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The Saiga-12 is a Kalashnikov-pattern 12 gauge combat shotgun available in a wide range of configurations. 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 incorporates several features absent on the AK-47 and similar firearms. Since shotgun shells are nearly twice as wide as 7.62x39 rifle cartridges, the extraction port in the side of the dust cover had to be increased in size. However, since the bolt had to remain the same length to fit inside the AK-47 sized receiver, the rear section of the bolt is covered by a sliding metal flap that rides on the recoil spring. This allows the gun to be sealed against dirt when the bolt is forward, but the compression of the recoil spring during firing moves the flap rearward to clear the extracted shells. 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. In Russia this shotgun can be relatively simply obtained, requiring only a "smoothbore-gun license" (which is relatively easy to obtain, compared to a "rifle license" that requires a five-year period of owning a smoothbore gun and/or a hunting permit). In the US state of California, as configured from the factory, it can be classified as an "assault weapon", as it is a semiautomatic shotgun with the ability to accept a detachable magazine and has a pistol grip installed. However, if a magazine lock that only allows the magazine to be removed by use of a tool is installed, it is no longer classified as such, as its previously detachable magazine is then rendered a fixed magazine. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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