- Weapon nomenclature - Samozariadnyia Karabina Simonova (SKS)
- System of operation - Gas, Semi-automatic fire only
- Bolt type - one-piece, tipping, rear-cocking
- Weight (loaded) - 8.8 lbs.
- Length, barrel - 20.34 inches
- Length, overall - 40.16 inches
- Feed device - 10-round, fixed, staggered double-row box magazine
- Sights, front - Hooded post
- Sights, rear - Tangent leaf, graduated from 100 to 1000 meters
- Cartridge - 7.62 x 39 Soviet M43 (Type PS ball)
- Muzzle velocity - 2411 fps
- Bullet weight - 122 gr.
- Working pressure - 45,000 psi
- Bore diameter - .301 inches
- Groove diameter - .311 inches
- Direction & rate of rifling twist - Right, 1 turn in 9.45 inches
The SKS was adopted by the Soviet Union in 1946, and is the basis for
the later AK series of weapons. It is a gas-operated, semi-automatic rifle and
might be referred to as a miniature version of the 14.5mm PTRS semi-automatic
antitank rifle used during World War 2. Both the SKS and the PTRS were
designed by the famed Russian arms inventor Sergei Simonov. Because of its
light recoil and moderate weight, 35 rounds per minute of aimed fire can be
Unlike its predecessor, the Tokarev, the SKS features an instantly
dismountable gas system. The gas cylinder is an integral part of the handguard
and contains the piston rod. The front end of the combined gas cylinder and
handguard fits over a gas port housing pinned to the barrel approximately 7
inches from the muzzle. The rear end butts against the rear sight base which
contains the tappet rod and tappet rod return spring. The latch located on the
right side of the sight serves to lock the handguard-gas cylinder into place. Its
removal for field maintenance takes less than three seconds.
In the 1950's, Soviet technical advisors helped the Chinese government
to establish several factories to produce the SKS carbine. The first Chinese SKS
carbines were identical to their Soviet counterparts, and were adopted by the
Peoples Republic of China as the Type 56 carbine. Subsequently, the Chinese
have manufactured several varieties of the original SKS, including selective-fire
models, short-barreled "paratrooper" models, and models which use the
detachable magazine of the later AK-47 assault rifle.
As the general availability of the AK-47 improved in the early 1960's, the
SKS was relegated to the category of a secondary military arm in both the USSR
and in the PRC. However, stockpiles of millions of SKS carbines are maintained
for the "Peoples Militias" (strategic reserve) and for export to the third world
countries as "military aid".
When the rifle is fired, gas enters the gas port housing under pressure to
thrust the piston rod back against the short tappet rod. In moving back, the
tappet rod slides through a hole in the rear sight base and a corresponding one
in the top of the receiver to strike the bolt carrier.
The claw-like arrangement of the bolt carrier cams the rear end of the bolt
upward, unlocking it completely after 7/16" of rearward travel. The kinetic energy
imparted to the bolt carrier upon being struck by the tappet rod is sufficient to
cause the bolt and bolt carrier to travel together 3 7/8" rearward to extract and
eject the fired case and to compress the recoil spring.
The compressed recoil spring forces the bolt and carrier forward to strip a
cartridge from the magazine and chamber it. The camming surfaces within the
bolt carrier force the rear end of the bolt down into the locked position. When
locked, the lower rear end of the bolt butts against a hardened steel crosspiece
set within the receiver.
SKS carbines have been fitted with two different styles of bayonet. The
earlier type is 9" in length and resembles a knife blade. The later type is 12"
long, and is needle shaped. Both types are attached to the barrel and fold back
under the barrel when not in use. The stock and handguard of the Soviet and
Eastern bloc carbines are made of laminated beechwood with a hard,
waterproof, clear lacquer finish. Chinese-made SKS carbines are usually found
with stocks and handguards made of a porous Asian hardwood resembling
teakwood, and brushed with an orange colored shellac-type finish. The Chinese
SKS is sometimes fitted with a synthetic plastic resin stock and handguard which
is molded in a reddish-brown color.
The buttstock of all versions is hollowed out to receive a cleaning kit
contained in a steel capsule. The body of the capsule also serves as a handle
for the cleaning rod and its lid fastens over the muzzle to protect the rifle during
cleaning. Inside the capsule is a bore brush, a cleaning rod extension, and a tool
to clear carbon fowling from the gas port. The capsule lid can also serve as a
blank firing device, if properly locked onto the front sight base.
The magazine is unusual and consists of a stamped and welded sheet
metal housing, stamped sheet metal floor cap, and a sheet metal follower. Both
the follower arm and the floor cap are hinged to the forward end of the magazine
body. A coil spring set at the hinge point furnishes sufficient pressure to the
follower arm to insure the feeding of cartridges.
The weapon is loaded from above with ten-round stripper clips for which a
guide groove has been provided in the forward face of the bolt carrier. It is
important to exert thumb pressure against the cartridges as close to the clip as
possible, since pressure applied elsewhere makes it difficult to strip the last
three rounds. The stripper clip is a one-piece, spring steel stamping - very sturdy
and efficient. The magazine can also be loaded with single rounds.
To unload the weapon for field stripping, rapid emptying of the magazine is
accomplished by holding one hand under the floor cap to catch the loaded
rounds as the other hand pulls back the magazine latch. After clearing the
chamber and detaching the sling, swing the latch on the right side of the rear
sight upward to the first stop.
The gas cylinder-handguard can be removed by lifting up at the rear and
withdrawing it from its forward contact with the gas port housing. By swinging the
latch up to its second stop, the plunger and spring can be released easily, but
maintain thumb pressure against the tappet rod to prevent it from being expelled
by the tappet rod spring.
NEVER, under any circumstances, attempt to fire this weapon with the
handguard-gas cylinder removed, or with a defective handguard latch! The
gas port is angled to point directly toward the shooters face and severe injury will
result from high pressure gas and flame. The handguard-gas cylinder must be
firmly latched in place before firing.
To dismantle the bolt assembly, lower the bolt on the cleared chamber leaving
the hammer cocked, and locate the latch on the right rear of the receiver. Rotate
this latch until it is upright and pull it out as far as possible. Remove the receiver
cover by lifting it and pulling it to the rear. The recoil spring is removed by
drawing it rearward out of the bolt carrier. By pulling the charging handle to the
rear and upward, the bolt and bolt carrier will be freed from the receiver.
To remove the trigger group, push the safety lever into the "safe" position. Insert
the bullet point of a loaded round in the pocket of the spring catch located
directly behind the triggerguard and push forward. The trigger group will become
unfastened and jump outward, pushed by a coil spring set into the stock beneath
Swing the trigger group downward and back to remove. Pull the magazine group
down and to the rear to release it. Pull the handle of the bayonet towards the
blade to unlatch it. Remove the cleaning rod by flexing it slightly to release it
from its slot beneath the front sight. Pivot the bayonet until it locks in the
extended position. Grasp the receiver cover latch pin, and use it to lift the
receiver up and out of the stock.
By reversing these steps, the weapon can be reassembled. However, the
following precautions must be observed. Reseat the fore-end of the stock
properly within the barrel band. When replacing the magazine, its forward end
must engage the lug extending from the rear sight beneath the barrel.
Hinge the magazine cap upward and hold it in this position while guiding the
projecting pins of the trigger group into the receiver lug. Apply pressure to the
bottom of the triggerguard; if the trigger group does not lock into place, brace the
carbine with one hand and deliver a sharp blow to the triggerguard to insure
proper seating. Before installing the trigger group, the hammer must be in the
cocked position, and the safety must be engaged.
Surplus military ammunition from Com Bloc nations is currently banned from importation.
Some ammunition imported before this ban is still available. Winchester (USA) and Remington
(UMC) supply military ball type ammo in 7.62x39 which is superior to Com Bloc ball.
Trajectory data supplied here is generic and presumes a maximum point blank range
(bullet remains within 6 inches of line of sight) of 300 yards:
|Distance (yards) ||25||100||200||300||400||500|
|Trajectory (inches) ||.7||4.7||2.1||-6.1||-26.6||-60|
As can be seen from the table, bullet drop makes obtaining hits with the 7.62x39 at ranges beyond
350 yards increasingly difficult. Energy loss also limits effective range.
Identifying Soviet Bloc 7.62 x 39 ammunition:
| Designation|| Bullet Type|| Marking|| Round Weight|
|BZ||AP Incendiary||Black & Red||251.5 gr.