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Thread: An SKS? . . . Which SKS?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

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    An SKS? . . . Which SKS?

    I have a series of interconnecting questions of SKS 7.62x39 mm semiautomatic rifles that I'll attempt to put in an order that should make some sense.

    1. If there are commercial sporting cartridges that are satisfactory for use on black bear and whitetail up to 150 yards, please identify them.

    2. If there are commercial sporting cartridges that are satisfactory for use on elk up to 100 yards, please identify them.

    3. There have been many versions of the military SKS manufactured by several countries. As best you can, please identify the specific two or three versions that you would expect to be more functionally reliable in cold weather while having 6 MOA accuracy to 150 yards? While I anticipate "most functionally reliable" will probably include the rifle as being more durable, I am certain any SKS having an endorsement here will outlast me.

    4. Although SKS rifle is a semiautomatic, it is a Soviet design. My belief - without testing its validity - is that Soviet designed SKS and AK rifles are more functionally reliable in cold nasty weather than Western military rifles. At least some reliability is sloppy tolerance. Some is simpler mechanism. The downside is probably reduced accuracy. . . . Enough pontificating. As best you can, compare the identified SKS versions with traditional lever action rifles (Winchester [and clones] 1894 and 1892, Marlin 336) for those factors I identified for SKS.
    Itís so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then donít say it. Sam Levinson

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Oooookay......Here we go. This is opinion. I own at least one of all of them except Albanian and N. Korean. I live where the winters can be very cold.

    1. and 2.
    The 7.62x39mm is, in general and in most loadings, considered roughly equal to but slightly less than the .30-30 Win. in similar loadings. I would not shoot a black bear or an elk at 150 yds. with one, believing it not to be the best of sportsmanship. Having nothing else, I would shoot at a whitetail at that distance, but not given 6 inch accuracy. Assuming a good hit, I think it would prove satisfactory for the whitetail. Your accuracy expectations are low, as I have a close friend who shoots 1" groups at 100 yds. with Winchester factory ball ammo in a new condition Soviet SKS.
    3.
    I think that the best made version would have to be the original Soviet rifles made in the very late 1940s and early '50s. But, as far as cold weather reliability is concerned I don't believe that there is much to choose from in selecting between the various makes. All of the countries that produced them enjoy frigid winter conditions, and even the lowly Chinese version is highly reliable. I personally find myself usually shooting a Yugo specimen when the SKS urge hits me.
    4.
    In answering #3., I pretty well covered #4. I repeat that your conclusion about SKS accuracy is not necessarily valid. They are individuals with differing levels of wear and manufacture, and some definitely perform better than others, but I do not believe that a hard and fast conclusion can be drawn, such as all Soviet specimens shoot better than all Romanian specimens. They are highly reliable in cold weather. As for a comparison to lever actions, for a hunting rife I would much prefer a lever action in a caliber/cartridge superior to the 7.62x39mm. Hard to find a lever action in 7.62x39mm unless one makes it a custom project, so assuming the commonly found chamberings for lever actions (not going to list them all, but assume larger than the pistol cartridges) I'd chose the lever action every time. Having watched a number of hunting films and read a number of accounts of hunts in various parts of Russia and the former Soviet Republics, it is very interesting to note that the guides are almost always armed with old SKS rifles; but one must remember that they do not enjoy the number and selection of firearms we have available here.

    DG

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master
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    I cannot improve upon what Der Gebirgsjager wrote but I will add to it slightly.

    The field of SKS rifles is huge and that label covers a lot of territory. While the rifles are not generally known for their accuracy, some individual rifles will shoot better than others. I agree wear, age and manufacturing tolerances can make it nearly impossible to say that one type of SKS is always better than another. There's just too many variables to make those kinds of gross assumptions.

    I will say that the SKS was a popular deer rifle here in Virginia in the early 1990's due to its very low cost at that time. Hunters that were seeking an inexpensive rifle that they could use without concern over damage would often select a SKS. With the correct bullet, the 7.62 x 39 was more than adequate at ranges below 100 yards. In heavy cover and hilly terrain shots over 100 yards are rare.

    The 7.62 x 39 is not a great hunting cartridge by any means but with the right projectile and responsible shots, it will get the job done on Whitetail deer.

    There were a LOT of variations of SKS rifles and the build quality ranges from OK to terrible. The late production Chinese stuff is probably the worst of the bunch. Some of the Romanian ones were pretty good. The Yugoslavian are well made BUT don't have chrome lined barrels so the condition of the bore can be an issue. If you can find one of the rare East German SKS rifles, they are rather nice, as SKS's go.
    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q...0F17&FORM=VIRE
    The early Russian ones are probably the best of the bunch for a reasonable price.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I've owned 4 SKS rifles, all Chinese. There is a difference in quality between rifles made by norinco in the 70s-80s than the cheap SKS's sold for 89.00 in the 90s. The fit and finish of the older ones is better. The easiest way to tell the difference is the better ones have the barrels threaded into the receivers while the cheaper ones have the barrels pinned to the receivers. If you google a picture it's quite appearant.

    One of the sks rifles I had was from the 70s and it was very reliable. I fired in the order of 3500-4000 rounds through it and I can't recall it ever jamming. It broke the extractor once and I replaced that, and it doubled on me a couple times so I replaced the sear/magazine latch spring. As for it being simple and rugged.... Rugged yes, simple, not as much. Very simple as far as operation and maintenance but the fire control group is not what id call simple.

    I wish I had that rifle back, or any SKS of similar quality. I don't remember how it shot but it was decent enough for coke cans and dirt clods. You'll likely need a sight pusher to adjust windage, I was able to move mine with a brass drift but it wasn't easy.
    Last edited by Bazoo; 06-02-2019 at 05:31 PM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Speaking of cheap Chinese SKS rifles, in the early 1990's I saw a crate of 10 for $890 ! They were $89/each and came with slings, cleaning kits (well, sort of) and all of the Cosmoline you could stand. You could buy the entire wooden crate of 10 rifles for $890 plus tax.

    I knew a few guys that hunted with the SKS and they used Romanian and Russian rifles. They were OK rifles for what they were. A bunch of Yugoslavian SKS rifles were imported into the U.S. in the late 1990's or early 2000's (I don't recall the timing). IF you could look at the bore before you purchased one of those, you could get a decent SKS.

    The SKS uses a long gas piston and a tilting bolt and it is an extremely reliable weapon. (on par with the AK reliability). Unfortunately a lot of them had less than perfect maintenance.
    You can get a Ruger Mini-30 chambered in 7.62 x 39 but frankly for the money, I'd rather have the SKS. It's not a fine rifle by any means but back when you could get really good example for under $200; it was a bargain for what it was.
    Last edited by Petrol & Powder; 06-04-2019 at 06:11 AM. Reason: poor wording

  6. #6
    Boolit Bub
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    I prefer the Yugo SKS over anything I like the gas shut off for a single shot option. I have also noticed that I get about an extra 50-75FPS with the shut off on vs off, I strictly use a Ruger Ranch rifle in 7.62x39 for hunting in east Ky where my shots are MAX 150 yards but I have killed several deer with the 7.62x39 and have them drop using the lee 150 fn over 21.5 grn of IMR-4198 seated LONG!!

    Name:  85FC728C-0790-4112-82AD-FD2D4CE354F1.jpeg
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    This was found after I shot a deer at 150 yards it penetrated about 7-8 inches in the ground behind it

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    The $99 rifles sold back in the 90’s are good for letting rounds fly thought it but IMO it would be the last rifle I would ever take in the woods to hunt with. Do yourself a favor and but a Ruger American in 308. Probably cheaper, WAY more accurate, and has tons of more knock down power. My buddy bought one for $399 in 30-06. I’ve seen the 270 chamber for $279 on sale across the Internet in many places. It has more than enough capacity to dispatch an elk or bear and has a century of reputation to prove it. The sks is nothing more than a fun m self defense, spray and pray novelty rifle IMO. Don’t get me wrong, they’re fun to shoot they’re just not a good reliable, accurate long distance hunting rifle with long range knockdown capabilities. I would like to buy an SKS again as well, I just would never hunt with it. It be a good round in the Rufer ranch for close range whitetails but I wouldn’t shoot anything bigger with it. You would at least have an accurate platform for the caliber.

    The Russian SKS is bringing the most money for some reason nowadays.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 06-02-2019 at 06:00 PM.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    I agree with WinchesterM1, I love the Yugo SKS.

    I have looked at but not yet bought others.

    As to ammo.

    I have some PPU (Privi Partizan) with jacketed soft points.

    But if I was to hunt with mine it would be the Lee .312 185 gr 2r with gas check over 20 grains of IMR 4895. That load has been plenty accurate for me.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master
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    While I wouldn't go out of my way to intentionally select a SKS as a hunting rifle; I've seen the SKS successfully used for Whitetail deer at reasonable ranges.

    Back when you could pick up a decent SKS and hundreds of cartridges for under $200 and have compact rifle that you didn't worry about in the woods - it wasn't a terrible option. It may not have been the best option in those days but it was an option.

    I agree that an inexpensive bolt action chambered in a superior cartridge would be a better choice these days.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Due to the sights, personally I would limit my hunting range to 100 yards with the SKS using suitable ammo. I would increase that to 200 yds with my scoped AR or bolt action 7.62x39.
    The SKS is one of the world’s most reliable guns, period.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    I used a chinese pinned barrel all through the early 90's hunting deer here in washington , it was quite accurate with the chinese softpoint ammo one was able to buy at the time , great brush gun for quick shots in heavy cover . I have owned russian , chinese threaded and pinned and still come back to the pinned one I used then . If it is what you want , go for it .

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    Get one of the Tula Arsenal machined SKS if you can. Wish I had bought mine back when I sold it to a friend. Any thing you hunt with 30/30 can be hunted with the 7.62x39.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petrol & Powder View Post
    The SKS uses a long gas piston and a tilting bolt (similar to the AK-47) and it is an extremely reliable weapon.
    The SKS does use a tilting bolt, however the ak47 uses a rotating bolt. The actions of the two are not at all similar except that they both have the gas system above the barrel.

    I sure would like another SKS, they are tough little guns. I never had any luck with using banana mags in any of mine, but they all worked flawlessly. One of the ones I had was a paratrooper model with shorter barrel. 'Twas a might louder.

  14. #14
    Boolit Mold erdyalx's Avatar
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    Our family has used the 7.62x39 on many deer and elk. For Elk I prefer the 123 Barnes x bullet. For deer, we have used many from all the major manufacturers. But in our case we used the CZ527 in 7.62x39.

    Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Someone on another forum was discussing the fit of the bullet to the barrel. The subject of lousy accuracy came up regarding the SKS. What he did was slug his barrel and then bought and pulled a bunch of bullets from ammo made by different manufacturers. The often quoted groove inside diameter of .310 in some of the better SKS was often anywhere from 2-3 thousandths over .310. Then he started measuring bullet diameters, in one batch of measuring bullets they all measured .308 not much accuracy there. The fatter bullets in acceptable bores did very well. The undersized ones not so well. The really oversized bores wasn't worth the time,effort or ammunition to test. I found this very interesting. But then again, don't we all basically match the bullets diameter to our rifles interior dimensions?. Frank

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I know where a SKS is for sale for a time. After read this ,I will stay with my 30-30,308 win, 30-06.
    Life Member of NRA,NTA,DAV ,ITA. Also member of FTA,CBA

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    First I love the sks. Its very reliable. Very simple to maintain and clean. Ammo is cheaper than anything else. I have several and it's my go to for range time, I choose a newer export China model. I put a aftermarket front sight that is a tiny ball on a post and shrunk my groups in half . Saying that this is not your gun. The 7.62x39 is lacking in what your requirements are. If you're looking for a cheep gun, find a cheep sporterd mouser in 8mm. With decent ammo it should hold groups and have enough power for ya

  18. #18
    Boolit Master


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    I have owned just about all of them. If you can find a unissued Yugo go that route. They have been the most accurate of all the ones I have owned. The barrels are not chromed like the others. And I think that helps them shoot well.

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bazoo View Post
    The SKS does use a tilting bolt, however the ak47 uses a rotating bolt. The actions of the two are not at all similar except that they both have the gas system above the barrel.

    I sure would like another SKS, they are tough little guns. I never had any luck with using banana mags in any of mine, but they all worked flawlessly. One of the ones I had was a paratrooper model with shorter barrel. 'Twas a might louder.
    Your are absolutely correct and I should have wrote that better. I'll go back and clarify that.

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    The SKS is often remarkably accurate once you find it's preferred ammo, a good solid position, and take your time with the sights and trigger pull. The thing is that most folks just bought whatever ammo was cheapest and bullet hosed it.

    That said....

    This is not 15 years ago when they were everywhere and cost almost nothing. You can buy a NEW bolt action for less than the cost of a decent (not pristine) SKS. SKS's in really good condition are bringing NEW Marlin 336 money. With that specific consideration - would I pick an SKS for a cheap rough and ready hunting rifle? Nope. Not when you can pick up a Remington 700 in 308 cheaper.

    It's the same discussion with Mausers though. 20 years ago they were still cheap and lots of people were rebarreling them for target rifles and sporters.. Now a Mauser costs real money. It's cheaper and easier to start with a Remongton or Savage bolt action and go from there.

    If your goal is to pick up an SKS and hunt it given all that - I would do Russian, Romanian, or Chinese and the deciding factor would be condition. Especially barrel condition.

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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