IDEX 2017: Kalashnikov Concern’s New Saiga-MK Balanced Recoil Competition Rifle, and Improved SVD-M Dragunov

The Firearm Blog would like to extend its thanks to reader and contributor Giorgio, who lent his journalistic services to us at this years IDEX conference in Abu Dhabi in February. Thanks, Giorgio!

The Kalashnikov Concern booth at IDEX 2017 was reportedly packed with weapons, with most leaning towards the Concern’s new focus on civilian and competition weapons sales. TFB’s correspondent noted two most interesting weapons on display were the Saiga-MK, the civilian competition version of the AK-107, and the SVD-M, an improved version of the famous SVD Dragunov sniper rifle. The SVD-M features a new railed top cover and thicker barrel, and is reportedly significantly more accurate than the original SVD, especially during sustained fire.

In this lineup: Leading, a modernized SV-99 .22 LR sniper rifle, SVD-M, SVD (Upgraded), SV-98M

The Saiga-MK was formerly branded the Saiga 107, and uses the balanced action developed in the 1980s during the Abakan project. The balanced action system uses a forward moving counterweight driven by the gas system of the rifle to cancel out the “jolt” caused by the rear-moving bolt carrier group, thereby smoothing recoil. This system does not eliminate the rifle’s recoil, and in fact the recoil impulse of the a weapon using this action should be more similar to that of a bolt action rifle in the same caliber than a semiautomatic, which is beneficial for weapons shooting small calibers like the 5.45x39mm.

The Saiga-MK, along with a short-barreled AK-9:

Interestingly, the Concern’s newest products, the RPK-16 automatic rifle, SVK sniper rifle, and MA compact assault rifle, did not appear to be present.

About IDEX: The International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) is the largest defence and firearms exhibition in the Middle East. It has been held bi-annually since 1993, and boasted an attendance over 100,000 in 2017 (for comparison, the 2017 SHOT Show had an attendance of about 65,000). IDEX is a general defense show rather than firearms-specific, but due to its huge size and regional importance it is often the scene for many small arms-related announcements.





Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Anonymoose

    If it’s in .223 wouldn’t it be an AK-108, not a 107?

    • …I suppose so? I’m not sure what kind of continuity there is there.

      • mechamaster

        Similar with AK-100 series. And recent AK-12 and AK-15 .

  • BattleshipGrey
    • jcl

      I heard aek-971 has different balanced recoil action mechanism compared to ak-107, is that true?

      • BattleshipGrey

        This is the only one I’ve ever seen, but I can’t keep up with all the AK variants.

      • Tyler McCommon
        • Ryfyle

          Time to slap that on to a piston AR.

          • Hyok Kim

            I used to advocate the same. Not anymore. For semi-auto fire, and that’s pretty much what’s AR is intended for, piston adds extra weight to the forward portion, degrading the fast handling and maneuverability. Not worth it.

          • Ryfyle

            Fair enough. Do you think some crazy springs and a super light BCG might also be a good fit for some of those Binary Triggers as well?

          • Hyok Kim

            Crazy spring, yes, super light BCGs no, whether binary or others. Light BCGs sacrifuse reliability, some cases, even durability. I like mine just regular weight or maybe a bit heavier for extra reliability, if heavier, than I would have to stick with forged receivers.

      • Maxim Popenker

        yes, concept is the same but implementations are quite different in most details.
        You can see details of the Saiga MK-107 action here (it is very similar to AK-107 in this regard)
        http://modernfirearms.net/civil/rus/saiga-107-e.html

        • Colonel K

          So the legendary poodle riders of the Eurasian steppes can’t handle the recoil of a 7.62 x 39 or 5.56? Now they need a recoil reducer? Oh, how the mighty have fallen. 🙂

          • Hyok Kim

            Less recoil means more accurate full auto and fast semi-auto fire. What’s wrong with that?

          • Colonel K

            My comment was primarily meant in jest. The soldiers of WWI and WWII were smaller in stature than soldiers of today, yet they had to deal with the more punishing recoil of weapons firing rounds such as the 7.62x54R, 30’06, 303 British, 7.7 Jap, and 8mm Mauser. Neither the 7.62×39 or 5.56 NATO are heavy recoiling rounds, so the recovery time between single shots is quite fast. Recovery and controllability are faster in the AR than the typical AK thanks to the lower recoil impulse and superior ergonomics. In my experience the AK-74 brake went a long way towards countering the rise and recoil of the AK, but perhaps the balanced recoil system will make it even more controllable. However, I have concerns about its cost, complexity, reliability, weight, and accuracy. I doubt anyone here will be buying the full-auto version due to the ’86 law,
            but no doubt some military organizations,for whom it is really marketed,
            may like the idea. Action shooters may find the semi-auto recovery time nominally faster, but I can’t be certain of that.

          • Hyok Kim

            “My comment was primarily meant in jest.”

            I am sorry for not getting it.

            “The soldiers of WWI and WWII were smaller in stature than soldiers of today, yet they had to deal with the more punishing recoil of weapons firing rounds such as the 7.62x54R, 30’06, 303 British, 7.7 Jap, and 8mm Mauser.”

            Yes, all true. Tell me about those Garands! Not only it’s heavy, it’s dead weight away from one’s body, talk about backbreaking. Patton not withstanding, I’d been happier with 03 or better yet with Krag. If one needed some serious firepower, one could always use proper MGs, grenades, or better yet, artillery bombardment. Small arms fire account for a very small amount of casualties anyway.

            “Neither the 7.62×39 or 5.56 NATO are heavy recoiling rounds, so the recovery time between single shots is quite fast. Recovery and controllability are faster in the AR than the typical AK thanks to the lower recoil impulse and superior ergonomics. In my experience the AK-74 brake went a long way towards countering the rise and recoil of the AK, but perhaps the balanced recoil system will make it even more controllable. However, I have concerns about its cost, complexity, reliability, weight, and accuracy.”

            It doesn’t look like it would sacrifise reliability since it would provide additional impulse for the rifle to work, if anything it would increase reliability. But I agree with the weight, not so much on accuracy. The weight is right up there with the muzzle far away from the center of the body. If the weight was in the middle or better yet closer to the body, wouldn’t be that much problem just like bullpups.

            For the intended purpose, battle carbines are not meant for slow precision fire, it was meant to fire either in full auto, or fast semi-auto. So it wouldn’t compromise the accuracy for the intended purpose.

            “I doubt anyone here will be buying the full-auto version due to the ’86 law,
            but no doubt some military organizations,for whom it is really marketed,
            may like the idea.”

            Yes, especially SWAT team. They don’t want proper MGs for PR reason. But regular battle carbine with more accurate full auto fire?

            “Action shooters may find the semi-auto recovery time nominally faster, but I can’t be certain of that.”

            I think the advantage of more accurate fast semi-auto fire is negated by the extra weight at the muzzle, compromising fast handling.

  • mechamaster

    It’s funny to see the picatiny rail mounting on SVDM doesn’t utilized the side-mount adapter, and preferred to bolted the raised rail into the handguard and of it utilized railed dust cover. ( Don’t know if it is loosening in long term or not )

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/18c6f8583eb3d3122a194e42dadc4592f1bdd8e63ec5c30860ab957989e2dcb2.jpg

  • Maxim Popenker

    Couple of points.
    Balanced action carbine is oficially called Saiga Mk-107
    The pistol-caliber carbine below is Saiga 9×19, and it has no relation to the short-lived AK-9, being a civilian version of the Vityaz-SN subgun

    • Thanks, Max!

    • Giolli Joker

      It was only marked as MK. Yes, the other was definitely a Saiga 9.

    • Zasta

      So the 9×39 AK9 is dead?

  • Logic

    For all crybabies about balanced recoil, you can simply use a really light bolt carrier in an AR15 and you get ultra low recoil for competition too.

    • 8166PC1

      I kind of doubt a lighter weight ar15 carrier has the same effect as the Saiga MK’s balanced action.

      • Logic

        It does, ive once used an custom AR15 with really light bolt carrier and it had insanly low recoil, than he put on a brake and it was mind blowing.

        • Spike

          And this was on full auto? That would make the rate of fire insanely high.

          • Logic

            You obviously have to tweak the gas pressure, like using a diffrent gas port size.

          • Hyok Kim

            Woudn’t it further compromise the reliability even further>

    • Hyok Kim

      Doesn’t the lightweight carrier sacrifise reliability? And the weight of the carriers are further behind than the balanced control, making it inferior for either full auto or fast semi-auto fire control?

  • 8166PC1

    I could be wrong but the Saiga MK looks like it has AR15 magazine? Which means there possibly is a bolt hold open and bolt catch? And I wonder why Kalashikon Koncern has given up advertising the AK-107 to the military markets?

    • Shape

      Idk, but would be funny if not, it would really downgrade its competition performance.

      • 8166PC1

        Having a STANAG magazine would downgrade its performance?

        • Shape

          No…? i simply mean not having a bolt catch.

    • Giolli Joker

      It has bolt hold open, all controls are readily accessible. If you look at one of my crappy photos, the bolt was locked open, the release is in front of the trigger guard.

  • Giolli Joker

    I didn’t ask specifically about the missing rifles mentioned, but the rep told me of export/import restrictions with some newer models like the Lebedev pistol.

  • Wow!

    Honestly the lightest and best way to control recoil in a firearm is with a good muzzle brake.

  • Joe Deats

    SVD…..yes please! Oh man I see a whole bunch of goodness I want. Please AK Lords, send them here to America.

    • Joseph Anthony

      I missed out on one due to the Clinton ban.. Still want one.

  • Hyok Kim

    The weight of the action if toward the muzzle, all that extra weight up the muzzle would help in full auto or fast semi-auto, but it would impede nimble handling.