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Russia's SKS Rifle Should Have Been A Legend

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Sentry18

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Russia's SKS Rifle Should Have Been A Legend

Despite being superior to Imperial Russia’s Mosin-Nagant rifle, the SKS had an incredibly short service life.


by Caleb Larson

The SKS was the first rifle to replace the Soviet Union’s bolt-action Mosin-Nagant of Imperial Russian vintage. It was about time too—the Mosin-Nagant had served the Tsar’s troops since 1891. It was overpowered and had a small five-round magazine, limiting a soldier's firepower. Recoil was excessive as was the Mosin-Nagant’s weight.

SKS production began in 1945 and was an improvement of the AVS-36 rifle, one of the world’s first selective fire rifles. Though the AVS had a higher magazine capacity than the Mosin-Nagant, it used the same overly-powerful 7.62x54mmR cartridge. Using the more moderately powerful 7.62×39mm round, Soviet gunsmiths went to work designing something more reliable and better suited to the shorter range battles of World War Two.

SKS
The 7.62×39mm was a much more manageable round thanks to its much lower recoil. The SKS also had a 10-round non-detachable magazine that was loaded via a stripper clip. Compared to the Mosin-Nagant, the SKS had double the magazine capacity. The SKS also had a foldable bayonet mated to the underside of the barrel that could swing 180 degrees outward and clip into place. Though the bayonet could be rapidly deployed, it was rather cumbersome and added to the rifle’s weight.
Overall, the SKS was an improvement over the Mosin-Nagant. It was prized for its ease of manufacture, ruggedness, and pain-free maintenance. Despite the overall positive characteristics, the SKS had a very short life as a service rifle with the Soviet Union. The advent of the iconic and superior AK-47 ended the SKS’ frontline service, though the rifle continued to be manufactured in the Soviet Union for use with their satellites and allies and abroad, mostly by other communist states.

China manufactured the SKS in massive numbers for both People’s Liberation Army soldiers, and for their Communist allies in north Vietnam where the rifle served both as a front-line weapon and as a civilian issue rifle for village protection.
Today, the SKS has a following on the civilian market, where it is used as a plinker, and as a hunting rifle. Despite the 7.62×39mm cartridge’s more modest characteristics, it is sufficient for taking down small and medium-sized game animals. The rifle’s ubiquitousness and relatively low cost make it an easily accessible platform for most shooters, despite the lack of a mount for modern scopes.

Relegated to History
Taken all together, the SKS was a great improvement over its predecessors, most especially the aged Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifle. The SKS was lighter, had double the magazine capacity, and was semi-automatic. Unfortunately for the rifle, the AK-47 was just too good to pass up. Still, the SKS makes for an interesting piece of World War Two and Cold War history.

Simonow_SKS_45_noBG_0.jpg
 

Spikedriver

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Love the SKS. Strong, cheap to shoot, and dead reliable. If the commies had put any kind of half decent sights on it, it would be nearly perfect.
 

phideaux

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I love my SKS , but it's a Chinese Norinco , and improved barrel bore over the Russian , as it's chrome lined.
I have only seen 1 or 2 Russian ones with a shiny bore,, but every Norinco I've seen had a shiny , pit free bore.( Which affects accuracy).

Great shooting rifle, never has missed a beat, and is consistent ly accurate.

I've never been able to get it to run without hiccups , using the 30 round magazine.

Kids love shooting it also.

Jim
 

Spikedriver

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I love my SKS , but it's a Chinese Norinco , and improved barrel bore over the Russian , as it's chrome lined.
I have only seen 1 or 2 Russian ones with a shiny bore,, but every Norinco I've seen had a shiny , pit free bore.( Which affects accuracy).

Great shooting rifle, never has missed a beat, and is consistent ly accurate.

I've never been able to get it to run without hiccups , using the 30 round magazine.

Kids love shooting it also.

Jim
Concerning the mags, I think you're absolutely correct Jim. Run it with the internal mags and stripper clips, just like it was intended to be run, and you'll never have a problem.

Now, the problem is finding good quality stripper clips. They're still out there, but they're getting scarce...
 

SheepDog

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I have had different luck with the two SKS's that I own. One of them likes to eject a loaded round while feeding one into the chamber and neither of them can hit a three inch dot at 100 yards. If you need something that will hit a man sized target a 50 yards they would be alright but you have to have someone to pick up the live rounds that are ejected. I bought both guns and a case of ammo for $100 back when the market was flooded with them. They are Chinese made with forged receivers and triangular bayonets. I have fired about twenty rounds through each of them and they sit in the corner where they will stay.
 

Meerkat

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I love my SKS , but it's a Chinese Norinco , and improved barrel bore over the Russian , as it's chrome lined.
I have only seen 1 or 2 Russian ones with a shiny bore,, but every Norinco I've seen had a shiny , pit free bore.( Which affects accuracy).

Great shooting rifle, never has missed a beat, and is consistent ly accurate.

I've never been able to get it to run without hiccups , using the 30 round magazine.

Kids love shooting it also.

Jim
Hubby has the same gun.Most of the family has shot it when we were at gun club but no longer go there, not a memebr now.All the kids ,3 grand kids have used it to practice. Seems ok to me.Not that I'd know the difference since I haven't had the Russian gun to shoot.
 

Sparky_D

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I've only shot a couple SKS rifles. Never been a big fan.

The first one had a habit of gas blowing back right under my shooting glasses, burning my eyes.

The second one had terrible consistency (likely a pitted bore, wasn't mine so didn't check).

To be fair, I've never really cared for the AK-47 design either. Sure it's a proven battle worthy beast, but it just doesn't sparkle my eyes...
 

Sentry18

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I used to have a Russian and a Norinco (Chinese). Both were good reliable guns, the Russian was more accurate. Unfortunately I was too young to know NEVER to trade or sell guns I liked and something cooler came along.
 

SheepDog

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I spoil myself. If a rifle won't shoot it gets put in the corner. I don't have time to shoot inaccurate rifles. I have 4 guns (3 rifles and a pistol) that shoot 223/556 ammo. All of them are capable of sub MOA groups at 100 yards. As a bonus they all shoot the same load - that is NOT normal.
 

ssonb

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The SKS is an extremely reliable effective battle rifle and as long as we buy the higher quality ones that dependability transfers right to the next owner...... screw in barrel , milled trigger assembly, chrome lined barrels.. now I have found that the original wood stocks are now very brittle and that comes from sitting in storage for decades soaking in oils. replace with a Ram Line stock and eliminate those worries.
 

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