SKS

SKS

Overview
The SKS is a Soviet semi-automatic rifle
Semi-automatic firearm
A semi-automatic, or self-loading firearm is a weapon which performs all steps necessary to prepare the weapon to fire again after firing—assuming cartridges remain in the weapon's feed device or magazine...

 chambered for the 7.62x39mm round, designed in 1943 by Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov
Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov
Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov was a Soviet weapons designer; he is one of the fathers of the modern assault rifle....

. SKS-45 is an acronym for Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova, 1945 Simonov system, 1945), or SKS 45. The Sks is a scaled down version of the PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle also designed by Simonov. The Soviets rather quickly phased the SKS carbine out of front-line service, replacing it with the AK-47
AK-47
The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova . It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash.Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year...

, but it remained in second-line service for decades.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'SKS'
Start a new discussion about 'SKS'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The SKS is a Soviet semi-automatic rifle
Semi-automatic firearm
A semi-automatic, or self-loading firearm is a weapon which performs all steps necessary to prepare the weapon to fire again after firing—assuming cartridges remain in the weapon's feed device or magazine...

 chambered for the 7.62x39mm round, designed in 1943 by Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov
Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov
Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov was a Soviet weapons designer; he is one of the fathers of the modern assault rifle....

. SKS-45 is an acronym for Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova, 1945 Simonov system, 1945), or SKS 45. The Sks is a scaled down version of the PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle also designed by Simonov. The Soviets rather quickly phased the SKS carbine out of front-line service, replacing it with the AK-47
AK-47
The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova . It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash.Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year...

, but it remained in second-line service for decades. It remains a ceremonial arm
Ceremonial weapon
A ceremonial weapon is an object used for ceremonial purposes to display power or authority. They are often used in parades, and as part of dress uniforms.Although they are descended from weapons used in actual combat, they are not normally used as such...

 today. It was widely exported and produced by the former Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 nations, as well as China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, where it was designated the "Type 56", East Germany as the "Karabiner S" and in North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 as the "Type 63". It is today popular on the civilian surplus market in many countries. The SKS was one of the first weapons chambered for the 7.62x39mm M43 round later used in the AK-47.

Technical specifications



The SKS has a conventional carbine
Carbine
A carbine , from French carabine, is a longarm similar to but shorter than a rifle or musket. Many carbines are shortened versions of full rifles, firing the same ammunition at a lower velocity due to a shorter barrel length....

 layout, with a wooden stock
Stock (firearm)
A stock, also known as a buttstock or shoulder stock, is a part of a rifle or other firearm, to which the barrel and firing mechanism are attached, that is held against one's shoulder when firing the gun. Stocks are also found on crossbows though a crossbow stock is more properly referred to as a...

 and no pistol grip
Pistol grip
On a firearm or other tool, the pistol grip is that portion of the mechanism that is held by the hand and orients the hand in a forward, vertical orientation, similar to the position one would take with a conventional pistol such as the M1911....

. Most versions are fitted with an integral folding bayonet
Bayonet
A bayonet is a knife, dagger, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit in, on, over or underneath the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar weapon, effectively turning the gun into a spear...

 which hinges down from the end of the barrel, and some versions, such as the Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

n-made M59/66 variant, are equipped with a grenade
Rifle grenade
A rifle grenade is a grenade that uses a rifle-based launcher to permit a longer effective range than would be possible if the grenade was thrown by hand...

 launching attachment. As with the American M1 carbine
M1 Carbine
The M1 carbine is a lightweight, easy to use semi-automatic carbine that became a standard firearm for the U.S. military during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and was produced in several variants. It was widely used by U.S...

, the SKS is shorter and less powerful than the semi-automatic rifles which preceded it—most notably, the Soviet SVT series and the American M1 Garand
M1 Garand
The M1 Garand , was the first semi-automatic rifle to be generally issued to the infantry of any nation. Called "the greatest battle implement ever devised" by General George S...

. Contrary to popular belief, the SKS is a carbine and not a modern assault rifle
Assault rifle
An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies...

, because it does not meet all the criteria for such a weapon. The basic design lacks both selective fire
Selective fire
A selective fire firearm has at least one semi–automatic and one automatic mode, which is activated by means of a selector which varies depending on the weapon's design. Some selective fire weapons utilize burst fire mechanisms to limit the maximum or total number of shots fired automatically in...

 capability, and a detachable magazine. Some selective-fire variants were produced in the PRC
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, and many SKS's have been modified in various ways to accept detachable magazines; however, the basic design of the SKS is semi-automatic and fixed-magazine in nature. The carbine's ten-round box magazine is fed from a stripper clip
Stripper clip
A stripper clip or charger is a speedloader that holds several cartridges together in a single unit for easier loading of a firearm's magazine. A stripper clip is used only for loading the magazine and is not necessary for the firearm to function...

 (see below), and rounds stored in the magazine can be removed by depressing a magazine catch (thus opening the "floor" of the magazine and allowing the rounds to fall out) located forward of the trigger guard.

The notched rear tangent iron sight is adjustable, and is calibrated in hundreds of meters. The front sight is a post adjustable for elevation in the field. Windage adjustment is done by the armory before issue. The battle setting places the round within +/-33 cm from the point of aim out to 350 m (380 yd). This "point-blank range" setting allows the shooter to fire the gun at any close target without adjusting the sights. The field adjustment procedure for AK-47, AKM and AK-74 family requires 4 rounds to be placed in a 15 cm group at a distance of 100 meters. Longer settings are intended for area suppression. These settings mirror the Mosin–Nagant and SKS rifles which the AK-47 replaced. This eased transition and simplified training.

Design


A standard SKS is semi-automatic and has a fixed/hinged 10 round internal magazine which is loaded from the top of the rifle either by manually inserting the ammunition one round at a time or with a 10-round stripper clip
Stripper clip
A stripper clip or charger is a speedloader that holds several cartridges together in a single unit for easier loading of a firearm's magazine. A stripper clip is used only for loading the magazine and is not necessary for the firearm to function...

. In typical military use the stripper clips are disposable. If necessary they can be reloaded multiple times and reused. The SKS is a gas-operated weapon that has a spring-loaded operating rod and a gas piston rod that work the action via gas pressure pushing against them. Also, it has a "tilting bolt" action locking system. Some variants of the SKS have been modified, with limited success, to accept AK-47 detachable magazines (military rifles designed with fixed magazines often experience feed jams when modified to accept detachable magazines, and the SKS is no exception). Norinco
Norinco
The China North Industries Corporation , official English name Norinco, manufactures vehicles , machinery, optical-electronic products, oil field equipment, chemicals, light industrial products, explosives and blast materials, civil and military firearms and ammunition, etc...

 had, at one point, manufactured the SKS-M, SKS-D, and MC-5D models which were engineered from the factory to accept AKM magazines without problems (though the wood stock must be relieved to accept drum magazines). The SKS also has a slightly longer barrel than AK-series rifles, with a fractionally higher muzzle velocity.

While early Russian models had spring-loaded firing pins, most variants of the SKS have a free floating firing pin within the bolt. Because of this design, care must be taken during cleaning (especially after long storage) to ensure that the firing pin does not stick in the forward position within the bolt. SKS firing pins that are stuck in the forward position have been known to cause accidental "slamfire
Slamfire
A slamfire is a premature, unintended discharge of a firearm that occurs as a round is being loaded into the chamber. Slamfires are most common in military firearms that have a free-floating firing pin, as opposed to a spring-loaded one...

s" (uncontrolled automatic fire that empties the magazine, starting when the bolt is released). This behavior is less likely with the hard primer military-spec ammo for which the SKS was designed, but as with any rifle users should properly maintain their firearms. For collectors, slamfires are more likely when the bolt still has remnants of cosmoline
Cosmoline
Cosmoline is the genericized trademark for a generic class of rust preventatives, typically conforming to MIL-C-11796C Class 3, that are a brown colored wax-like mass; have a slight fluorescence; and have a petroleum-like odor and taste .Chemically, cosmoline is a homogeneous mixture of oily and...

 embedded in it. The firing pin is triangular in cross section, and slamfires can also result if the firing pin is inserted upside down. Third party kits are available that can put old-style spring-loaded firing pins in SKS's that did not come with them, increasing the reliability and reducing the chance of slamfires.

In most variants (pre-1970 Yugoslav models being the most notable exception), the barrel is chrome-lined
Chrome plating
Chrome plating, often referred to simply as chrome, is a technique of electroplating a thin layer of chromium onto a metal object. The chromed layer can be decorative, provide corrosion resistance, ease cleaning procedures, or increase surface hardness.-Process:A component to be chrome plated will...

 for increased wear and heat tolerance from sustained fire and to resist corrosion from chlorate primed corrosive ammunition
Ammunition
Ammunition is a generic term derived from the French language la munition which embraced all material used for war , but which in time came to refer specifically to gunpowder and artillery. The collective term for all types of ammunition is munitions...

, as well as to facilitate cleaning. Chrome bore lining is common in military rifles. Although it can diminish practical accuracy, this is not a real limit on field grade accuracy in a weapon of this type.

All military SKSs have a bayonet
Bayonet
A bayonet is a knife, dagger, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit in, on, over or underneath the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar weapon, effectively turning the gun into a spear...

 attached to the underside of the barrel, which is extended and retracted via a spring-loaded hinge (some are removable whereas some are permanent). Both blade and spike bayonets were produced. The SKS is easily field stripped and reassembled with no tools. The rifle has a cleaning kit stored in a trapdoor in the buttstock, with a cleaning rod running under the barrel, in the same style as the AK-47. In common with some other Soviet-era designs, the SKS trades some accuracy for ruggedness, reliability, ease of maintenance, ease of use, and low manufacturing cost. The SKS is a simple design that is highly effective and rugged.

History



During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, many countries realized that existing rifles, such as the Mosin-Nagant
Mosin-Nagant
The Mosin–Nagant is a bolt-action, internal magazine-fed, military rifle invented under the government commission by Russian and Belgian inventors, and used by the armed forces of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and various other nations....

, were too long and heavy and fired powerful cartridges that were effective in medium machineguns with a range in excess of 2000 meters, creating excessive recoil. These cartridges, such as the 7.92x57mm Mauser
7.92x57mm Mauser
The 8×57mm IS is a rimless bottlenecked rifle cartridge. The 8×57mm IS was adopted by the German Empire in 1905, and was the German service cartridge in both World Wars...

, .303 British
.303 British
.303 British, or 7.7x56mmR, is a .311 inch calibre rifle and machine gun cartridge first developed in Britain as a blackpowder round put into service in December 1888 for the Lee-Metford rifle, later adapted to use smokeless powders...

, .30-06 Springfield
.30-06 Springfield
The .30-06 Springfield cartridge or 7.62×63mm in metric notation, was introduced to the United States Army in 1906 and standardized, and was in use until the 1960s and early 1970s. It replaced the .30-03, 6 mm Lee Navy, and .30 US Army...

, and 7.62x54mmR were effective in rifles to ranges of up to 1,000 meters (1,100 yd); however, it was noted that most firefights took place at maximum ranges of between 100 meters (110 yd) and 300 meters (330 yd). Only a highly-trained specialist, such as a sniper
Sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

, could employ the full-power rifle cartridge to its true potential. Both the Soviet Union and Germany realized this and designed new weapons for smaller, intermediate-power cartridges. The US fielded an intermediate round in the .30 US, now known as the .30 Carbine
.30 Carbine
The .30 Carbine is the cartridge used in the M1 Carbine introduced in the 1940s. It is an intermediate round designed to be fired from the M1 carbine's 18-inch barrel.-History:...

, and M1 carbine
M1 Carbine
The M1 carbine is a lightweight, easy to use semi-automatic carbine that became a standard firearm for the U.S. military during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and was produced in several variants. It was widely used by U.S...

s were fielded in large numbers.

The German approach was the production of a series of intermediate cartridges and rifles in the interwar period, eventually developing the Maschinenkarabiner, or machine-carbine, which later evolved into the Sturmgewehr 44
Sturmgewehr 44
The StG 44 was an assault rifle developed in Nazi Germany during World War II and was the first of its kind to see major deployment, considered by many historians to be the first modern assault rifle...

 Sturmgewehr, or "assault rifle
Assault rifle
An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies...

", which was produced during the war, chambered in the 7.92x33mm Kurz intermediate round.

The Soviet Union type qualified a new intermediate round in 1943. A small number of SKS rifles were tested on the front line in early 1945 against the Germans in World War II.

Design-wise, the SKS relies on the AVS-36 (developed by same the designer, Simonov) to a point that some consider it a shortened AVS-36, stripped of select-fire capability and rechambered for the 7.62x39mm cartridge. It also owes a debt to the SVT-40 and Mosin-Nagant
Mosin-Nagant
The Mosin–Nagant is a bolt-action, internal magazine-fed, military rifle invented under the government commission by Russian and Belgian inventors, and used by the armed forces of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and various other nations....

 rifles that it replaced, incorporating both the semi-automatic firepower of the SVT (albeit in a more manageable cartridge) and the small size and integral bayonet of the bolt-action carbine.

In 1949, the SKS was officially adopted into the Soviet Army
Soviet Army
The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

, produced at the Tula Armory from 1949 until 1955 and the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant
Izhevsk Mechanical Plant
Izhevsk Mechanical Plant or IZHMEKH is a major firearms manufacturer founded in Izhevsk in 1942 for manufacturing small arms. After the end of World War II it continued producing firearms, both for military and hunting applications, and later high-tech weapons and civilian machinery...

 in 1953 and 1954. Although the quality of Russian SKS rifles manufactured at these state-run arsenals was quite high, its design was already obsolete compared to the Kalashnikov which was selective-fire
Selective fire
A selective fire firearm has at least one semi–automatic and one automatic mode, which is activated by means of a selector which varies depending on the weapon's design. Some selective fire weapons utilize burst fire mechanisms to limit the maximum or total number of shots fired automatically in...

, lighter, had three times the magazine capacity, and had the potential to be less labor-intensive to manufacture. Gradually over the next few years, AK-47 production increased until the extant SKS carbines in service were relegated primarily to non-infantry and to second-line troops. They remained in service in this fashion even as late as the 1980s, and possibly the early 1990s. To this day, the SKS carbine is used by some ceremonial Russian honor guard
Honor guard
An honor guard, or ceremonial guard, is a ceremonial unit, usually military in nature and composed of volunteers who are carefully screened for their physical ability and dexterity...

s, much the same way the M1 Garand
M1 Garand
The M1 Garand , was the first semi-automatic rifle to be generally issued to the infantry of any nation. Called "the greatest battle implement ever devised" by General George S...

 is within the United States; it is far less ubiquitous than the AK-47 but both original Russian SKS rifles and copies can still be found today in civilian hands as well as in the hands of third-world militias and insurgent groups.

The SKS was to be a gap-filling firearm produced using the proven operating mechanism design of the PTRS
PTRS-41
The PTRS-41 is the semi-automatic cousin of the PTRD anti-tank rifle.-Design:The PTRS-41 was produced and used by the Soviet Union during World War II. In the years between the World Wars, Soviet Union began experimenting with different types of armour-piercing anti-tank cartridges...

 and using proven milled forging manufacturing techniques. This was to provide a fallback for the radically new and experimental design of the AK-47, in the event that the AK proved to be a failure. In fact, the original stamped
Stamping (metalworking)
Stamping includes a variety of sheet-metal forming manufacturing processes, such as punching using a machine press or stamping press, blanking, embossing, bending, flanging, and coining. This could be a single stage operation where every stroke of the press produce the desired form on the sheet...

 receiver AK-47 had to be quickly redesigned to use a milled receiver which delayed production, and extended the SKS rifles' service life.

Service


The SKS fell out of service amongst its client nations during the 1960s and 1970s, although Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 still has military police
Military police
Military police are police organisations connected with, or part of, the military of a state. The word can have different meanings in different countries, and may refer to:...

 units armed with the SKS. Many surplus SKS rifles were disposed of in the 1990s, and photographs and stories exist of SKS rifles used by guerilla fighters in Bosnia, Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 and throughout Africa and South-East Asia during the 1990s and 2000s. Several African, Asian, and Middle Eastern armies still use the SKS.

During the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 shared the design and manufacturing details with its allies, and as a result, many variants of the SKS exist. Some variants use a 30-round AK-47 style magazine (Chinese Type 63), gas port controls, flip-up night sights, and prominent, muzzle-mounted grenade launchers (Yugoslav M59/66, possibly North Korean Type 63). In total, SKS rifles were manufactured by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

, Albania, North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

, Vietnam
North Vietnam
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

, and East Germany (Kar. S) with limited pilot production (Model 56) in Romania and Poland
People's Republic of Poland
The People's Republic of Poland was the official name of Poland from 1952 to 1990. Although the Soviet Union took control of the country immediately after the liberation from Nazi Germany in 1944, the name of the state was not changed until eight years later...

 (Wz49). Physically, all are very similar, although the NATO-specification 22 mm grenade launcher of the Yugoslav version, and the more encompassing stock of the Albanian version are visually distinctive. Early versions of Chinese Type 56s (produced 1965–71) used a spike bayonet
Spike bayonet
A spike bayonet, also known as a pigsticker in informal contexts, is a blade attachment for a firearm taking the form of a pointed spike rather than a knife. Most early musket bayonets were of this type. From around 1800 knife- or sword style bayonets began to appear, which could also be wielded by...

, whereas the majority use a vertically aligned blade. Many smaller parts, most notably the sights and charging handles, were unique to different national production runs. A small quantity of SKS carbines manufactured in 1955–56 were produced in China with Russian parts, presumably as part of a technology sharing arrangement. Many Yugoslav M59/66 series rifles were exported to Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

 and Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

; the Mozambique versions having teak
Teak
Teak is the common name for the tropical hardwood tree species Tectona grandis and its wood products. Tectona grandis is native to south and southeast Asia, mainly India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Burma, but is naturalized and cultivated in many countries, including those in Africa and the...

wood stocks, the wood supplied by that nation. The vast majority of Yugoslav M59 and M59/66s have elm
Elm
Elms are deciduous and semi-deciduous trees comprising the genus Ulmus in the plant family Ulmaceae. The dozens of species are found in temperate and tropical-montane regions of North America and Eurasia, ranging southward into Indonesia. Elms are components of many kinds of natural forests...

, walnut
Walnut
Juglans is a plant genus of the family Juglandaceae, the seeds of which are known as walnuts. They are deciduous trees, 10–40 meters tall , with pinnate leaves 200–900 millimetres long , with 5–25 leaflets; the shoots have chambered pith, a character shared with the wingnuts , but not the hickories...

 and beech
Beech
Beech is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.-Habit:...

 stocks. Russian SKS's had stocks of Arctic Birch (or "Russian Birch"), and the Chinese were of Catalpa wood ("Chu wood"). SKS carbines have also made appearances in recent conflicts in Africa, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, and Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Today the SKS is in service with Cambodia, China, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, as well as many other countries in Africa.

Nations that utilized the SKS but did not receive manufacturing rights included Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, the United Arab Republic (Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

), and the Yemen People's Democratic Republic.

Variants






After World War II, the SKS design was licensed or sold to a number of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's allies, including China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, Yugoslavia, Albania, North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

, Vietnam
North Vietnam
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

, East Germany, Romania and Poland
People's Republic of Poland
The People's Republic of Poland was the official name of Poland from 1952 to 1990. Although the Soviet Union took control of the country immediately after the liberation from Nazi Germany in 1944, the name of the state was not changed until eight years later...

. Most of these nations produced nearly identical variants, with the most common modifications being differing styles of bayonets and the 22 mm
22 mm grenade
The 22mm rifle grenade is inserted over the firing mechanism on the front of rifles that are equipped with the appropriate launcher, either in the form of an integral flash suppressor or a detachable adapter. As with most rifle grenades, it is propelled by a blank cartridge inserted into the...

 rifle grenade
Rifle grenade
A rifle grenade is a grenade that uses a rifle-based launcher to permit a longer effective range than would be possible if the grenade was thrown by hand...

 launcher commonly seen on Yugoslavian models.

Differences from the "baseline" late Russian Tula Armory/Izhevsk Armory SKS:
  • Russian (1949–1956): Early (1949–1951) Spike-style bayonet (1949) instead of blade-style. Squared-off gas block (1949 to early 1950) instead of the rounded one more commonly seen. Spring-return firing pin on early models (1949-early 1951). The gas block had 3 changes: (Squared-off) is the 90-degree angle, that's First stage production, 1949 to early 1950. Second gas block production type: (1950–1951) cut at 45-degree angle. Third gas block production type: (1952-55/56) Rounded inward or Cut Curved inward.

  • Soviet Honor Guard: All-chrome metal parts, with a lighter-colored wood stock.

  • Chinese Type 56 (1956-): Numerous minor tweaks, including lack of milling on the bolt carrier, partially or fully stamped (as opposed to milled) receivers, and differing types of thumb rest on the takedown lever. The Chinese continually revised the SKS manufacturing process, so variation can be seen even between two examples from the same factory. All of the Type 56 carbine rifles have been removed from military service, except a few being used for ceremonial purposes and by local Chinese Militias. Type 56 carbines with serial numbers below 9,000,000 have the Russian-style blade-type folding bayonet, while those 9,000,000 and higher have a "spike" type folding bayonet. Some early examples are known as "Sino-Soviet", meaning they were produced by China, but with cooperation from Russian "advisers" who helped regulate the factories and provided the design specifications.

  • Chinese Honor Guard: Mostly, but not all, chromed metal parts. Does not generally have the lighter-colored stock as the Soviet Honor Guard variant.

  • Chinese Type 63, 68, 73, 81, 84: Only a close relative to the SKS, these rifles shared features from several east-bloc rifles (SKS, AK-47, Dragunov). AK-47 style rotary bolt and detachable magazine. The Type 68 featured a stamped sheet-steel receiver. The 81 is an upgraded Type 68 with a three-round burst capability, some of which (Type 81-1) have a folding stock. The Type 84 (known as an SKK) returns to semi-auto fire only, is modified to accept AK-47 magazines, and has a shorter 16" paratrooper barrel.

  • Chinese commercial production: Blonde wood ("Chu wood"/"Qiu wood" = Catalpa wood) stock instead of dark wood, spike bayonet instead of blade, bayonet retaining bolt replaced with a rivet. Sub-variants include the M21, "Cowboy's Companion", Hunter, Models D/M, Paratrooper, Sharpshooter, and Sporter. Model D rifles used military style stocks and had bayonet lugs (although some were imported minus bayonet, and a small few minus the lug in order to meet changing US import restrictions). Model M rifles had no bayonet lug and used either a thumbhole or Monte Carlo–style stock. Both model D and M used AK-47 magazines and as a result had no bolt hold open feature on the rifle.

  • Romanian: Typically nearly identical to the late Russian model.

  • Polish SKS: Refurbished Soviet rifles. Polish laminated stocks lack storage area in back of stock for cleaning kit. A few hundred SKS's were given to Poland by the Soviet Union around 1954, SKS rifles still in use in ceremonial units of the Polish Army, Air Force, Navy where they replaced AWT rifles. Honour guards of the Polish Police and Border Guard also use SKS rifles. SKS rifles were never adopted by combat units. In Polish service they are known as ksS which stands for karabin samopowtarzalny Simonowa, Simonov's semi-automatic rifle.

  • Yugoslavian PAP M59: Barrel is not chrome-lined. PAP means "Polu-automatska puška" (Semi-automatic rifle) and the rifle was nicknamed "Papovka". Otherwise this rifle is nearly identical to the Russian version.

  • Yugoslavian PAP M59/66: Added 22 mm
    22 mm grenade
    The 22mm rifle grenade is inserted over the firing mechanism on the front of rifles that are equipped with the appropriate launcher, either in the form of an integral flash suppressor or a detachable adapter. As with most rifle grenades, it is propelled by a blank cartridge inserted into the...

     grenade launcher
    Rifle grenade
    A rifle grenade is a grenade that uses a rifle-based launcher to permit a longer effective range than would be possible if the grenade was thrown by hand...

     which appears visually like a flash suppressor or muzzle brake on the end of the barrel. Front sight has a fold-up "ladder" for use in grenade sighting (main sights on the A1 version have flip up phosphorus
    Phosphorus
    Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks...

     or tritium
    Tritium
    Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The nucleus of tritium contains one proton and two neutrons, whereas the nucleus of protium contains one proton and no neutrons...

     night sights). When the grenade sight is raised, the gas system is automatically blocked and the action must be manually cycled—rifle grenades must be fired with blank cartridges for safety, and this feature helps ensure that a live round is not loaded from the magazine. The gas system is not automatically unblocked when the sight is folded, however, and must be manually opened to again allow semi-automatic operation. Barrel was not chrome-lined before about 1970. Both the grenade launcher and grenade sight are NATO spec. Stock is typically made from beech wood.

  • Albanian "July 10 Rifle": Longer stock and handguard on the gas tube, and AK-47 style charging handle. The magazine is slightly different in the shape visible from the outside. The stock has two compartments with two corresponding holes in the buttplate for cleaning implements instead of the single cleaning kit pocket. Like the Chinese Type 56 carbine, the Albanian version also features a spike bayonet fixed beneath the muzzle.

  • East German Karabiner-S: Extremely rare. Slot cut into back of stock for pull-through sling, similar to the slot in a Karabiner 98k
    Karabiner 98k
    The Karabiner 98 Kurz was a bolt action rifle chambered for the 8x57mm IS/7.92×57mm IS cartridge that was adopted as the standard service rifle in 1935 by the German Wehrmacht. It was one of the final developments in the long line of Mauser military rifles...

    . No storage area in back of stock or storage for cleaning rod under barrel.

  • North Korean Type 63: Extremely rare. At least three separate models were made. One "standard" model with blade bayonet, and a second with a gas shutoff and a grenade launcher, similar to the M59/66. The North Korean grenade launcher was detachable from the muzzle and the gas shutoff was different from the Yugoslavian model, however. A third model appears to have side-swinging bayonet.

  • Vietnamese Type 1: Extremely rare. Nearly identical to both the Russian and Sino-Soviet SKS. These are identified by a small star on the receiver with a 1 in the center. The barrel is chromed, as are many of the internal parts. It is unknown currently whether there are spiked bayonets or only bladed. The stock work is identical to more common SKS variants such as the Russian and Chinese. These appear to have been either converted Russian or Sino-Soviet models, or simply cloned from these rifles.


There is some debate as to the relative manufacturing
Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale...

 quality of each nation's SKS production. The quality of Chinese SKSs varied significantly even among new rifles with some having screwed in barrels, milled trigger groups and bolt carriers with lightening reliefs cut into them being at the top end and cheaper rifles having pinned barrels, stamped trigger groups and slab-sided bolt carriers. Yugoslav
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

 types are generally considered to be better made than Chinese, yet the Chinese types typically have chrome
Chrome plating
Chrome plating, often referred to simply as chrome, is a technique of electroplating a thin layer of chromium onto a metal object. The chromed layer can be decorative, provide corrosion resistance, ease cleaning procedures, or increase surface hardness.-Process:A component to be chrome plated will...

 lined barrels while the Yugoslav versions manufactured prior to 1970 do not, resulting in some Yugoslavian rifles having bores in considerably worse condition than even the cheapest Chinese SKSs. East German, Russian, and Albanian SKSs bring a higher price than those of other countries, the stock on the Albanian versions being of a slightly different manufacture and being rarer due to low production numbers. There were approximately 18,000 Albanian SKSs manufactured during the late 1960s until 1978, and of those, approximately half were destroyed. Most of the remaining East German SKSs had been sold/transferred to Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

 in the early 1990s. The interchangeability of many parts has resulted in rifles on the market that are a mixture of different parts of varying quality, sometimes including parts from different countries. Such rifles are usually referred to as "parts guns".

Users




(former user) (former user)

Civilian use


The SKS is popular on the civilian surplus market, especially in Canada and the United States. Because of their historic and novel nature, Russian and European SKS rifles are classified by the BATF as "Curio & Relic" items under US law, allowing them to be sold with features that might otherwise be restricted. Chinese manufactured rifles, even the rare early "Sino-Soviet" examples, are not so classified. Because of the massive size of the Chinese People's Liberation Army
People's Liberation Army
The People's Liberation Army is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People's Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China...

, over 8 million Chinese SKS rifles were produced during their 20 years of use making the Chinese SKS one of the most mass produced military rifles of all time.

In Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, the Chinese SKS rifle (along with the Russian SKS rifle) was very popular with recreational hunters and target shooters during the 1980s and early 1990s before semi-automatic rifles
Military-Style Semi-Automatic
Military-style semi-automatic is a term in New Zealand firearms law. The category was introduced after the 1990 Aramoana massacre, in which firearms fitting this definition were used....

 were banned from legal ownership in 1996
Gun politics in Australia
Gun politics have only become a notable issue in Australia since the 1980s. Low levels of violent crime through much of the 20th century kept levels of public concern about firearms low...

. Since the introduction of the 1996 gun bans in Australia, the Mosin-Nagant
Mosin-Nagant
The Mosin–Nagant is a bolt-action, internal magazine-fed, military rifle invented under the government commission by Russian and Belgian inventors, and used by the armed forces of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and various other nations....

 series of bolt-action rifles and carbines have now filled the void created when the SKS was banned from legal ownership.

In the early 1990s, the Chinese SKS rapidly became the "poor man's deer rifle" in some Southern areas of the United States due to its low price, lower even than such old favorites in that role as the Marlin 336
Marlin Model 336
The Marlin Model 336 is a lever-action carbine made by Marlin Firearms. It is most often chambered in .30-30 Winchester or .35 Remington, though it has also been chambered in several other cartridges over the years.-History:...

. Importation of the Chinese SKS into the USA was banned in 1994.

Due to its relatively low cost and widespread availability and usage, the SKS has spawned a growing market for both replacement parts and accessories. Many aftermarket parts are available to modify the rifle—sometimes so considerably that it bears little resemblance to the original firearm. This may include items such as synthetic stocks, pistol grips, higher capacity magazines, replacement receiver
Receiver (firearms)
In firearms terminology, the receiver is the part of a firearm that houses the operating parts. The receiver usually contains the bolt carrier group, trigger group, and magazine port. In most handguns, the receiver, or frame, holds the magazine well or rotary magazine as well as the trigger mechanism...

 covers (to allow the mounting of scopes, laser
Laser
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...

s, etc.), different muzzle brake
Muzzle brake
Muzzle brakes and recoil compensators are devices that are fitted to the muzzle of a firearm or cannon to redirect propellant gases with the effect of countering both recoil of the gun and unwanted rising of the barrel during rapid fire...

s, recoil buffers, bipods, and more.

Legal issues


The carbine's integral 10-round magazine is not an issue in those states and nations which prohibit higher-capacity magazines, except Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, where it must be pinned to 5 rounds or the rifles must be retrofitted with 5 shot magazines. Where higher capacity magazines are legally permitted, there are a number of secondary market vendors that sell higher capacity magazines of up to 30 rounds (or more). These secondary market magazines may be installed by first removing the fixed OEM
Original Equipment Manufacturer
An original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, manufactures products or components that are purchased by a company and retailed under that purchasing company's brand name. OEM refers to the company that originally manufactured the product. When referring to automotive parts, OEM designates a...

 magazine (a process that involves the removal of the trigger group assembly with a pin punch, screwdriver, bullet-tip, or similar device). However, although the 7.62x39mm round is generally compared to the American Winchester .30-30, many states have laws against hunting rifles with magazines of more than 5 rounds. Magazine plugs limiting the magazine to 5 rounds must be used for hunting in these states.

While aftermarket detachable magazines may be simple to install, doing so may be illegal under certain circumstances or even in some vicinities. SKS rifles with detachable magazines are banned in the US
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 states of California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

. They are also banned in Cook County
Cook County, Illinois
Cook County is a county in the U.S. state of Illinois, with its county seat in Chicago. It is the second most populous county in the United States after Los Angeles County. The county has 5,194,675 residents, which is 40.5 percent of all Illinois residents. Cook County's population is larger than...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, which includes Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 and many suburbs.

An often overlooked law in the US, with regards to the modifications of the SKS is U.S.C.
United States Code
The Code of Laws of the United States of America is a compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal laws of the United States...

 922 (r), which regulates imported rifles with certain features the BATFE defines as not being suitable for sporting purposes. This law requires a certain number of "compliance parts" of US manufacture to be installed on any modified SKS.

External links