Buying an SKS For Dummies


July 25, 2007, 05:02 PM
If someone who knew very little about the SKS and was interested in buying one, not as a collection piece, but to bang away with cheap ammo, what advice would you give? Specifically: 1) Russian vs Chinese or other, 2) Premium price for new or nearly - worth it? 3) Rebuilt - care or not?, 4) Buy unseen or hunt locally? 5) other stuff dummies wouldn't think to ask? And last but not least, they seem very pricey on gunbroker, usually in the 300s. Is that really the market?

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July 25, 2007, 05:10 PM
If you just want a shooter, get a yugo they're built like russians and typically run sub 200$

You can find unissued ones if you look a little bit.

If you want something thats going to appriciate dramatically get an early russian, they're quite nice,

for ease of cleaning, the chinese are the only ones with a chrome lined barrel, but I don't like the wood and they feel cheap to me.

Still, for your needs, just get a yugo. Its not going to matter all that much if you get one thats a bit kicked around or one thats perfect.

It's an sks not a supermatch gun, a rifle built to the exacting tolerences and high standards of accuracy demanded by conscripted pesentry around the globe.

July 25, 2007, 05:15 PM
If you want a cheap plinker stay away from the Russians. They shoot rather nice but nowadays cost you twice as much as any other and pretty much collectors pieces.

I would go with Chinese or Yugoslavian. The later is a little cheaper, all milled, screwed barrel, but the barrel isn't chromed. The Chinese is stamped, pinned barrel, a little more expensive, however they come in a number of civilian versions including the handle shorter paratrooper.

Plenty of them are around with matching numbers. Its best to get it matching.

Most SKS' are in very similar condition. If price is your main factor and you got a curio and relics license get one over the internet. Otherwise gunshows are usually flooded with them.

They will give you about 4moa accuracy to start off with. You can bring that down usually by bedding it properly as there is a great deal of movement in the stock.

There are some aftermarket sights and mounts available. I would avoid scope mounts that used the top cover to place themselves. They have a habit of moving and not keeping a zero. Good sights that will hold their zeros that I like are;

This is the Tech-Sight TS200. Awesome peep sight that keeps its zero and works fantastically well.

Others like the following William firesight that mounts where the normal rear sight is located and a nice fibre optics front sight.

Then there are some side mounting scope mounts that work rather well.

Useful webpages about the SKS include; (

If you are going to switch out parts pay close attention to the parts count of foreign parts. The Simonov page should help with that.

July 25, 2007, 05:36 PM
Well everyone's going to have a different opinion on this one.

I have a Russian, not re-arsenaled, paid a lot for it, shoots like crap and is very rough in the action and trigger. But it looks great. I won't buy another one because it isn't worth it unless you're a collector.

Just a couple other notes. Yugo's are very likely to be battle veterans with all the wear and abuse that could be associated with that.

Chinese were almost exclusively manufactured specifically for sale in the US and are more likely to be in much better condition.

Both Chinese I own have triggers that are FAR better than the Yugo I owned. Every other Chinese and Yugo I've tried has shown this same tendency.

Don't be fooled by the milled vs. stamped argument. My chinese stamped trigger is better than my milled chinese trigger. Pinned chinese barrels are relatively rare, and some folks think they are the most accurate versions available. To the right person, a pinned chinese of the right manufacture is probably more valuable than most Russians.

If you think a stamped AK receiver is ok, then the you don't need to worry if the SKS is stamped.

If you think that shooting grenades is in your future, then the Yugo gives you what you need. If not, then the overbuilt nature of the Yugo will not be important and it's just excess weight and a gas system that could give you problems.

The Yugo is the only SKS without a chromed bore. The chrome makes cleaning easier, the lack of chrome in the Yugo will not make it more accurate than either a chinese or russian.

Do price checks, you're probably going to find that a real nice chinese (norinco) will be close to the same price as a so called unissued Yugo. Always check second hand shops and the used gun section at your local shop.

One last thing, there's no way to predict how any SKS is going to shoot. You're rolling the dice no matter what.

July 25, 2007, 05:44 PM
Cabelas has Yugos for $150.

July 25, 2007, 05:52 PM
Thanks to all. A follow up - are the $39 syn stocks a problem in any way? Limeyfellow mentioned that stocks often need rebedded and for me, I might just prefer a synthetic sporter stock anyway. That neutralizes another issue - it seems the Norinco might be my best bet, but I agree with many that their stocks are, well - ugly. If I went to shows might I be lucky enough to find some Norincos already in a synthetic stock? Come to think of it that syn stock thing might solve yet another problem. Chinese guns usually have stocks with as short as 12 inch pull, right? I couldn't live with that and would assume a synthetic sporter stock would have lop more in line for US shooters?

July 25, 2007, 11:48 PM
Like already mentioned, we all have our opinion and here is mine but it agree's with many others. I choose the Yugo models (own 2 of them) because they were the most readily avaliable and cheapest when found locally. Both were IMO in very good condition for $169 each. (all numbers matching and came with sling,ammo pouch and cleaning kits) I do not look at the SKS as a rifle that I would take to the range and work at improving to gain a 3 MOA or better so I see no reason to look for the other more expensive and hard to find variations. One SKS is completly stock and the other has Tapco furniture and I replaced the GL with a muzzle break. Like someone else here said, stay away from the reciever cover mounts if you want to use a scope. I have tried 2 versions of this style mount and neither will keep at zero. this company here has what I think is going to be the best way to get a decent mount on a SKS. I have not tried it yet as I am working on purchasing a better rifle for more long range accuracy. Oh, and by the way. If you pick up a Yugo model and want to have some fun with it, get you a tennis or golf ball launcher and teach your dog to play fetch.

chris in va
July 25, 2007, 11:52 PM
I have the FireSights, they're alright but the peep is very far away. The TechSights are probably better, similar to a Garand.

Yugo is a decent shooter if you can deal with all the added crap on the end of the barrel. Mine runs fine with Wolf FMJ.

July 26, 2007, 10:10 AM
Here's a photo of my factory 26 Norinco. i think the stock looks pretty good.

I agree that the stocks are a bit short, I don't recall if there's a difference in LOP in the Norincos vs Yugo vs. Russian though. I'll measure Russian and Chinese tonight and post up tomorrow. It's an interesting question.

July 26, 2007, 11:18 AM
I have the FireSights, they're alright but the peep is very far away. The TechSights are probably better, similar to a Garand.

If you just but the Firesight front post (about $15 IIRC) and the TS200 rear element, you have an outstanding long radius aperture sight setup. I love mine.

Although, on my Yugo I needed to shave down the rear sides of the inlet a bit, as the lugs from the Techsight needed to be where a little of the wood was. I had to do the same thing with my Tapco T6, but at the rear where the stock meets the receiver.

July 27, 2007, 01:14 AM
... to bang away with cheap ammo, what advice would you give? Specifically:

1) Russian vs Chinese or other
Current imports (Yugo 55/66) are usually the cheapest. More common models (Chinese) are generally less expensive than less common models (Russian, Romanian, and Albanian). The biggest functional difference between the models is probably the Yugo 59/66 gas system (to allow it to launch grenades).

The Chinese rifles have the most variants and run the gamut from excellent to so-so. If you take the time to learn about the differences (, you can often find real bargains on Chinese rifles.

2) Premium price for new or nearly - worth it
Why pay a premium for a rifle to "bang away with cheap ammo?"

3) Rebuilt - care or not
Most of the Russians, the Chinese military rifles, and many of the Yugos are arsenal rebuilds, so it probably should not matter if you are not a collector.

4) Buy unseen or hunt locally
Unless you want a Yugo 59/66, you probably have a better chance of finding a really good deal locally rather than competing for price in a national marketplace.

5) other stuff dummies wouldn't think to ask?
It is a good idea to make sure the rifle you buy is legal. It is easy to change an SKS to the point that it is illegal. This FAQ ( has good information about the SKS and particularly about legal issues.

are the $39 syn stocks a problem in any way?
Folding or collapsible stocks can present legal problems. Some synthetic stocks are not well built while others are very good. There are reviews of stocks on this website ( Fixed synthetic stocks usually have a longer pull than the original military stocks.

July 27, 2007, 08:02 AM
5) other stuff dummies wouldn't think to ask?

You may also find a couple that weren't previously mentioned, SKS-D or SKS-M. These were manufactured to take AK mags. My SKS-M works flawlessly with any AK Mag (except a drum won't fit without modifying the stock). Fit and finish on mine is quite good (don't know about the original stock, as I bought mine with a synthetic ("Dragunov style") stock). Chrome bores on a shorter (16") barrel, very handy when compared to my (pristine) Yugo w/ grenade launcher and bayonet.

These are pretty rare, but still sell in the $300 range last I checked. If you want something a little different (and maybe more collectible) AND like the idea of RELIABLE (and legal) hi-cap detachable mags, look for one of these. If you want a true military one, you can find unissued Yugos for under $200, although the supply seems to be drying up fast.

July 27, 2007, 08:59 AM
Length of pull.

Both my Russian and Chinese have the same measurements.

From the low end of the buttstock to the middle of the trigger is 12 5/8"

From the top end of the butt to the back of the receiver is 11 1/4"

July 27, 2007, 03:08 PM

Chalk this up under the "other stuff dummies WILL ask."

Where did that pistol grip come from and can you have it on a ChiCom SKS? I was told, and I think I read as well, that ChiCom SKS's could not have flash hiders or pistol grips? The C&R stuff drives me crazy enough without thinking about the regs on Chinese stuff.


PS. looks cool. I would love to have that on my 16 SKS.

July 27, 2007, 04:20 PM
I don't have a definitive answer. At one time I think I knew the answer, but anymore I give up worrying about it.

The pistol grip counts as an evil feature, even though it isn't a C&R rifle, adding that part probably throws it into 922r regardless.

The photo shows the original 10 round mag, but I don't actually use it, instead I use the Tapco 5 round detachable, so that's three parts. The trigger is a DC Engineering which is arguably 5 parts, plus the usual op rod and piston. So I think I'm covered.

The grip itself is the original Tapco SKS grip. You can still get them from Tapco. Pretty easy install. It requires you to drill a hole through the very back of the trigger group, which is not a big deal.

I find the original SKS stock to be uncomfortable, I really prefer the lower position that the pistol grip provides.

Also not shown in the photo are neoprene pads for the stock. I think the brand name is Bearclaw. It's just a wrap for the butt and another for the comb. You insert small spacer pads to change the comb height and length of pull. They look like crap, but they're cheap and they work really well. I got them from Gander Mountain.

BTW, your question is a good one!

July 27, 2007, 11:51 PM
I have a chinese and a yugo. I purchased the yugo after some dumbass put an aftermarket stock on it, essentially making it illegal without further modification which I am currently undertaking. I have experimented with several stock to find what I like. The only ones that I have found that don't have extensive play and movement are the Tapco stock, plus their mags are the bomb!!! By far the best SKS mags around.

I honestly prefer the chinese, seems more compact without all the crap on the end of the barrel. Either way, I am a huge fan of these guns. As far as bang for the buck they are a blast.

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