Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining Your AK Saiga

by Alexey Kruglov
AK Saiga M 7.62x39mm

AK Saiga M 7.62x39mm

While the Saiga is one of the most durable shotguns or rifles for sale today, it's still important to maintain and care for your weapon to further extend its longevity. The first step to cleaning your weapon is stripping it. You'll also need some supplies, including:

  • Birchwood Casey Gun Scrubber spray
  • Sheath oil spray
  • Hoppes #9 powder solvent
  • Nylon toothbrush
  • Stiff wire brush
  • Teflon gel or synthetic motor oil, if necessary
  • Cotton patches
  • Blue shop towels
  • 90-degree angle pick
  • Borelight

Spray solvents like the Birchwood Casey Gun Scrubber are very effective at cleaning firearms and may be used on virtually all internal and external parts. Hoppes #9 solvent is also a popular choice that works well. Start by using the scrubber to spray all internal parts of your Saiga, including the receiver, trigger and the weapon's hammer. Carefully go over each part of the gun with the toothbrush and then spray again, wiping down all parts with shop cloth. Allow to dry

Now, look over the rails of your Saiga and make sure the bolt carrier can slide easily and there is no debris, which can hurt cycling. If necessary, add just a small amount of teflon gel. Remember, avoid WD-40 in your Saiga 12 or any other model, as it quickly attracts powder residue.

Saiga 12 433 Tactika

Next, clean the barrel with solvent, using the brush and patches of cotton until it looks good. The barrel should always be cleaned last because residue from the gun's gas port can get into the barrel, which would just be a waste of your time. Use a cloth well saturated with solvent to go over the barrel threads. Brush them with a thread protector and apply a light coating of oil before you re-thread any muzzle attachment.

Next is the bolt carrier, which should be cleaned with your scrubber spray and a wire brush that's saturated with Hoppes #9. This should effectively remove any build-up. Expect the gas piston of your Saiga to be the toughest to clean with a lot of build-up. You'll need to go over it a couple of times and use a lot of solvent, but it won't look like new again. You want the edges to be free of residue and debris. The bolt will also need extra work to check that the extractors are functioning properly. While you're at it, look at the tip of your firing pin for damage and chipping.

Finally, go over the return spring with the scrubber spray and use shop cloths to wipe it off. You don't need to remove it for this. Go over the seating groove in the receiver. When all of the internal parts of your Saiga are clean, give each a final coating of light oil. Some people choose to give everything a light coating of Birchwood Casey and then wipe it clean.

While it's a bit time consuming at first, cleaning your Saiga will ensure it functions properly for a lifetime. Once you've done it a few times it gets easy. Whether you own a Saiga 12 or a rifle, you'll find cleaning your gun regularly is both enjoyable and simple to master.