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Discussion Starter #1
Hello PU Friends:

I'm currently considering getting an SKS rifle to add my collection.

I must admit, I'm a complete "newbie" when it comes to this rifle. That said, I've been watching many videos and checking out various web links to find all the good information out there. But, as I'm sure you all know...there's a lot of information to cover.

I am sort of stepping into this realm with some caution. You see, I did the same thing about a year ago with the AK-47 shooting platform, and well...several Saiga rifles (AK-variant) later, I realized I was hooked. :rolleyes:

(NO regrets though!)

Anyway, ever since I started considering the AK-47 rifle, I've also been looking at the SKS rifle (its predecessor). Frankly, there's just something that draws me to the rifle.

Moreover, since the SKS shoots the 7.62x39 round, it would make a good addition to my collection, as I won't have to buy any different ammo. So, this is a definite plus in my book.

What I am looking for from you folks is some friendly advice...of course, if you're willin' to help a feller out. :D

Specifically, I'd like to know the best SKS rifle (country/model) out there for a good price. I'm willing to pay a little more for quality, but I don't want to get "soaked" when I can get a good rifle for a decent price.

The first and obvious choice for me is a Russian SKS. From what I've heard/read, the Russian SKS rifles are considered the best. Is this true? Arguable?

The second choice is a Yugo SKS, but I'm wondering since it doesn't come with a chrome-lined barrel if this a major deal or not. I'm guessing no, as long as you clean it well, and stay away from corrosive ammo.

The third choice is a Chi-Com SKS. But, I've heard that quality can vary from rifle to rifle, and year to year.

Again...I'm an SKS "newbie". So, please go gentle on me.

Also, any an all advice is welcome. I'd really like to hear from those who own various models and what they're experiences have been.

Finally, I'm looking for a "non-issued" SKS rifle. More importantly, I'd like to have a good-shooter. You see, I'm actually planning on shooting the rifle from time to time. That said, I'm keeping my expectations reasonable. AS such, I'd be happy with a fairly accurate rifle within 100-200 yards.

OK...please help me out gang. :)

Thanks in advance for your help and advice. Please let me know if I'm missing something critical too.
 

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Russian, for sure. You can find them all over Gunbroker from about $350 up. I personally wouldn't give more than $450 for one, and it'd have to be really nice for that.

The Yugos are okay, but keep in mind, the M59/66-A1, which is by far the most common one you'll find, are HEAVY. Really, they weigh only like slightly less than a pound more than a Russian, mostly due to the beefier receiver and front sight assembly, and the slightly longer barrel & bayonet, but it can be a problem.

While a regular SKS feels very nimble and handy, I find the Yugos feel very chunky. That and I feel like a 9 1/2 pound rifle in 7.62x39 is totally unacceptable. For that kind of weight I could be lugging a Garand. <_<

Both the Yugo and Russians are C&R eligible, provided they are in as-issued condition. That means nobody slapped on a detachable duckbill 30-rounder or anything. Also, if you do any sort of major modification, like adding a thread-on muzzle break or anything, you have to play the 922r "10-or-less" game, which I'm sure you're familiar with from your Saiga conversions.

I honestly don't know a ton about the ChiCom SKS's; I know you can get an SKS-D or SKS-M which has a modified (factory) receiver which accepts AK mags, so that might be worth looking at if the 10-rounder doesn't work for you. Although, you could also get a ChiCom fixed 20-rounder too.

Some people like the Tapco and such "detachable" duckbill mags. I heartily dislike them, although I will admit the Tapcos do work decently. I just feel like it's an unnecessary addition to the rifle, and it just don't look right.

Uhh...if the possibilities of a slam-fire worry you, you can get
a spring-return firing pin from Murray's; I had one installed in my Yugo before I sold it off to fund my 10/22 build. They work well and won't mess with your 922r compliance. Tech Sights makes an AR-style return to zero rear sight for the SKS, supposedly it's pretty nice, but I don't know for sure, I haven't gotten a Russian yet to put it on.

They really shoot well with cruddy ammo; my Yugo liked the 124 grain Wolf camo-box JHP's, and I liked the really huge holes they put in things. Speaking of which, if you like to reload you might want to get a Yugo; the gas block can be shut off (originally for shooting rifle grenades) but you can shut it off and use it like a manual-pull repeater, which is nice if you don't want to go chasing off after your brass.

What else... The bolt will lock back after you finish off the factor mag, I think the Chinese fixed 20's do the same thing. When you go to load it with a stripper clip, it works best if you give the clip a little pressure towards the barrel end; it makes them strip right off in to mag nice and slick.

It's also stupid-proof, you simply cannot reassemble it wrong. Everything fits together only one way. Breakdown is super-simple. MAKE SURE IT'S EMPTY, then flip the disassemble lever at the right side rear of the receiver back, pull it out to one side (it's captive by a pin so it won't come completely out of the receiver) and lift off the cover. Pull the bolt carrier to the rear, then lift it out of the action, along with the bolt. Flip it upside down, and at the rear of the trigger guard there's a little button. Give this button a good pop with, say, the end of your cleaning rod or something. I used the tip of the pliers on my multitool. This will allow the trigger assembly to pop up, and you can tilt it up and pull back to free it, and you can remove the magazine at this point. Getting the gas tube off is straight AK style; flip the retainer lever up to the stop and lift the rear of the tube up and back, and you'll have it and the gas piston free. The piston isn't captive like on an AK bolt. The, if you want, you can push the transfer rod tip in a bit, rotate the gas tube retainer lever all the way up (past the top stop) and SLOWLY release pressure on the transfer rod (it's under spring pressure) and it'll come free. That's as far as you'll probably ever need to strip it down.

Reassembly is in reverse. Re-attach the gas piston and piston tube, then flip it upside down. Install the magazine and trigger assembly (it may not be entirely clear the first time you do it but these two pieces sort of have to go in at the same time. It's hard for me to explain; if you look at it you'll be able to figure it out. Place the rifle on something solid, not you lap, and simultaneously push down on the trigger guard and in on the trigger keeper button thing until the trigger locks in place. Reinsert the bolt and carrier, slide it forward, making sure to push the magazine follower down so you can get it all the way forward, reattach the receiver cover and lock it down with it's lever. Do your function check and there you go. With practice it easily shouldn't take more than 60 second to disassemble or reassemble the rifle.

That's everything I can think of right now.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
TFG,

Great post! Thanks a bunch.

Hey, you seem to know a good amount about the rifles. So, here's another thing I'm perplexed about...

What is the deal with the refurbished SKS rifles? Do they replace the barrels, or just some of the components, or what?

Also, how important is it to get an "unissued" or "new" or "like-new" SKS with regards to accuracy.

Of course, I understand the ballistic-limitations of the 7.62x39 round, but I'd still like to get an acceptably accurate SKS rifle.

As such, I was thinking of spending a bit more than $350 for an SKS rifle, just so I had a better bore.

In short, I like my rifles to out-shoot me, not the other way around. That way, if I'm doing my job, I can trust that the rifle will do it's job too. ;)

Anyway, since I'm new to the SKS, I'm completely open to suggestions and ideas.

BTW, I like that idea you have with the Yugo shooting as a manual-pull repeater, in order to save/find your brass. That's cool.
 

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By refurbished you mean rearsenaled? Same thing as they did with Garands over here; they gave them a once-over, replaced worn or broken parts, and then crated them up and buried them in a cave someplace to wait for WWIII.

Most of the ones that saw arsenal work are going to have pretty decent barrels. As far as the unissued thing, I personally wouldn't worry a whole ton about it; most would've been lightly used and the SKS was never a mainline rifle for the Soviet army, just something they could push off on second line troops and such until AK production came into full swing. I would say that most SKS's you will encounter will easily shoot 3 MOA, and probably much better with nice ammo like Privi Partizan or Lapua x39 or handloads. All I ever shot out of mine was cruddy Wolf camo box.

While I'm thinking about that, out of 120 rounds of Wolf I had 3 failures to fire. All had a decent primer strike, so I don't know what the deal was there. Maybe the spring-return firing pin, but I doubt it. They all set off when hit a second time.

I think in fact the sights are sort of a limiting factor, at least for me; I find the leaf sights somewhat hard to use. Although, the M59/66A1's do have flip-up night sights; mine had glow-in-the-dark paint ones. Factory deal. You could flip up the rear sights and it made it much faster to index on target. The front sight was HUGE though, easily 3 or 4 times wider than the front sight post and probably suitable only for short-range work.

The average SKS is slightly more accurate than the average AK. You could argue that it's the slightly longer barrel (20" vs 16"), or the layout of the rifle or whatever. That's just the way it seems to be. My Yugo had a pitted bore (this is actually fairly common with Yugos; they shot corrosive ammo and it doesn't seem like they did a very good job of cleaning them at the arsenal before they crammed them full of cosmoline and crated them) and it'll still shoot minute-of-man out to 300. Plenty good enough for a HD rifle and decent for deer. If you're gonna get a Yugo you might want see if you inspect the bore in person or get some really good photos of it first.

The manual-pull thing was actually an accident on my part; the gas valve is actually removable on the Yugo (After you take the gas tube & piston off, you can rotate the port selector to straight up, then push the button down and slide the whole thing back; this will let you take the gas valve out and so you can scrub it down, as well as access the gas port itself). Anyway, after I'd reinstalled it I'd forgotten to flip it back down to the open position, and so when I went to the range next I had a manual-pull rifle instead of a semi-auto. It's not really a big deal, although Murray's also sells a stainless steel gas valve with a screw so you can lock it into the open/closed position.

NOTE: These are not my auctions and I am not affiliated with the sellers in any way, just pointing out some good deals.

Here's one that I was looking at on GB, but I don't have the $$$ free right now.

That one's a re-arsenaled Tula (the star on the left side of the reciever is a Tula stamp, circa 55-56. Probably came out of the last production runs of SKS's. (They quit making them in '56 when AK production was up to speed). The square stamp with the line through it on the top cover is a Russian re-arsenal mark, it also has the black "rearsenal" paint on it.

Here's another Tula, a '54, doesn't look like it as a re-arsenal mark. It also comes with a ChiCom 20-rounder fixed box.

If you see one that has an arrow in a triangle in a star, marked "1953r" or "1954r" that's a 1953 or 1954 production Izhevsk SKS, and is significantly harder to come by. Mostly because Izhevsk only made them for two years. May not necessarily be any nicer, functionality wise, but it's more collectible.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
TFG,

Thanks again! You're insights are great about the SKS.

I've been pouring through information on the web. I really dig the heritage of this rifle. It makes me want an SKS even more.

I'm definitely leaning towards a Russian SKS. That said, I might have a Yugo in my future too. (See?...this is how the addiction starts. LOL!)

BTW, I'm not going to make my purchase right away, as I have other "projects" taking my time and budget. So, if you have any other advice, please feel free to chime-in. I'll be watching this thread.

Thanks again, friend! ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Spikester,

Thanks for the great web-link. I've been using it for my SKS research.

Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
OK...another "newbie" question...

How much should I be concerned with the bore of the barrel?

Let me be clear...I'm not asking if a burnt-out barrel is still "good". What I'm driving at is how long will the bore of a re-arsenaled SKS last for (round count), before I have to start getting concerned?

In other words, do I need to concern myself with a rifle that has seen moderate range time, in order for it to be a good shooter? Or, are these things built like tanks and I shouldn't worry too much?

Update on my first SKS purchase =>

OK...So, I'm still a bit overwhelmed with the SKS decision.

Firstly, I'm struggling with which one to get? A Russian? A Yugo? A Chi-Com? :huh: So far, I'm leaning heavily towards a Russian. The Yugo is second. And, the Chi-Com is third.

Also, within each make/year, I've been trying to decide how much I should be willing to pay...$250?...$300?...$400?...$500? :eek: I mean...really, the prices are all over the board.

Of course, I could just plop down 5 C-Notes on a "mint" Russian and be done with it. But, most likely, I'd have myself a collector's piece. And, then I would cringe every time I shoot it, in fear of scratching it, or ruining something.

In short, I intend to shoot this rifle occasionally (I don't buy firearms to only look at them). And, it won't be my "go-to" rifle in a pinch. But, I do want to plink with it now and again.

Anyway, I recently had a VERY good discussion with my FFL guy (who happens to also be an avid SKS collector). And, he even let me handle 4 of his SKS rifles (2 Ruskies, 1 Yugo, 1 Norinco). I definitely gravitated towards the two Russian SKS rifles. But, I did find merit in the Yugo and the Norinco.

Well, pretty soon, I'm getting ready to dive-in. So, any advice or recommendations are definitely welcome. So, please let me know if you have any.

I NEED DATA POINTS!!

Thanks, gang! ;)
 

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Hope you don't mind if I give MHO on this one.

I've never been able to find a Russian I could afford, although I understand they're the best out there. I do own a couple of Romy's, 2 Yugo 59/66A's, an M59 and several Chikoms though.

I understand that Romy's are pretty close to the Russians for quality, but you almost never find one with decent wood. I had to replace the wood on one of mine by refitting a Yugo stock set to it. Much beefier and heavy compared to the original, but it works well for me.

I believe every country but Yugoslavia chrome plated their bores and chamber, so you will probably see very few except Yugo's with bad bores (all of my Yugo's have excellent bores by the way, but they were mostly "unissued" condition when I got them).

I'm partial to the Chikom's for handiness and you can find them in both threaded and pinned barrel configuration. I understand that there's no diff in performance or durability between the two, but that it was a commercial decision the Chinese made to make more money on the market. I have one pinned barrel among mine and it shoots very well. The pin is about 1/8" in diameter, so it's not just a flimsy item.

You'll also find some Chikom's that have stamped trigger guards but they also work just fine for me. The one I just gave my wife has a milsurp Chinese fiberglass stock, pinned barrel and stamped trigger guard. It makes for a very light and enjoyable rifle. She shot the h3!! out of the ammo we took along last week and continuously nailed watermelon-size targets on the hillside about 250 yards away in the offhand stance.

Rumor has it that the Yugo's were made beefier in both the metal and wood because they made comparatively fewer SKS's than other countries and needed to hold up better. The 59/66 variants are a good value but a little bulky and heavy (as noted by the previous poster) against other models. Even the M59's (no grenade launcher or night sights) are somewhat that way but they compare well with Russians for quality, etc. Some Yugo's were stocked in teakwood for export to African countries where the climate could cause other woods to rot. This is another thing I've read about, so be aware that it could just be a rumor out there. The teak is harder to get a good finish to take on, but it looks nice. I have one M59 and one 59/66A in my flock that have teak on them. The older ones with G/L's may have gas leak problems around the cutoffs built into the gas system. This can be remedied with a little effort though.

Did I mention they're also heavy? :D
 

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Sorry guys, real life's been throwing me a loop lately.

As is normal, you can ask 3 different people their opinion on the same thing and get 7 different answers.

Personally, I like the Russians the best. Admittedly, I've never got to put my grubby paws on an Albanian or an E. German one, but of all the commonly available versions, I like the Russian ones the best. The Chi-coms probably second, and the Yugo third, if only because of the weight issue.

Like Hoplophile said, pretty much everybody except the Yugoslavians chrome-plated their SKS bores, so you shouldn't have too much trouble finding a nice one. With the Yugos, you might have to look a little harder for a non-pitted or dark bore, but they're around if you look and have some patience. As far as round-count of a re-arsenal? You'd break the bank on ammo long before you'd cause any serious wear to the barrel.

Like most Russian firearms, they were designed with the understanding that they would be issued to not-very-well trained troops and that they'd see much use without proper maintenance. With how religiously most of us civilian shooters clean and maintain our guns, I honestly think this rifle will outlast you. And you children. And probably your children's children. They're just that tough.

I probably wouldn't give more than $400 for even a really nice Russian; unless it's something really special like a non-arsenal'd '53 or '54 Izhevsk. At that price point you're getting up into WASR territory. Chinese being a close second, probably $300-350. Unless it was a -D or -M model that takes AK mags, then it's worth maybe $400-450. Yugo, no more than $350, and it'd have to have a perfect bore and nice wood on it for that.

Remember the old adage, too. "Money talks." Sometimes, if you let them know they can either sell a rifle and walk away with a pocketfull of cash, or sit around waiting who-knows-how-long for some other fellow to walk by and maybe give them an extra $25 or $50 on it, you'll find your seller is a little more apt to make a deal with you.

Longjohn Sounds like a '50 Tula to me. If you've got it handy, or can look at the date stamp, you ought to be able to get and idea of where the rifle came in the production year. Yooper's site up there has some real good pictures of the date stamps, but in case you can't check it out or whatever, I"ll give you a little rundown.

If the stamp almost sort of looks like it was done by hand by a guy with an electropencil or something, it's a early 1950 production. If it's a little crisper, not so stylized on the date stamp, it's about a mid-year rifle, and if it's quite crisp and looks very much like other mil-surp stamps (it's hard to explain, sort of. Like a different font) it's a late-year stamp. It may or may not have the re-arsenal "square with a diagonal line" through it between the Tula star and the date stamp.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
hoplophile & TFG:

Thanks for weighing-in on this. It is helpful to make my decision.

Great info! I will be making a decision soon. And, I think this data will help me save some money for ammo.

Thanks again! ;)
 

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If you keep your eyes open you can find a chi-com that is the equal or better than a russian. Russians don't come with chrome lined bores. Some of the chinese come with screw in barrel, milled trigger group, and milled bolt carrier. If you can find one with these these features in very good to excellant condition in the $300 or less range, grab it! Also, romanians are equal to the russians in build quality, but harder to find these in excellant condition. Good luck.
 

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I have been lucky enough to buy a Romanian with great wood, a dark finish, chrome bore, and it looks just like a Russian. Shoots great. My Yugo, with its grenade launcher and matching numbers, including stock, is nice, but does not appear to have quite the workmanship the Romanian has. It's a great rifle, though. You will like either one.
 
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