Again with the Old Neighborhood Rifleman…

So I was at a neighbor’s house this morning, and he asked if I wouldn’t have a look at this old SKS he picked up cheap for his grandson, you know, make sure it works safely before passing it on. I was happy to do that.

And oh, this was one bubba’d-up gun. I mean, I get it: 20 years ago SKSs were ubiquitous and cheap. Had one myself and wish I hadn’t sold it on when I got my AK because a light 10-round semiauto is a lot more handy as a homestead gun than an AK, to be honest. But it’s not … tacticool. And it doesn’t have that great big banana mag. And whoever got his hands on this one just had to have that.

Anyway, I took it back to the Lair, figured out how to get that awful ‘tactical’ stock off the receiver, and…


…well, let’s just say that the mark of the true mall ninja is swapping out stock parts for cool-looking parts without even bothering to clean all the cosmoline out of the working parts. Then shooting it anyway, until the grease in the gas tube gums up the piston good and awful. I imagine its original owner sold it on when it ceased to function, and I hope he (it had to be a he) lost his shirt on the deal. I went through a lot of rags and patches and Ballistol. But I got the piston moving free, and the bore’s in really good shape. Had my doubts about those magazines.

I told my neighbor that it would be better if he could score the original stock and magazine, but to my surprise…


…once I got it cleaned up it ran like a top, even with those removable 30-round mags. I have no personal experience with them but they had a terrible rep 20 years ago. These appear to be more recent manufacture and apparently somebody worked out the bugs. Now I just have to see what I can do with that cheap red dot, which is nowhere near zeroed. Paper targets tomorrow.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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6 Responses to Again with the Old Neighborhood Rifleman…

  1. Mike says:

    Nice rifle, I like the Archangel stock. I’ve had an SKS in the gun safe since the nineteen nineties. No matter the abuse, no matter the crap surplus ammo, it runs whatever I feed it. It’s not MOA accurate but out to 300 yards, it will take a deer. The only upgrades I did to mine were to replace the rear sight with a peep sight and remove the bayonet. A good replacement sight is the MoJo sight. It’s a hell of a lot better than the V-notch sight the SKS comes with.

  2. Terrapod says:

    Good on you for taking it on,. I too bought a “non working” unit that Dunhams Sports had sitting in a corner. Someone gummed it up and brought it back. Picked it up for a song. Same issue, someone took it out of the box, cleaned the externals of cosmoline and went shooting, The gas piston was carbonized solid as was the valve that switches orifice size for grenade or shooting. So bad that I had to hone the gas cylinder to get all the carbon out and the rod was bent and spring in 2 pieces. New rod, new spring, clean and lube and it works just fine. Older one, no external magazine but I think the internal (short can) can be dropped out and a proper 30 round magazine inserted, never bothered as this is my kickaround plinker when out in the wilds.Never took off the bayonet or the grenade fixture, might have to do that.

  3. Tree Mike says:

    SKS’s are the very definition of tolerant. If the 30 rounders work, that’s icing on the cake. It’s faster to load stripper’s than change mags on an SKS. For around the homestead, I keep a 30 in. For a walkabout, it’s so much handier with the stock 10 rounder, I pop out the 30 and re-install the 10.
    I have the cheapest of cheap ( $19 and $24) red dots on 2 of my rifles, a center fire and a 22, both have performed perfectly for 3 years so far.
    That stock actually makes it easier to shoot well.
    Good going on rescuing your neighbor’s rifle.

  4. mattexian says:

    It seems like too many folks back then bought an SKS for cheap, then spent a bunch more money to make it into an AK, when they could’ve saved some money by buying the AK! At least the previous owner didn’t chop off the bayo lug.
    Having both, I’d say the SKS is more economical on ammo, with the stock 10-round mag, compared to an AK; either way, one wants to fire a whole mag, tho it’s more fun to burn thru 30 in an AK just to make noise and holes. (I wrote a satire of the kid’s book “If you give a mouse a cookie,” around the idea of “If you give a mouse an AK.” Jeeze, it’s been ten years! http://texianpartisan.blogspot.com/2011/05/if-you-give-mouse-ak.html ) Certainly, the SKS isn’t as renowned as the AK, and not featured on as many cool morale patches, but there’s a few good ones out there, especially out of Canadia, where they can still import the rifles cheaply from China.

  5. taminator013 says:

    I bought one of those many, many years ago. I paid a little more for it because I wanted a Soviet Bloc one. I think it was Romanian. It wasn’t a Yugo because you always heard horror stories about those. Ended up putting a plastic folding stock with 30 rd. removable magazines and a 4X scope. Also installed a buffer and took off the bayonet. It functioned fine and dandy without a hiccup. The extended mags were fairly easy to change out, but one problem was that they were too long to shoot comfortably off the bench. You really had to stack the sandbags pretty high so that the bottom of the mags didn’t hit the bench. The scope also wouldn’t hold zero. Another thing was that the rifle had a lot more muzzle rise without the weight of the bayonet. Ended up changing everything back to original with the exception of the buffer. Luckily a buddy picked one up and bought all the crap from me for pretty much what I paid for it……..

    Really nice of you to help the guy out with his acquisition. I always find great pleasure in getting people’s shooters up and running again. I’m not close to being a qualified gunsmith so I won’t do major smithing things, but luckily most of the problems that I see are caused by lack of routine maintenance. Pretty much what you are seeing with your friend’s SKS……..

  6. jed says:

    The std crap wood stock on the SKS was my #1 complaint about it. And a folding stock makes it easier to store your SKS in the trunk. I added a cheek piece to my folding stock and it’s a big improvement over the factory junk wood.

    I pondered adding a red-dot to it, but (this was long ago) couldn’t find any sort of mount other than a replacement dust cover. Okay, yeah, it’s an SKS but mounting any sort of optic to a loose-fit part just doesn’t fly in my book. And with my old eyeballs, irons are pretty tough these days.

    Just taking a quick look now, seems there are more options, with reports of holding zero, so possibly I should revisit that. Somewhere, I have a cheap Tru-Glo sight that seems appropriate for a cheap SKS.

    I happen to like the bayonet, because even the thought of it makes Feinstein wet her pants. 🙂

To the stake with the heretic!