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SKS, to fine-tune a fine weapon

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Kano383, Feb 25, 2019.

  1. Kano383

    Kano383 Member

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    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.

    B89B19AF-D386-4964-8719-468355A3F36F.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
  2. illinoisburt

    illinoisburt Member

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    Laws regarding the SKS are weird. As your rifle sat unmolested things are fine. Swapping a sight, cutting back a barrel, or otherwise reshaping existing parts is okay. The moment you start replacements from the restricted parts list, 922r comes into play.

    Legally a modified gun cannot have over 10 imported parts. The SKS started with 17, so if you put it in a new stock the gun will technically become illegal until you swap enough items with US manufactured parts to get the import number down to 10. (In the strictest sense, even replacing a broken part with a new or used one from another rifle has the same effect since it wasn't part of the gun when it was originally imported.)

    It's dumb and makes no sense to most folks, but unfortunately the rule has been law of the land for years and hasn't changed.

    There is a good write up on Tapco's website.

    http://www.tapco.com/section922r/

    EDIT *** As noted, the OP is not in the US so this does not apply to his situation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
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  3. Kabic

    Kabic Member

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  4. wally

    wally Member

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    And examples of successful prosecutions where violating 922r is the only crime, not involving a dealer or manufacturer, are where?
    Inquiring minds want to know.
     
  5. Lyle Wyatt

    Lyle Wyatt Member

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    My luck I would be the first .
     
  6. LoonWulf
    • Contributing Member

    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    some mods ive done on mine.
    IMG_20180427_132251071.jpg IMG_20180430_131147500.jpg IMG_20180913_180313396.jpg IMG_20180913_180339796.jpg IMG_20180913_180335296.jpg
     
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  7. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    Did you see where the OP location is? We may have to worry about parts changes, but he probably does not.
     
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  8. Justin

    Justin Moderator Emeritus

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    Somewhere, deep in the bowels of this forum, are posts from years ago from a madman who undertook the effort to make an SKS into a 1 MOA gun. The guy in question was eventually successful, but it required a lot of effort to get there. The posts made for interesting reading.
     
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  9. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    “Fine tune a fine weapon” is a bridge too far for me... I love the SKS, and have enjoyed owning several of them, but a fine weapon, not so much.
     
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  10. ifit

    ifit Member

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    Cool project, but prefer mine in original config
    Recently picked up 2 navy arms SKS

    image.jpg
    image.jpg
     
  11. Kano383

    Kano383 Member

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    Fine weapon... Not Westley-Richards-fine, but because it did excatly what it was designed for. It was reliable, simple to operate and maintain, offering vastly improved firepower over the Mosin, and firing a new intermediate round that is still not obsolete, more than seventy years later.

    It came too late to really see service in WWII, and too late to get relevance: the StG 44 turned the tables, and the AK47 collected the pot...
     
  12. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    I saw a German study back in the late 80s, shared with their NATO partners, about deciding what gun to use next. It compared a bunch of service rifles, including Soviet arms, and found no significant differences in mechanical accuracy. When shot from a rest, with good ammo, all were perfectly acceptable, 2-4 moa guns. M16, G3, FAL, FNC, AUG, AK, SKS. Everything.

    Accuracy is all too often subject to myth instead of reality. I have known several guys who shot SKSs insanely well. Now, Russian ones will be much better than the Chinese type-whatevers, generally, but have seen people hit moving squirrels all day long with their $89 chinese guns, unmodified.

    Ergonomics can be a thing. Some people do not like it, and many studies show better performance with aperture sights, but it is pretty well a classic old rifleman's rifle to many raised on notches and one piece stocks. Yeah, you can do better, but it sure works.
     
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  13. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    I have one. After a nasty divorce 20+ years ago, it was one of the few guns that survived and wasn't turned into $ for legal fees and the like (mostly because it wasn't worth anything). It served as a useable deer rifle for a couple years, until I was in a position to buy something better for that purpose. It just seems to me that there isn't much potential in them to be anything but an overpriced (now) MILSURP rifle that can be fired (relatively) cheap. For what they are worth now, and the amount of $ and work one would have to put into it to be even "mediocre" for any type of serious shooting, it seems like a waste of time and $ that would likely deplete the rifle of any value it may actually have, since some crazy how these things now cost as much as an AR.
     
  14. HB

    HB Member

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    I really love my sks-m with its 16” barrel and tech sights. It wears a ramline monte carlo stock and its better that a 3030 for 3030 things.

    How do you accurize these things? There is nothing really to bed or float?

    HB
     
  15. dekibg

    dekibg Member

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    all the stuff you are planning to do, reminds me when people buy 10/22 on sale for $180, then build a $800 rifle around it
     
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  16. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Actually, Simonov designed the rifle several years before that. It's just a scaled-down version of the PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle.

    Find a Chinese 20 round magazine. They are reliable, and compact.
     
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  17. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Member

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    I really like the Williams peep sight modification. What model did you use?
     
  18. LoonWulf
    • Contributing Member

    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    I'm assuming your talking to me, if not I apologise for butting in.

    It's for a Rem 8 I THINK.
    I'll go dig it out of the parts box and see what it actually is tomorrow.
     
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  19. Kano383

    Kano383 Member

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    Except that there are no 10/22 around here, nor 700, ARs, Mini 30, Ruger PC, or anything else. There is no Bass Pro, no Brownells, no Cabelas, not even any friendly LGS. And the purpose of a a trunk gun is to have something to talk back to BGs who are toting full auto AKs, we do get the opportunity once in a while... :D

    So, the whole tinkering bit is just to make a tool useful in the circumstances, getting rid of what is not needed, and polishing what can be.

    BTW, in a completely different world... You can go and buy for multi-thousand $$$ custom 1911s that were a plain-vanilla Colt with honest wear on it to start with. Multiply that a few times, and you can get a surplus military K98 action reworked by names like John Rigby, Holland and Holland, and the such.

    Not that I have anything in common with master smiths, but taking a rough military weapon and turning it into something else for the simple reason that it was designed well, is apparently an accepted practice... :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
  20. dh1633pm

    dh1633pm Member

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    I refinished the stock on mine and cut off the bayonet. I also painted it with Brownells Alumihyde. That is all. Its a good shooter that I enjoy taking out. What can one say more about it?
     
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  21. Mosin Bubba

    Mosin Bubba Member

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    Generations of Tapco commandos have found that the SKS tends to lose some of its indestructible reliability after it's been tampered with.

    If it was my gun, I would leave well enough alone. Buy a hi-viz front post and a Tech Sight then call it a day. Like my handle says, I love milsurp modding as much as anyone and could see a lot of "screw it" fun from making a cheese grater handguard and doing a DIY bedding job. But if you are expecting a high-performance rifle at the end of it, the ROI is just not there.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
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  22. Kano383

    Kano383 Member

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    No high-performance expected, not with that much wiggle room in an action... If I get consistent 2-3 MOA I’ll be a happy camper.

    I've seen the Tech sight, nice piece... Do you need to remove it to open the cover?
     
  23. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    I have five SKS's in five different configurations. They are all good 200-yard guns against deer-sized targets, comparable to a .30-30. They will profit from better sights and a good stock fit and maybe bedding.
    Trying to push the envelope out past 300 yards leads to diminishing returns..
     
  24. BigBlue 94

    BigBlue 94 Member

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    If I'm not mistaken, the sks was designed in the early 40s. It was before the Kalashnikov and outlasted it in "Russian" military service. I believe they are still issued out as ceremonial rifles.

    My 56 Romanian model is definitely a fine weapon. Not all firearms are weapons, because they aren't meant solely for malice towards humans. It killed many just fine, I'm sure. As a firearm, its crude, ugly, and simple, but as a weapon it's handy, reliable, and capable. It works past when it should have been cleaned. In fact, I've had it for 15 years with probably 5000 rounds run through with but a single cleaning. Still looks pretty clean. Much cleaner than a direct impingement AR.

    Theres no other rifle known that I'd trust my life to if the apocalypse comes. It simply works without a single hiccup. I usually run the factory magazine, but I do have a pair of 30rd mags too. One plastic and one steel, and both function great.

    The sights are adequate. The bayonet on mine is a flip out dull blade. Factory wood stock is comfortable, although just a bit tall for a good sight picture. I've thought about switching to a tapco, but they look cheap to me. I like the original wood and steel look, not to mention it's a numbers matching Romanian SKS.
     
  25. Choctaw

    Choctaw Member

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    Irrelevant. The OP can do whatever he wants with the SKS because it is his gun. Many gun owners modify their guns to suit themselves and don't worry about the resale value. Modifying firearms is simply good fun.
     
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