The All-Around Soviet Rifle — The SKS

SKS rifle top, AR-15 rifle bottom

Not long ago, conversation around the fireplace drifted toward the subject of all-around rifles. I like these moments because my grandson is old enough to shoot, and he is interested in firearms but hasn’t heard it all before. I enjoy a number of interesting rifles including the M1A1 and the AR-15. A certain place in my heart belongs to the Winchester 1895. But if you are on a strict budget but need an all around pest, deer, hog, and defense rifle, it is difficult to beat the SKS rifle.

SKS rifle top, AR-15 rifle bottom
The SKS rifle, above, compared to a top-grade AR-15 rifle. The author respectfully submits that the SKS is a better hunting rifle. It is also much less expensive than the AR-15.

These rifles were once sold for a pittance at less than $200. The price has crept up a bit, but the value remains because the SKS is a great brush gun. The inexpensive guns are gone from the shelf but certainly haven’t disappeared. They are in the lockers, safes, and closets of those that appreciate them. They were purchased and kept rather than traded and that means something. The rifle is well worth its modest cost. While the days of dirt-cheap ammunition are also gone, 7.62x39mm ammunition remains affordable and better loads are available than ever before.

The SKS is a bargain when you consider the facts. Here is a military-grade rifle that is reliable, handy, and which fires a powerful cartridge. The magazine holds 10 rounds. Ten accurate and rapidly fired rounds will handle most problems I am aware of and will make a running coyote turn on the coals! Unlike low cost commercial guns in which corners are cut, the SKS really is all it claims—a reliable military rifle made of good material.

The Siminov rifle is less troublesome than many rifles that may be more powerful and more accurate but are also much more expensive. Most of the SKS rifles feature chrome plated bores. This adds up to a rifle well suited to riding in the truck, boat or airboat.

Box of Hornady ammunition with 7.62x39 A Max bullets - front
The Hornady A Max is also offered as the Zombie Max load. It gives good results in both the SKS and the AK-47 rifle.

The furniture is simple wood with a one-piece stock. The top receiver cover is readily removed for routine maintenance. The rifle needs an occasional detail strip for cleaning with special attention to the firing pin channel. The gas tube rides above the barrel. As long as non-corrosive ammunition is used, the SKS rifle will remain reliable and resists corrosion well. I would never add one of the aftermarket extended magazines. They are problematical in function and detract from the rifle’s handling in my opinion.

The SKS rifle was designed and developed in the old Soviet Union. It was introduced in 1945 and replaced shortly after by the AK-47 rifle. Although the SKS used an intermediate cartridge in common with the new breed of assault rifle, the design was really traditional styling. This confluence of design worked well. While outclassed by later developments, the rifle is sturdy, inexpensive to manufacture, and effective.

SKS rear rifle sight
The rear sight of the SKS may be adjusted in increments to give good elevation adjustment.

The SKS was kept in series production just in case the AK did not prove viable. The SKS was manufactured in many Soviet satellite nations. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the former communist nations sent the rifles to America for hard cash. The Chinese followed suit with a Norinco produced version. While many of the Soviet arms have become recreational shooters, and even curiosities, the SKS has seen a great deal of use as a sporting rifle.

The overall length of the SKS rifle is about 40 inches, handy enough, and it weighs eight pounds. It may be heavy for the cartridge, but this weight helps soak up recoil. The rifle is a pleasure to use and fire, inviting both practice and recreational shooting. The safety lever is located on the rear right hand ledge of the trigger guard. Down is on and up is safe.

To load the rifle, lock the bolt to the rear. It is easy to load the rifle with stripper clips but just as easy to load the 10 round magazine one cartridge at a time. You may load the magazine and carefully press the top cartridge down and leave the rifle chamber empty if desired. No matter what the long gun I keep the chamber empty when the firearm is at ready in the home or truck. Simply rack the bolt to make the rifle ready to fire.

Each press of the trigger fires the rifle. The rifle is cycled by the gas system. Firing gas is bled off by a small tappet that cycles the action, just like the M1 Garand. The rifle cycles, the trigger resets, and another press of the trigger fires the rifle again. The SKS features an old style ladder-type rear sight that is adjustable for elevation and a hooded post front sight. The SKS rifle is often used by those in a tight economic situation, and the rifle must be a do-it-all type of firearm.

SKS rifle top, Savage Model 99 bottom
The SKS compared to the author’s Savage 99 rifle. The Savage is more powerful and more accurate, but the SKS might be the better hog gun and perhaps just as good a choice for anything inside of 100 yards.

Quite a few have pressed the cartridge into service as a hunting cartridge and found that it will fill the bill within its limitations. The nominal velocity of the 123-grain FMJ loading is 2300 fps. When you canvas the possibilities of a cartridge, you have to look past the original loading. As an example, the 35-grain case capacity of the 7.62 x 39mm cartridge almost rates it as an under-bore cartridge.

By the same token, the .30-30 Winchester, a cartridge the 7.62x39mm is often compared to, may be termed over bore because the .30-30 cannot take advantage of its case capacity. The .30-30 was designed for the earliest smokeless powders. They were not terribly efficient. By careful handloading, you may safely increase the velocity of the 7.62x39mm 123-grain bullet by 50 fps or more.

Using the Hornady A Max bullet, you have created a respectable hunting load. But there is more—you may also handload a 150-grain-grain bullet to about 2200 fps. This is .30-30 territory, but with a shorter barrel. The Cor Bon 150-grain Hunter load pushes a 150-grain JSP to 2300 fps from my Norinco SKS. The general run of 150-grain .30-30 WCF loads break about 2250 fps or a little less.

SKS rifle top, AR-15 rifle bottom
The SKS rifle, above, compared to a top-grade AR-15 rifle. The author respectfully submits that the SKS is a better hunting rifle. It is also much less expensive than the AR-15.

The 7.62×39 mm cartridge is actually hotter than the .30-30, and in the end, a more efficient cartridge—at least with bullets of less than 150-grains. However—if you wish, you may load a particularly effective heavyweight load using a 180-grain JSP at about 900 fps. The action will not function, but the load is accurate and about as quite as a .22. There is no supersonic crack. This is a great load for pests and short-range varmints.

My favorite handload revolves around IMR 4198 powder and the Hornady 123-grain bullet loaded to an overall length of 2.930 for 2250 fps. In factory ammunition there are good choices. Among the most accurate is the Fiocchi 123-grain FMJ loading.

This doesn’t mean you must reload the cartridge to get the most out of it, far from it. Handloading simply makes for a more versatile rifle. If you do not wish to roll your own ammunition, you may fire the inexpensive Wolf loads for 99% of your shooting and hunt with the Cor Bon load. This information simply illustrates the potential of the cartridge. The comparison is often made to the .30-30 WCF and lets just state that the SKS gives up nothing to the lever gun in ballistics. The Winchester 94 rifle is usually more accurate than the SKS however.

Box of Fiocchi 7.62x39 ammunition
The Fiocchi loading is clean burning and accurate.

In modern ammunition there are several loads that are reliable, use a quality expanding bullet, and which exhibit the best accuracy possible from the SKS platform. The Hornady steel cased A Max is one. The Winchester 123-grain JSP is another. Each is as accurate as possible in the system. And that is the bottom line and the limiting factor of the SKS rifle, accuracy. With a good tight rifle with the stock properly fitted and the hardware tight, a quality SKS rifle should demonstrate 3.0 MOA with these loads.

I have fired rougher examples that did well to make an 8-inch group but they were functional. And, although I have heard of such rifles, I have yet to meet and shoot the SKS rifle that will deliver a group better than three inches at 100 yards. Yet with deer-sized game offering an 8-inch kill zone, the SKS should do the business. A great addition is to add the aperture sight. While intrinsic accuracy may not be affected, practical shooting is much improved with these sights. Optics are also a good bet. Sight the rifle in properly, practice, and the rifle is good enough for most chores.



About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (68)

  1. I recently acquired an SKS rifle and am curious where and when it was made. The only identifying mark is, P3529 stamped on the frame above the magazine. Anyone know?

    1. Cant’t be sure without additional information. But try this “SKS” info blogsite…

      ( https : // www . milsurps . com / showthread . php ?t = 26665 )

      If that doesn’t work, try Milsurps . com Thread: Chinese SKS Type 56 ID FAQ…

  2. That would only apply to lever actions in .30-30 because there are a number of bolt action rifles that can…and do…use spitzers. In that regard the 7.62x39mm will not beat the .30-30.

  3. @secondus,
    It was not the barrels they were testing post war on the arisaka actions it was the unusual mauser type action they were attempting to blow up with overpressured loads the gas relief hole in top of the receiver releases any over pressure issues and it blows out the top instead of destroying the action .I used to handload hunting rounds for the T99 7.7 to 30.06 levels and a .311 dia bullet and never had any overpressure probs i could probably go higher with compressed loads but was not needed for deer sized game .BTW how is that 44 mag barrel working i suggested for that DE .50 AE we discussed last yr? I told you you would love the 44 compared to the .50 AE in the DE haNDGUN

    1. @ Damian.

      I think you’re referring to Sam (ss1), he was interested in the DE’s. I’m satisfied with my Sig-Sauer’s and have Not Interest in the Desert Eagles…

    2. How did we get on Arisaka action?

      I own a 7.7 rifle and it is indeed strong and more accurate than I would have thought. An important piece of history

  4. I have previously posted my 3 shot 1 inch groups with my Russian SKS. That is with a scope from a bench rest of course. That is not every group on every day but The rifle can do it. When we read articles we are given a “best group fired”, and “capable of MOA” all the time. Just trying to point out that the rifle is capable of shooting much more accurate than what a lot of people claim.

  5. …AND the spitzer-style bullet of the 7.62X39 is more aerodynamic and retains more velocity and power at longer ranges than the (necessarily) bunt bullets used in the .30-30.

  6. My accuracy is well documented; I still have many (or most, if not all) of the targets, some 3-shot, usually 5-shot, at a measured 100 yards. The front sight covering the target was not an issue, as I typically aimed with the bottom/right corner of a black square centered atop the front sight or the point of an inverted triangle. Many types of ammo tested. The worst, some Chinese copper-washed surplus stuff, stayed under 2″ all day long and the best shot many groups in the .6″ range. I also have some targets or photos of rifles with targets from others that I had sighted-in and sold. If you would like to counter and scoff, invest some money in the trip to come see me and I’ll pull them out for you to see. No tricks and no lies.

  7. Interesting article and I enjoyed it until I came to this quote; ‘The 7.62×39 mm cartridge is actually hotter than the .30-30,”
    That comment is incorrect The M43 cartridge can not compare with the .30-30 in any given bullet weight. If you feel I’m wrong, check with all of the major reloading manuals and see for yourself!
    I’ve been reloading the 7.62mm Soviet round for many years, (since 1989) not only for my SKS rifles but also for my custom Mauser in this caliber. My favorite powders for the cartridge are AA1680, H335 and IMR4198.

    1. @ Henry J.

      You’ve got me Curious, at to “Custom Mauser in this caliber”! Custom, How?/! Russian/Soviet 7.62 and Mauser 8-mil (7.92) are Virtually the Same Size! Re-Barreled or Re-Chambered…

    2. In similar barrel lengths– a 16 inch Trapper versus the SKS- the soviet cartridge outsteps the .30-30

      Likewise in the small Mauser rifle with 18 inch barrel the 7.62 x 39mm proves more efficient– from the SKS the Cor Bon 150 grain bullet outsteps the .30-30 rifle even though the winchester 94 has a longer barrel.

    3. There have been many comments on accuracy—one reader noted his rifle did 8 inches at 100 yards– have seen those– most do 4 inches, some will do 3.5 and that is the best. Anything else, well, was probably fired with the typewriter. An experienced shooter, from a solid rest, with good shooting glasses, isnt going to shoot better than than 2 inches with any rifle of the SKS or military type- even a Springfield 1903 with standard sights. Part of the reason is that the front sight subtends several inches of the target at 100 yards. It simply isnt humanly possible to fire a 2 inch group when the broad front sight covers 4 inches of the target! So– with that subtend understood you simply have to consider how well anyone can shoot with an iron sight rifle.

    4. Interesting comment. “It simply isn’t humanly possible to fire a 2 inch group when the broad front sight covers 4 inches of the target!”

      Obviously the “author” does not know the principal of sighting with the front sight JUST BELOW the target bullseye area. NOT covering the target.

      I got my NRA High Power Marksman classification using an M1A—and was able to turn in several targets (Prone-Slow-fire) with repeated groups under 2 (two) inches at 100 m.

      Does that make me “unhuman”? Heck no. Just an average shot.
      I managed even better off of a bench with sandbag rests.

      “Its all about the sight picture, stupid”—and ammo, and breath control, and trigger action, and “wobble” training, and….

    5. Actually you are probably well above average.

      that broad front sight just isn’t made for precision, but I bow to your experience

      The SKS just isn’t target grade. The M1A– now that is a rifleman’s rifle and a first class piece of equipment, and with a first class shooter such as yourself, sure, it is very accurate.

    6. @ bob cambell.

      OK!/? I went with a Type 38 Arisaka Barrel, just because of it’s 1085 series Steel and being Chrome Lined. And as far as I know, Nobody has EVER “Broken” an Arisaka made Rifle Barrel. Even using loads that would Burst a .50-caliber M2 BHMG Barrel…

  8. Remembering back to the late 80’s when you could pick up an SKS at a gun show for right at or under $100 …………to this day, can’t for the life of me figure out why I didn’t buy a few ….. :-/

    1. When the SKS showed up in the gunshops for $79.95 with ALL accessories, I knew that I saw a good military surplus rifle. So, I bought all that I could afford at that time (4). Replaced the 5 round mags with $5.99 30 and 40 round mags over time and bought many tins of 7.62 x39 (440 round tins) . Why? Because I knew that the prices wouldn’t stay the same for long. They always go up due to demand. The ammo was all corrosive at the time, but using “Bore Butter” meant for muzzle loading made cleanup a snap. I’ve enjoyed these rifles over the years, and do reload them all – even the berdan primed cases (I like the copper washed cases because they do not rust so easily) which are strewn all over the firing ranges that aren’t monitored. Remove the anvil in the cases lets you use boxer primers and a lick of thinned lacquer seals them just like original. Casting bullets for the SKS is easy and you can get a swager die suited for your bore diameter. I even converted a break action NEF from .308 to 7.62×39 through a chamber adapter (Ace Bullets) to shoot the very inexpensive practice ammo that used to sell for $49.95 a 1,000 case. The SKS is a fun rifle to shoot, and an excellent “critter getter”. Don’t be stingy even at today’s prices – get at least one, and have fun with the non corrosive ammo available.

  9. Also, clean the gas tube and piston (.22 rod and brush/patches work quite well). You then need to remove and clean the associated parts beneath the rear sight; be careful here – when raising the lever that releases the gas tube assembly, only raise it far enough to release the tube and NO FURTHER. After the gas tube is off, place a thumb over the rod that the gas piston pushes on (it rides in a short tube under the rear sight). Keeping your thumb there, slowly raise the disassembly lever a bit further to release that rod – it is under spring pressure. Clean all of these parts and passages, otherwise the action will not cycle or cause a severe stoppage. The gas piston may also eject cosmoline at high pressure/velocity from the vent holes on the tube and possibly from the opening above the chamber where the rod shoves the bolt back. I also remove the cleaning kit capsule from the buttstock and remove the buttplate to clean all of those parts and cavities. Hope that helps!

    1. Again many thanks for your help and info!!! I originally bought the rifle as a wall hanger for my “man cave” and did bare minimal to clean it…because of lack of knowledge and not really wanting to use it as a shooter. So I put it away and more or less forgot about other than pulling it out and wiping it down occasionally. After reading this article reminded me about it and I should finish the cleaning job. Thanks to you, now I know how to do it ,I have to get some kerosene and finish the job. I don’t remember any paperwork whatsoever being included with the rifle….I bought it sometime late 80s or early 90s. That should tell you how important it was for me to “Get’ Er Done”. I seriously wish I had bought more of them NOW. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I am going nearly blind. Thank you for info, time, and help. After posting earlier I took CW3Charlie’s advice and do a little research…..One thing that is going on that is creating A LOT of confusion is does the MILITARY (NOT NORINCO) SKS fit into the BATF C&R category…. The answer is YES and NO….First it has to be 50 years or older and there are other things that go with it being considered/listed as a C&R firearm. Here is another link for info for the owners of SKS’s This guy does have A LOT of info on them and other weapons: Thank you again and I can’t thank you enough…I hope you will consider the link here and others elsewhere as a form of payback, if you did or did not know of them, I hope you will find them perhaps, at least somewhat interesting and of use. All the best and thank you again.

  10. I own two Norinco Chinese models which I paid $65.00 a piece NIB and a Russian model which I paid $85.00 for the same time I purchased the two Chinese firearms, all back 1989 or 1990. I have only fired the one Chinese SkS after all these years and the other Chinese and the Russian remain unfired. I know what they are worth now…good investment at the time I bought them. Great rifles!

  11. I am going to share a few links for the ones that own a SKS-Type-56… you can pick up a lot of info on them and even find out when it was made. First I will tell you J&G Sales has (or had) them for $249.95 and they called it a Gunsmith Special and might be missing some parts…to have a Gunsmith go over them BEFORE firing. You can visit their site for more info.

    All kinds of info and how to identify your SKS and AK and on other firearms:

    AKs, SKS, ARs, etc, info and more:

    Identifying Your SKS and WHEN it was made:

    I hope this helps and is found interesting at least to some….I found out mine was made in 1971….not that it matters…..

  12. Owned quite a few Norinco’s, of both stripprr fed or Mag, with my favorites being the parade polshed carbine length.
    Accuracy can be greatly improved on all of them by checking the pressure points on stocks(floating. And a good peep.
    Got in early on imports of noth Norinco and Chi-com steel corrosive ammo by the pallet at docks for 49-50 weapon and same for tins of ammo 100 rounds per same price.
    Like retain bayonet of early but last bones good enough.
    I often used the bayonets as a forward rest while hunting.
    While Charlie did have the. SK most of his weaponry until 1967 was a mish mash of moison’,carbines and assorted French light weapons.
    Did see a couple with STAR 20 rnd fixed mags of Chinese origin.
    And yes a few SK will place 3at one hundred within 1.25″, but like I mentioned needed screw in barrels or pinned with close tolerance headspacing to get under MOA 100 meters with good peep.

  13. Hi Bob,
    Just wanted to say “thanks” for one of the better writeups on the SKS that I’ve read in a long time. I’m one who horded the SKS when they were cheap. Still have the four I bought 2 Russian, one Check and a Chinese. They are great truck, boat and airplane gear rifles. Also agree with your choice of munitions. Thanks again for a good read an good information !

  14. Wasn’t my experience, either. Had a 15-rd., two 20-rd. and two 30-rd. Tapco detachable mags. The 15 and 20s looked best and were more practical/useful; especially from prone.

  15. Yeah, getting that heavy, sometimes hard, cosmoline out of every part and nook and cranny was a chore. Like I said, in about a year to a year and a half, I cleaned, sighted, tested and sold more than two dozen of them in various conditions and price ranges when I had my FFL. Even the worst $55 ones (cost) were decent shooters. Never understood how magazine writers (who one would suppose were proficient shots) never reported better than 3″-4″ groups. None ever did worse than two or so; most were 1.25″-1.5″ shooters with open sights at 100 yards.

    1. Chuck, I used kerosene and some rags and brushes and the cleaning rod and a plastic bucket to soak smaller parts in, to remove the cosmoline. Made it pretty easy. Question for you if you don’t mind……after thoroughly cleaning the cosmoline from the barrel (inside and outside), bolt, sear, trigger assembly. I just field stripped it….What else needs to be “de-cosmo’d” before one can safely fire the weapon………..I know like any other firearm, I put a light coat of oil to all of the parts before reassembly and wipe down all over as normal…I appreciate your help and answers.

  16. The biggest thing I liked about the bayonet is that it held the cleaning rod so it wouldn’t fall out. I really liked the SKS; going to have to find another.

  17. I bought one of the Chinese made sks’s in the middle 80’s.Still have it, hunted a few times with it. I remember liking the fact I had the bayonet with it ,so I would just stick in the ground when going through fences, with no worry of doing any damage to the gun. Still have it in my safe only had maybe a hundred rounds through it. By the way it cost me $87.00.

  18. Sks is the perfect shtf rifle. I have 4 paratrooper carbines and a stock pile of ammo. The rifle is very durable and ammo is dirt cheap. I stick with the original 10 rd mag although the are easily converted to tapco 20 rd mags. With the original mag there are no mags to loose. They function when extremely dirty. Try throwing your AR in a mud puddle and shooting it. Great gun well made. They dont make these new guns like this anymore. These guns will stand the test of time

  19. When the SKS’s were first sold in the US in the early 90’s they were military surplus packed in Grease. I picked up several of them for $69 a piece. Out of the box (after you cleaned and oiled them) they are deadly accurate and very trouble free. I found the stock to be quite short so I upgraded one of mine with a regular size synthetic stock. Even with the added stock I still have less than $120 in the gun. Some of the guns I purchased remained packed in grease in the original box, that’s how cheap they were. Someday I will either sell them or maybe give them to my kids who are all getting old enough to own their own guns.

  20. I bought a Soviet era surplus SKS in new condition about 25 years ago for about $100. I’ve hunted with it and plinked with it since then and loved it. I kept the stock furniture and only added an offset scope. It is absolutely reliable and can take rough use with no problem. It’s in the ‘so ugly it’s pretty’ category. I agree completely with Mr Campbell that it is a great all around rifle. It is the truck gun for many of my friends that are ranchers/farmers and is my choice for a rainy day hunt for hogs.

  21. I purchased a Chinese Norinco SKS 20 years ago for under $200. Hog or coyote hunting yes. Any low to the ground varmint/pest yes. Any targets inside 150 yards with open sights, no problem.I did remove the stock 10 round mag to allow for the more rounds mag’s. No issue using these either.
    Ammo is still cheap enough to buy by the case too. No need to load my I own ammo for this rifle.

  22. I have 4 SKS’s, 3 in their original configuration. One was purchased with a broken stock. I dropped it in a Tapco stock. I have 8 20 round Tapco mags, 2 Pro-mag 30 rounder’s and a 30 round Archangel. Each one of them functions flawlessly, I have NEVER had any issues with 20 or 30 round magazines. I do not get all the comments about avoiding aftermarket hi cap mags for the SKS. It is claimed they are unreliable. This has not been my experience.

  23. I was so lucky when i picked up 2 yugos in 2004 for 67$ each now they cost as much as my Amd-65 hungarian Akm variant….

    times change a lot i miss the time when even my mosin nagant only cost 70$.


  25. When I finished my tour as an infantry sergeant in SE Asia, I brought an SKS home with me from the Cambodian Incursion. I still have it. It remains one of the most accurate iron-sight rifles I’ve ever fired. Can’t say enough about it.

  26. In my humble opinion, the SKS is the modern version of the wonderful .30-30 lever action. With a cartridge that is similar in power & effectiveness compared to the .30-30, it does it at a cheaper cost & with enough accuracy to cover 90% of hunting shot opportunities on deer & hog size animals. Some say the average.30-30 is more accurate than the average SKS, but what good does that do you if the .30-30 is considered to only have the power for medium size game out to 100 yards?! The SKS is accurate enough for 100 yards medium big game hunting. The SKS holds more rounds than the .30-30 lever action, is cheaper to feed, is faster to reload, faster for follow up shots, easier to field strip & clean. Again, IMHO the SKS is the modern .30-30 lever action, I can’t think of a better comparison OR compliment.

  27. Great rifle. I bought my first when I was 19 and have had five since then. I restored and re-sold three of them to pay for part of my wedding. Each one operated and shot great. The original Norinco I bought gave me 7 whitetails and I gifted it to the best man of my wedding and we still shoot it today.

  28. Unfortunately I was on the receiving end of an SKS bayonet in Vietnam. The rifle is now in my safe with his blood and mine on it.

  29. They are not the bargain they used to be back in the day. I bought one many years ago and it shot 7-8″ groups at 100 yards. As I recall I paid $110 for it. I sold it a few years later for twice that.

    A quick look at gunbroker shows most nice ones going for nearly $500. You can buy a decent AR for that now, and easily add any optic you wish. Putting optics on a SKS is possible, but your selection will be more limited.

    If I want a iron-sighted light and handy deer rifle I will pick my pre-64 1894 Winchester. If I want a defensive semi-auto I will go with one of my several AR-15s. If I could still buy an SKS for $110 I would have a couple, to put away just in case. I certainly wouldn’t pay $479.99 for one.

  30. Bought my Norinco and 500 rounds of ammo for $110.00. I used it for a truck gun for years and killed my 2 biggest bucks with it. I put the flush fit mag, a rubber butpad, and an aperture sights on it. It shoots around 2-2.5″ groups with PMC soft points. Great little rifle.

  31. When I was stationed in CA, I bought a Russian SKS at a gun show for around $120. I have fired it at my range, but not very often. I have a stockpile of inexpensive ammo for when I take it to the range. Not much recoil and nice to shoot. Also have stripper clips, but find them difficult to use.
    Now CA considers it an ‘assault rifle’ so I am happy I don’t live there anymore.

  32. Years ago I picked up a couple of SK rifles from a friend, one Russian and one Chinese. I let a fellow talk me into selling the Norinko for a good profit but held onto the Russian for some time. What a great rifle. I have picture evidence of 1″ 3 shot groups at 100 yards. Eventually I traded it for an AR rifle that I still have. I sure would like to have that old gun back though.

    1. I’ve handled, cleaned, shot and sighted-in 24 or more SKS rifles and carbines. The worst one (cracked wood, rough/dark bore) shot 1.975″ 5-shot groups with a FMJ load that I found to be cheap and accurate. My personal paratrooper carbine, tested with 12 or so different loadings, averaged .833″ and its’ most accurate load averaged .625″. No joke. I have the target file still, but sold the rifle, for $800, just after the import ban.

  33. Unfortunately, Bob made a mistake common to those unfamiliar with Soviet Weapons development. The SKS was not introduced until the early 1950’s as a complement to the full-auto AK-47. It is based of an earlier design by Simonov from 1930’s that was never fully developed or adopted. The SKS is popular as a hunting rifle in Russia as is the Mosin.

    1. The SKS had some inspiration from the AVS-36 and more direct influence from the PTRS, which the SKS action is basically a scaled down version of. 1949 is usually considered 1st year of full production.

    2. This is the first time I have heard that ‘version’. The cartridge was developed in 1943 and the SKS 45 was used in limited numbers in 1944 and 1945 against the Nazis. The rifle was put into series production in 1949. This is the original 7.62 x 39mm rifle.

  34. Years ago I bought one in unissued condition. It sat in an armory and got pulled out every so often cleaned and repacked in their version of cosmoline. I was mainly planning on hanging it on the wall in my “man cave” or wherever. Then I decided to take it apart and clean it. I got some kerosene and got most of the “cosmo” cleaned out. Put it back together.I have never fired it…the stock is too short for me……I bought a folding stock and it makes the rifle unwieldy for me …the open stock is too long… I now wish I had bought more of them. Now I KNOW the Yogo and Romanian are the top of the line as are their AKs….Mine being Chinese I was told it is a staked barrel instead of threaded. I am Not sure and not sure about how to check…….All of that being said…I am wondering if the rifle can be rechambered into another caliber…

    1. Yosemite,
      Seems like you have access to the Web, and Google. So “google” SKS gunsmith armorer. That person will have your answer, as long as he’s not an internet A&$H@11.

    2. CW3Charlie, Thanks. I should have checked. I was being lazy and thought some in here would know and volunteer their knowledge. 🙂

    3. The pinned barrel will appear to be “inserted” into the receiver. The (desirable) threaded barrels will have a shoulder that butts against the front of the receiver.

    4. Chuck, Thank you. I just went and picked up the rifle and looked. There is a flat spot on top of the barrel and has round sides where it mates into the receiver. Could/would this indicate that it is actually threaded???

      Thank you again

  35. I recall when these were available for as low as $69. At that price, I expected them to be junk. I was wrong.

  36. O.K.! The SKS is a cheap starter rifle, I’ll give you that, BUT, It is too heavy for hunting. I used my Norinco for one season and put it back into the gun room. It is accurate…in fact in Vietnam it was used as a sniper rifle and, most likely, killed more of our soldiers then any AK did. I have the Norinco which is Chinese made and also a surplus Yugo. Although older and more used, i’d say the Yugo was the better firearm. Ammo used to be cheap, but the source dried up so why NOT reload? I currently use a custom bolt action Savage in 6.5 Grendel for hunting…if something went ‘south’ with it, I’d use my old Marlin 1893 30-30 before I’d use the SKS because it’s lighter and more accurate.

  37. I have had several SKS rifles over the years, and I have always been quite satisfied with them. True…..they are strictly utilitarian pieces that are not likely to win any beauty contests, but they ARE effective in their given role of short to medium range shooting. The ammo is plentiful and relatively inexpensive, too.

    I reflect back on my tour of duty in Vietnam (1969-70), and I recall that one of my soldiers killed a VC and managed to take the SKS as a trophy. That particular model had been adapted to accept AK-47 magazines, thus increasing the firepower of the SKS and permitting rapid reloads, as well. I hadn’t seen another like it since, but several years ago, at a local gun show I found just such an SKS, and I immediately grabbed it for the princely sum of $125.00. I still have it in my collection, and I even managed to find a polymer composition stock that provides for the AK-47 magazines to be inserted in the rifle. It is one of my 7.62×39 pieces with which I shall never part.

  38. Me and a buddy are gonna fire ours at Camp Perry,s National Rifle Match, Modern Military Match on July 21, this year !

  39. UNFORTUNATELY THE PRICE HAS WENT SKY HIGH ON THESE RIFLE .aND YOU ARE LUCKY TO FIND MORE THEN A YUGO VERSION .i REFUSE TO PAY 500.00 and up FOR ANY SKS RIFLE but i have hunted with 1 they will do the job in a pinch but why spend that much on an sks rifle i just do not see it worth it .A few dollars more will get you a fine hunting rifle in a better caliber .JMHO

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