[Guest Post] Customizing the SKS carbine

    [ This guest post was written by Drefizzle. ]

    Hello everybody. Today we are going to take another look at an old favorite: The SKS carbine or Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova.

    SKS Carbine (Photo CC szuppo)

    This carbine was originally designed and manufactured in Soviet Russia and was adopted into service in 1945. After that, many other Soviet Bloc nations also manufactured and adopted it into service as well, including Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania, East Germany, China, North Vietnam, and North Korea. Being so prolific it has found its way into many conflicts and in the hands of many countries and forces.

    “Customized” SKS recovered by US forces

    It fires the 7.62×39 cartridge and while it might not be the most accurate weapon around, it certainly has proved to be extremely reliable and durable.

    After the Soviet Union collapsed, these rifles began to be imported into the states by the thousands. They were so many of them on the market at once that I have seen ads in old catalogs for a never fired SKS $90.00. They were only $70.00 a piece if you bought them by the case! Oh how things have changed…

    Today the carbines have found their way into the hands of American hunters and sportsman alike. Some people use them for home defense, while some only have them for weekend plinking as the ammo is very affordable. I personally know many people who used an SKS to take their first deer.

    That’s a little bit of the history of the SKS but, the title isn’t History of the SKS Carbine is it? No, it’s Customizing the SKS Carbine.

    We are here to talk about turning any old SKS into YOUR SKS.

    Before we look at products we have to ask ourselves a few questions:

    What is my intended use after I have customized it?

    Because there are so many aftermarket accessories for the SKS, it is wise to narrow down your selection by catering to your intended use.
    If you are looking for a hunting rifle, you could start by looking at different scopes and mounts. It might also be a good Idea to look at replacement stocks, slings, and possibly a bipod.

    For something more tactical, the first thing I would do is replace the stock with something with a pistol grip and rails for attaching accessories. Folding stocks are available as well. A detachable magazine would speed up reload times. Or possibly a red dot optic and some way to mount it if you expect a lot of close quarter engagements. Finally, a laser and flashlight would complete the setup.

    Perhaps you just want to restore your old war horse to its former glory. Old wood can be refinished. Scuffs and scratched metal can be polished out and re-blued. And you would be surprised how much a good cleaning can improve function and reliability of the weapon.

    Will this depreciate the value of the gun and am I OK with it if it does?

    While most SKS’s are not “collector grade”, there are a few out there that are. Before any modifications are made to any military surplus firearm, it is always a good idea to do a little research and try to find out exactly what you have. You never know, some collector grade war trophies can fetch a pretty penny if sold to the right buyer. If you have an SKS that turns out to be worth a good deal of money, you can always sell it to a collector, use that money to buy another, and use the extra to pay for any customizations you might make. WIN – WIN!!

    In the end, it is completely your decision to add aftermarket parts to your gun. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

    Am I capable of installation or will I need to take it to a gunsmith?

    Being employed for an online retailer of aftermarket accessories I can’t tell you how many times I have seen someone drop a couple hundred dollars on aftermarket parts only to receive them to find out that they are not familiar enough with the weapon to install them. While this is sad this can be easily prevented by just taking your time and learning about your gun and the products before you make any purchases. Just remember, if you don’t think you are capable, you probably aren’t. Lucky for you, parts like these are well within the skills of any competent gunsmith, generally at a nominal fee. Also you can almost always call the parts supplier or manufacturer and they will usually answer any questions you might have.

    Most aftermarket parts for the SKS are pretty much drop in but some very key areas are not. Things like gas tubes, receiver cover scope mounts and replacement bolts usually require very delicate fitting. While with time, patience, and a willingness to learn, anyone can install them, they must be done properly or you may end up turning them into paperweights.

    Finally some variants of the SKS (Albanian, SKS-D, and SKS-M) are rarer and may not be within the same specs as the more common versions (Chinese or Russian). While most parts are designed to accommodate this, some are not and will usually specify what models it either will or will not fit.

    How much can I afford to put into it?

    Here is where the rubber meets the road. Some upgrades can get downright expensive, while some upgrades are only a few bucks. Take your time. Figure out what you want the gun to be. Look at what’s out there and seriously explore all of the options you can. In the aftermarket parts industry, I have found there is always more than one way to get the exact same job accomplished. Use common sense and find the parts that work the best for you, within your budget. Most of all have fun with it.

    Here are some pretty fine examples of some customized SKS’s sent in by some of my customers and maybe a little inspiration for your next project:

    I hope I have given you a good idea of what to expect when customizing your SKS rifle.

    Until then, remember, all good things come to those who shoot straight.

    This article was written by a Guest Author. The views contained in this article reflect that of the author and not necessarily that of The Firearm Blog or TFBTV.