October 27, 2010

SKS Standard Type 56 w/Fiberforce Stock 7.62x39mm

All available SKS rifles are either used or surplus. The exception would be companies that offer "new" guns that are weapons assembled from spare parts. We are beginning to see AK-47s made in the USA, so as import lines dry up perhaps new production SKS rifles will be offered in the future. In the meantime, our listed price represents a common if not the higher end cost for an SKS Type 56 in very good condition, plus the cost of the stock. Advanced Technologies (www.atigunstocks.com) offers six different replacement stocks for the SKS ranging in price from $59 to $139, with options ranging from AR-15 style buttpads with adjustable length of pull to traditional rifle stocks with camouflage finish. List price for the Dragunov-style Fiberforce stock No. SKS3000 was $69. This includes an adjustable-height cheekpiece (removable), which becomes necessary for sight alignment after mounting a scope.

The original stock was wood with a metal buttplate and rudimentary sling loop screwed on to the left side of the butt. With sling in place this can be intrusive to the right-handed shooter. There was also a sling loop integral with the barrel band at the forward edge of the cylinder, which contains the piston. Both the original wood and the Fiberforce stock supply a separate handguard that covers the gas cylinder. The wood stock was coated with a thick varnish and lacked checkering. The most apparent difference between the original stock and the Fiberforce replacement stock was overall length and length of pull. The Fiberforce stock extended the SKS by almost 3 inches. The larger operators on our staff preferred the longer synthetic stock because it provided a less cramped position when lining up the sights. But the number-one reason this stock was preferred was that it provided a vertical pistol grip with thumb-through capability.

From the bench, we found our only challenge was adjusting for windage. The front sight was permanently attached to the combination muzzle brake/flash hider. The blade itself was threaded just like a screw and could be turned down or up with the use of a dedicated tool. The front-sight blade was mounted on a heavy pin seated laterally inside the protective cowl. This pin could be shifted left or right by using a sight pusher, but movement was limited. Elevation was adjusted at the rear sight, which consisted of an open notch and blade, offering a sight picture much like a modern pistol sight. The rear sight rode forward and back on a ramp that pivoted higher and lower as a spring detent wedge was moved forward or rearward.

Gun Tests July 2010

Found in good condition, these guns are utterly reliable and not at all fussy about ammunition. Optional stocks can make the SKS more enjoyable.

Our SKS rifle was loaded by way of stripper clips. When we said earlier that changing the stock was probably the most popular modification to the SKS, we might have said adaptation to removable high-capacity magazines was also high on the list. Magazine conversions are available for the SKS, but in our opinion changing from clips to mags does more to destroy the charm of this design than placing the action in even the most space-age synthetic stock. If loading by clips sounds tedious, we found that the clips were very easy to load. They held a maximum of 10 rounds, and once threaded into the clip guide (integral with the bolt), the rounds piled easily into the magazine. It was fun, too.

We found no way to lock the bolt open with a separate lever or catch. The bolt simply reacted to the empty magazine. Wishing to the close the bolt, we reached under the stock and pulled back on the floorplate/magazine release. The floorplate was hinged and fell away, along with the follower that rode on a separate axis. With the follower out of touch, the bolt willingly rode forward. But you couldn’t just snap the magazine and follower back into position. We had to pull back on the release once more to seat the floorplate.

The trigger safety was another feature begging special attention. The safety was a lever about the same length and arc as the trigger. It was hinged at the upper rear corner of the trigger guard on the right side. Pushed forward until horizontal, the safety was on. Its surface was flanged outward to provide grip for rotating it to the rear where it lined up against the rear profile of the trigger guard. Can a shooter pull down the safety and accidentally (or on purpose) activate the trigger? Maybe, so be aware.

Gun Tests July 2010

Advanced Technologies (www.atigunstocks.com) offers six different replacement stocks for the SKS ranging in price from $59 to $139, with options ranging from AR-15 style buttpads with adjustable length of pull to traditional rifle stocks with camouflage finish. List price for the Dragunov-style Fiberforce stock No. SKS3000 was $69. This includes an adjustable-height cheekpiece (removable), which becomes necessary for sight alignment after mounting a scope.

From the 50-yard bench our hybrid SKS delivered groups measuring about 0.76 inches across firing Winchester’s 123-grain "Q" loads. This performance was bracketed by average group sizes of 0.84 inches firing the Wolf 122-grain hollowpoints and 0.96 inches shooting the 124-grain FMJ ammunition. The Winchester loads placed it second in terms of accuracy, behind the Ruger K Mini when the Ruger was loaded with the Wolf ammunition. But we judged our SKS to be the most consistent shooter when comparing the accuracy throughout all three (actually four) test ammunitions. As previously stated, the SKS was the only rifle to function fully with our original choice from Wolf, the 124-grain SP (soft point) ammunition. The nature of malfunction in our more contemporary weapons was the inability of the firing pin to break the primer. The indentation on the primers found on shells ejected by the SKS indicated they had been punched into submission by a mighty blow. From the driver’s seat, the SKS trigger offered no discernible creep, and felt recoil was noticeably less than either our Ruger or DPMS weapons, making it our most comfortable shooter.

Our Team Said: We thought the SKS was a lot of fun, despite some features such as the safety. We like the current crop of replacement stocks, even if they run the risk of diminishing its considerable charm. This is a trip through history no matter how you modify it. Found in good condition, these guns are utterly reliable and not at all fussy about ammunition.

Comments (8)

What is "money down the drain" to one man is often money well spent to another. It depends on one's perspective. While I can certainly understand the desire to maintain firearms in their original condition to preserve collector value, not all of us regard the SKS as much more than a shooter. Besides, as was noted by another poster, if one keeps the original stock, the rifle is easily returnable to it's orginal configuration. Oh yeah, by the way, if one is interested in collectibel SKS rifles, I have some lovely orignial Russian ones that have quadrupled in value since I purchased them a few years ago.

Posted by: canovack | October 29, 2010 12:05 PM    Report this comment

Mine is totally reliable. I shoots any kind of ammo and is very accurate to boot. I always wanted an AK, but really enjoy shooting my SKS. It's been rated as a Russian Winchester 30-30 equivalent as far as the round goes. I have some friends who deer hunt with theirs and always bag their buck. My problem is I like using a muzzle loader on deer. My SKS has a detachable 30 round, 20 round and 5 round (for hunting) mag.

Posted by: dgray64 | October 28, 2010 10:35 PM    Report this comment

It's very easy to close the bolt on empty magazine. Just pull back slightly on the bolt handle and push down the magazine follower with your right thumb, like a Garand. Release the bolt handle and it will fly forward. In actual use, once you have loaded cartridges, a slight rearward tug on the bolt handle will release it.

The first and best thing I did with my Chinese SKS was to replace the crappy yellow wood stock with a plastic Butler Creek sporter stock. If I ever want to recoup the $129 "collector price" I paid for this weapon, I can put the wooden stock back on.

For a cheapo rifle, it really shoots well. The 2-stage trigger pull is remarkably good, the rifle never jams, and it's easy to clean (though with a chrome lined bore I don't bother too often). Consider for whom this weapon was designed- Russian infantry.

With Wolf FMJ or JHP ammo, I can generally shoot 3" groups at 100 yds. I never could find a decent scope base for a red dot sight or scout scope, so I finally mounted a Tech Force rear peep sight. Even though you can barely see the front sight over the receiver, it is an improvement over the stock rear notch.

Posted by: JEAN F R | October 28, 2010 9:18 PM    Report this comment

Replacing an original wood military stock with a plastic one is really money down the drain. Now you have just devalued the gun by half its collectible price. Sportsitizing military rifles is one of the worst possible investments anyone can make. All of the after market parts are money down the drain on a resale of the gun at a latter date plus the future rise in prices of untouched military arms far exceed those that have been butchered by Mr. Bubba.

Posted by: wild romanian | October 28, 2010 5:03 PM    Report this comment

I own 2, one a yugo m59/66a1 ans a norinco. I love them both lots of fun to shoot.

Posted by: drmjf | October 28, 2010 2:59 PM    Report this comment

I have an unmodified ugo sks and I love it.It is even more fun and cheaper to shoot than my M1 garand.

Posted by: Robert R | October 28, 2010 12:28 PM    Report this comment

I only got one of the free report for signing up! I have the pistol but none of the rest. Can
you send them to me?
Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Eaglelonewolf | October 28, 2010 12:17 PM    Report this comment

Several years ago, I acquired an SKS/M, a paratrooper length SKS that had an intriguing feature whereby the usual box magazine had been
replaced by a magazine well that accepts standard high capacity AK47 magazines. I had seen one like that only once before.....When I took it from a Viet Cong guerrilla in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, who no longer had any need of it. The one that is presently in my collection had the usual yellow wood stock, but I replaced it with a composite Butler Creek stock that makes it a fairly good substitute for an AK47, while retaining the traditional one piece rifle stock without the separate pistol grip. It is a reliable and fairly accurate piece that will likely stay in my collection placed in a special location so as to avoid any future loss to thieves.....the usual garden variety burglars and the official government types.

Posted by: canovack | October 28, 2010 12:10 PM    Report this comment

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