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Old July 30, 2014, 09:59 PM   #1
Theohazard
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A technical question about the history of the AK-47 in relation to the SKS...

I’m reading The Gun by C. J. Chivers, a book about the history of automatic weaponry in war, and focusing on the historical impact of the AK-47. It’s an excellent book, but it (understandably) doesn’t go into many technical details; it’s obviously written for a general audience that might not know anything about firearms.

Right now I’m at the part about the AK-47’s development. The author explains why the Soviets were looking for a new rifle, and how the SKS was lacking a full-auto ability and only had a 10-round fixed magazine. But so far, the author hasn’t explained why a completely new rifle was needed: Why couldn’t they just modify the SKS to be select-fire and have a detachable magazine?

Basically, my question is a technical one: What was it about the SKS’ design that required a completely new rifle instead of modifying the existing design? I suppose the author might address that question later, but I doubt it considering the general non-technical nature of the book.
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Old July 31, 2014, 09:56 AM   #2
kilimanjaro
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A five-million man Army needs a lot of weapons, and weapons cost Rubles. Stamped receivers vs. machined receivers is a very big reason to choose the AK in 1947.
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Old July 31, 2014, 11:11 AM   #3
wogpotter
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Actually real, early AK 47s were machined.
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Old July 31, 2014, 09:42 PM   #4
shaunpain
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A more complete truth would be that the SKS was selected as the new Russian infantry weapon in 1945 with the AK 47 to replace it in the early fifties for the same reasons listed in the book. The SKS was used during the T&E phase on the frontlines in 194, in very limited quantities and was received favorably. I can only postulate here, but I think that the AK 47 was eventually adopted for several reasons political, financial and practical. While the SKS was pretty cheap to produce, I can imagine that the AK 47 is even cheaper whether it's milled or not. Rather than go through another costly research and production schedule with rifles in current inventory, they had a better option that fit a newer military ideology ready to roll off the racks. To this day, I have yet to see (with my own two eyes, anyway) a highly modified SKS with an auto sear or using detachable box magazines. The "duck bill" magazines don't count for me as I think they are a specialty or niche item with low records of reliability.

I'm not a very technical guy, but I can tell you that just to get the AK magazine to work in the gun would require filling in some wood where the old fixed mag was and creating a well of some kind with the latch and internals. The next issue would probably be the fitting of an auto sear, drilling out holes to accept a selector and whatever space that would require and then probably modifying the bolt to cycle with proper dwell time during automatic fire. Keep in mind it wasn't designed to do so, but that might not be a big issue. I'm not really sure. I can just see those as possible problems with modification to select fire and high capacity box magazines.

If someone knows more about how it can be done, please chime in! Those technical details would fascinate us all!
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Old August 1, 2014, 01:16 AM   #5
johnwilliamson062
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Norinco made several commercial variants that accept AK mags and I have had no problems with reliability from mine.

Compare the two rifles side by side and you will see the difference in production cost. The old military SKS wasn't light either.
I think it is important to keep in mind that it took some time for the Russians to change weapons. The SKS was in use by Russia for some time and by satellite countries/allies until recently. I am sure it is still in use by some reserve units and in some countries maybe even "front line" units.
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Old August 1, 2014, 01:54 AM   #6
gyvel
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Quote:
Norinco made several commercial variants that accept AK mags and I have had no problems with reliability from mine.
That was actually a quasi-official variation that the Chinese made using modified SKS rifles. I think I read once that it has a "Type" designation, but I can't remember what it is now. Some were sold as "Norincos" here in the U.S., and I still have a couple of them. Maybe someone with a better memory can say what the "Type" designation was.

Quote:
To this day, I have yet to see (with my own two eyes, anyway) a highly modified SKS with an auto sear or using detachable box magazines.
What you are describing is actually the Type 63/68 "assault rifle." Apparently it was NOT a successful arm and was pulled from the Chinese military. The Type 63/68 was a highly modified select fire SKS that employed an AK 47 rotating bolt instead of Simonov's original drop lock bolt.

There has a been a persistent rumor circulating that, in the 90s, when SKS were coming in by the tens of thousands, J&G in Prescott, AZ accidentally received some Type 63/68 rifles mixed in with regular Type 56 rifles. J&G allegedly unknowingly sold some of these and had to really scramble to get them all back. Since I wasn't there to witness this firsthand and certainly wasn't lucky enough to get one of the Type 63/68s, I can't vouch for the veracity of the story, but I've heard it from more than one J&G customer around here.
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Old August 1, 2014, 02:07 AM   #7
Theohazard
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Thanks for the info, guys. I think this is making me realize I should also learn a little more about the SKS.
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Old August 1, 2014, 02:19 AM   #8
gyvel
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Quote:
Thanks for the info, guys. I think this is making me realize I should also learn a little more about the SKS.
Development of the Simonov SKS began in 1943. The nomenclature of the 7.62x39 round became "M43"; The round was was inspired by the Nazi's 7.92x33 cartridge. At that time, Kalashnikov had also submitted a design, but it bore little resemblance to his later AK47 design, and was rejected.

Although the SKS had a relatively short front line service life, a few were used by advance units that entered Berlin in 1945 (photos show them), so an SKS can rightfully be part of a WWII collection.

One thing I would like to see is a Russian SKS that was made in 1945 or even the later 40s, but all I have ever seen on the surplus market were early 50s production.
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Old August 1, 2014, 03:59 AM   #9
Justice06RR
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Quote:
To this day, I have yet to see (with my own two eyes, anyway) a highly modified SKS with an auto sear or using detachable box magazines.
I have seen a few of them that take standard 30rd AK mags. They are called SKS-M and SKS-D models.

My lgs actually has one for sale that I could've bought, but it was selling for $600 IIRC. Not a smart buy since AK47's are also in that price range already. SKS can me modified or "tacticooled" but not as easy as AK47's.

The SKS receiver, while milled and very robust, is also smaller. Although an Auto Sear may be added into the receiver, its probably not as easy because they were designed as a Semiauto rifle, unlike the AK. (someone correct me if I'm wrong regarding the internals)

I've owned 3 SKS rifles, two Chinese and one Yugoslavian.
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Old August 1, 2014, 09:54 AM   #10
gyvel
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Quote:
I have seen a few of them that take standard 30rd AK mags. They are called SKS-M and SKS-D models.
Yes! That's it! I couldn't remember the nomenclature, but that's OK; I'm getting old.
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