Box Magazines for Shotguns: Comparability and Compatibility

Here at GunMagWarehouse, we get plenty of questions about magazines. Mags are an interesting part of a weapon’s design, and they can get confusing. For example, did you know the SIG P226/P229 magazines will work in Taurus G3 series pistols? Weird, but true. We’ve been getting lots and lots of questions from our beloved customers regarding the MKA 1919 and the Saiga 12. Specifically, are the magazines interchangeable?

Both guns use box magazines, and both have a 12-gauge option. Saiga admittedly made a variety of shotguns, including .410 and 20 gauge models. As far as I can tell, the MKA 1919 only comes in 12 gauge. The focus of the question and our answer will be on the 12 gauge models of both. It’s easy to see why the question pops up. Both are semi-auto shotguns, both use box mags, and both have varying capacities up to drums.

Bottom Line, Are Their Magazines Cross-Compatible?

No. Sadly, I have to deliver the bad news. The MKA 1919 and Saiga mags are not interchangeable in any way. There are some major differences between the two magazines that actually tie back to the old AR vs. AK argument. The MKA 1919 is a Turkish shotgun designed to capitalize on the AR-15 design.

MKA 1919 magazine
The MKA 1919 magazines also offers a variety of capacity options

This gun aims to capture the benefits of the AR design, including its ergonomics, which include a dedicated “mag well” with a very easy-to-reach magazine release. The MKA 1919 captured that release and the “mag well” design. This means the MKA 1919 magazines insert into the “mag well” and use a side-mounted magazine catch, just like an AR.

The Saiga is famously molded after the AK. The MKA 1919 looks and feels like an AR but is functionally different. The Saiga 12 looks and feels like an AK because it is an AK, just scaled up for the mighty 12 gauge. This includes the single-stack magazine design. The AK lacks a prominent “mag well” and uses a rock (back) and lock design, and so does the Saiga 12.

Saiga 12 magazine
The Saiga 12 mags come in a variety of different capacities

This difference in design makes it impossible to mix your Saiga 12 mags with your MKA 1919. This answers our basic question, but I wanted to expand into the world of box magazines and shotguns and try to track down compatibility between different variants.

Saiga Mag Compatibility

The Saiga mags will run in the JTS AK shotguns, which are becoming a bit more popular. The Lynx 12 series can also use Saiga magazines, as can the SDS Imports S12. These are all AK-type shotguns, but Saiga mags have broken out of the AK world. The Black Aces Tactical Pro Series M Shotguns can also take Saiga magazines, and they look like traditional-style shotguns. TriStar also imported a bullpup shotgun that used Saiga mags, but it was more or less an AK-style shotgun with the bullpup treatment.

The JTS AK shotgun is the latest replacement for the Saiga 12

MKA 1919 Magazines Compatibility

Almost all Turkish AR-type shotguns are compatible with the MKA 1919 magazines. This includes the VR series from Rock Island Armory, the Typhoon, the G-Force Arms designs, and more. Several bullpup Turkish imports will also work with the MKA 1919 magazines, including the guns from SDS Imports and the Black Aces pro-Bullpup. There are even several Turkish imports like the mag-fed, pump action VRPA40 that use the MKA 1919 magazines.

mka 1919
The MKA 1919 shotgun takes an AR spin on the box-fed shotgun market

Will MKA 1919 Mags Work in the Genesis 12?

I said almost all TURKISH AR shotguns use MKA 1919 magazines. The Genesis 12 is a semi-auto, AR-type shotgun, but it is American-made. Specifically, it is made to work with an AR-10 lower receiver. This means it is not compatible with the MKA 1919 magazines. The Genesis 12 series will only work with Genesis 12 magazines.

genesis 12 shotgun
The Genesis 12 takes its own proprietary magazine

Molot Vepr Magazines

You look at the Vepr series and the Saiga series, and you think, oh, they are both Russian AK designs, so they should use the same mags, right? Wrong! The Vepr magazines are different than Saiga mags. Supposedly, you can modify the Saiga mags to work in the Veprs, but I don’t suggest it. The Vepr magazines tend to be a higher quality and are very well-made magazines.

dissident arms shotgun
The Molot Vepr Mags are consisdered some of the best. This Vepr has the Dissident Arms treatment (Dissident Arms)

Guns like the Kalashnikov USA KS-12 utilize the Vepr magazines, likely due to their reliability and high-quality design. Dissident Arms, the American masters of AK shotguns, also use Vepr 12 mags. They are quite expensive, but they work very well. Guns like the Legacy Arms RS-S1 also use the Vepr magazine design. The benefit of Vepr mags is the ability to easily use a magwell, which can help with faster reloads.

All About the Mossberg 590M Magazines

Mossberg uses a rather interesting magazine system for the 590M series guns. They are a double stack magazine that’s quite wide. They can hold anywhere from five to 20 rounds. It’s pretty amazing how well these magazines work, and they are very well-built. I’d argue they are the best box mags manufactured for shotguns. Sadly, no one else uses the Mossberg design. These magazines are admittedly very expensive, but they are worth the money.

The 590M offers one of the most robust box fed shotgun options

The Mags of the Origin 12

The Origin 12 is one of the coolest shotguns ever. It’s also a ton of fun to shoot, although it is fairly pricey. The gun does use a proprietary magazine. When Fostech created the gun, they saw the magazines as an inherent weakness and decided to design and implement their own AK-like magazine. As far as I know, only the Origin 12 uses these magazines.

origin 12 ak shotgun
The Origin 12 is AK shotgun-like, but it uses a proprietary magazine

Box Mags and Shotguns

This is in no way a complete list of box mags for shotguns. It barely covers 12-gauge options. We have .410 ARs and 20 gauge AKs out there, not to mention the mags that work in various bolt-action shotguns. As of late, it seems like shotguns with box magazines are dominating certain sects of the market.

The Turkish imports have been dominated by box-fed designs, which has given way to several new magazine platforms and designs. This variety and complexity have left a lot of shooters confused, which is understandable. Heck, the magazines all basically look alike, but they don’t always function alike. The differences in the way a magazine locks in place, the angle it feeds, and the overall design can be massive, even if those differences are tough to see.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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