. At any rate, when I heard from Paul Popov that SDS was importing a Saiga-12 clone known as the Lynx 12 from China where it was made in the same factory that made the Type 56 AKs.  Even better, it did not need the conversion and the street price was about $499, I contacted Scott Igert, my friend who owns Modern Antique Firearms in Benton Harbor, MI, to order me one.

Palmetto State Armory has SDS Lynx 12 gauge shotguns for sale – click here to go to their order page.

In short order the shotgun arrived and then promptly sat idle as I was busy with a ton of other projects. Scott nudged me along to take a look as he was curious about the Lynx 12 also as were clients of his. That prompted me to get my act in gear and take a close look at the shotgun by taking it apart to install a bunch of modifications I had planned.

The first step was to give it a careful external exam. The Lynx had a nice heavy uniform dark parkerized finish – probably a manganese “park” given the color.  There was some type of preservative on it that had the most interesting smell.  I have no way to describe it other that to say it did not smell like the typical cosmoline-ish anti-corrosion coatings I was used to.  Note, parkerization does not prevent rust but what it does do is create a textured surface that oil, preservatives or even weapons finishes can “grab” hold of an stay in place.  For example, when I build an AK, I have found that abrasive blasting, followed by manganese parkerization and then Norrell’s Molyresin is a remarkably durable finishing process.  By the way, I have a post on how to do make and apply your own manganese parkerization.

The rivets were pretty good – in a few cases the domes were flatter than others, which is me nit picking, but they all were sitting nice and snug against the sheet metal.  Rivets are pretty amazing and result in strong attachments of the forged trunnions to the sheet metal as long as they are formed properly and the Lynx’s rivets are solid.

I found it interesting that the front trunnion sits on top of the sheet metal receiver.  The fitment was pretty good.

There were reports of early models having sharp edges but I did not see any.  All edges and the parkerized finish were well done.

I did notice that the rear stock screw as a bit chewed up by whomever installed the rear stock.  Normally you see this when someone uses a screw driver blade that is too small.  Not too bad and since I planned on replacing the rear stock, I really wasn’t worried about it.

The selector lever was noticeably loose.  On most AK rifles, it takes a bit of effort to move the lever between the safe and fire positions.  The lever on the Lynx moves very easily.  I’ll bend the lever slightly or use a center punch to increase the depth of the detent.  Again, not a big worry.

Because the shotgun is brand new and the fire control group and the inside of the receiver are all parkerized, the action was pretty rough.  This was to be expected – the parts need to wear in.  I knew from experience that cleaning and better lubrication would help.

The muzzle cover was easy to remove and threaded nicely.  It is threaded to use Saiga chokes and brakes.

The dust cover has an additional retainer spring and pin that you do not see on most AKMs to hold the dust cover in place.  Notice the attention to detail that the retaining button is shaped to allow the dust cover to clear it better.

A nicely done optics side rail is already installed and begging to be used.

It’s a good thing that is there because I really think you will want to run a red dot either via a scope mount or on a front rail.  The Lynx’s sights are to the front and rear of the gas tube.  The rear has a dovetail and can be drifted with a pin punch to the left or right.  The front sight is threaded and can be adjusted up or down.  They definitely are functional but I don’t care for them at all to be perfectly honest.

The gas regulator is pretty slick and how has four settings for you to choose from.  The SDS website describes the settings thusly:

…smallest dot = basically no gas, no rounds will usually cycle when the regulator is on this position. Next smallest dot = “00” buckshot, high velocity rounds and slugs. Next to largest dot = all things in between your results and field testing will be required to see what your individual shotgun will run in this setting. Largest dot = birdshot and other lower powered ammunition.

You’ll notice it has an AK-74 looking buttstock but it is actually hollow and very light.  It’s nicely formed and installed but the net result is that the shotgun is light overall but very front-heavy.  I planned to replace the buttstock, grip and forearm from the start and I will describe what was one and why in future posts in this series.

It uses Saiga magazines also.  One five round mag comes with the shotgun and SDS now sells 10 round magazines also that you can readily find.  It’s actually harder to find spare five round SDS-brand magazines right now than the 10 round units.

By the way, if you are interested about how it shoots, I haven’t had a chance to take it out yet.  In researching the shotgun and how durable it was, I talked to Paul Popov and he has 350 rounds through his with no signs of trouble.  I also talked to Justin McMillion at JMAC Customs and they have put through about 500 rounds also with no problems showing up.  Here is a great overview video from Justin and his wife Ashley:

To sum it all up, I was pretty impressed with my initial just out of the box assessment.  I’m certainly not done though as I bought the Lynx specifically to customize and blog about.  The custom Lynx 12 blog series will have two more posts – one about disassembly and then one with the customizations I made.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

The latest about the Vepr and Saiga import bans and the Kalashnikov Group Rebranding

gI_60121_Kalashnikov Concern

As you may know, in July 2014 the owner, Rostec, of the Baikal, Saiga and Vepr brands was put on the US sanctions list to punish Russia.  That apparently put a halt to about half of a 200,000 rifle deal being halted that they are now trying to find other buyers for and is hurting them financially:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30404648

Kalshnikov group is trying hard to improve the brand’s reputation and has approximately 30 different brands in the works.  As of 12/5/2014, they say they are focusing on Africa, Latin America and Asia-Pacific markets and not the US.  What I would read into that is that they are not publicly pushing to get back into the US.  Given how huge the market is here, I can’t help but feel they are still trying to get back in but there isn’t any public information about their efforts.  The two following stories about their rebranding efforts are interesting:



Unfortunately, as of today, December 14th, there are no indications that we are going to see the Vepr or Saiga rifles coming back into the US any time soon.  Putin’s friends are still making a ton of money and the sanctions aren’t changing his mind any. The problem with sanctions in general is that they sound good politically but often don’t work very well.

The change in ownership from the huge Russian conglomerate known as “Rostec State Corporation” to the private individuals of Alexei Krivoruchko and Andrei Bokarev hasn’t yielded any changes thus far.  The initial hope was that by moving ownership of the Kalashnikov to someone/or a group not on the named sanctions list would improve the situation but that does not seem to be the case thus far.

Bottom line, no changes or “cracks” in the import ban are visible via publicly accessible news stories and such.  It would look like we are stuck, and will be for the foreseeable future, on the sidelines still unable to import the Russian weapons.