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GUNS Magazine April 2013 Digital Edition - Page 26
SurpluS, ClaSSiC and TaCTiCal FirearmS HOLT BODINSON Handy, rugged, reliable, affordable, the SKS is a jewel of a milsurp. Simonov’S SkS-45 carbine this ruGGed, reliable, inexpensive rifle filled a Gap and proved a concept. holt boDinson I t’s hard to develop a solid reputation when, for a brief period, your very existence is squeezed in between the M1891/30 Mosin-Nagant and the AK-47 Kalashnikov, but the SKS-45 did make a successful debut with Soviet troops along the Eastern front in 1944. Russian small arms historian, D.N. Bolotin wrote, “Experience at the front soon revealed the positive qualities of the Simonov carbine; it was simple, light and maneuverable and easily mastered during training. It was also convenient to fire, useful in a bayonet assault and could be easily reloaded.” SKS-45 and the AK-47 were both officially adopted in the same year— 1949. Tough luck for the SKS but good luck for us since many milsurp SKS’s did not see any, or hardly any, combat deployment. After having been on the receiving end of a million or more milsurp SKS carbines, the fact is that most of us didn’t get our first glimpse of the SKS and its 7.62x39 cartridge until the Vietnam War (1962-1973) when China He continues, “After the Kalashnikov assault rifle had been adopted with similar ballistic characteristics to the SKS and far more effectual combat properties, the Simonov carbine was discarded…” Bolotin’s comment about “…more effectual combat properties” highlights two of the SKS’s limitations: the lack of a detachable magazine and the lack of selective-fire capability According to Bolotin, both the and the USSR kept the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army well supplied with SKSs. Before that time, Simonov’s mysterious carbine, and the cartridge it chambered, were shrouded by the fog of the Cold War. Remember, Western intelligence did not learn much of anything about the AK-47 until the Soviets opened up with it on the Hungarians in 1956. Up to that time, Soviet troops surreptitiously carried their AKs around in canvas cases and policed up every piece of fired brass lest it fall into the hands of foreign intelligence. The now common SKS remained a rare and exotic Soviet firearm in collector circles for many, many years after its adoption. Manufactured by Russia (SKS45), China (Type 56 Carbine), North Korea (Type 63), East Germany (Karabiner-S), North Vietnam (SKS), Yugoslavia (M59/66), Romania (M56) and Albania (Independence), the SKS has appeared in many models and variations in the milsurp stream— some strictly in refurbished military dress, others in appearance and manufacture strictly for the sporting export trade. PRoLIFIC NUMBERs The Soviet Union and China were the most prolific manufacturers of the SKS. It is estimated that between those two nations, over 4,000,000 SKS carbines were manufactured with China being the leading producer and exporter. In the United States, the tidal wave The SKS stock is short and Holt added a thick, aftermarket pad to increase the LOP to 13-1/2 inches for more comfortable shooting. 26 W W W. G U N S M AG A Z I N E . C O M • A P R I L 2 0 1 3