Two Letter Re: The SKS for Tight Budget Shooters

Mr. Rawles,  
Once again thank you for your work on SurvivalBlog, may God richly bless you. I read Pat’s review of the AK-47 and at the end the SKS was mentioned. I thought I would just add my 2 cents worth on the SKS.  I have had several people come to me who are on a very tight budget and cannot afford an AR, FN SCAR, or any of the other pricey weapons available.  If you are on a tight budget, I highly recommend the SKS.   I have several SKSes and AK-47s, along with the FN-FAL, CETME, and a couple of Colt AR-1s5.  I had talked with several guys about the SKS and decided it was worth a look, so I bought one.  I bought my first Yugoslavian-made SKS back in the 1990s. The total price was just under $200.  I bought 1,000 rounds and headed to the range.  I was presently surprised.  The gun is heavier than the AK-47 which eliminates almost all the recoil.  My son and I burned through all that ammo and we were more tired from holding the gun then from recoil fatigue. The next day I went back and bought another SKS, and so did my son.  

Next we changed to the Tapco SKS T6 Collapsible Stock and bought the Tapco 30 round magazines.  This is a nice piece of furniture for this weapon.  As you know, putting a lot of rounds threw this gun really heats up the forearm, the synthetic stock does an excellent job of protecting your hand from the heat.  And it helped lighten the gun several ounces.  We have tried several other brands of magazines, none have worked as well as the Tapco I highly recommend them.  The stock can be had for about $70 to $80 and the magazines run from $16 to $20 apiece.  All of our SKSes have been converted to magazines. but don’t expect to change these magazines as rapidly as an AK or AR.  The protruding “nose” on the magazine slows this down.  I don’t recommend the adapted metal magazines because you have to pull the release to get the magazines in.  The Tapco’s come with a tapered catch on the magazine so you can pop it in with one hand.  

My son, wife, and I have done a lot of shooting with our SKSes.  All three of us can consistently keep all of our rounds in a 6″ to 8″ circle, standing at a hundred yards controlled rapid fire.  Prone in a resting position we can tighten that circle to 4″ easily, taking time we can tighten to a pretty consistent 3″ (1 our of 5 inside 3″).  We have a little better success with the Wolf black box ammo verses a host of others we have tried.  But I don’t turn my nose up at any of it as long as it is non-corrosive.  When I first bought these I was getting ammo at about $125 per thousand rounds shipped and at the gun shows for under a $100 per thousand rounds.  A couple of years ago the price moved above $300 but is now back down to about $200.  I don’t know how long this will last though with inflation.   Compared to the AK-47 WASR the SKS is, in my experience, a little more accurate at longer range.  It has less felt recoil, but that is because it is heavier, and with the Tapco stock it is longer than an AK, as well.  We seldom have a malfunction and that is usually because we have put 600 or more rounds [of noncorrosive ammo] through them without cleaning them.  

Compared to the AR-15, it is certainly less accurate.  I think the AR is more comfortable to shoot because it is lighter and .223s have very little recoil. And AR-15s are very accurate at longer ranges.  My wife would rather shoot the AR and would rather carry it.  When you put six loaded 30 round magazines of .223 in her web gear versus the same in 7.62×39 and she wants the AR back, now.  My son and I are large guys, we do feel the weight difference but it is not that bad.  

Compared to the FAL and CETME, well there is a difference in accuracy especially when you get beyond a 100 yards.  There is very little weight difference and lengths are about the same.  However when you strap on ten 30 round magazines of 7.62×51 (.308) verses 7.62×39 there is a difference in weight which really surprised me.  But the SKS magazines have one big disadvantage, if you are loading up a combat vest and that is the nose on the SKS magazines.  My son and I took an old vest and adapted it for the nose on the magazine which makes it workable.  However with all those noses sticking out and crawling on your belly they have a tendency to get caught on everything.  Plus they pick up dirt which you then shove into the gun.   If you are on a budget the SKS is simply hard to beat.  If I were dropped into a TEOTWAWKI situation with only my SKS I would have confidence in the weapon to get the job done.  The price is going up on them but I still find good used SKSes for under $300.  The ammo is still less expensive than .223 or .308 and if you are buying mil spec, the ammo has a very long shelf life.  I would recommend converting it to magazines and only buying magazines with the tapered catch.  The Tapco stock is a very nice addition but is not required to make this a battle worthy carbine. – CDP


I believe the single greatest improvement to either an AK or an SKS is a quality rear sight.  There are several replacement peep sights that replace the standard rear sight for both rifles, but the best solution I’ve found is the M16 style rear aperture mounted at the back of the receiver, which nearly doubles the sight radius.  Tech-Sights are the perfect solution at a reasonable price.  They are an instant accuracy improver.  I’m an Appleseed instructor, and I’ve shot Rifleman scores at Appleseed shoots with  Tech-Sight equipped SKS and AK rifles, something I’ve yet to see anyone do with standard sight equipped rifles.  Standard disclaimer:  I have no pecuniary interest in Tech-Sights. – MSgt R.