Named for the Saiga Antelope, the Saiga series of rifles is based on the AK-47 weapon system originally designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. The Saiga platform was developed for shooters who wanted the reliability of an AK pattern rifle in a non-military package.Edit
Originally designed in the 1970s, the first rifles were chambered for 5.6x39mm. The project was not a huge success and only about 300 rifles of this design were produced.
The Saiga was reintroduced in the 1990s and was marketed as a rifle capable of hunting medium-sized game. Improvements were made to the initial design from the 1970s which made the rifle capable of handling more powerful cartridges such as the .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm and the more prevalent .223 Remington/5.56x45mm, 5.45x39mm, and 7.62x39mm calibers. These improvements contributed to the modern line of the Saiga rifles being adopted by many different hunters.