SKS Trumps AK

The AK is the epitome of the sexy/scary “assault rifle” genre. With its sinister angles and scythe-like Magazine, the weapon just oozes danger and coolness. In contrast, the SKS is an ungainly, plain-Jane looking lump. You could even say that the SKS (Samozaryadni Karabin Simonova or Simonov’s Self-loading Carbine) is the AK-47’s ugly older sister. While it’s undboutedly true that the AK has a cool factor that is unmatched in the shooting world, an objective comparison reveals that, at least for the civilian shooter in America, the SKS is actually the better rifle.

Take construction, for example.  Although there are a few (and expensive) milled-receiver AKs in the US, the vast, vast majority of Kalashnikovs in civilian hands have a stamped, sheet metal receiver. Cheap to build, but not really high quality. Worse yet, the AKs (even the milled-receiver versions) have a tinny, cheap, stamped upper cover – you know, the part you put your cheek against when you shoot.

The result is a rifle that is adequate for Red Army conscripts and peasant revolutionaries, but feels flimsy and uncomfortable. In contrast, every SKS has a forged, milled steel receiver and receiver cover, solid pieces all.

The safety is another huge difference. Not only is the AK safety a crude, ungainly, noisy nightmare copied from a turn-of-the-century Remington rifle, Kalashnikov put it on the wrong side of the receiver! Perhaps it was the brainchild of a surly Commie conscript carrying a rifle without a safety mechanism that could be seen from a hundred meters by his commanding officer. Or heard all the way across the Kremlin courtyard, where it scared the Borscht out of the armaments minister.

Again, the SKS with its easy-to-use ambidextrous trigger-guard safety (similar to the one used on the M1 Garand) wins the contest here.

Another factor that favors the SKS for civilian shooters: the magazine. Armies, of course, like to give their soldiers lots of magazines that can be changed out quickly so as to keep them shooting (they call this “firepower.”) Civilian shooters, by contrast, are generally more interested in hitting their targets than they are in putting up a wall of lead to keep the enemy’s head down.

The SKS’s 10-round fixed magazine is more than adequate for most shooters. It’s also more rugged than the AK’s, which is made of a very heavy stamping of steel (by contrast to the AKs plastic or light metal stamped magazines). Best of all, the SKS’s magazine can be “recharged” with the use of cheap, widely available “stripper clips.”

For the cost of one AK magazine, you can buy a whole pocket full  of SKS stripper clips

In fact, reloading the SKS with stripper clips is easy. The SKS will conveniently lock the bolt open on an empty magazine. This prepares the weapon to accept another load of ammo and tells the shooter he needs to reload. By contrast, the AK has no bolt hold open. Unless you’re counting rounds or using the last-round-is-a-tracer trick, the only way you know you’re out of ammo is when you pull the trigger and hear a dull “click” instead of a robust “bang!” When you’re fighting off Zombies, that can be downright embarrassing.

The SKS’s longer sight radius (the distance between the front and rear sight) make it easier to shoot more accurately. The lack of a long, wobbly magazine makes the SKS easier to set on a sandbag or other improvised rest – again, improving accuracy.

The more you think about it, the more the SKS looks like a superior rifle. So why did the Russians and their allies ditch it in favor of the AK? Firepower.

The military version of the AK, of course, fires both semi- and fully-automatic. This gives the AK the military utility of a light machine gun. The AK is also cheaper to build, on account of its prevalence of el-cheapo stamped metal parts. So generals can have more of ‘em. And finally, the AK is shorter and lighter; our average 14-year-old “freedom fighter” can handle the weapon more easily (if a lot less accurately) than an SKS.

Of course, none of these factors apply to the US civilian market. We can’t get the fully auto versions without an expensive and cumbersome Class 3 license. Most American adults have no problem handling a full sized SKS (in fact, most of us have to add longer stocks anyway because even the factory SKS stock is designed for those of diminutive stature.)

“Firepower” isn’t really a consideration when you don’t command brigades, and don’t have to pay for your own ammo. Besides, you can buy extended magazines for the SKS, should you feel an overwhelming need to send a lot of lead downrange.

The bottom line: for the kinds of things a civilian shooter needs a rifle to do, the SKS is not only adequate, it’s superior to the AK. In every measurable category. Rather than seeing the SKS as a poor man’s alternative to the AK, we should see it for what it is: the smart shooter’s choice for a robust, reliable, and economical centerfire semi-auto rifle.

40 Responses to SKS Trumps AK

  1. avatarJohn D says:

    Well, I have both, and enjoy and would count on either in a time of need, I've just got to say: if you are getting a "cheek weld" on either of these rifles, you have a very strange body configuration, or a very strange holding technique- on both rifles, cheek weld is on the top over.

    As to magazines, my Soviet SKS has a simple, sheet-metal stamped magazine- works fine! Plastic magazines, of Soviet or Bulgarian manufacture are extremely robust and reliable. For metal, Hungarian(available with last-round hold-open),Romanian and Chinese are bullet-proof. Any high-cap mags for the SKS are an "iffy" compromise- I'll take a 40-round Bulgarian in my AKM over that any day>

  2. Like John D above I have both an SKS and an AK-47 and believe they are both great rifles.

    But I must inquire how you are resting your cheek on the dust cover of an AK? You must have a very long neck because when I bring my AK up to shoulder the closest I can bring my head to the dust cover is to put my nose on the end of the button that holds the cover on.

    I do agree on a bit of the article but disagree with most of it. First you're dead on when talking about the safeties. The safety of the AK is poorly placed and hard to access (compared to most military rifles at least).

    Although it is true that the SKS receiver is stronger being it's not stamped sheet metal I haven't seen too many failures with stamped AK receivers so I'm really impartial on this. The one advantage of using stamped sheet metal receives on the AK (besides cost) is weight. But I find both rifles to be plenty light enough for all day shooting.

    As for the sight radius both rifles require work here. The rear sight of both rifles is in front of the bolt greatly shortening the distance between the front and rear sight. Needless to say both rifles have a poor sight radius compared to something like an M1 Garand or M-14. But that's find considering the SKS and AK-47 were more designed as rifles to be used in closer distances whereas the American battle rifles were designed with the idea of engaging targets at much greater distances (neither philosophy is right or wrong really).

    Also I prefer the the detachable AK magazine to the SKS fixed magazine. The magazine is statistically the part that will most likely fail on a rifle. It's just physics since the magazine spring is moving up and down with every round loaded or fired. If the magazine on an AK fails it's not a big deal you rock it out and put a fresh one in. If the magazine on the SKS fails you at best have a single shot rifle and at worst have a paper weight. And as John D said above there are some tough AK magazines out there (seriously I haven't seen a Bulgarian waffle magazine break yet even when running them over with a truck).

    Finally a 10-round magazine is plenty for some things but not for others. For instance a 10-round fixed magazine is just fine if you're at the range shooting targets but is a HUGE disadvantage if you're in a three-gun competition (a common civilian sport). Likewise if you're in an Appleseed events having a detachable magazine is good for the test because you're expected to do reloads and it is faster to swap magazines than it is to reload via a stripper clip (mostly because stripper clips need to be aligned with the guide whereas magazines have a lot more give and fall into place so long as you're close).

    The bottom line is the SKS is better than the AK for specific use cases (at the range target shooting) while the AK is superior to the SKS for other use cases (more active shooting sports).

    • avatarMartin Albright says:

      John & Chris: Thanks for your comments. As for my cheek weld, on both rifles it's behind the top cover but close enough to the top cover that I don't want a cheap part to fail and send the bolt carrier into my face. IMO the SKS is superior not only because the top cover is more robust, but because it is held in place very positively with a large diameter metal rotating pin, whereas the AK has a small button that engages the back of the frame. And no, I've never seen that little button fail, but when comparing the two, I simply prefer the more rugged construction of the SKS.

      If the magazine on an AK fails it’s not a big deal you rock it out and put a fresh one in. If the magazine on the SKS fails you at best have a single shot rifle and at worst have a paper weight.

      Ah, but what causes a magazine to fail? It's not the spring that causes most mag failures, it's bending the feed lips. And what causes bending the feed lips? Dropping the magazine or otherwise damaging those fragile lips. But, observe: The SKS feed lips are inside the magazine well, in a place where they are almost impossible to damage. So while it's true that you can replace a damaged or malfunctioning magazine more easily on an AK, it's also true that because of the design of the SKS it's virtually impossible to damage the magazine in the first place.

  3. avatarJohn D says:

    Hello Martin- The top cover on the Ak does not hold the bolt carrier in place at all- in fact, the "button" holding the top cover on is at the back of the recoil spring lug, nesting in a slot at the rear of the receiver- you can fire the ak all day long without the top cover, although the reciprocation of the bolt and carrier would be very distracting- for ultimate safety in a shoulder-fired weapon, a Mauser 98 would be hard to beat(see, now you have every reason to acquire more guns-heh!) And by the way, Thanks for one of the best gun blogs out there!

  4. avatarAce says:

    I had to stop reading when it said that the sheet metal top cover is where you put your cheek when you shoot it. How dumb can you be?

  5. avatarCarl says:

    your opening a big can of worms my friend…=) I think ak enthuasists are gonna be butt hurt. To me it doesnt matter, I cant get an ak in canada anyways. I have to settle with an sks. Ten rounds for me is plenty. but our darn government had to make us pin the mag to 5 rounds. Well at least its cheap in canada. In a self-fish way, I am Kind of glad that the US has an import ban on norinco, cause we get there goodies here in canada for such cheap price. $199 for a brand new non refurbished sks! and $300 for a new m14.

    • avatarfrank savage says:

      where in Canada can I buy an m14 reasonable in april 2014, will be shipping to my local gun dealer—- legal—

  6. avatarCarl says:

    also, I like the heft of the sks, feels like a solid battle rifle you can depend your life on in SHTF WROL situation. I would take a sks out in SHTF situation any day. Because, I dont have to worry about taking bulky heavy magazines, and like you said damaging their feed lips. You can carry so much more ammo in stripper clips. Besides in SHTF situation, you might be carrying so much other gear, such as tents, knives, matches, sleeping bags, tarps, whatever…I think ten rounds is more than enough to deal with anyone trying to mug you in SHTF situation. Because face it, not much people in canada besides the police and army own guns. And a shot from the sks is pretty intimitdating. In the US, I would consider taking an ak47 especially in an urban area, because there are so much guns in the US. And I want the extra 20 rnds of firepower. But I am very comfortable with my sks here in canada. I keep it well greased and cleaned under my bed with a cheapo canvas bandolier and some extra ammo in SHTF backpack. The best spent $199 in my life. Offers so much security for so little. I dont own any other firearm, because I dont need too. I dont hunt or shoot competively, so the SKS is good enough for me.

  7. avatarCarl says:

    I considered buying a vz 58 (cezch answer to the ak-47) which has a 30 round magazine and is generally pretty similar to the ak. But the magazines were so heavy and expensive. And especially cause they are all pinned to 5 rnds. My sks doesnt loose out at all, especially the fact that I can get 5 sks for one vs 58. I considered getting a m14, but it was so much more heavier and the rnds and mags were so expensive and offers nothing more than the sks. I dont need to snipe somebody out to 800 yards in a shtf situation. I would expect any confrontations to be close range.

  8. avatarsinn 1 says:

    Ok first things first, you speak about safety on the AK. I don’t think so, how about those lovely free floating firing pins on the SKS. So if i were an SKS owner i would definitely change the pin out quick. Unless you like being shot by your own weapon, if it gets dropped. Furthermore I will take my 30 round mag over any stripped clip ever. Don’t forget those sweet 100 round drum mags. The only thing in my opinion that the SKS has is range. Then again I also happen to have a M4 as well, so to me its a moot point. My next rifle and probably last for a while is going to be a Styer Aug.

    • avatarSkaine says:

      Most AR-15′s have free floating firing pins, and if you don’t trust them, get a return spring.

      I did that just to be safe and it cost me like 10$ to do, so its a poor argument.

      Mind you, if your weapon is clean, you will never have that issue, I fired over 1000 rounds threw both my SKS’s before I decided to get a return spring. And I didn’t have any issues.

  9. avatarVengine says:

    The feed lips on an ak mag is about 2mm thick you will not bend them dropping it and you can get mag followers that hold the bolt after the last round. I use the magazine as a perch so no sandbags needed. The safety has never been a problem yet I keep the thing pointed in a safe direction. That’s not saying thers anything wrong with the ak or sks.

  10. avatarTaylor says:

    I’ve owned both.don’t have a AKMN any more.swaped it out for a m16a2 ar15…

  11. avatarfanboi says:

    1) The safety on an SKS is adjacent to the trigger, and can actually cause an accidental discharge under stressful situations
    2) The ease of maintenance on an AK is far greater, and AKs have far less failures in battle
    3) The SKS was never designed to accept a high-cap magazine, and the rifles are not made for continuous fire like an AK
    4) Milled AKs are actually NOT better than stamped, as the milled receivers can get stress fractures
    5) The SKS is not able to be fired filthy and fill of mud, while an AK can fire with dirt, mud, blood, sand, and even TWINKIES lodged in the receiver (google it)
    6) The AK is far lighter, easier to work on, and is in use in over 60 countries
    7) The SKS is a Curio and should it fail in a SHTF scenario, you have nothing more thank a nice club
    8) AK-47 is far superior in almost all respects to the SKS and its variants, which is why you see VERY few soldiers on CNN wielding an SKS these days
    9) In Nam, when dirty M16s were failing, US troops grabbed the VC’s AKs, and used them with no cleaning or maintenance

    I own AR-15s, AKs, and SKSs. If I were ever running for my life and needed a rifle, a Krink AK or folding AK would be what I grabbed first, along with a few drum mags filled with steel-core Norinco ammo.

    • avatarMBR says:

      Having owned and shot both quite a bit, I feel compelled to comment on fanboi’s posting:

      “1) The safety on an SKS is adjacent to the trigger, and can actually cause an accidental discharge under stressful situations.” How so? Unless an SKS is missing the spring that holds the safety up?

      “2) The ease of maintenance on an AK is far greater, and AKs have far less failures in battle.” Compared to what? Neither the AK or the SKS is known for breaking much.

      “3) The SKS was never designed to accept a high-cap magazine, and the rifles are not made for continuous fire like an AK.” True, but irrelevant. And I need to point out that your semi-auto AK was not made for “continuous fire” either.

      “4) Milled AKs are actually NOT better than stamped, as the milled receivers can get stress fractures.” Possible, but not likely. Any receiver that is poorly heat treated can develop stress cracks. There are lots of rifles with milled receivers that do not crack, and some of them (like the M-1 Garand) have been around a lot longer than any milled AK. The stamped AK receiver was developed to lighten the gun and speed up/simplify production, not prevent cracks.

      “5) The SKS is not able to be fired filthy and fill of mud, while an AK can fire with dirt, mud, blood, sand, and even TWINKIES lodged in the receiver (google it).” Bullshit. I’ve seen AK’s jam plenty of times. No, I’ve never had one in combat, but I’ve been there when we captured Jihad Joes with their AK’s jammed because their magazines were so full of sand and other crap that the magazine follower was stuck halfway up. I HAVE seen AK’s jam during 3-gun competitions and the like. And the “twinkie test” is so unbelievably stupid it’s not even worth bringing up, but I guess the lesson learned there is that you shouldn’t jam pastry into your magazine well…..

      “6) The AK is far lighter, easier to work on, and is in use in over 60 countries.” Lighter than what? Easier to work on than what? An SKS? An SKS typically weighs in around 8 lbs. An AK with a loaded mag runs around 10. “In use in over 60 countries” is misleading, too.

      “7) The SKS is a Curio and should it fail in a SHTF scenario, you have nothing more thank a nice club.” So will every other rifle around.

      “8) AK-47 is far superior in almost all respects to the SKS and its variants, which is why you see VERY few soldiers on CNN wielding an SKS these days.” Which has NOTHING to do with how many soldiers “wield an SKS” these days…..soldiers typically don’t have a choice about what they are issued when they go into battle.

      “9) In Nam, when dirty M16s were failing, US troops grabbed the VC’s AKs, and used them with no cleaning or maintenance.” Again irrelevant, and again, misleading. Special Forces, SEALS, and LRRP types had their own protocols in this respect, but for the rest of the U.S. forces, it just didn’t happen as much as is thought. Google “Project Eldest Son” and you’ll see why.

      • avatargeekie says:

        I saw a youtube video, the guy pulls an SKS from a muddy puddle and starts firing it without issue. It looks like an SKS cant indeed fire with mud, grit, grime and dirt. That rifle he shot was still dripping mud goop when it was being fired.

        • avatarSpintz says:

          Completely agree. I prefer an SKS over a cheaply made, stamped AK any day. I’ve shot and currently own both. I promise you, the cheapest made Chinese SKS is superior to any AK out there. It just is by its nature a better crafted gun. Stamped sheet metal is cheap. Used for no other reason than to save cost and speed up production. AKs are good in that they will do their job. But not much more. An SKS, however, does it’s job and does it well. And it’s a pleasure to shoot. It holds its solidity through the worst of abuse. An AK will begin to fall apart after too much abuse. So, sorry AK owners. Your guns are fine. But if you’re looking for a rifle that will give you a lifetime relationship and never falter in its ability to perform, SKS is the way to go.

  12. avataracewolf says:

    I have owned 5 SKSs and I would like to add my two cents. A big secret is stripper clips can be loaded faster than mags. If you had a race to see who could shoot 100 rounds first having to load the strippers and mags as you shot, the strippers would be much faster. Had the SKS been produced a year earlier in time to see. lots of action in WW2, it would be a ledgen, if it could have shot full auto it would have maxerhistory. Today if you were to make a fully milled gun of that qualty it would cost more than an AK.

    • avatarJustice06rr says:

      Everyone is wrong…. AR15 trumps both of them! Hahahaha…

      Ok ok, both the SKS and AK47 are great rifles. The AR is just way sexier

      • avatarBR549 says:

        The problem with the AR15 is its technology. You don’t get something for nothing. There is ALWAYS a tradeoff. Sure, it’s the sweetest, lightest, smoothest thing in town; that is until the parts start to wear out, …….. and a lot more of their parts WILL wear out, and a lot faster than the SKS. The SKS is like an old Ford F-150, it would always work, but it wasn’t going anywhere all that fast.

  13. avatarnitrous_bob says:

    id like to see this mysterious “ambidextrious safety” on the SKS. on all 7 i own, its on the same side as my AK’s

    they are both fine rifles, which is why i own both.

    which would i grab in a situation ??? an AK of course.

    oh btw….. dont lump a WASR into “every” AK variant. my mags dont wobble at all, in fact the only gun known for mag wobble is the WASR

  14. avatarcpanel vps says:

    Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to produce a great article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.|

  15. avatarLee says:

    Old article I know, but feel the need to point out the VZ-58 is a blend of these two platforms, and probably one of (if not the) most well thought out military rifle ever designed. Maybe I don’t have enough experience with the VZ, but that’s just my perception.

  16. avatarjuliany says:

    Hi all.
    To start, I’m in Canada. So no AK s here.
    So we have a huge number of surplus sks s coming in all the time, lucky us.
    They come quite inexpensive and well selected by our importers thankfully!
    I have a few, not to mention the ones I plan to purchase asap.
    Why??? I say why not.
    They eat cheap ammo, cost a fraction of an AK that I cannot have and can be turned in to some really cool rifle s if you are willing to spend some time and C$$$
    On an sks.
    I only go for the Russians.
    Never even shot a Chinese one.
    Just because!!!!
    The fact that we in Canada,
    are limited to 5 rounds per any self loading gun. The tapco mags are for looks only.
    They offer no benefit in the number of casing spiting out.
    They look good doh!
    I have nothing but good stuf to say all day about sks s.
    Buy and shoot one.
    You will love it.
    Vere accurate mostly. Chinese ones, I hear they are as well.
    Here at good old Canucks soils they go for about 200.00
    Any year refurbish from Mother Russia.
    I recommend any of the 50 s years.

    Have fun. Sks rules!

  17. avatarStan says:

    Im sorry, Ak>sks period. There is a reason why the AK prevailed the sks…..I like my heavy my70 Yugo zastava….feels like an sks BUT it also feels like you are going to send that shell out with a bang. Not to mention you can reload it fairly quickly…and it doesn’t have as much kick to it as an SKS..and you got 30 rounds to burn through(I only have surplus steel Romy/east german mags). And if you are really feeling it you can try getting a full auto license and get that 3rd pin installed in your receiver to make it full auto…if you got $$ to you can tacticool and AK with sights and rails/handguards…not the sks

  18. avatarronnie says:

    I have no clue as to which is better, i merley seek to correct tons of misleading, wrong, and just plain ignorant information posted here. You can get detachable mags for an sks, you CAN customize it, the same way as an ak in fact. (in america, i know not of a single firearm that isn’t fully customizeable) And the ability to speed load those detachable magazines with stripper clips is a luxury not found in an ak. Most sks’s have foldable bayonets making them much more than clubs during an extremley rare malfunction. I do not, nor have i ever owned either rifle, but my brother owned an ak for 4 years in which time i shot often, had great fun and really enjoyed the rifle. Recently my cousin purchased an sks with a detachable 30 round mag, tactical quad rails, a pistol grip, and a side folding adjustable stock. I find that this rifle is heavier, more accurate, kicks harder, and feels more manly than an ak. Overall i can’t make a definitive choice over the two as they are both extrordinary designs that have stood the test of time. I simply wanted to point out how wrong most of you were about the sks.

  19. avatarJoseph says:

    Well done article, I agree with most points presented. When I chose my rifle I initially leaned toward the AK. After looking at several I couldn’t stand how poorly and cheaply they were made. I am sure they are dependable, as their reputation is solid, but for mymoney the SKS was a better deal. I like solid metal and old style wood stocks, a Yugo SKS cost me $155 when I bought it, at the time the cheapest AK I could find cost $350. The AK in that price range was also rough, the SKS looked unissued. If I could cheaply and legally own a full auto AK I would have one, but that is not the case.

    • avatarnitrous_bob says:

      sorry you got to the game late. i love the SKS, but i dont own any “UGLY” or “ROUGH” AK’s
      im certain you were looking at romanian garbage imported and unnassembled/reassembled/dremel’d out by century arms AKA the WASR10/63 (or worse). i base this on the fact that a much superior SKS was sold for $125 when i was first buying them…and now a nice un-refurb TULA is selling for $600
      yugos werent around then anyways…just chinese and russian

      if you find this…(or any other polytech to be “rough”…then i apologize…your NOT an AK by any means)

  20. avatarRicko says:

    I think this is a dumb argument. If you watch all these nerdy youtube videos they do stupid stuff like work the action 10 times just to safety check and if you watch them shoot they flinch for the recoil before they even fire the weapon. Most ppl have to edit in little txt boxes because they got their info wrong the first time. How about do a review on a gun (thats been done about oh..1500 times already) when you can get you shit right the first time. I prefer the sks. just an opinion (stan, fanboi, and sinn1), ALL humans are entitled to one and just because you own a firearm does not make you an expert/know it all about any and all firearms ever produced. Get the AK out of ur asses.

    It all depends on what the shooter makes of the weapon, Look at Vasily Zaytsev; killed 200+ germans in downtown stalingrad with a 5 shot fixed mag mosin and lived to tell the tail. Lets see you do that. Its really annoying to try and search for valuable information about a fire arm and instead find countless arguments about which gun is better when it is evident that you have no idea about what your talking about other than what other “youtubers” told ya in a crappy “review” video. Its always *whah, no detachable mags, or “boo-hoo, can’t get a good cheek weld” just shoot the damn thing and become efficient with it and quit your bitching. Try having a father as a gunsmith and a grandfather as a decorated vietnam vet who will tell you that in the nasty mud and thick jungles in vietnam, half of the vietcong were found with sks’s in their hands as well as a few mosin’s too.

    As far as the AR goes…great design, but i feel as though the gun will fall apart if someone even looks at it wrong. Besides, who wants an extremely expensive high powered .22 basically when you can have sks or ak and be way much more ahead of the game.

    • avatarBR549 says:

      I wholeheartedly agree, particularly about the AR. Sure, it’s lighter (sometimes up to 60%) and one can have 35% more shots per pound of ammo carried, as opposed to the 7.62×39. The SKS’s design could very well have been around the near inexhaustible supply of warm bodies to step up to the plate to fire it, whereas in the US, we at least gave the illusion of having more appreciation (one would hope) for our own troops as individuals. Hard to say, but will we ever really know about which rifle was the better one in the long run?

      I used to have a Hobie Cat 16′ sailboat years ago. Having sailed for many many years, I had it all tricked out. It was a “high performance” craft, for sure, and it was light, but in the end, after 10 years of hard running, it was spent. All those tiny pieces just continued to wear out along with the big ones. It got to the point that it would have been cheaper to just get a new boat rather than try to rely on the old one by replacing a few worn parts. Meanwhile, there were other boats on bay that had been built 50 -100 years ago and they lasted FAR longer than the flash in the pan Hobie Cat. Those other vessels were built to be more rugged and their performance specs weren’t blown so far out of whack just because one part was starting to malfunction.

      Same thing with the SKS. I think it had been designed so that anyone new could just pick it up and continue the battle. In the long run, in a long term SHTF scenario, I think the SKS will outlast the AR simply out of durability. I never said it was pretty (although mine is looking rather sweet) but it’ll be around a lot longer than I, and I have both the AR and the SKS.

      My two cents.

  21. avatarGary says:

    I love my sks I run it with folding stock and detachable mags over 1000 rounds and no only one failure so far (a FTF caused by cheap Tula) to me this is a good fun range gun that I trust I don’t own an am but from my experience they are also great guns the stocks are a bit uncomfortable for me but reliability is great.Now as far as talking shtf and having to trust your life to your rifle I wouldn’t think twice about what I grab it would be my colt 6920 much more accurate just as reliable and easier to carry more ammo IMHO it is superior in almost all aspects.

  22. avatarRazor says:

    You are a bunch of fools. First the Sks saftey is not ambi! Im a lefty, its a bitch. Also if a stamped sheet metal AK receiver can handle full auto, my milled reciever SKS would also. It has a chrome lined bore. The rest is actually better than the AK. The SKS was cheap, thats why folks are ignorant about em, they cost more than and AK to make, yet are cheaper, although now, there are way more cheap stamped ak’s than SKS’s! The 7.63×39 round was first made and chambered for the SKS and as usual, it was made stronger than actually required. So, go play your video games….kids

  23. avatarEvan says:

    The sks may be a better RIFLE, but the AK is a better WEAPON.

  24. avatarMichael Kell says:

    I have nothing against the AK 47,nor do I promote the SKS. However I keep reading your SHTF remarks ….So, I’d like to put in my two cents… When it does hit the fan Its gonna be unlike anything most of us has ever seen. When it comes most all you macho boys will be the first to die. After the first few hours, or perhaps days most of the fire fights will be over, and most all those macho guys will be covered with flies rotting away. The people who will most likely survive will be those who can make every shot count from as far away as possible. Oh, but thats not macho is it? No, Its called smart, and smart people will live longer then you macho men… Accuracy is more important then how fast you fill the air with lead. Bullets that doesn’t hit anyone doesn’t kill anyone, and after their shot their gone. One well aimed shot is all it takes. Also, when it hits the fan, It’ll be here, where you’r at, NOT some fantasy land your picturing in your head…you wont be magically transported to some jungle, or desert, or range. You wont be coming back to try again, and again. It wont be a game…Your survival and your families survival will depend on how well think. How well you shoot, and what you shoot. Also, how few shots you have to make. Your ammo will be precious. It wont be lying around, so smart people wont waist it. You wont be carrying three or four rifles. Or not long anyway. You might carry two. A good semi auto rifle, and a good pump shotgun. You will want what shoots the most common ammo available, or be willing to carry a lot of ammo. You want a simple, high caliber, reliable, and accurate semi automatic long range rifle that kills rather then simply wound what you shoot, a good pump shot gun, a pistol, and a good knife. So maybe an SKS would do, but your AKs and (AR15s (what a joke)) are NOT what your gonna need when it does hit the fan… But then someone has to be macho…

    • avatarmolonlabe says:

      @ MIchael Kell: I agree with you in a lot of ways. However, I disagree with you, fundamentally. I carried an M16 in the service. I got my ‘scope and barrel’ at sniper school, though I was never called to act in that function. Finally, I live in MO.
      Here’s what I think: the AR is a versatile platform good for CQC, in and outs, patrols, defense when having to go on insertions for necessities. You can get it in a variety of calibers which is nice. You can create loadouts for it that will supplement your skills nicely so as to have that edge a hostile may not.
      If we want to focus on the 223/556 builds then we can say that it has little stopping power, you hit someone with they might not be dissuaded.

      You’re right, it’s about accuracy, trigger control, munitions conservation. One shot, one kill. If you send a 556 or 223 through the cranium of most people, you’ve stopped them. If we are going to talk accuracy, if you have an AR 223, accuracy can make up for the pure penetration the round is known for.
      However, you are wrong. Distance is not key. It is helpful in some situations but unless you are one of these “I’m so smart, I blew all my money on these top of the line spotting nocs and scope and I bought a Barret .50(oops, it’s the baby),” most threat assessment and reaction will be within a few hundred feet, not meters.
      Maybe you live on a plateau in the desert. Sure, in that case, you can see them for miles. However, unless they are actively engaging you, how will you determine at anything beyond a few hundred feet if you need to drop them with your $10,000 “kill them right at the curvature” setup?
      Long range, meaning you are incapable of making out the distinct shapes of their prominent body parts, is not really all that great for defense. Except the rare instances in which you KNOW the blob on the horizon is hostile and must be dealt with… long range is more likely to lead you to either get itchy and drop non-aggressives that, at worst, would have kept going and, best case, would want to offer their skills and they won’t affect your rations, et cetera, strength in numbers…

      Snipers are placed, typically, where hostiles are known to be or to frequent. They are used to, at least identify, most often to be a plan B and sometimes they are used to marginalize an interest that poses too much of a risk with an open or direct attempt.

      If you are looking to hold out, defend against unarmed or mostly unarmed groups and persons who wish to take your supplies… if you want to be able to handle any situation that a gun would be the tool of choice in a scenario in which you try to stay in one place and only leave and move around when something is needed.
      You want a round capable of inflicting damage because, in the event of a writhing mass of people, you may aim for a head and end up hitting an unrelated shoulder due to erratic movement. The 7.62×54 or the 308 are great at trauma. Because of the design of the bullet, especially when it reaches its tumble, it becomes a powerhouse of lead.

      However, the 7.62×39 is… capable of the same. It has less velocity and range so there may be a minute difference in trauma capability but both of them have the exact same bullet, at tumble, they both tear up. If they hit before tumble, the tumble usually begins with the soft tissues but loses velocity and so will not be as penetrative or inflict as much damage… just enough to ruin whatever body part you hit. So, now that we have cause to wonder if maybe it isn’t about a high powered round, rather, a round that has excellent design for damage and trauma in order to stop a hostile. Add precision to this mix and now it’s a traumatizing round in the head, the neck… perhaps Russian 7.62 can After all, more than half the world uses that caliber, both militarily and otherwise.

      Now, a common round is important. I would say an available or easily attained round. Well, let’s start with the obvious: more than half the world uses 7.62×39.
      Also, it is about 24-27 cents a round depending on the type, FMJ, HP, lead tip, CD…
      I would add or even raise above commonality that it is important the caliber you choose is a caliber you can afford and have several locations you can visit and that you buy ammo every time you can. Truthfully, being able to scavenge off friends or hostiles can be important when you are in that position but it is far better to simply stockpile before you start thinking about what ammo is best for when you start picking at the dead or, for some, raiding others.

      Now, before we go any further, let’s clarify that I live in not the plains part of Missouri, so everywhere not Northwest. We have woods. Everywhere. Vietnam vets have been known to compare Missouri growth and vegetation to Vietnam. We have mountains in the woods and plateaus in the woods and caves everywhere. We have valleys and plains. Swamps, all but a desert. We even have beaches. In Missouri, we know if you are from the plains or just not from here. You think of hunting as either shotguns and ducks or a long range rifle and a deer so far away you lose it when you put aren’t in your scope.

      We have shotgun season for deer. It is atypical to have an eyeline of more than a hundred feet in the woods. You only get longer views at the top of valleys, in the plains or in heavily residential or industrial areas like Saint Louis and the surrounding counties.
      You forgot one of the MOST important things you must always do to prepare for when the SHTF: prepare according to where you will be.
      The majority of your statement would be laughable here because if you buy a scope more than roughly 5x, you must be going sightseeing cause where are you looking in the woods that you can’t see what’s there with bare eyes or a couple magnifics?

      You also used a logical paradox to undermine the idea of the ComBlocs and the AR as what you would want for SHTF. If most people who swear by AKs and SKSs and ARs are failing to choose a common caliber yet most people are stupidly choosing the AKs, SKSs and ARs because they think it makes them badass or because they think accessories will make up for their lack of skill then that means most people seem to be using rifles using 7.62×39 even just in this little menagerie and that would mean that if you chose a different caliber than us you are ignoring your own advice.

      Once again, MOST COMMONLY used rifle and caliber in the world. It means the rounds are more than available.

      What really irks me isn’t your absolute confidence that you will survive and know what you are talking about but that you are so judgmental and less helpful and more “Stupid peasants, you will not survive the coming apocalypse, only those of us worthy shall, you wannabe Rambos…”

      I have an SKS in a bullpup. I intend to design and machine a breech brake for her here soon. She has a Vflat foregrip and a foldable vertical with a Red Dot( I want the EOTech Acog with integrated 3x flipover and quickrelease but… $1200 is a hit for me). The pup is a new platform for her so I am working out how I want to load her out but I’ll likely get some offsets so I can iron and scope as needed; exchange the polymer fold vertical for an aluminum with sprung bipod or a light holster and I may, just because lasers are so awesome, pick up a greenie to toss on there, lol. You can be sure, however, that she will be built to allow me to smack someone at the edge of the natural visibility of the area and easily switch to deal with someone within spitting distance and easily adapt to dark or open ground to CQC, et cetera.
      I intend to get the new AK12 gauge.
      I have a Glock Gen 3 40.
      I will be picking up an AK74 with wrist brace, also Russian 7.62 so now I am sharing my own ammo.
      I have 4 pieces from SOG, my hatchet, my machete, my 6 inch fixed and my 4 inch fold.
      I buy a spam can of my Ruskie ammo every month and I always make sure I have at least 4 reloads for my 4 standard mags, i.e., I can reload my Glock 15 times in total, 3 at all times.

      Just to address the assertion that you would want to have a shotgun and a LR/HP rifle slung at all times… what you are saying is that you are going to carry with you approximately 25-40 pounds of firearms plus their specific ammo in addition to other gear and whatever supplies you are gathering, moving, et cetera?
      Let’s say that’s fine. Here’s a problem, you have a LR/HP rifle, this translates into you can use it at intermediate range if you’d like and it’ll be fine against one or two threats but if you have 6 threats gunning at you from 100 yards away and it takes an average healthy person roughly a minute or so to cross that distance(assuming they aren’t just armed and shooting), what are you going to do?
      Is your shotgun rifled and so you will toss sabats at them when they close too much to justify the slower fire rate and lack of mobility of using the rifle that you are currently firing from the shoulder while standing and or moving?
      Is it smooth bored so you can fling shot at them to try and one shot multiple targets? Are you also carrying rifled slugs to have the intermediate/close distance covered as well and do you have the different rounds readily available in a manner in which you know exactly what you are throwing down the barrel?
      Do you intend to act as the sole defender of your family or do you have a group of at least two or three people that you would partner with so you can use unit tactics and spread the loadouts instead of trying to be the renaissance man of firepower?

      Not to be facetious, it sounds like you’re the Rambo here. You are acting as if anyone here who feels the SKS, AK or AR is a legitimate go to weapon is some foolish TV survivalist. You’re going to be carrying two heavier weapons, neither of which can truly be said to be a legitimate defensive weapon in all conditions. The shotgun would be helpful at the edge of close ranges if you have shot or good at close intermediate ranges if it rifled but then you lose the ability to spray the close range with shot.

      Even more intriguing to me is that you call ARs a joke yet they are an incredible successful platform for a great number of years, since they came out portrayed as the sportsman’s rifle. It works. It is versatile and adaptable You can change out calibers so if you run out of 223, go to 556. Out of that? NO worries, the guy you shot has a pouch of 308, good to go, got that caliber for the AR as well. It allows for whatever loadout you may need and, more than that, it is essentially the stateside version of the M platform which has the same ‘dirt really fucks with me’ problem because of precision machining and yet are the rifles that seem to be capable to win fights, battles and wars around the world. It is accurate well to the end of intermediate and even has the capability, with the right shooter, to be capable at long range as well as short range. CQC encounters meet with the same versatility and accuracy as open field. And, considering you said precision and accuracy are key then… that means the AR is your friend at the 223/556 level. Without a lot of modification and money and even time, getting larger rounds to be half as accurate at the same rate of fire in subsequent shots is not a fruitful endeavor. Firing a 223 allows you to have such little lift that reacquiring is nearly instantaneous.

      BUT IT HAS NO STOPPING POWER!!! Ok Rambo. But I assure you, put that 223 in a head and the body will stop. Oh, and since the AR is so popular and since 223/556 are the calibers most readily affordable to everyone, that means that, as with Ruskie 7, a ton of people have these calibers which makes it… dun dun duh dun… common. It is simply that stores put a limit on purchasing and hoard their stock, especially during political discussions about guns. They do this to make sure they have it just in case something happens, they do this to try to maintain a stock throughout a gun grab scare so they don’t have to buy more stock at marked up prices, they do it to ensure their preferred customers and, to a degree, all customers, have access to at least a few rounds of it every couple days. More than that, they do it because they know that there are four rounds that most everyone has one or both: most people have an SKS, AK, AR, .22lr and/or a 12g.

      As far as handguns, if I had to guess I’d say 9 is the most popular with 44 next, then 38, 40 then 45. Just guessing here, I wanted to sound awesome. I damn near know 9 is the most owned hg caliber. So, get out there and get that nine.

      Now, let me tell you what an ideally prepped and sufficiently trained in survival person would love to have in an SHTF scenario:

      Locations within a half hour running distance of their most frequented spots. At least two different ‘bug out’ spots. These spots would ideally be such that they are easily defended and, at a minimum, one person can hold off hostiles for a time but they will also have fallback capability in the event that the exterior portals are breached.
      On them at all times will be an intermediate or short rifle such as an AR, AK, bullpup designs, NO bolt actions and they must be properly configured so as to negate as much lift and weight as possible as well as rear end recoil. Likely they would have more than one of the same rifle with different loadouts in order to have the capability to optimize their technological edge to supplement the skills they have.

      The rifles will need to be able to load a moderate number of rounds at once, ideally also capable of higher capacities and absolutely no drums. Most likely they would have multiple of each preferred everywhere they go rifle. It would need to be light and versatile in any instance, CQC to distance no matter the environment, weather or geography. It would be a caliber that is commonly used and there would be stockpiles in his bug out spots but rounds scavenged from hostiles who were ‘dumb’ enough to carry the same, common, weapon or caliber will be used first provided it is not poor, otherwise it is last resort ammo.

      They will have a bo bag and they will want their total non body weight to be less than half of their weight.You weigh 200? You want it to be no more than 100lb but you really want to keep it down below the 80 lb mark even at 2-300 lb. The lighter your weapons, the more survival gear you have. They will want to have enough loaded magazines, 20-30 rounds each, for one in the well and 3-5 on their belt, rig, clipped mag shelf on their butt stock.
      They’ll never go anywhere without a blade, preferably fixed and no less than 4 inches. Minimum of 20 feet of some kind of rope or cord such as paracord would be on them
      Tourniquets, bandages, various non narcotic pain killers with a small supply of certain narcotic pain killers such as Vicodin since it isn’t typical to create lethargy and the high that can result is manageable but, ideally, if needed, you would only take the bare minimum to take the edge off, not erase the pain.

      Now, Mike, I just want to say that how you prepare and plan to handle a situation is up to you. You know best what you need where you are and, hopefully, you have some knowledge or experience that you let help guide you in this. Perhaps you are seeing something I don’t with a shotgun and a LRHP rifle as your carries/defensive arms.
      I’ll tell you, the only reason I went to the trouble to sound just dickish enough to notice it is because you felt the need to dog everyone who thinks differently than you about AKs, SKSs and because you felt that everyone talking about SHTF were just web survivalists who don’t know shit and, well, the truth is, you don’t know shit about the people here.

      I think it’s ludicrous to carry a shotgun outside of your location, I think it’s ludicrous to think a LRHP rifle is a superior rifle for defense and for movement. I think you are sorely mistaken on what you think the AK, SKS and AR are all about and instead you just see them as the result of the ‘badass nobodies’ who get an AK because all the rappers talk about them or get an AR to be tacticool.

      There is a reason the AK is used by military, militias and the like. There’s a reason police carry ARs, there’s a reason ARs have been popular so long and why so many of us that have lived it, done it have one or would like to. Yes, they jam. Keep it clean. Beyond that, there’s nothing wrong with them. Making fun of having all the modulation is like making fun of MOLLE systems. Disregarding AKs as legitimate rely on weapons is like disregarding Jeep as the rulers of the crawl.

    • avatarDannyboy says:

      Firearms and ammo are without a doubt very important in the SHTF scenario, however food is equally critical in my humble opinion. I have a neighbor that has approximately 35-40 arms (rifles, pistols & shotguns) and over 10,000 rounds of ammo for all calibers, yet he has zero food, water, medical supplies, etc.

      I find this line of thinking to be incredibly deficient!

  25. avatarDannyboy says:

    In my opinion it is simply a matter of preference. Using the capabilities of a carbine/rifle to the best of the shooters’ ability is all that counts. As we all know every firearm has its limits in one aspect or another. Both firearms are close enough alike from a ballistic standpoint that it’s hardly worth “writing home about” when considering engaging a target at the ranges they were developed or intended for.

    My wife has an AK and an SKS, I have an SKS also and we prefer the SKS. We have nothing bad to say about the AK, we simply prefer the SKS as it’s capabilities and operation fits our concept of usage.

    We use Tapco 20 round magazines and have no problems with their function. I suppose one might say we were fortunate in that respect! We are both former Peace Officers and I was a soldier so we are familiar with firearms and shooting.

    As I see it, “to each his own”!

  26. avatarWayniackt says:

    Great article. I’ve owned both AK’s and SKS’ and I now only have a couple of SKS’.
    I think anyone should own and shoot what you like, but the SKS just makes sense to me.

    In thinking like a prepper the SKS cant be beat. Anything with a magazine will be a liability IMHO in a survival situation. My prepper rifles are lever/bolt actions and the SKS as they will be much easier to keep running in the land goes dark. This is the same reason I like revolvers vs. semis. I have both and love shooting both, but in the dark, I don’t want to deal with a bunch of mags that will be harder to keep up with and eventually fail.

    Again, YMMV and everyone should have guns they like and have fun with too. It’s not always about SHTF.

  27. avatar2bit says:

    What is this “class 3 license”? I’ve only ever heard of NFA tax stamps. Unless your referring to FFL SOT folk…

  28. avatarixmily says:

    All this what interesting to read. I have an sks and i love it. Tapco mags and stock love it. Clean rifle (i clean it a lot) ,never slamfired, fte, ftf, etc. Cheap good ammo, around 5$ for a box of 20 in Idaho. Love it. Ak may have cheap staped body and all but in all the sks is cheaper to own. And let face it people the Russian made them both reliable. The ar is a bullseye killer and the Russian just want u dead. i love the smell of gunpowder so i go to the ranger and shoot some targets better my aim and inhale my 2nd amendment. (Inhale) God bless America.

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