The Saiga-12 is a 12-gauge combat shotgun available in a wide range of configurations, visually patterned after the Kalashnikov series of assault rifles. 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 looser clearances offered in an AK style design result in high reliability—an enormous boon on a semi-automatic shotgun, as this class of weapon had previously tended towards unreliability.
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. Izhmash also manufactures Saiga 20's and Saiga 410's in 20-gauge and .410 bore, as well as the Saiga semi-automatic hunting rifles in a number of centerfire calibers.