So, after years of looking down at these “cheapo Chinese junk, silly-looking rifles”, I got myself into SKS... To make a long story short, I was asked to fix one. This forced me to actually look close... And the moment I opened the cover and pulled out bolt and carrier, I told myself: “Gosh... This thing is well thought! Strong... Simple... Can’t stop it or break it... Woah, this guy was clever...” But. Yes, there is a but... Simonov designed this rifle in the middle of a war where soldiers were dying in the millions. It was to be thrown out in the mud and the snow and the rain and the dust, in the hands of semi-literate peasants who would fight to death in rubbles, in streets, in muddy steppes, in ditches and under bridges. Simonov built strength and easy maintenance in his rifle, and space for all the dirt you’d want to throw in there. 2” groups at 300 yards were not high on his priorities, and neither were delicate ergonomics and subtle balance. He built a tool for rough times, and for rough soldiers. I’ll use this tool, because I love its simple ruggedness, because where I live ammo for it is everywhere, and because I need it. I need a long gun to keep at hand, to throw in the back of the truck, to know that it’s there, ready anytime I may need it. Coming back to the “But” above, there are many things that can be done to a SKS to make it more suitable for my needs. The rifle can be better balanced, and lightened. Then, better sights can be installed. Accuracy can be improved. The stock can be made to fit, or changed. Small touches, a few parts, and you end up with the same rugged rifle, just a little bit more civilized. I got my hands on one that is a good start. The barrel is good, crisp rifling, matching receiver, bolt, and carrier, and a tight cover. I took it apart, started with a trigger job, got it to a very smooth first stage, and a crisp 4.5# break with very little creep. After disassembling and reassembling the SKS dozens of times, studying the way it was designed and made, and thinking of how to improve it without really changing it, I made my list of mods. Get rid of the bayonet, bayonet lug, cleaning rod, and all that weight forward that has no use for me. Well, I’ve actually already done that now... Shorten the barrel to 16.5”-17”, and move the front sight accordingly. Install a peep sight on the rear cover. The cover on this particular gun is very tight, no movement at all when fastened, even without the recoil spring installed. Fiber optic front sight. Remove the rear sight blade, and install a red dot or mini reflex sight instead. Could also install it with a Picatinny rail on the dust cover, but weight/recoil over time might be an issue if the cover is not fastened at the front. These small red dot reflex sights are wonderfully fast, easy to see with eyes that are past their prime, and will give you all the accuracy you need out to 200-300 yards, if you do your part. To wring some more accuracy out of the rifle, there are a few things that can be done. Won’t ever be a benchrest rifle, too much slop built-in, but it can definitely be improved. Under the rear sight block, a threaded block can be tig-welded, just ahead of the magazine notch. This will allow to properly bed the action, pulling it in the stock with a screw, freeing the barrel and getting rid of the front ferrule. Reshape the stock, or replace it entirely (FAB Defense is making a folder that seems of good quality) Remove the wood from the handguard, and replace with a cheese grater attached to the stock, not to the barrel. Having checked M models, I found that the AK magazine is cumbersome to insert or extract. I’ll keep the fixed mag, with good clips it’s very fast to reload. And I quite like the low profile... I’m thinking to fabricate a proper safety, blocking the sear. There are a few ways to do that, still thinking of the best way to go about it, not a top priority - but I’ll get to it one of these days. I don’t like the idea of carrying cocked-and-locked with that flimsy trigger tab, and no real drop safety besides that tiny notch on the disconnector. As things get done, I’ll update this post... But there is no hurry.