Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Born Again SKS part 1

I decided to give an SKS rifle to our nephew for his graduation present...his first real firearm. I got this gun years ago from a friend of the family, I never did anything with it as I already had two primo ones in the safe.
At any rate I knew the gun needed work, and he was interested in learning more about guns, so this was like giving two gifts in one.

A quick history on the SKS.

For those of you not aware of this handy, affordable little carbine, let me introduce you.
The SKS, or Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova was developed in the Soviet Union in 1943 by Serge Simonov. It was adopted by the Soviet Army in 1945 and replaced two years later by the infamous AK-47.
The SKS:
Both the SKS and the AK-47 fire the 7.62x39mm short range rifle cartridge, which was based on the German 7.92x33mm Kurtz. 
The SKS uses a gas driven piston and operating rod to drive the bolt backwards. A clean and effective design. 
The magazine is fixed (10 rounds standard), but swings open for quick unloading if necessary.
The SKS was made from mostly forged steel parts, and the early ones had screwed in, chrome lined barrels. 

The gun was more expensive to manufacture than the AK-47 and it's fixed magazine, limiting its capacity, made its life as the primary rifle a short one.
The handy carbine did became popular with the Soviet Satellite states and commie nations like China. 

Many of these countries still use the SKS for training & ceremonial duties.

The Chinese Army adopted the SKS in 1956, and used it along with their version of the AK-47 to supply the communist Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.

Sometime in the late '80's the SKS began showing up in the US Marketplace. I purchased my two early production "triangle 26" carbines in 1991, I paid $59 for the standard carbine and $69 for the "paratrooper". I still own them and shoot them on occasion.

Unfortunately this particular carbine has seen better days. Very few of the parts match. The only part that had serial numbers matching the receiver was the bolt carrier.
Tracing the serial number of showed this gun was made in 1965, which is good, it has the more desirable screwed in barrel.

In addition the gun had not been cleaned in a real long time. Lucky for us the factory chrome lined the barrel and the bore on this gun looked to be in good shape.

Here is what it looked like before we started, there were several parts missing, including the bayonet.
Someone had replaced the stock handguard with one made from a hard wood, which appears to be walnut (Chinese SKS stocks and handguards were made from Chuwood aka Catalpa Wood). While no countries used Walnut for their SKS stocks, the Yugoslavian made guns did have a hardwood that resembles walnut, called "Carpathian Elm".
 The Recoil Lug is missing as well
 As is the front sight post, someone also opened up the top of the sight like an AK-47.
 Someone had installed this aftermarket receiver cover with a weird mounts for a scope and indexing bolts that push into the receiver to help prevent the slamming of the bolt from screwing up the scope....
You cannot mount a scope on the rear of an SKS, at least not for very long. I have seen more than one scope self-eject from an SKS receiver. 
If you absolutely must put on optic on one of these guns, mount it on the barrel, "scout style".

We cleaned the gun up a little bit, checked the firing pin function, the bore and chamber and declared the gun fit to shoot. The trigger reset felt a little weird, not typical.

When we took the gun out to the range, it would not fire. We were getting light strikes on the primers.

This can be caused by a few things:

It could be a stuck firing pin. The Siminov Rifle uses a free floating firing pin with no return spring, this means that it is very important the firing pin and channel stay clean and free of corrosion. If stuck to the rear you get light or no imprints on the primer (and no bang) or stuck to the front and you get a full-auto-slam-fire, empty the magazine in 2 seconds surprise.

One more possible cause is ammo, sometimes the manufacturers use harder than normal primers or do not seat them all the way. This is a real possibility as we only had one kind of ammo with us on the 1st test (steel cased Wolf brand imported from Russia)

The last possibility is  a weak hammer spring. I did notice that the trigger pull is much lighter than my two SKSs. I figured that from the looks of this gun that some previous owner may have performed a "Hillbilly Trigger Job".

 So I purchased a new factory new/un-issued/surplus hammer spring on ebay

Dis-assembling the gun, now would be a good time to give this old gun a thorough cleaning
 This is what the trigger assembly looks like when removed from the gun

Once I had the old spring out, I could compare it with the new one. The new one was a bit longer and had more strength to it

 It was a bear getting the new spring installed, but I got it done and cleaned and lubed the other parts while I was at it.....I found some 1960s Chinese cosmoline still in there...

To test fire the gun I pulled a bullet from a case

I test fired it in my garage against a wood block...we have ignition! a nice strong primer strike....I believe this problem is solved...onto round two

Chinese SKS Guide
SKS Rifle.net 
Yooper John


  1. " .The handy carbine did became popular with the Soviet Satellite states and commie nations like China."

    Ha! You said "Bernie Sanders"... I mean "commie"

  2. Just a point of order, not to be a turd. The German word for short is KURZ. The Z is pronounced as a sort of "softish T", like KURtS, but there is no T in the spelling.

    All things being equal in terms of metallurgy, the shorter spring should be stiffer in rate. I'd bet the old one started out the same length as your new one. Cheap Chinese spring lost it mojo.

    Thanks for your blog!