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"New" SKS vs. AR Thread

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Speedo66, Dec 12, 2016.

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  1. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    An interesting old zombie thread from 10 years ago was just locked. Parameters have changed, SKS's no longer enjoy the huge monetary advantage of new rifles for $90, and basic AR's are no longer close to $1000.

    Now that the financial playing field has leveled, what say you now modern High Roaders, which is the better gun for defense, just based on merit, not price? Lots has changed in 10 years, with cheap non corrosive Russian ammo now available for both rifles. 10 years more experience has also shown these initially inexpensive Chinese imports to be impressively rock reliable, with almost no operation problems. AR's have become the male version of Barbie dolls, with myriad accessories available to mix and match, and due to price reductions, much more available to the common man. AR's also seem not quite so temperamental as they once were.

    Lots more information, knowledge, and experience out there 10 years later. Let's use it to form some valid opinions.

    I was curious to see if opinions had shifted in a decade, I've intentionally left AK's out to stay close to the original thread.

    So, which is the better defender today, SKS or AR, and why?
     
  2. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    Either is quite fine, but an AR can be a lot more flexible and ergonomic, and has far better sighting options for a truly purposeful defensive carbine. If we really MUST pick a "which is better?" for some reason, the AR wins easily.
     
  3. Pilot

    Pilot Member

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    I have a Colt M4 (6920) with factory installed Magpul furniture. I also have two Russian SKS's I bought in the early 90's for less than $100 each. Those were the days! I enjoy shooting both, but have to admit the AR-15 is the superior firearm. It is more accurate, just as reliable, and accepts magazines for easy reloading. Yes, I can reload the SKS pretty quickly with 10 rounds stripper clip, but not as fast as the AR. The AR also accepts optics very easily. Russian SKS's are commanding AR-15 (or higher) prices these days. Even the Yugos are getting pretty costly.

    As Sam says, the ergonomics, and the modularity of the AR also make it superior.
     
  4. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    I used to operate a business in the early days of 3gun - about the time of the original thread - in which I built or rebuilt rifles for the sport. Back then, I saw a lot of Mini-14's and a TON of SKS's, with the obligatory favor for the AR. I do want to point out, a basic AR was barely more expensive then than it is now, they were just a lot more basic, and a lot harder to find - which is why I made so much money building them.

    Fast forwarding to today, it's really rare to see SKS's get any play in 3gun games. It was probably 50-75% of newbies in the late 1990's and early 2000's would show up with an SKS, often a Yugo, today, I haven't seen one on a line in years.

    Similarly to the sport application, you used to see SKS's on the shelf at EVERY gun shop, and several of them on the shelf at most good shops. Pretty rare to see one around any more, and really rare to see a handful of them. The lack of availability changed the game a lot, but also the realization of its weaknesses as a platform really nailed that coffin closed.

    So I would say they have dramatically lost favor, especially in 3gun.

    I love my SKS's, but there's definitely a reason they went out of style. Better rifles, for cheaper, and with just as much "extra stopping power" can be had in the AR platform.
     
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  5. DMK

    DMK Member

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    I agree completely with this.

    Also optics have become such a big player today and there is still no efficient way to mount optics on an SKS (other than Ultimak with a red dot).


    I think one of the biggest reasons that the SKS (and AK) were so popular was cheap ammo. Now you can get 223 steel case for about the same price as 7.62x39 with careful shopping.

    I rarely shoot my SKS or my 7.62x39 AKs anymore and in fact I now shoot my 223 AK a lot due to the better ballistics and accuracy of cheap 223 ammo vs cheap 7.62x39 ammo.
     
  6. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    I still own one of those originally unissued Norinco SKS that I got in the early '90s. Back then it was a no brainer for someone with a small budget to pick the SKS over an AR.

    When I bought my SKS back in the day I just wanted an all around rifle for a reasonable price. Today, that choice would be an AR carbine of some sort just due to a Pros and Cons comparison. Such as: detachable magazine, barrel quality, trigger, optics mounting, sights, weight, ease of upgrades, etc.

    The SKS does have the old school wood and steel look as well as mil-surp collectibility going for it, though.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
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  7. salt&battery

    salt&battery Member

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    one thing about the SKS. Peter Kokalis top editor of shotgun news trained armies all over in use and servicing of mostly machine guns but rifles also. he has seen wars from steaming jungles to frozen Serbia and said the SKS was the most reliable weapon he ever saw. I take his word for it. you cant compare the accuracy to the AR which has had 50 years and millions put into tweaking the design and ammo for it. the SKS was right for combat the first time. if I had that much time and money devoted to a weapon I might be able to make a laser rifle that shot around corners never ran dry and could be fired thru mental commands :evil:
     
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  8. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    I'd take it a little farther, to say not just that optics have become a big player, but that if you are considering what the most advantageous, effective, efficient arrangement is for a carbine that you might have to defend your family and your life with, it is almost absurd not to recognize the advantage that a red-dot optic provides. And they're affordable enough, and easily enough installed that there's almost zero barrier to entry, when using a modular system like an AR/M-4.

    Sure, most of us can do "just fine" with an iron sighted carbine, but when lives of loved ones are on the line -- if that's the purpose of the weapon we're discussing here -- what would be a valid enough reason to give up a 1/2 second or whatever of target acquiring/transition time, or the advantages of use in low light conditions which seem highly likely in these scenarios?

    The weight an ergonomics of an AR put it a little bit ahead of an SKS. The optics factor puts it an order of magnitude over.
     
  9. 1stmarine

    1stmarine Member

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    The answer is the same now as it was 10 years ago.
    The AR is a service rifle and the SKS and pretty cool C&R gun.
    The AR carries more firepower, it is lighter and more accurate.
    Very simple right?
     
  10. salt&battery

    salt&battery Member

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    I don't know Sam being batteries come into play with a red dot but there are ones that go for years and the way time flies.... using the ghost ring on the AR is faster for me then anything else and easy to keep both eyes open. after looking thru scopes countless times and closing one eye I cant break the habit with a red dot always closing one eye which takes longer. I guess after 5K rounds of practice which I don't have the time and money for I might get the hang of it
     
  11. Browning

    Browning Member

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    Well...when that thread was created there was a pretty big price difference and not as many people threw on red dots.

    Back then some shooters regarded red dots as some sort of voodoo and stated that there were was no increase in hit probability.

    .223 Rem ammunition effectiveness has also dramatically increased over what it was.

    In regard to the price difference about 6 months ago I actually sold an SKS I had for 10 years and got enough out of it where I just added $100 and I had enough to build me another AR from PSA.

    Domestic current production over 50-60 year old foreign production is going to win out at some point. That's just the case here.
     
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  12. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    AR hands down. It can be built into absolutely anything for a reasonably affordable price.

    For defense, you can run a PDW style gun for a grand or less including tax stamp. That is much handier than any sks I have ever seen. AR wins defense category.

    For hunting, you can build a number of various calibers fit for anything whitetail or smaller, and there are significant arguments for larger critters when you start talking SOCOM, Beowulf, etc. sks is pretty well tied to the 7.62x39 limiting it to whitetail or smaller. Slight edge in power to the AR, huge edge in optic options. AR wins hunting category.

    In target/fun category you are comparing similarly capacity, similar rate of fire, similar power.... if the SKS has detachable mags (if) then it's a wash. Since so many have fixed mags I'm giving the edge to the AR under caveat that if we're talking cali bullet button neutered guns it is a wash.
     
  13. DMK

    DMK Member

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    No offence, but you're admittedly doing it wrong. Maybe mounting the red dot further out would help?

    With the right technique and with focus on the target, not the dot, a red dot optic should be much faster.
     
  14. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    S&B, I wouldn't tell someone who's got countless hours of training and practice with the older system that they have to stop doing it the way they've trained to do.
    If you're setting up a gun and will be training and practicing for defensive uses (or for competition which might mimic that sort of dynamic shooting), that's different. The re-training investment is certainly worth it.
     
  15. salt&battery

    salt&battery Member

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    no offense taken you are trying to help. I can use the ghost ring so fast there is no need for me to use a red dot and I have a bunch of them. at close range when I shoulder the rifle rear site lines up without thinking and I aim the front sight. field of view for me is blocked by the housing of a dot site. I do not think on rifles used on dangerous game there are red dots on them. most guides I saw use open or ghost ring sites. cant break the habit of closing one eye . others can be faster with a dot which maybe is part mental being everyone saying they are so fast.
     
  16. salt&battery

    salt&battery Member

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    Sam never told any one to change any thing just saying what works for me. if a guy wants to put a red dot on a catapult it is fine with me :evil:
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
  17. UltraT

    UltraT Member

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    Seems to me the SKS has advantages in:
    -being slimmer shaped
    -less room for different kinds of malfunctions (having a fixed mag and all)
    -easier access to the chamber and bolt for clearing malf's quicker
    -shooting a bigger bullet
    -and being more tolerant of foreign debris

    But the AR has so many other different advantages that I don't think it's a fair contest. Even regarding general reliability, I've had stovepipes if I let the SKS get too fouled up. My AR doesn't seem less reliable in regard to regular fouling.

    Overall I'd pick an AR pretty much every time.
     
  18. PowerG

    PowerG Member

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    I'd much prefer the AR, however I wouldn't feel exposed at all with just an SKS. Mine is one of the old $80 rifles from long ago, and I've got a couple of 30 round magazines for it that are pretty reliable if you take care in loading them, and despite the rather crude sights the rifle is more accurate than it should be. With the right bullets it works well on deer, much preferable to the 5.56 IMO. Just wish I'd have bought several of them back in the day.

    I struggled with the red dot for the first couple of range trips, then the epiphany happened and there was no looking back.
     
  19. 1stmarine

    1stmarine Member

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    Sometimes I wonder if there is a real life purpose or it is just a "what if" type of thread.
    I would ask if anyone here has used both platforms in a modern defensive, practical or tactical application?
    Any attempt to justify a SKS in a modern tactics and current real life like scenarios is a sign we are talking about internet theories and not real life.
    After a couple of runs up and down the street one would wish they could have a wheel-barrel to support the SKS and the ammo.
    Also there is the myth the slow moving light or caliber 30 caliber rounds are somehow superior to modern 5.56 service and tactical ammunition. They are not.
    Precision, speed, firepower (related to battle pack weight), efficiency and effectiveness (proven), etc...
    Perhaps all those reasons one is a service rifle and the other is a cool C&R gun.
    A more meaningful conversation would be to compare a SKS vs a Garand or a Tavor vs. AR, etc...
    I am always open to opinions and different points of view but there are approaches that from the start are very hard to put into a serious real life type of context.
     
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  20. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    Most things posted here are simply thought exercises. Kind of an "if you have an opinion feel free to answer" sort of thing. I don't tend to read theses as if someone's trying to make a life-or-death decision based on our answers.

    Sure. If competition and range time count. I've run shoot houses with a full sized FAL, Garand, etc, if you want to take the question a step beyond the "little" SKS carbine! :)

    Sure, perhaps. Or it could be someone has an SKS and practices with it, and is a formidable rifleman in their own right, and is trying to decide if they are somehow "outgunned" because they don't have an AR-15. Obviously the answer is "no" but let's explore what the advantages may be.

    Ha ha. I've been handed some MIGHTY heavy AR-15s, with all the gadgets. Wouldn't want to carry one of those, either. Now, the OP asked about "defense" and for the purposes of THR that usually refers to a need to hunker down and repel home intruders, or possibly keep the raccoons out of the chicken coop. ;) Running up and down the street is something that's going to wear out most forum members carrying ANY gun and ammo.... or NO gun and ammo! :D

    I didn't take this thread to be a hard-nosed investigation into what weapon an army should purchase to issue to its troops or another super important debate about what to outfit yourself with for the coming fall of human civilization. Just trying to get a handle on how a couple common rifles compare for defensive purposes.

    As noted, it used to be an SKS was a great LOW buck carbine. Now it's more of a mid-priced historic relic. It still works just as well as ever, but we have better choices now.
     
  21. gsbuickman

    gsbuickman Member

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    Yep , I'll add to that and make it really easy. I'm ol' skool, I don't see eye-to-eye with the local tactikool mall ninja"s when they try and convince me that I can't live without all their doo-dads & I don't care for polymer.

    I don't ask for too much, I'm easy to please and I prefer milsurps and purdy' wood stocks. I like the SKS, it's a simple design, dead nutz reliable, it's quick and easy to clean and has plenty of knock down power out to 250 yds & can be surprisingly accurate with a decent optic.

    I actually tried to get on the AR bandwagon not too long ago. I bought a complete pistol lower with 3 magazines for $150, and I had the $ in hand to order a complete PSA upper when I spotted this beauty and just had to have it. He said it was up for sale or trade, so I asked him what he was looking for on trade options and he asked me if I had any AR stuff. I showed him my new lower and threw in $40 on top of it and we called it a deal. I took the $ I had for the upper and I bought a new pair of chaps, a new scorpion helmet and a new Memphis Shades windscreen for my V-Star.

    I guess it also boils down to priorities. I'd rather have a nice bike that's bought and paid for (not leased) and be able to enjoy it & maybe show it off a little rather than a safe full of polymer rifles that everybody and their dog already has several of. Then again, the looks you get with something like this on the line from the plastic rifle guys drooling over it are priceless, bwhahahahahaha...

    DSCN3785.JPG IMAG2579.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
  22. md7

    md7 Member

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    I'd pick the AR for defense as that's what I have and its use is almost second nature for me.

    If all I had was an sks though, I'd be sure to learn it well and would feel ok about it.
     
  23. justice06rr

    justice06rr Member

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    They are both fine for SD or HD. It all comes down to preference and price. Price is about similar now also, since SKS value has gone way up, and AR has gone way down.

    If you want something more modern and customizable, then the AR is better. For plinking and collectability, the SKS. I've had both and really enjoy them. Although I got rid of all my SKS rifles (I regret that now).

    The best SKS is the one that takes 30rd AK mags. I had a SKS-M that I scored for $350 a few years ago and resold for a good profit. Now I wish I kept it as their value is well above $500 for a decent SKS in original form.
     
  24. justice06rr

    justice06rr Member

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    [​IMG]

    I had 2 chinese SKS rifles. The bottom one is the M model that takes the standard AK mags. Great rifle and probably a collectible now. I can't even find one locally.
     
  25. bang_bang

    bang_bang Member

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    You can compare a 1969 Z-28 Camaro to a brand new 2016 Camaro with about the same outcome. ARs are evolving and improving, and flat out work. The SKS is a design from 1945 that has barely changed since Cold War days. I fell in love with the SKS long before AR platforms were familiar. I see the AR as the new performance vehicle, while the SKS is the hot rod that's been in the family since your grandfather bought it new for pennies on the dollar vs today's prices.
     

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