AK-Style Shotguns

04/2024

If you’re in the market for a versatile, reliable, semi-automatic shotgun, you might consider checking out an AK-47 style shotgun.

Shotguns made on the AK pattern deliver the same reliability and functionality of the legendary Russian rifle, but offered in shotgun gauges.

In this article we will discuss the features of AK-style shotguns and what makes them so great.

Origins

The AK-47 rifle was originally designed in 1947 and has since become the most-produced firearm in history. Estimates vary, but there have been somewhere between 50 million and 150 million AK-47s produced worldwide.

The AK-47 has become so successful due in large part to its reliability and simple design. With only minimal maintenance, an AK will perform under the harshest conditions.

In the 1990s, the Saiga-12 shotgun was produced in Russia at the original AK factory called Izhmash. The Saiga-12 was chambered in 12 gauge while retaining all of the components of the original AK-47 rifle.

The Saiga-12 is still produced in Russia today. While they are legal to buy and own in the United States, importation was restricted in 2014.

Design

The Saiga-12 and other AK-style shotguns utilize a gas-operated, semi-automatic action, which means they cycle shells automatically as long as there is gas pressure from firing. This design helps reduce recoil and allows for faster follow-up shots compared to pump-action shotguns.

Another design feature of the AK-style shotgun is the detachable magazine. Most variations come with a five shell detachable magazine, although larger capacity magazines are readily available.

Other notable features on AK-style firearms include the right-side charging handle and the iconic AK-style safety selector, also on the right side of the firearm. These features are pretty much standard across the board for AK-pattern weapons, which means that if you’re familiar with firing an AK-47 rifle, you will be comfortable handling an AK-style shotgun.

Customization

One of the best things about AK-style shotguns is that they accept most AK aftermarket accessories. This means that you can customize your shotgun to meet your exact needs.

Some of the best accessories available include collapsible or folding stocks, extended magazines, and rails for optics.

The original stock for AK-47s is nothing special. Originally made of wood, many modern AK stocks are now made of polymer.The most popular aftermarket stocks are adjustable, whether folding or collapsible. All of the aftermarket stocks available for AK-47s will also work with AK-style shotguns.

More is always better, right? Five rounds for a semi-auto shotgun go pretty quickly, but thankfully you can get extended capacity magazines and even drum magazines for an AK-style shotgun. This can beef up your capacity to 10, 12, or even 20 shells.

You have two options for mounting optics on your AK-style shotgun, a top rail or a side mount. Older versions of AK-47s and AK-style shotguns use a side mount optics rail. There are advantages and disadvantages, and not everyone likes these side mount systems.

Newer versions of the AK platform usually come with picatinny rails directly mounted to the upper receiver or gas tube.

Modern AK-Style Shotguns

From the original Saiga-12 shotgun produced almost 30 years ago, there are now dozens of companies that make their own versions of the AK-style shotgun. Here are some of the best modern AK-style shotguns available.

JTS M12AK

The JTS M12AK is a tactical shotgun built on the popular AK platform. It features an 18.7-inch barrel and an overall length of 39.37 inches. It is chambered for 12 gauge and can accept 2 ¾-inch as well as 3-inch shells. It also accepts standard Remington choke tubes.

The M12AK has a chrome-lined barrel and a Picatinny top rail for mounting optics. It also features a four-position gas system that can be adjusted to specific loads.

The M12AK is a great choice for someone looking for their first AK-style shotgun. It is loaded with features but still retains an entry-level price point.

And, if you’re into the AR style instead, they also have you covered there.

Shop All Models

VEPR-12

The VEPR-12 is another Russian variant of the AK-style shotgun made by a company called Molot. The VEPR-12 is known as the gold standard of AK-style shotguns for their uncompromising quality.

The overall design is basically the same as other AK-style shotguns. VEPR comes in a variety of barrel lengths to accommodate different users. They are available with longer barrels for hunting or sport shooting, or shorter tactical barrels for close quarters combat or home defense.

VEPR and Saiga are becoming increasingly difficult to buy in the US because of the import ban of 2014. They are still legal to own and shoot, but because they are no longer imported, they are becoming somewhat rare.

Destructive Devices Industries DDI-12

First off, I love this company’s name. They didn’t hide the fact that guns are, in fact, destructive devices. No political correctness here.

The DDI-12 is based on the Saiga-12 but with some impressive upgrades. Most notably a left-side charging handle and an AR-style selector switch. These features will appeal to a user who is more familiar with AR-style firearms.

One of the most basic differences between ARs and AKs is the side of the firearm the charging handle is on. Users who almost exclusively shoot the AR platform may have trouble transitioning to AK because of this. The AK-style safety selector can also throw AR users for a loop.

The DDI-12 addresses both of these issues with more familiar AR-style charging handles and selector switches. That means that the DDI-12 could be a great firearm for shooters who seek to familiarize themselves with the AK platform after coming from AR-style.

Unfortunately, the only place to find one of these anymore is in the used firearms market – like Gun Broker.

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