August 26, 2012

Yugoslavian SKS 7.62mm

The SKS is a homely brute, and many of its simple mechanisms are largely outdated by today’s weapons’ standards. But it works. It, like so many rifles based on the tapered 7.62 x 39 round, catches the cartridges that its two-piece bolt strips out of that fixed, ten-shot magazine with great ease. It fires them reliably and slings out the empties like an outraged matron encountering last week’s garbage. The accuracy isn’t generally good enough to be called that, unless you’ve got a lucky specimen on your hands. On average, they seem to shoot M1-Carbine-size groups. They’ll put most of their shots into a four- or five-inch circle at a hundred yards, and that’s plenty good enough for their intended job. But you’d never write home to mama about how attractive a rifle an SKS is.

Some time back, Gun Tests reviewed one of these Simonov-designed semiautos in a test of three different types of rifles that could handle the 7.62 x 39 round (the others were the AK-47 and Ruger Mini-30), and in its report they liked the arsenal-refinished Soviet-made SKS, and suggested you grab one if you could find one. Later, they looked at four others, three from Romania and one from the USSR. In that report, they told you some of the things to look for when considering an SKS. They found an ugly duckling in that batch that was an excellent shooter, and one of the test crew bought it for about $150.

Gun Tests March 2003

Gun Tests liked the carefully chosen stock wood, and this version's slightly better accuracy and slightly lower price. Note the butt pad. The overall condition of today's SKSs can seriously affect the selling price. If at all possible, shoot before you buy.

Since then, they have noted some of the sources for the SKS’s are drying up, particularly those from the USSR, and prices for good SKS rifles — no matter their origin — are slowly going up. The Chinese versions no longer take up table after table at most gun shows, and gone are the “deals” that gave you a rifle, sling, handful of accessories, and a few boxes of ammo all for less than a C-note. But they did find some “new” SKSs. The rifles it tested qualifies as a Curio and Relic (C&R) gun, so if you have a C&R license ($30 license fee), you can order directly from the distributors and save some money.

Here they look at one from Yugoslavia (about $200) with a knife-type bayo and a grenade launcher. Was it any good? Here's what they said:

Yugoslavian SKS, about $200

This one was full of grease, and we got enough of it out to evaluate the rifle thoroughly. The wood was essentially free of big blemishes, and the bluing was nearly new throughout. The barrel was in fine condition. The rifle appeared to have a chromed bore, in spite of our looking with a magnifying glass. All the metalwork was well done, and had a good polish job before bluing. All the parts of this rifle were well made and didn’t appear to have been done at war-emergency speed. This Yugoslav version had few signs of having been used.

Gun Tests March 2003

All the numbers didn't quite match, but overall condition was as good as that of the Albanian version. This one had a cleaner profile to the magazine box.

Up front on the Yugo version, we found a grenade launcher pinned to the barrel. Behind the front sight was a clever, folding, grenade-launching sight with three graduations. A spring-loaded button released the sight ladder. The grenade sight swung forward against the normal front sight, and was locked into position by two opposing pins at its base. Releasing those pins required standing the rifle on its butt, pressing inward on both pins with a couple of cartridge noses, and simultaneously pressing downward with your chin against the sight.

The stock, made of stout-looking quarter-sawn hardwood (European walnut?) had a hard, half-inch-thick rubber butt pad, with a hole to access the (empty) butt trap. The strong stock and softer-than-steel butt pad were apparently put there with an eye to accommodating the stresses of grenade launching. Within the shipping box was a moldy leather sling, which appeared to be serviceable. At the very least, it looked (and smelled) authentic.

In spite of the presence of the grenade launcher, this SKS retained a knife-style bayonet that was fitted nicely into the mortised stock forend. The blade was matte-chrome-plated. The wood fore-stock and upper hand guard were short and left more of the main gas tube exposed. This Yugoslav version held the usual 10 rounds. This SKS had a long, creepy trigger pull that was not as bad as it sounds.

Gun Tests March 2003

Quarter-sawn wood grain contributes to stock strength. Grain like this is what you should see on very powerful rifles, or on those that are destined to sling heavy grenades.

The metalwork was not quite as well polished as it could have been, but was not at all bad. The bluing was not quite as deep and black either, but more than adequate. The various parts of this rifle had identification numbers, some of which appeared to be vibro-etched. Not all the numbers were the same, but all parts appeared to be of the same vintage, and all fit quite well.

At the range, our best average groups were 2.2 inches, fired with the soft-nose ammo. There were no surprises, and no problems with this rifle whatsoever.

Gun Tests Recommends: Yugoslavian SKS, about $200, Our Pick. We felt the grenade-launched version to be a great find for the advanced collector. This particular sample of the Yugoslav rifle shot very well. The price of this Yugoslavian-made version may vary from a low of about $150 for average-quality samples, up to about $225 for better-looking versions with a few accessories. A good specimen of the Yugoslavian SKS would probably cost a little less than comparable other versions, and therefore we thought it was a bit better deal.

Comments (18)

Picked up my SKS Chinee last year just after the guy sold it to my gun store owner for $200, already had a nylon stock and scope but changed the scope for better one again I am hoping to get it out one the range, only thing is they took off the front sites that i would have liked to keep just in case I need to just go to open sites. Darn I tealy need to get out and do some shooten cause I to many guns that I havn't got out and shot. I guess I need to either get down to Texas or get one of you guys to come up here to get out there.
God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future.
Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry.
Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US

Posted by: bear1 | September 8, 2012 2:23 PM    Report this comment

Bought my Yugo about 6 years ago along with one for my step-son's Xmas gift. Mine hates Olympic brand ammo(all kinds of jams/fail to eject, etc.) but of course LOVES the most expensive Remington and Winchester rounds. Typical military trigger but not spongy as others have said, equals or betters my Colt AR at work. From the bench, accuracy at 100yds is almost as good as my G-3 which says a lot. I'm sure using good ammo plays a part though. Should have kept my step-son's gift though, it was un-issued!

Posted by: Tower gunner | September 6, 2012 7:49 PM    Report this comment

John R.: S&K scout mounts are the way to go with your SKS. They replace the rear sight with a Picatinny rail; no drilling or 'smithing involved.
A low pistol-type telescope or red dot sight will fit right in and poof, you have a good sight picture. Just remember to be sure you clear the ejection arc and that you can use the stripper clip guide. I used a "Famous Maker" red dot sight and my SKS is now a 2 min shooter.
Just remember that the SKS was not intended as a bullseye rifle and you'll do just fine.

Posted by: KMacK | September 6, 2012 11:42 AM    Report this comment

A little conservative hand stoning/polishing on a few spots in the trigger group (youtube is loaded with examples) helps the trigger break (but not the big spongy take-up) a lot. I dropped mine into a Tapco T6 stock which gave me adjustable buttstock and a scout style forearm scope mount (forget about the receiver cover mounts - junk) which is perfect for a red dot or extended eye relief scope - I tried both, the cheap BSA red dot worked the best overall for fast targeting CQB to 100 yards appropriate to the 2 to 4 moa accuracy of the typical SKS.
A whole safe full of AR's, AK, M1A, Garand, etc., whaddya think my favorite daily driver is...?

Posted by: Dragonchow | August 31, 2012 1:47 PM    Report this comment

I bought a Yugo years ago when I had my curio and relic license. The only problem I had was the firing pin would stick. I replaced the pin with a spring and pin kit and it works fine. Never really sat down at the bench to see how it groups but I would guess a little better than an AK. My fifteen year old claims it for his "Zombie" gun.

Posted by: justathought | August 31, 2012 11:47 AM    Report this comment

These are great rifles. Get one.

Posted by: veprk | August 31, 2012 2:31 AM    Report this comment

To me the accuracy-limiting factor of these rifles is the sights. I have yet to find a good way to mount a low-power scope or red dot. All the mounts I have tried put the scope too high for a cheek weld. I do love shooting mine. The guy to my right at the range doesn't like it.

Posted by: JEAN F R | August 30, 2012 10:41 PM    Report this comment

I bought an unfired Ugo for $100 from a a friend with a 100rds of Remington softpoint. It's a great shooter and has the bayonet and grenade launcher. My friend has tried for years to buy it back; no way!
Rick G

Posted by: Bazooka Joe | August 30, 2012 9:56 PM    Report this comment

Still love my 100 dollar chinese SKS. Shoots like a dream. Glad I got it before they dried up.

Posted by: michael s | August 30, 2012 9:38 PM    Report this comment

I don't know when this story was composed but
8/30/12 the cheapest SKS at Southern Ohio guns is 295.00 and one other for 349.95 for dealers. Retail would be more to cover shipping and profit for the dealer. The good news there in stock.

Posted by: brooks308 | August 30, 2012 8:04 PM    Report this comment

I purchased a yugo sks a couple of years ago for $280 and sold it recently for $330. The reason I sold it was I acquired a "new" yugo for about $300 without the grenade launcher. The rifle as the article states shoots acceptable groups and is totally reliable. It's not a pretty gun but it was made to shoot not to admire. As someone stated the article is quite out of date as to prices.

Posted by: monsey | August 30, 2012 7:15 PM    Report this comment

I bought one 6 years ago in Arizona for $170. I worked like a charm even though it was Chinese and probably used by the NVA. I traded it in on an AR-15 which didn't shoot any tighter groups. Wish I still had it.

Posted by: exdetsgt | August 30, 2012 6:14 PM    Report this comment

As usual for the People's Republic of California, available SKS's are hard to come by in new condition because the state has decided we subjects cannot be trusted with a carbine that can launch grenades, so most Yugo SKS's are not legal here. Those that are, have something done to the grenade launcher to make it into something that is not a grenade launcher...something like a compensator, I guess. My SKS is a Yugo bought some few years ago that comes with the teaspoon-style AK compensator that works surprisingly well. Admittedly, I fiddled with the trigger and while it remains creepy, it is less creepy now and allows a controlled release resulting in 1½ to 1¾ inch groups at 100 yards. It's a good little carbine and to heck with what I can get for it,I don't want to sell. I like it too much.

Posted by: KMacK | August 30, 2012 5:44 PM    Report this comment

It is quite interesting, the way the prices of the SKS pieces have escalated. I used to have several Chinese rifles for which I paid $75.00 each, and after I held on to them for a while, I was able to get $250.00 each for them. The Russian models that I purchased for $125.00 each went for about $350.00 a couple of years ago. All of this inflation in the prices of arms and ammunition have convinced me that guns and ammo are as good as gold when it comes to investments.....And they are a hell of a lot more practical to keep around.

Posted by: canovack | August 30, 2012 4:26 PM    Report this comment

The article must be old. The Yugo they described in excellent condition will go for $300 or better now. The price they mentioned will get you one with a cracked stock or similar defect. I bought mine in excellent condition for about $120. Those days are gone and I know I could get $300 or more now. Most are used to the cheap prices of yesterday and are surprised.

Posted by: Wayne1 | August 30, 2012 3:55 PM    Report this comment

I love my sks maybe even mor than my AR , maybe. It's just a really stout gun that feels better than a AK. I would by another one for sure but they seem tone around 400.00 , and that's hard to swallow when I bout mine for 150.00 not even 8 years ago.

Posted by: thegoaty | August 30, 2012 1:55 PM    Report this comment

The SKS is a fun gun, no matter from whence we might obtain it. I have owned variants from Russia, China, Yugoslavia, Romania, and they all perform very well. One of my favorites is a Chinese paratrooper model SKS-M which has a magazine well in which regular AK-47 magazines are inserted and locked. I have restocked it with a glass-filled nylon Monte Carlo stock, turning it into a very slick handling and fast loading little carbine with a four power scope. It is the equal of any of my AK-47s or their variants.

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