After the collapse of the USSR and the beginning of the "conversion" of the Armed Forces, the prospects for the plant were very vague. Especially when you consider that the main products of the enterprise (small weapons) Army warehouses were probably clogged a century ahead. It was necessary to develop a civilian market.
For this, it was decided to release guns, or, as they are officially called in the documents of the company, "smooth-bore carbines" of the Saiga family based on AK.
Actually, the hunting rifle carbine on the basis of the machine gun was developed back in 80, but due to the peculiarities of the Russian legislation, there were much more potential buyers of smooth-bore weapons.
The first attempt was the creation of the "Saiga 310" - a smooth-bore carbine under the "intermediate" cartridge M43 - 7,62х39, whose difference from the rifled prototype was only in the absence of rifling in the barrel.
However, the law enforcement authorities did not approve of this option either, and it did not go on sale.
Then it was decided to create weapons for a completely “smooth” 410 caliber cartridge, which was completely unknown then, in our country. The choice of this "ladies' patron" (in the West it is popular as a munition for "ladies" and "kids" guns, with little efficiency and intended for shooting training), was due to the fact that its size and energy required smaller changes to the existing design, rather than more “adult” calibers.
Looking ahead, we note that it was thanks to the “Sayga-410” that this caliber was firmly entrenched in the Russian market and got its fans. Under him even produced other guns.
The specificity of the “saints of the nineties” was expressed in the fact that such leading figures of the weapon business as G. Nikonov (the developer of AN-94 "Abakan"), V. Afonin, V. Tsypko, A. Turkin, V were engaged in the development of this "frivolous" weapon. Abrahamyan, L. Ponomarev and V. Simonenko.
The first offspring of this group was a self-loading rifle "Saiga-410", intended for commercial and amateur hunting for small and medium-sized animals and poultry, as well as self-defense.
The weapon had a total length of 1170 mm with a barrel length of 570 mm and weight in 3,4 kg and had a “hunting” butt.
However, the hunting prospects of such a caliber were not too obvious, and as a weapon of self-defense, so relevant at that time, it had too large dimensions.
And soon, in accordance with the technical plan for the creation of weapons to ensure the safety of the home and self-defense of truck drivers, the models “Saiga-410С” and “Saiga-410К” were developed.
"410 C" received a pistol grip and folding stock from AK-74M. A "410 K" - a short barrel length 330 mm and fuse-lock, excluding, in accordance with the requirement of the law, shooting with the butt folded.
The last weapon turned out to be very compact, balanced and "turning" (what was required of it). For people familiar with the AK, there were no difficulties with its development (including the “motor skills” of shooting). This model has become for some time the undoubted favorite of the Russian market of "self-defense" weapons.
I also became the “happy” owner of this device. I note that this was not my first gun. His acquisition was associated with the desire to have the most compact self-charging, which could carry with them. In addition, with him I planned to teach children to shoot, who were then too small, not only for the 12, but also for the 20 caliber.
And in this sense, I did not “miss”: the return from the 410-th “Saiga” is very comfortable - soft and somewhat stretched. According to my subjective feelings, it is even lower than that of AKM. That is, one could say that a quick series of several shots from it would not have been a problem, if not for one circumstance: constant delays when shooting. She shot, or rather reloaded, through time. So it was with most of the cartridges available at that time: with barnaul ones - in steel sleeves, with a red factory plant - in plastic. Automatics of the gun normally worked only with Sportivtiv cartridges. But they were too expensive and only shotguns were available.
Initially, I decided that I got a defective copy. However, after studying the topic, I learned that this is a common problem. The fact is that initially the gun was designed for imported ammunition. In particular, “Federal” cartridges were indicated in the passport.
The characteristics of domestic cartridges were seriously different due to the powders used in them. And the adaptation of the gun to domestic ammunition required additional refinement of the structure.
Subsequently, this problem was solved, and the guns began to work confidently with any ammunition.
I had to solve the problems with recharging on my own, without the participation of Izhmash specialists. And I went all this way, described in detail in the weapon forums, from shortening the store springs and chamfering to installing various attachments.
The situation has somewhat improved, the number of "overcharges" has decreased, but, unfortunately, there was no need to talk about reliable operation of automation.
With all this, it is necessary to note the rather high accuracy of the gun. At a distance of 70 meters by Barnaul cartridges with a Foster bullet, I was able to assemble quite decent groups of hits - see 10-12 diameter.
It should be noted that the above-described “children's disease” of non-recharging was quite successfully solved by “spinning itself” - an independent equipment of cartridges with a selection of optimal weights of gunpowder and projectile, ensuring the normal operation of automation.
However, by this time I had already reached the deadline for the purchase of rifled weapons, and my interest in the “Saga 410 K” weakened me so much that I gave it to my friend, honestly warning him about all her sores.
However, for my friend, who belongs to the number of "techies" - researchers and who loves to solve all sorts of technical puzzles, it was rather a plus than a lack of a gun. Of the usual, well-working with "gross" weapons of the bullets he was not interested to shoot.
In addition to the problems described, the “Saiga 410-K” has a steel receiver and a powerful barrel, which, in combination with a long “Magnum” sleeve, opens up tremendous opportunities for a variety of experiments with ammunition equipment.
Having solved the issue of reloading, my friend began to study the limits of his gun. He shot 20 gram bullets from it. Accelerated charges to almost “automaton” speeds. One of his most curious products was the "counter-terrorist" bullet, as he called it, by analogy with the special ammunition used by the anti-terror fighters in the storming of aircraft and ships.
He machined an aluminum bullet and accelerated it, according to the chronograph, to 700 m / s. At the same time, she very quickly lost speed, and, accordingly, penetration ability.
In other words, in the form of “Saygi-410K”, my friend got a favorite toy, the interest in which he has maintained for many years.
As for the further development of this smooth-bore carbine, along with the increase in caliber (later Saiga 20 and Saiga 12 appeared, in which many technical solutions worked out for the four hundred tenth were used), it was militarized.
That is, the gun was upgraded to give it maximum similarity with the “prototype” - with AK.
Chief Marketing Officer "Izhmash" Valery Shilin told the following history the birth of the Saiga-410K-01 model.
According to him, the Terek Cossacks living in the southeastern lands of Stavropol, in the interval between the first and second Chechen wars, appealed to Izhmash to develop weapons for them with which they could resist the gangs of terrorists penetrating from rebel territories.
According to Shilin, the technical assignment of the villagers was as follows: the weapon had to be smooth-bore (to acquire it without a five-year period of service), but at the same time it was difficult to distinguish it from the combat AK.
To be honest, this story gives me a fair amount of skepticism. With all due respect to the “Saiga 410”, I would not consider it, even with an external resemblance to a machine gun, as an effective means to combat the terrorists of Khattab, Basayev and Gelayev.
In those days, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in those parts, and I know well that the Cossacks, the Ossetian and Dagestan militiamen were not armed with a smoothbore. Although their weapons and looked like "Saiga-410K-01".
The North Caucasus was then overrun with firearms. And since the local residents of the border areas actually created self-defense detachments, taking on part of the police’s concerns, the authorities looked at it with their fingers.
And the mentioned gun, which faithfully serves not only lovers of “postrelushki”, but also the employees of the private security organizations, was inappropriate in those conditions.
Although the story that this "Saiga" is not a simple gun, but a "Cossack", intended to fight terrorists, undoubtedly contributed to the growth of sales.
However, without any "legends" the gun was successful. In addition to the purely “cosmetic” moments, an important task had to be accomplished: to abandon the well-proven gas chamber and the Saigi-410 piston and ensure that the weapon is recharged using the AK vapor-gas unit.
This issue was resolved more than successfully: “Saiga-410K-01”, in addition to external similarity, approached the prototype and in terms of reliability. The problem of "zazhivyvaniya" sleeves was closed.
At the moment, this version of "four hundred and tenth" is being released with the addition of some external parts under the designations "Saiga-410K 02-04".
I had to shoot from several such guns, and they all showed good accuracy with absolute reliability. To this we can add that the automatic aiming devices greatly facilitate the process of bringing the Saiga to normal combat.
The excitement of 90-x around this product, of course, has long been asleep, but it continues to remain popular among fans of “postrelushki” and military style, which the lack of experience prevents to acquire a rifled “civilian AK”.
However, the appearance of the “smoothbore” in the 366 caliber is seriously crowding the “four hundred and tenth” in its seemingly forever occupied niche.