1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

School me on the SKS

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Tim the student, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. Tim the student

    Tim the student Well-Known Member

    They have had appeal to me for some time now, but I don't know anything about them.

    Are some better than others? Any importers to stay away from? How reliable are they? Minute of deer accurate, or minute of berm?
  2. Justin

    Justin Moderator Staff Member

    Here's everything you need to know.

    They're a cheap, reasonably reliable rifle with field-grade accuracy to about ~200 yards.

    Other than that:
    The sights suck.
    The trigger is awful.
    The magazine is fixed capacity and obsolete.

    If you buy one, order a set of tech sights, as installing them will make a noticeable difference in how accurate the gun is.

  3. happygeek

    happygeek Well-Known Member

    Call me crazy, but that was part of why I wanted one. I wanted a real live, as issued, semi-auto military rifle with a conventional wood stock and a fixed mag. The SKS was the only one I'm aware of in that category that's cheap and fires a round that's still in very common usage, and pretty cheap.

    I got a Yugo in excellent condition for $300 even last year. The grenade launcher on the end of the Yugo's barrel looks so darn scary that it's banned in CA.

    There was a bunch of Chinese ones that recently came in, maybe from Vietnam since I don't think we're importing any guns from China anymore, that were going for ~$250 on J&G Sales, Classic Firearms, and AIM Surplus. From the pics they looked like they'd seen service in Vietnam on the other side.

    If you care about the SKS from a history standpoint: http://www.carbinesforcollectors.com/sks1.html
    If you really care, down to the markings and slight differences between country's: http://www.yooperj.com/SKS-1.htm

    Important note if you haven't bought a 'new' Yugo firearm before; they come coated, slathered in cosmoline. The Yugo cosmoline seems to be more of a honey like substance compared to the oil like Russian cosmoline that was on my Mosin rifle and my Nagant revolver. The Yugo version doesn't come off quite as easy, but the wife's blow dryer and a few rags will get it.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  4. Cee Zee

    Cee Zee member

    My opinion differs greatly from the one expressed here by another poster. The trigger is generally awful but can be improved dramatically by a competent gunsmith (ie Kivaari). The mag works quite well if you put a little practice time in loading from stripper clips. They are much lighter than carrying extra mags and they load very quickly. And the SKS is extremely reliable if you take even reasonable care of it. I've had one for over 20 years. I've probably had less than 2 dozen failures to cycle completely in all that time and they were either related to ammo or a modification I made (which was fixed by eliminating the modification).

    IMO you will never find a more effective battle carbine at double the price you pay for an SKS. They are also plenty accurate enough if the trigger gets fixed and any sight issues are corrected (some come with bent sights).

    I actually have 2 of them now. Both are very reliable and plenty accurate. Clearly they aren't target rifle accurate or even hunting rifle accurate but they are as accurate as many deer rifles. I can shoot a 2"-3" group at 100 yards with either of mine. They were built as quickly and cheaply as possible. They take some tweaking to work well usually. But my second one didn't need near as much tweaking as the first one to be accurate.

    BTW I converted the first one I bought to detachable mags the first day I bought it. It's worked perfectly or very close to it for over 20 years that way. Again the problems I've had were clearly about either ammo (stopped having problems when I ran out of a particular box of ammo) or a modification I made (stopped having that problem when I went back to the original setup).

    I would highly recommend any model that hasn't been shot to death with cheap ammo then put up abused. You'll know the difference as soon as you see them. If the action is full of crud don't buy it. You can find a much better example if you wait.
  5. trueg50

    trueg50 Well-Known Member

    I just got my first SKS last week, and I love it. I swapped out the original sights for tech-sights, and they are wonderful (like all their products).

    The SKS doesn't get the credit it deserves, and folks seem to think they are just some cheap old AK variation or something. They can be quite accurate, and have a good design. I admit, I thought they were ugly and cheap, but once I researched it and watched the AGI video on it, I started to really like it.

    The other thing about the SKS is that it can be pretty user friendly, it has simple controls (unlike an AR with buttons and switches every where). The original magazine is pretty bullet proof, and the springs are light enough that you can load rounds in pretty easily (very little effort required). The rifles heft also keeps recoil low, and would be easily manageable by a smaller person. All in all its a rifle my 5'4" wife can actually shoot.

    I got my Yugo model from Dans ammo for ~$330, it was hardly shot or used and it feel like a brand new firearm (IE feels like I am starting to break it in). Keep an eye out for a good Yugo or russian model (the latter will be quite a lot more expensive), and it isn't too hard to find good-to-excellent rifles. Also the bayonet comes off easily, and the Yugo's come with a grenade launcher (but doesn't look like one).

    Oh and Hickock45 has 2 reviews on his SKS if you want video reviews of it.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  6. sansone

    sansone Well-Known Member

    the SKS is a fine choice for someone on a tight budget..
    some have accuracy issues but if you get one with a good bore (2-3 MOA) you should hang on to it forever..

    remember there is a lot of corrosive ammo out there for that caliber and you can damage the bore if you put the rifle away with corrosive residue remaining.
  7. Reloadron

    Reloadron Well-Known Member

    School me on the SKS

    They work fine and last a long time. :)

    Seriously, they aren't a bad little rifle. That said considering the average cost. Twenty or so years ago when they were pouring into the country they sold at gun shows for about $100 with the earliest ones being Chinese flavors. The early ones being actual military surplus packed on cosmoline and having threaded barrels. Eventually NORINCO began new manufacture and exporting those guns to the US with pinned barrels and the good deals came to an end when the Clinton Administration banned further import. During the early 90s they were a hell of a good deal and for what it is worth I always liked the early Chinese versions with the screwed in barrels but just my opinion.

    Once the Chinese flavors were banned from further import there were the Russian surplus versions coming in. As I recall they all had threaded barrels with a pretty nice wood laminate stock. I may be wrong as to the threaded barrels on the Russian guns but I don't recall ever seeing a Russian version or any actual soviet block country version having a pinned barrel. Their prices ran higher than the Chinese versions on the US military surplus market.

    The above quote was taken from here and I suggest you give the full article a read for a good understanding of the little rifle. The article also covers variations used by other Soviet Block countries.

    Overall, as to the bang for the buck they aren't a bad little rifle in my opinion. Yes, the triggers suck but with a little time and effort can be improved just like the sights. Like any rifle of its type they are easy to dissemble and clean in detail. While I seldom shoot it I still have mine from about 20 years ago.

    Funny is that when I left Vietnam I thought I had seen the very last of those rifles and less than twenty years later I watched them pour into the US. Go figure! :)

    If you have an interest and the money to snag one then by all means do so. Just make sure your homework is done and you know the fair prices for all the different flavors out there.

    Just My Take....
  8. bainter1212

    bainter1212 Well-Known Member

    The only potential issue you may run into is slamfire from the firing pin sticking. Make sure you clean that bolt assy well and you should be good to go. I bought a chinese chest bandolier for mine, it holds 180 rounds on stripper clips. Otherwise the SKS is a great rifle. If you find a good chinese one snatch it up, they are the best right behind a Russian one. I'm sure there are some nice condition Yugo's out there, I've just never encountered one. Seen many pristine chicom specimens though.
  9. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Well-Known Member

    I love shooting my Yugo's. I have been impressed with the accuracy of the slide type range adjustment of the rear sight. Once you get it zeroed at 100 yds you can slide it to 200, 300, or 400 yds (it is in meters but close enough for the range) and be right on. For hunting purposes 250 yds or less is probably a practical limit.

    As for the hanging firing pin, just send the bolt off to Murray's in Texas for a spring retained firing pin conversion and you will be a happy shooter.
  10. plunge

    plunge Well-Known Member

    i have a romanian and have had no issues, got it about 2 years ago from a buddy for 100 bucks with about 300 rounds, doesnt get much better than that. back in the day him and a buddy went in on a couple cases of them and over the years he slowly unloaded them. It shoots fine, i dont mind the fixed mag, i have lots of stripper clips. I refinished the stock so it even looks pretty good.
  11. nathan

    nathan Well-Known Member

    Leave it stock with the ten rounds. Aftermarkets will only give you jams and hiccups. The bayonet is a postive addition in its fearsome look.
  12. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Well-Known Member

    Not anymore,atleast not where I live. The absolute CHEAPEST I've seen in recent weeks was a Norinco with a cheap plastic stock and a duckbill 30rd mag. It sold for $350. Everything else is from $400 northward. Sometimes very far northward.
  13. murphys_law

    murphys_law Well-Known Member

    Yup not cheap here either.
  14. Chevelle SS

    Chevelle SS Well-Known Member

    I love my Norinco. The only thing I have changed on it was to add a synthetic Monte Carlo stock. Adds some weight, but greatly improve the ergos for me.
  15. The_Armed_Therapist

    The_Armed_Therapist Well-Known Member

    The SKS should not be anyone's primary battle rifle/carbine in this day and age. It's inferior to ARs, FALs, M1As, AK47s, HK91s, Mini14s, etc, in just about every way. That said, they're a very good value for a "back-up," a trunk gun, or beginner rifle for a newer shooter.

    The sights absolutely suck, and you'll never likely find one too effective past 200 yards. With the iron sights on mine, I shoot 6" groups @ 100 yards. I have a strong feeling that those groups would tighten with better sights/optics. I got the Tech Sights for my 10/22 and absolutely love them. I'll be getting some for the SKS very soon.

    The fixed mag with stripper clips is certainly faster than reloading a bolt gun, but also certainly slower than changing the mag on a more modern rifle.

    The recoil is manageable for newer shooters and a non-factor for anyone with significant rifle experience. The cartridge is plenty powerful for 2-legged bad guys and mid-sized game, though with a poor trajectory compared to 7.62x51, 5.56x45, etc. Accuracy issues and trajectory limitations make it a 200 yard battle gun.
  16. Nathanael_Greene

    Nathanael_Greene Well-Known Member

    Justin said:
    And they're heavy, too.
  17. mberoose

    mberoose Well-Known Member

    1951-onward SKS rifles have a free-floating firing pin design that was copied by every other country. Slamfires are possible if things are gummed up or very worn inside. I've owned 3 with that design, and I never experienced one, but the possibility still exists. Murray's gunsmithing in Texas has a fix for it that my M59 Yugo had.

    Generally speaking, Russians will always carry a premium. These have a chrome lined bore, as do the Chinese models. Yugoslavian SKS rifles do not have a chrome lined bore. Although modern 7.62x39 such as Tula is claimed to be non-corrosive, all berdan primed ammo is going to be mildly corrosive in one way or another. I had light surface rust gather on the innards of my M59 after shooting a couple hundred rounds through it without a cleaning, so the possibility still exists. It cleaned up fine, but...just FYI...Yugos will pretty much require cleaning every time, if you know what's good for you. That said, I've found them to be slightly more accurate because of the lack of a chrome lined bore. I also prefer the longer, less tapered stock of the Yugos compared to the Russians, although the Russians will hold their value better in almost all cases. But my preferences with Yugos run towards the non-grenade launcher equipped M59 rather than the 59/66, but the 59s are rather hard to find, and carry a premium. I think your best bet is to go for a nice Russian.

    They're reliable, dead simple, and reasonably accurate. Not a rifle that finesse, refinement, or light tactile responses should be expected from, but that's not their point in the first place, much like a Mosin Nagant in that respect. But everybody should own an SKS at some point, in my opinion. I don't have one anymore, but even after going through a few, I still find myself wanting another one.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  18. Loosenock

    Loosenock Well-Known Member

    I've had this Russian 54 Tula for maybe 10 years now. Never had a single issure with it. It is all wood and steel and with issue sights on it. I can smack watermelon sized rocks and boulders at 300 yards with it.



    I think they are great firearms and under rated. I once read that the best thing you can do to your SKS to keep it reliable and have it retain is value is to do nothing to it. I believe that.

  19. nathan

    nathan Well-Known Member

    SKS is a 50s design, proven battletested reliable weapon. Whats not to like?
  20. adelbridge

    adelbridge Well-Known Member

    I had a norinco and it would slam fire up until the firing pin broke. Inaccurate and once cheap. I paid $99 for mine back in the late 90's. You are paying $300 for the same gun, cost of manufacture has gone up $0 on old surplus rifles. If you believe in the quote " the only interesting rifles are accurate rifles" dont buy one. Save your money and apply the $300 towards an FN-AR, SX-AR or BAR. Hell, you can get a Remington 750 or 7400 that will shoot circles around an SKS - just buy it in .308 or .30-06 for surplus ammo.

Share This Page