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SKS Update
Posted by: Dale Franks on Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Well, after two weeks, my SKS is finally ready to take to the range. My dad is coming out from Albuquerque this weekend, and we're gonna take it out to the range, zero it in, and burn a couple hundred rounds.

What kept me from taking it earlier, after I got it all cleaned up, was the sights. The standard SKS sights have an incredibly small notch in the rear leaf sight, which is bad enough. But what's even worse is that the rifle has a tiny, hair-thickness front post sight. I found that, if I was aiming at anything other than a white background, I would just lose the front post. It would simply disappear. And if you can't focus on the front post sight, then you aren't gonna hit jack.

So, I wanted something better. I wanted a reflex sight. The question is, where do you mount it? Indeed, how do you mount it?

Scope and sight mounts for the SKS come mainly in two varieties. Neither of them is very suitable.

The first type of mount has to be affixed onto the lower receiver, which means disassembling the rifle, and drilling and tapping the receiver itself. That's just a non-starter. My drill is a 12-volt cordless Black and Decker. It's a great drill for carpentry, but you aren't going to poking too many holes in forged steel with it.

The second type is a mount that is affixed to a replacement receiver cover. That's a non-starter, too, since it would be difficult to zero the sight, and even if you did, it would quickly lose zero. The receiver cover moves every time you shoot the rifle. It isn't firmly affixed to the receiver. It slides through a slot, and is held on with a retaining pin. Moreover, using one of those mounts would mean I'd have to jettison the heavy duty, milled Yugoslav cover and replace it with a stamped metal one. Also, because most scopes will stick out over the ejection path when the round is ejected, you have to buy some sort of round deflector, so that the brass won't go pinging off your scope with every shot.

Fortunately, after much searching, I found the perfect scope/sight mount for the SKS. It's from a company called ScoutScopes, in Cedar Park, TX. This scope mount replaces the front leaf site, and is affixed to the sight mount of the rifle. That gives it the rock-solid base a scope or sight needs, and, if you remove the mount for cleaning, it returns to zero when you remount it. The mount has a standard Weaver Rail, which allows you to mount just about any kind of scope or sight onto it.

After searching around a bit more, I found a Barska reflex sight for a reasonable price. It was exactly what I wanted.

So I ordered them both, and waited around for a week until they came via UPS. When mounted on the SKS, they look like this:

Yugoslavian SKS M59/66, with ScoutScope mount and Barska Reflex Sight
The sight is mounted immediately behind the front hand guard. It doesn't break up the rifle's outline much, which I like, since it preserves the classic lines of the SKS. It also keeps the ejection port completely clear, which means the sight won't get dinged with hot brass, and the brass won't bounce back down into the ejection port, causing a jam.

Close-up of the SKS sight mounting
The one drawback to this mount is that it must be removed for cleaning, although that only takes a few minutes. And, if you follow the procedure for removing and remounting, the sight will automatically be zeroed back in.

A brief explanation of the reflex sight might be useful for the uninitiated.

Traditional iron sights can be pretty accurate at reasonable ranges, but they require practice to use properly. There is a rear sight that is close to the eye, and usually consists of a notch or a peephole. The front sight is near the end of the weapon's barrel, and usually consists of an upright post, or metal blade, which, when viewed from the rear, looks like a post.

To use iron sights, you have to align one eye with both sights, in order to get an accurate sight picture. The sight picture should look like this:

Proper sight picture with iron sights

But, that's a bit of a pain. You have to tilt your head over to the side. You have to try to keep your cheek placed at the same spot on the stock every time. And the sights keep moving around. It might be difficult to focus on the front sight if the target is dark. And, of course, in low light conditions...well, you're basically pointing and shooting by guesswork because you probably can't see the sights at all.

A reflex sight, on the other hand, uses an entirely different principle. The reflex sight projects an aiming reticle—usually a red dot or crosshair—from a diode onto a lens. Diodes emit light in a very narrow wavelength band, so the lens is specially coated with a material that is opaque to the light wavelength the diode uses, but transparent to all other wavelengths. The lens is also curved to always keep the same parallax between the diode's image in the lens, and the point where the bullet will strike. This means that, as long as you can see the reticle in the lens, no matter what your head position, the bullet will strike the aiming point at the distance for which the rifle is sighted.

This means you don't have to squint down a precise sight path. It also means you don't have to close one eye, and lose half of your vision. Instead, you can keep both eyes open, and point the rifle at the target until the reticle is covering the point you want the bullet to strike. This is especially valuable in combat situations, because you get to keep all of your peripheral vision, which means much greater situational awareness, and less target fixation. And, at night, you have a bright, usable sight, because there is no light projected anywhere other than the lens. No light is reflected at your enemy, giving away your position. Moreover, because reflex sights have unlimited eye relief, they are equally useful on both rifles and pistols.

These advantages are why the military is switching over to reflex and holographic sights for all of their small arms.

So, on the SKS, the reflex sight looks like this:

Reflex sight for the SKS, seen from the rear
Here, we're focused on the sight itself, to give you an idea how it looks from the shooter's point of view.

Reflex sight picture
Here, we're looking at the sight picture the shooter actually sees when aiming. The tree is nice and clear, as is the aiming reticle. The sight itself, on the other hand, just fades away, leaving you with a good view of both your target, and the surrounding environment.

So, I've been waiting for over two weeks to take this thing out and shoot it. I'm really ready to get to the range and see how she shoots.

 
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Comments
Ahh, a father and son shooting outing. Good stuff. I took my 8-year old shooting for the first time a couple of weeks ago. He did great and I was proud of him (and he enjoyed it immensely). I have just purchased a Ruger P345 and should receive it by the end of next week. Speaking of which, and I have nothing against purchasing foreign-made firearms, Ruger’s Mini Thirty is chambered for 7.62x39, is cost effective and made in the USA. I’ll gladly own a quality firearm made anywhere, but lean toward those made by U.S. workers.

Speaking of foreign firearms, why not reach down into that vast pile of cash that is the Q and O expense fund and purchase a FN P90, then try it out and offer your thoughts? ;)
 
Written By: Joab
URL: http://bbfaith.blogspot.com
The lens is also curved to always keep the same parallax between the diode’s image in the lens, and the point where the bullet will strike.
Actually this isn’t always the case. Many of the cheap reflex and red-dot sights are not parallax corrected. That means you need to look through the middle of the sight to get the proper POA. Cheaper sights remove the lens curvature for ease of manufacturing, which is why some red dots costs hundreds of dollars and others cost $30-50.

The real advantage to them isn’t parallax anyway. It is that the red dot is located on the same focal plane as the target (as you show in the last pictures). With the red dot you can focus on the target and the sight at the same time instead of irons where you can do one or the other. The former is a lot better and requires much less training.

Let us know how the Barska works out though. I need something to stick on my AR-15’s flat top and a moderately priced red dot would be great.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
I don’t know whether it’s sad or hilarious, but the mount and sight together cost nearly the same as my SKS did. Still, not bad - about $220 for the whole package.
 
Written By: JohnS
URL: http://
For my AR flat top (an M4gery) I’m gonna go with Eotech, so I can pretend to be high speed, low drag. The other alternative is Aimpoint (the choice of the US Army), which has the advantage of very long battery life.

Joab,

AR15.com has discussed the P90 from time to time:

http://www.ar15.com/forums/forum.html?b=1&f=5

The small caliber round from the P90 is lacking for serious usage is my major take away. You can find excellent info on wound ballistics on AR15.com:

http://www.ar15.com/forums/forum.html?b=3&f=16

I post there as DonS.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Dale!

I don’t know how many rifles you have, but one of these can pay for itself in saved ammo when it comes to sighting in optics if you have to do it frequently enough:

http://www.opticsplanet.net/aimlasborsig.html

And I don’t know, is it the time of year or what? Here’s what I’ve been fixating on for the last three weeks:

Karabiner

Yeah, it’s bolt action, only holds six rounds and uses a funky Swiss ammo that shoots like a hot loaded 30-06, but hey, I needed an excuse to get into reloading anyway. I’m trying to talk my wife into letting me get us both one so we have something to do other than getting fatter watching Law and Order reruns as we get older. My heart is so set on this rifle that I’m even willing to make the tradeoff of taking Samba lessons. Lord help me.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
The Karabiner, or Swiss K-31, is an awesome rifle.
It’s bolt-action, but it’s straight pull, making it quicker than the average bolt-action.
They floated the barrel. Tolerances are tight. It would cost you $2000 to have a rifle built to the same specs today. It is so accurate, you can use it effectively out to 400 yds with open/iron sights. If you want a civilian sniper rifle, this is probably the best choice.

And there’s a good chance that the name/address of the last reservist to own the rifle is under the buttplate.

Any and ALL surplus ammo you can find for it will have both reloadable brass and non-corrosive primers.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
Sighting in: you can get a quick "zero" by laying a rifle on sandbags with the bolt removed. Look through the bore and then adjust the sights so that they correspond with whatever the bore is aimed at. I do this with ARs by removing the lower and bolt (bolt carrier, etc.). For a proper zero, you have to shoot, and shoot lots, from position (you can’t get a proper zero for prone by shooting off a bench).
it’s straight pull, making it quicker than the average bolt-action.
I don’t have much experience with straight pulls myself (unless you consider my Garand, FAL, AR, etc., as straight pulls with extra parts like op rods and gas tubes), but the few times gun rags measured the speed of straight pull vs turn bolt, the turn bolt won.
If you want a civilian sniper rifle, this is probably the best choice.
It isn’t too hard for a civilian to get the equivelent of the USMC M40A1 or USA M24 sniper rifles, and a lot of other cool long range arms besides those. Typically civilians have had the best sniper rifles.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
The Karabiner, or Swiss K-31, is an awesome rifle.
It’s bolt-action, but it’s straight pull, making it quicker than the average bolt-action.
They floated the barrel. Tolerances are tight. It would cost you $2000 to have a rifle built to the same specs today. It is so accurate, you can use it effectively out to 400 yds with open/iron sights. If you want a civilian sniper rifle, this is probably the best choice.
Stop it! Stop it! GET THEE BEHIND ME!!! =8^]

The cheapest ammo out there for this rifle is the actual Swiss milsurp, but it uses Berdan primers. I think I’m just going to get the tool necessary to deprime Berdans and reload the Swiss casings, what the heck.

The K-31 surplus rifles are infamous for having beat up stocks, but check out what these two guys did with them. The first two pictures in the thread show the original stock, and the second show the refinish job. The third pictures show another guy’s refinish job. Look at that middle picture and tell me that this isn’t a truly beautiful rifle:

Link
It isn’t too hard for a civilian to get the equivelent of the USMC M40A1 or USA M24 sniper rifles, and a lot of other cool long range arms besides those. Typically civilians have had the best sniper rifles.
Sure, if money was no object I’d get one of these babies and be done with it. But I want to get this Swiss rifle looking good and with decent optics for <$300.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
There is no:

Good optics < $300.

M14 clones are nice, but they are not the best platform for a sniper or long range rifle. You can get a true 1 moa accuracy out of them, but then they shoot loose quickly and accuracy drops; the USMC competiton shooters would have their M1A match rifles rebedded after only 700 or 800 rounds, then rebarreled and rebuilt after another 700-800 rounds. And eventually, USAMU still kicked their ass with AR15s.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I currently shoot my AR in matches at 300, 600 and 800 yards. The matches I attend are usually practice type matches (informal, scores not always recorded). I have shot in the Creedmore Cup a couple of times:

http://www.creedmoorsports.com/store/home.php

At some point I will go to some sort of dedicated long range rifle. It likely will be a target rifle, although I could go the F-class rout (i.e., scope and bipod). For now, I’ll continue to play with the AR.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Peter Jackson,
You’re right. My bad, and thanks for the correction/assist. I never actually got hold of any GP11 rounds, and must have been thinking about the Norma or INDEP rounds.
Link for good reloading info for the K-11/K-31
I’ve forgotten a lot in my 2 years living in no-gun land (Hawaii; yes, you can have rifles here, but it’s a pain in the butt).

Some more K-31 Love.

pros and cons.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
From that last link:
So, this is a rifle that:


Is capable of MOA out of the box.
Fires a major caliber comparable to the .308.
Can use the full range of available .308 bullets, and
Is built with hard-to-believe fit, machining and materials


...Why would a handloader on a budget not have one of these?

 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
Nathan!

Thanks for the links, especially the reloading stuff.
I’ve forgotten a lot in my 2 years living in no-gun land (Hawaii; yes, you can have rifles here, but it’s a pain in the butt).
You live in Hawaii? Poor you!

Don!

Okay dude, I visited your link and it’s now clear to me that you are coming from a level of shooting that frankly I have difficulty comprehending fully, much less the dedication to hope of ever visiting you there. 1 MOA is for me a destination, whereas for you it’s... your office office or something, where you work. Anyway, all I can say is rock on with your bad self.

yours/
peter.

 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
Problem with the Swiss surplus brass for reloading is that it’s hard to find the Berdan primers you need.

I’m saving all that brass, deprimed and cleaned, in the hope I can find someone who carries them. It’s beautiful quality.
 
Written By: Firehand
URL: http://elmtreeforge.blogspot.com

 
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