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The Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Posted by: Dale Franks on Monday, August 21, 2006

It's still alive, here in California, although it's not at all well. Today—finally—I got to bring home my new Samozaryadnyi Karabin Simonova M59/66, after a long, ten-day wait.

SKS Carbine, right-hand side
Right side of the rifle. Each of the floor tiles is 12".

SKS Carbine, left-hand side
Left side of the rifle

SKS Carbine, night sights
I was surprised to see that this SKS has had night sights installed. Sometime around 1980, apparently, the Yugoslav government investigated the use of flip-up tritium sights for low-light shooting. The night sights in both the front and rear flip up to cover the front and rear day sights.

SKS Carbine, rear sight
The rear sight is adjustable for elevation. Each number represents 100 meters, so the elevation is theoretically adjustable to 1000 meters. This is wildly optimistic, to say the least. You'd be doing good to hit a target accurately at 300m with the 7.62x39 round. Immediately behind the rear sight, you can see the front of the bolt carrier, with its stripper clip guides for reloading, and the charging handle.

SKS Carbine, grenade launcher sights
This is the sight for the integral grenade launcher, which, on my rifle, has been replaced by a muzzle brake, in order to make it legal in California, where grenade launchers are banned. The Yugoslav version of the SKS is the only model with this feature. Immediately behind the sight, you can see a little button on top of the gas tube. This is the top of the gas operation selector lever, which allows the user to block the gas operation when firing grenades. If you forget to set this little lever to the proper position, the SKS turns into a bolt-action rifle.

SKS Carbine, bayonet extended
The is the SKS with the integral bayonet flipped out to the extended position. It's a cool looking bayonet, but it's very dull. You couldn't stop a hamster with it.

I was surprised at the condition of the rifle. A lot of times, surplus rifles are covered in cosmoline. but, the importer apparently cleaned it out when they modified it to make it California legal. It had been excessively oiled, so a lot of dust had been picked up on the outside, and fused with the oil to turn into grime, but the interior parts were all very clean, the barrel rifling is sharp, and the inside of the barrel unpitted, and glassy smooth. The stock had a lot of discoloration from handling over the years, to the extent that parts of it were a chocolate brown, and a there are a couple of dings on the hand guard. For the most part, though, the rifle was in excellent shape, clean, and well-maintained.

I stripped it apart, and soaked all the parts in lacquer thinner, and used the lacquer thinner to clean off the stock as well. The thinner really brightened up the stock with a minimum of buffing, and got all the greasy schmutz off the exterior parts. After that, I ran a bore brush and some patches through her, re-oiled everything, and put her back together.

For just two hours of cleaning, she looks very nice. The stock could use a bit more work, i.e., some sanding and oiling, but the mechanical bits are in excellent shape. I may just replace the stock with a lighter, composite stock, though. I haven't decided. The wood is heavier, but it has more character, and really good feel. On the other hand, a composite stock would have a comfy recoil pad. I haven't decided.

I am very happy with the rifle overall, and I can't wait to take her out to the range later this week, and put a few hundred rounds through her to see how she does.
 
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Are the tritium vials in the sights still bright enough to actually use? Tritium’s half-life is about 12 years so you might want to check that out if you haven’t already.

The SKS is probably one of the best buys on the gun market today. Like most Russian designed small arms, they’re not amazingly accurate, but are very reliable. They’re also inexpensive despite being made of forged components unlike modern guns. I’d keep the wood though. The weight difference between it and a quality composite stock won’t be that significant and wood maintains the classic appearance of the gun. That’s useful if you ever want to sell it or ever have to use it in defense.

A better modification than a new stock is to alter it to accept external AK-47 mags, but I don’t think you have that option in California. A scope is also nice if your eyes are as bad as mine, unfortunately mounting a scope to an SKS isn’t that easy if I recall correctly.

Anyway, nice purchase and happy shooting.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
Are the tritium vials in the sights still bright enough to actually use?
Actually, no. They’re pretty dim. You can see ’em, if its really dark, but if it’s that dark, you won’t be able to see the target anyway.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Advice that may be worth what you paid for it: If you intend to sharpen that bayonet, have it professionally done the first time. Removing large amounts of edge material is something not usually very well done by amatures. (yes, I do love my chef’s knives. Thanks for asking.)

-Gil
 
Written By: Gil
URL: http://
If you really like the concept of night sights, then you can probably have new vials put in for a reasonable fee (~$20). Or you could just forget about it since they’ll probably break if the gun ever gets any hard knocks (like dropping it on the ground).
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
Re: bayonet ... I’d leave it alone. On those sorts of weapons with integral bayonets, the bayonet is a piercing weapon, not a cutting weapon.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"Oily schmutz" is this a term of the Gunmakers Art? Neat weapon, piece of history. Good luck and have fun with it.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
External magazines for my SKS are a definite no-no in California. It has enough "evil features" that an external mag of any type would transform it into an illegal assault weapon. And, in any event, no box magazines holding more than 10 rounds are legal anyway. I can load the internal 10-round magazine with stripper clips as fast as I could change a box magazine.

McQ, I know the integral bayonet is a stabbie thingie, instead of a cutty thingie. But the stabby, pointy bit is all dull and stuff. Although, I’m sure it’d raise a welt, and leave a nasty bruise.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
I knew you knew that Dale, I said it for the benefit of other who may not. And hey, unless you plan on using it, dull may be a good thing in CA.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Nice weapon. I didn’t realize that any external mag would convert an SKS into an "assault" weapon. How did the Mini-14 manage to escape the ban?
 
Written By: Xrlq
URL: http://xrlq.com/
The Mini-14 doesn’t have a flash supressor. My Yugo SKS does. An SKS without a flash supressor probably could use a 10-round box magazine legally.

PC 12276.1 defines a rifle as an assault weapon as follows: (1) A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following: (A) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon. (B) A thumbhole stock. (C) A folding or telescoping stock. (D) A grenade launcher or flare launcher. (E) A flash suppressor. (F) A forward pistol grip.

The Yugoslav SKSs replace the grenade launcher—which is an automatically illegal "Destructive device"—with a flash supressor. That makes any detachable mag illegal for my SKS.

None of the other models of the SKS have a flash supressor. As far as I know, no model of the Mini-14 comes with a flash supressor.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
It’s a fun gun to shoot. You’ll enjoy it.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
As far as I know, no model of the Mini-14 comes with a flash supressor.
Yup. They just have a crowned barrel from the factory. A lot of people like to put flash suppressors and other muzzle devices on them, mostly because the mini-14 barrels suck and need all the help they can get.
"Oily schmutz" is this a term of the Gunmakers Art?
I guess if they’re gunsmiths affiliated with the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.

Oh one other thing, Dale. It might be wise to stock up on 7.63x39 now if you intend to shoot it much. US supplies are heavily dependent on imports since nobody makes it domestically. Rumor has it that prices will be going up soon.

A lot of the imported surplus will also be steel core. It isn’t technically armor piercing, but it’s close. Depending where you shoot, steel core might not be allowed because it eats the backstops. One guy brought his SKS with a bunch of surplus ammo to my local range and he couldn’t shoot any of it. He got off a couple of rounds before the range officers made him stop and checked his ammo. He wasn’t happy, but he understood when the ROs told him about his rounds shooting sparks across the bullet trap.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
7.62x39 "brass" is usually not reloadable, for those who care. Steel cases, Berdan primers, lacquer coating.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
A scope is also nice if your eyes are as bad as mine, unfortunately mounting a scope to an SKS isn’t that easy if I recall correctly.
If you can see well enough to focus on the front sight post you don’t need a scope. When using iron sites you should have a clear front sight post centered in the rear sight appeture aiming center mass on a fuzzy target. People who focus on the target instead of the front sight post generally create a pattern on the target resembling a shotgun blast instead of a tight group.

Happy shooting
 
Written By: Mac
URL: http://
I have a friend who uses the SKS as his deer rifle. The 7.62 x 39 is ballistically similar to the 30-30 and the 32 Special traditionally used in the Wisconsin woods. He uses the fold-down bayonet as a stand while setting up his blind and surveying the area - he sticks it in the ground.
 
Written By: triticale
URL: http://triticale.mu.nu
A scope is also nice if your eyes are as bad as mine, unfortunately mounting a scope to an SKS isn’t that easy if I recall correctly.
I’m way ahead of you. There is an excellent scope mount that replaces the rear leaf sight from Scout Scopes. It has a standard weaver rail, and also has a rear leaf sight built into the base, if you want to remove the scope. Easy installation, fixed to an immovable part of the receiver, all around good deal.

I also bought a Barska Electro Sight. It’s a red-dot reflex sight, not a scope. You’ll never turn an SKS into a sniper rifle, so I went with that instead of a scope. The Barska sight has unlimited eye relief, and unrestricted field of view.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Mr. Franks:

You’ll enjoy shooting the SKS. The 7.62x39 round is ballistically equivalent to a .30-30 Winchester, and the pointed tips actually give it slightly better velocity past 100 yards. I’ve taken two deer with mine, and one with a Ruger Mini-30 in the same caliber.

If you prefer a more traditional scope mount and don’t mind permanently altering the receiver, Choate Machine & Tool makes a Weaver-type rail mount that requires drilling and tapping the receiver. It also allows for the removal of the bolt carrier and bolt for cleaning, and a short scope still allows the use of strippers for fast reloading. On the other hand, that Yugo looks awfully nice. I’m currently in the process of chopping up one of my cheap Chinese SKS’s to mount a scope using this.

I concur with the others on the detachable magazine; even if it were California-legal, they don’t work very well. The 10-round fixed magazine works extremely well with the SKS strippers.

A huge variety of mail-order sources sell the inexpensive but reliable (and accurate) Wolf 122-grain HP ammo. I’ve got a CZ 527 bolt-action in this caliber, and it will punch a 1" group with this cheap steel-cased stuff. My wife once printed her first 3-round group of the day from that rifle into a cloverleaf covering about 3/4" of an inch (and then it was my turn, and I punched out a 4" group, just to show her how to not do it).

With my disintegrating eyesight and need for bifocals, it’s extremely difficult for me to focus on the front sight and even see a reasonably-size bullseye at 100 yards. Getting old sucks.
 
Written By: blackwing1
URL: http://
Get a set of Wolff springs for that thing, they help a lot.

Does it really need a flash hider? My Russian mod 45 doesn’t have one, and flash has never been an issue.

I’d go with a red dot sight..
 
Written By: briankk
URL: http://
Does anyone have or know of a website where the Wolf 7.62x39mm rounds can be found cheaper then 85 bucks/500 rounds?

You’ll love the gun man... makes a decent deer rifle, and once you mount your scope, its performance is close enough to any deer or target rifle that you’d spend 800 bucks on.

Thanks!
 
Written By: Erik White
URL: http://
Cabela’s sells Wolf ammo in bulk for $80 for 500 rounds, or $154 for 1,000 rounds.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Does it really need a flash hider? My Russian mod 45 doesn’t have one, and flash has never been an issue.
Whether it needs it or not is not the issue. The importer has permanentlyaffixed one by welding it on. I can’t remove it.

Besides, it looks a lot like the original grenade launcher—intentionally so, I suspect—so I probably wouldn’t want to remove it anyway.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
You’ll love the gun man... makes a decent deer rifle, and once you mount your scope, its performance is close enough to any deer or target rifle that you’d spend 800 bucks on.
And I would want to kill an animal, why, exactly?
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
You’d want to kill a deer because:

- Venison, when properly butchered, aged, and prepared, is one of the finest tasting meats on the planet.
- Venison is naturally devoid of antibiotics or growth hormones.
- Venison is an extremely lean red meat, rich in nutrients.

But mostly because, if you eat meat, killing it yourself allows you to fully participate in the process without any hypocrisy.

Or, as the rather crude phrase puts it, "I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to eat salads."
 
Written By: blackwing1
URL: http://
Or, as the rather crude phrase puts it, "I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to eat salads."
I didn’t fight my way to the top of the economic pyramid to butcher my own meat. I also don’t grow my own corn, either.

Hypocrisy has nothing to do with it.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Many things are more satisfying when done personally. Even if messy/annoying. One of those many things is defending your liberty, of course.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
Venison, when properly butchered, aged, and prepared, is one of the finest tasting meats on the planet.

Then the venison I’ve had lacked this treatment. Care to provide some tips?

-Gil
 
Written By: Gil
URL: http://
Gil:

Here’s a good primer on preparing your venison, "From Field to Table":

http://www.askthemeatman.com/pdf%20files/Venison_From_Field_To_Table_010504.pdf#search=%22ageing%20venison%22

I can’t claim to be any kind of a cook, but my brother-in-law is a great one. The best cut, of course, are the loins, and venison loins on the grill couple with a good dry red wine can’t be beat.

There are always the braised roasts, and even barbequed ribs (not much meat, but great flavor.

Venison bourguignonne is probably one of the best ways to use the less flavorful cuts, and my wife has perfected a venison/okra stew (it’s based on a traditional Macedonian beef or lamb stew with okra).

The way I used to make venison burger was to mix in beef and pork fat with the scraps when grinding it. Venison is so lean that if you simply grind it and use the meat for burgers or meatloaf it will be dry, nasty, and tasteless. The little bit of beef fat (for juiciness) and pork fat (for extra flavoring) makes it even better than ground beef. I’m not much into sausages, but that’s another popular way to enjoy venison.

IMHO, most of the "gamy" flavor that people complain about comes from either bad dressing practices or bad preparation, or both. Cooling the carcass as soon as possible, and absolute cleanliness when field dressing (gutting) are the keys to good venison. Here in Minnesnowta, the rifle deer season usually starts at the beginning of November. Cooling a carcass isn’t typically an issue (2 years ago I was trudging through a foot of snow in sub-zero temperatures, but it’s not usually that bad).

Mr. Franks, I certainly didn’t mean to imply that you personally were being hypocritical. I just get upset with the variety of people who think that meat comes from the supermarket on little trays wrapped in plastic, and think that it’s terribly brutal to kill a deer. I usually ask them if it’s better to see them hit by cars (a problem with the expanding deer herds in many areas), or if it’s kinder to watch them pulled down, torn apart, and eaten alive by a pack of coyotes than to drop in their tracks with a well-placed shot.
 
Written By: blackwing1
URL: http://
Good to hear the C96 is being used for Deer Hunting! I am planning on using mine to harvest a few deer if possible. My typical shooting distance is out to about 75 yds. max., so the round should do the trick as long as my shot is placed correctly. All your previous positive points about killing deer are true and accurate. If you’ve never had deer tenderloin, (marinated & left out to sit for half a day) on the grill, you are really missing out! You can leave that deer lying around all day out of the refrig. and it won’t get bacteria like beef or any other meat rich in fat content. You get sick from the fat, not the meat itself.
 
Written By: Mark McSwain
URL: http://

 
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