Every week on Wednesday, I feature a gun from my collection. This week it is a 1940 Tula Russian SKS. You can see all the previous gun of the week posts here.
I bought this gun from a member of a online forum called NorthEastShooters. It is a very large on-line Gun community. It only costs $20 a year to become a member. The guy I bought it from has several safes full of SKS’s. He was upgrading his collection and had to make room in the safe. I bought it 2 years ago for $465. Russian SKS are worth more than SKS from other countries. It was a good deal. We met in a Walmart parking lot and we exchanged copies of our C&R FFL licenses, which makes it legal.
This particular SKS has marks on it indicating that it was loaned to East Germany at one point and returned back to mother Russia. It was also make by Tula one of the premier Russian Arms manufacturers. The Tula Factory Mark is shown below:
The SKS is a Soviet semi-automatic carbine chambered for the 7.62×39mm round, designed in 1943 by Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov. Its complete designation, SKS-45, is an initialism for Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova, 1945 (Russian: Самозарядный карабин системы Симонова, 1945; Self-loading Carbine of (the) Simonov system, 1945), or SKS 45. In the early 1950s, the Soviets took the SKS carbine out of front-line service and replaced it with the AK-47; however, the SKS remained in second-line service for decades. It is still used as a ceremonial arm today. The SKS was widely exported, and was also produced by some former Eastern Bloc nations as well as China, where it was designated the “Type 56”, East Germany as the Karabiner S and in North Korea as the “Type 63”. The SKS is currently popular on the civilian surplus market in many countries, including the United States, Canada and New Zealand. It was one of the first weapons chambered for the 7.62×39mm M43 round, which was also used later in the AK-47.
The SKS has a conventional layout, with a wooden stock and no pistol grip. The SKS is a gas-operated weapon that has a spring-loaded bolt carrier and a gas piston rod that work the action via gas pressure pushing against them. Also, it has a “tilting bolt” action locking system. The SKS is shorter and less powerful than the semi-automatic rifles that preceded it, such as the Soviet SVT-40. However, the SKS has a 4-inch longer barrel than AK-series rifles, which replaced it; as a result, it has a slightly higher muzzle velocity.
Contrary to popular belief, the SKS is not an assault rifle, because the basic design lacks both a selective fire capability and a detachable magazine. The SKS’s ten-round box magazine is fed from a stripper clip and rounds stored in the magazine can be removed by depressing a magazine catch located forward of the trigger guard (thus opening the “floor” of the magazine and allowing the rounds to fall out). In typical military use the stripper clips are disposable. If necessary they can be reloaded multiple times and reused.
While early Soviet 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 “slamfires” (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 embedded in it. The firing pin is triangular in cross section, and slamfires can also result if the firing pin is inserted upside down.
In most variants (Yugoslav models being the most notable exception), the barrel is chrome-lined for increased wear and heat tolerance from sustained fire and to resist corrosion from chlorate-primed corrosive ammunition, as well as to facilitate cleaning. Chrome bore lining is common in military rifles. Although it can diminish actual accuracy, this is not a real limit on practical accuracy in a weapon of this type.
The front sight has a hooded post. “The rear sight is an open notch type which is adjustable for elevation from 100 to 1,000 metres (110 to 1,090 yd). There is also an all purpose “battle” setting on the sight ladder (marked “П”), set for 300 metres (330 yards). This is attained by moving the elevation slide to the rear of the ladder as far as it will go.”. “The Yugoslav M59/66A1 has folddown luminous sights for use when firing under poor light conditions, while the older M59 and M59/66 do not.”[
All military SKSs have a bayonet attached to the underside of the barrel, which is extended and retracted via a spring-loaded hinge. Both blade and spike bayonets were produced. Some versions, such as the Yugoslavian-made M59/66 variant, are also equipped with a grenade launching attachment.
The SKS is easily field stripped and reassembled without any tools other than an unfired cartridge. 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, it trades some accuracy for ruggedness, reliability, ease of maintenance, ease of use, and low manufacturing cost.
HistoryDuring World War II, many countries realized that existing rifles, such as the Mosin–Nagant, were too long and heavy and fired powerful cartridges that were effective in medium machine guns with a range in excess of 2,000 metres (2,200 yd), creating excessive recoil. These cartridges, such as the 8×57mm Mauser, .303 British, .30-06 Springfield, and 7.62×54mmR were effective in rifles to ranges of up to 1,000 metres (1,100 yards); however, it was noted that most firefights took place at maximum ranges of between 100 and 300 metres (110 and 330 yards). Only a highly trained specialist, such as a sniper, 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 U.S. fielded an intermediate round in the .30 U.S., now known as the .30 Carbine, and M1 carbines were fielded in large numbers but not as a replacement for the 30-06 round in general use.
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, or “assault rifle”, which was produced during the war, chambered in the 7.92×33mm Kurz intermediate round.
The Soviet Union type qualified a new intermediate round in 1943, at the same time it began to field the Mosin–Nagant M44 carbine as a general issue small arm. However, the M44, which had a side-folding bayonet and shorter overall length, still fired the full-powered round of its predecessors. 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 the same designer, Simonov) to a point that some consider it a shortened AVS-36, stripped of select-fire capability and re-chambered for the 7.62×39mm cartridge. Of course, this viewpoint is problematic, as the AVS uses a sliding block bolt locking device, while the SKS employs a more reliable tilting-bolt design, which is an entirely different style. As the bolt mechanism is one of the defining features of a rifle, having a different bolt means the SKS and AVS merely appear similar in layout, while differing vastly in bolt lockup, caliber, size, and that one has a fixed magazine and the other has a detachable magazine. It also owes a debt to the SVT-40 and M44 that it replaced, incorporating both the semi-automatic firepower of the SVT (albeit in a more manageable cartridge) and the carbine size and integral bayonet of the bolt-action M44.
In 1949, the SKS was officially adopted into the Soviet Army, manufactured at the Tula Armory from 1949 until 1955 and the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant in 1953 and 1954. Although the quality of Soviet carbines manufactured at these state-run arsenals was quite high, its design was already obsolete compared to the Kalashnikov which was selective-fire, 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 guards, much the same way the M1 Garand is within the United States; it is far less ubiquitous than the AK-47 but both original Soviet 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 manufactured using the proven operating mechanism design of the 14.5×114mm PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle and using proven milled forging manufacturing techniques. This was to provide a fall-back 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 receiver AK-47 had to be quickly redesigned to use a milled receiver which delayed production, and extended the SKS carbine’s service life.