The SKS is a Soviet semi-automatic carbine chambered for the 7. The SKS was an extremely reliable, simply constructed weapon with two unique distinguishing characteristics: a permanently attached folding bayonet, and a hinged non-detachable magazine. However, it was incapable of fully automatic fire and limited by its ten round magazine capacity, and was rendered obsolescent by the introduction of the AK in the s. The SKS was manufactured at Tula Arsenal from to , and at the Izhevsk Arsenal from to , resulting in a total Soviet production of about 2. Throughout the Cold War , millions of SKS carbines were also manufactured under license in China , Yugoslavia , and a number of countries friendly to the Soviet bloc.
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The SKS is a Soviet semi-automatic carbine chambered for the 7. The SKS was an extremely reliable, simply constructed weapon with two unique distinguishing characteristics: a permanently attached folding bayonet, and a hinged non-detachable magazine.
However, it was incapable of fully automatic fire and limited by its ten round magazine capacity, and was rendered obsolescent by the introduction of the AK in the s. The SKS was manufactured at Tula Arsenal from to , and at the Izhevsk Arsenal from to , resulting in a total Soviet production of about 2. Throughout the Cold War , millions of SKS carbines were also manufactured under license in China , Yugoslavia , and a number of countries friendly to the Soviet bloc.
The SKS remains popular on the civilian market as a hunting and marksmanship arm in many countries, including the United States and Canada. The SKS has a conventional layout, with a wooden stock and rifle grip. It is a gas-operated rifle that has a spring-loaded bolt carrier and a gas piston operating rod that work to unlock and cycle the action via gas pressure exerting pressure against them. The bolt is locked to contain the pressure of ignition at the moment of firing by tilting downwards at its rear and being held by a lug milled into the receiver.
At the moment of firing, the bolt carrier is pushed rearwards, which causes it to lift the bolt, unlocking it, and allowing it to be carried rearwards against a spring. This allows the fired case to be ejected and a new round from the magazine to be carried into the chamber.
As a result, it has a slightly higher muzzle velocity than those arms that replaced it. The SKS's ten-round internal box magazine can be loaded either by hand or from a stripper clip.
Cartridges stored in the magazine can be removed by pulling back on a latch located forward of the trigger guard thus opening the "floor" of the magazine and allowing the rounds to fall out. If necessary they can be reloaded multiple times and reused.
While early —50 Soviet models had spring-loaded firing pins, which held the pin away from cartridge primers until struck by the action's hammer, 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 packed in Cosmoline to ensure that the firing pin can freely move and 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" the rifle firing on its own, without pulling the trigger and often without being fully locked.
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 that retards firing pin movement. As it is triangular in cross section with only one way to properly insert it notches up , slamfires can also result if the firing pin is inserted in one of the other two orientations.
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 accuracy, its effect on practical accuracy in a rifle of this type is limited.
The front sight has a hooded post. This is attained by moving the elevation slide to the rear of the ladder as far as it will go. 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.
The SKS is easily field stripped and reassembled without specialized tools and the trigger group and magazine can be removed with an unfired cartridge, or with the receiver cover. 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 The cap for the cleaning kit also serves as a cleaning rod guide, to protect the crown from being damaged during cleaning.
The body of the cleaning kit serves as the cleaning rod handle. 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. 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 firearms for smaller, intermediate-power cartridges.
The U. 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 , which was produced in large numbers during the war, and chambered in the 7.
The Soviet Union type qualified a new intermediate round in , 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. Design-wise, the SKS relies on the AVS developed by the same designer, Simonov to a point that some consider it a shortened AVS, stripped of select-fire capability and re-chambered for the 7.
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 M44, incorporating the carbine size and integral bayonet. 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 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 s, and possibly the early s. S and Model 56 in Romania.
Physically, all are very similar, although the NATO -specification 22mm grenade launcher of the Yugoslav version, and the more encompassing stock of the Albanian version are visually distinctive. 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 —56 was produced in China with Russian parts, presumably as part of a technology sharing arrangement.
In terms of production numbers, the SKS was the ninth most produced self-loading rifle design in history. The SKS was to be a gap-filling firearm manufactured using the proven operating mechanism design of the This was to provide a fallback for the radically new and experimental design of the AK, in the event that the AK proved to be a failure. In fact, the original stamped receiver AK had to be quickly redesigned to use a milled receiver which delayed production, and extended the SKS carbine's service life.
Almost as soon as the SKS was brought into service in , it was rendered obsolete for Soviet purposes by the new AK, which was adopted by the Soviet military later that year. However, it found a long second life in the service of other Soviet-aligned countries, in particular the Chinese army, who found it well suited to their own style of warfare, the "People's War" whose main actors were highly mobile, self-reliant guerrilla bands and rural militias protecting their own villages.
In the philosophy of "the People's War", the emphasis was on long-range sniping, spoiling attacks, and ambushes. However, by the mids, all manner of problems were plaguing the unreliable Type 63 rifle. Troops clamored to be given back their carbines, which had been redistributed to local militia units, and the army staff abandoned the Type 63 and returned the Type 56 carbine SKS and Type 56 assault rifle AK back into service. The standard practice was for squad leaders and assistant squad leaders to carry an assault rifle and for most other soldiers to carry a carbine, so that a front-line infantry squad fielded two assault rifles, two light machine guns, and seven carbines.
However, after the beginning of China's border war with Vietnam , Chinese combat units found that the SKS carbine's capacity for long-range precision fire was of little use in the mountain jungles of the border region; as a result those units were hastily re-equipped with assault rifles.
The Type 56 also is in front line use as a drill and ceremony rifle. Beginning in the s, vast quantities of obsolete and redundant SKS rifles were donated by the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China to left-wing guerrilla movements around the world. SKS rifles have also been used by pro-government militias in eastern Ukraine as late as May Most of these nations produced nearly identical variants, with the most common modifications being differing styles of bayonets and the 22 mm rifle grenade launcher commonly seen on Yugoslavian models.
There is some debate as to the relative manufacturing quality of each nation's SKS production. The 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 — though overall quality and serviceability remained high.
The main reason for the manufacturing variance comes from differences between rifles made for the Chinese army and those made for export. While often encountered in well-used condition, Romanian carbines were as well-built as the Soviet versions.
In general, carbines made in the USSR are considered the highest quality. The interchangeability of many parts has resulted in carbines on the U.
Such rifles are usually referred to as "parts guns" and are generally considered the least-desirable carbines encountered. Even so, they are significantly cheaper than comparable semi-automatic rifles and can be expected to offer reliable performance. Soviet and Romanian carbines have largely reached price parity, with Chinese carbines somewhat lower in price.
The stock on the Albanian versions is of a slightly different manufacture and these were made in low production numbers. There were approximately 18, Albanian SKSs manufactured during the late s until , and of those, approximately half were destroyed. The following table lists accuracy statistics for an SKS rifle firing N steel core service ammunition. The statistics were computed under the Russian method for determining accuracy, which is more complex than Western methods which usually involve firing a group of shots and then measuring the overall diameter of the group.
The Russian method differs in that after a group of shots is fired into the target, two circles are drawn, one for the maximum vertical dispersion of hits and one for the maximum horizontal dispersion of hits. The vertical and horizontal measurements of the reduced groups are then used to measure accuracy.
This circular error probable method used by the Russian and other European militaries cannot be converted and is not comparable to US military methods for determining rifle accuracy. When the R 50 results are doubled the hit probability increases to In the more than 70 years of use worldwide, the SKS has seen use in conflicts all over the world.
Because of the massive size of the Chinese People's Liberation Army , over 8 million Chinese SKS rifles were manufactured during their 20 years of use making the Chinese SKS one of the most mass-produced military rifles of all time although still far behind its successor the AK As with most military surplus rifles, they are coated in cosmoline for the preservation of the firearm while under storage for decades at a time.
Along with a large supply of bulk 7. In Australia, SKS rifles were very popular with recreational hunters and target shooters during the s and early s before semi-automatic rifles were restricted from legal ownership in Since the introduction of the gun restrictions in Australia, the Mosin—Nagant series of bolt-action rifles and carbines have now filled the void created when the SKS was restricted from legal ownership.
In the early s, the Chinese SKS rapidly became the "poor man's deer rifle" in the United States due to its low price, lower even than such old favorites in that role as the Marlin 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 carbine—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 covers to allow the mounting of scopes , lasers , etc. The carbine's integral round magazine is not an issue in those states and nations which prohibit higher-capacity magazines, except Canada.
However, although the 7. Magazine plugs limiting the magazine to five 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. They are also banned in Cook County , Illinois , which includes Chicago and many suburbs, although as of the McDonald v. Chicago US Supreme Court decision, the City of Chicago ordinance allows removable magazines, creating a confusing situation for firearm owners.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see SKS disambiguation.
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