SKS in Combat / Barrel Gets hot


December 10, 2009, 10:14 AM
I went and shot a rifle for the first time last night; my SKS (Romanian). If you want pics go to the AR v. Mini thread.

Anyway, I shot 60 rounds through it in about an hour, and I was loading it one bullet at a time with my thumb i.e. i don't have stripper clips. My left hand had like a minor burn, that lasted a few hours last night, from the heat even while I was holding it correctly on the little rivet things in the wood.

I had the thing broken down and cleaned from gun shop so I know there's nothing wrong; so what gives? Is this normal? I am yet to see soldiers wearing gloves yet I can't imagine just hanging out in a battle for your rifle to cool down so you can fire it. It seems to defeat the whole purpose of the hi cap mag thing.

If you enjoyed reading about "SKS in Combat / Barrel Gets hot" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
December 10, 2009, 10:23 AM

I've heard numerous stories about AK handguards catching fire, various tupperware rifle handguards melting, and rounds 'cooking off' in chambers after/during hard use.

December 10, 2009, 10:25 AM
Hmmm.... haven't shot my Russian in years but I do remember it getting hot. I don't think it was abnormally hot. You definitely didn't want to be touching the barrel.

I can't think of anything wrong with the gun that could cause overheating.

December 10, 2009, 10:29 AM
If you look around youtube and such I'm sure you'll be able to locate videos of guys doing mag dumps where the barrel starts to smoke, and oil on the gun -- and sometimes wooden handgards even -- do catch fire.

Sustained fire and/or rapid fire (10 rounds will do it) can make a rifle uncomfortably hot to touch.

Military arms are designed fairly carefully to allow a properly trained user to operate the gun without having to touch bare metal in the barrel and gas system.

Most military arms even wrap the barrel fully with wood or plastic hand guards (at least in some part) to allow a full grip when using the bayonet or butt-stroking with the gun. Modern polymer handguards often have metal heat shield inserts to keep them cooler.

Machine guns have used various different meathods to deal with this. Some early ones used a large cylindrical water jacket completely encircling the barrel to cool things down. More modern machine guns use quick-change barrels so an over-heated barrel can be swapped out and allowed to cool off. The assistant gunner has an overgrown oven mit to handle the hot barrel.

Many machine guns fire from the "open bolt" for this reason: if you stop firing and the gun chambers a round but doesn't fire it, the hot barrel can "cook off" that chambered round quickly.

Under sustained fire machine guns can glow red, and in torture tests I've read of M-60 barrels actually throwing off sparks. Melting/drooping is not unheard of.


December 10, 2009, 10:31 AM
I didn't touch the barrel -- I had my left hand on the little wood part handle thing and right hand on trigger of course. It was burning my hand through the wood. And what do soldiers do wait till it cools?

December 10, 2009, 10:38 AM
And what do soldiers do wait till it cools? I'd imagine most of them are a little to focused on the job at hand to even notice a slightly burned hand. The handguard should be sufficient to keep you from blistering the skin -- not neccessarily to make it perfectly comfortable.

A lot of soldiers these days do seem to wear protective gloves of some sort, even in very hot climates.


December 10, 2009, 10:42 AM
i think you were shooting quite a bit faster than 60 shots in one hour. At a rate of 1/minute, the gun should have been warm, but not hot. Now, if you cranked off a 10 round magazine in a few seconds, then yes the gun could be quite hot.

Soldiers wouldn't wait for it to cool. If they had a target, whey'd shoot it, regardless of how hot the gun was. Burned fingers are much more pleasant than a sucking chest wound.

December 10, 2009, 10:53 AM
When you see the cosmoline begin to sweat out of your rifle, you may want to slow down.

A bigger problem than burned fingers is the loss of your sight picture due to the lensing effect of heated air. Accuracy degrades significantly when you're sighting over a hot barrel.

December 10, 2009, 11:09 AM
I'm almost sure it was about an hour maybe less; although come to think of it it was 80 rounds (4 boxes * 20 cartridges) I did shoot 10 rounds toward the end of my visit on "rock and roll". But i figured I was still shooting slow since I wasn't using stripper clips which would've increaded my rate of fire 4X

December 10, 2009, 12:11 PM
i did 3 mags from my now sold yugo AK (switched between 3 shooters) in a matter of 15 minutes. barrel was very warm but not hot enough to burn hand.

December 10, 2009, 12:42 PM
1 round per minute is a rate you should be able to sustain until you need to sleep.

I think the rivet things you're talking about are the screws that hold the stock reinforcement in. Those could get hot as the reinforcement rod touches the receiver right at the chamber which is going to be the hottest point of the rifle.

Try holding the rifle by the front of the handguard where the grooves are.

This smoking AK had around 40 rounds thru it in under 30 seconds. No burns or damage to either rifle or shooter. BSW

Texas Gun Person
December 10, 2009, 12:44 PM
I have seen an AK guard catch on fire. :D He kept reloading and shooting it until he was out of ammo. Then he just set it on the ground and let it burn.

December 10, 2009, 02:42 PM
I have a Yugo SKS; when I take it to the range I shoot the hell out of it; almost always more than 200 rounds, pretty much as fast as I can load and shoot accurately. It does get extremely hot. So what? The rifle is built like a tank, and mine has shown absolutely no ill effects whatsoever.

December 10, 2009, 02:53 PM
Heres a good video for you. Having an SKS myself, I know how hot they get. Heres a guy who puts several hundred rounds of ammo through his SKS as fast as he can. By the end its smoking and actually burning the wood around the gas tube.

December 10, 2009, 02:57 PM
I frequently shoot my SKS until it gets hot enough to blister my fingertips if I accidenlty touch the barrel or gas system--something I may do if adjusting the rear sight. I've put a lot more rounds through mine in a much shorter period of time with no cook-offs or fires. Just be careful and don't touch the hot parts.

December 10, 2009, 03:04 PM
1 round per minute is not going to even begin to get an SKS, AK or any other combat rifle too hot to continue firing it indefinitely.

I have personally set an M-14 stock to smoldering when running full auto and had to dump a canteen of water in it to put it out.
But even that takes a lot of ammo in a very short time.

As for shooting a hot rifle in combat?

You might be surprised what you can do when somebody is trying to kill you.


December 10, 2009, 03:22 PM
My experience is that some ammo especially eastern block like barnaul and I've heard S&B rifle ammo runs hot temperature wise. The barnaul stuff I've shot seems that way and seems to open groups up after 20 rounds. Try some different ammo and see the difference.

December 10, 2009, 04:31 PM
I too noticed that the heat of my sks depended on the ammo. Wolf would burn that bastard down. But higher end ammo wouldn't heat up quite as fast. Those things were never really designed to be comfortable for the operator. they were just made to get rounds down range:D

December 10, 2009, 07:40 PM
When playing the yay-hoo at the range with my SKS sometimes the bayonet would get really hot where it goes into the fore end.

If you enjoyed reading about "SKS in Combat / Barrel Gets hot" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!