SKS 45

Those of us who are fond of visiting guns shows and purchasing unique shooting irons, often more for show than plinking, have no doubt handled the Russian-made SKS 45 7.62x39mm semi-automatic carbine. A quick glance at this rifle, with its spike-bayonet folded neatly beneath its barrel, its canvas sling taut and its rear sight raised, calibrated to 1,000 meters, makes this little baby rather menacing.

Imagine its look from the receiving end, with the bayonet extended!

We have Russian designer Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov to thank for the SKS 45.

Comrade Simonov designed the SKS, and it was produced at the Tula Armory from 1949 until 1955. It was also produced at the Izhevsk Armory from 1953 to 1954.

SKS is an abbreviation for Samozaryadniy Karabin sistemi Simonova, Russian for self-loading carbine Simonov’s system, 1945. SKS 7.62x39mm M43 ammunition was a forerunner to the ammo used in the wildly effective, popular and mass-produced AK-47.

In fact, the AK-47 became the weapon of choice for Russian troops over the SKS.

The SKS 45 is a gas-operated, self-loading carbine with a wooden stock and no pistol grip. It has been distributed widely, notably to Russian-friendly Warsaw Pact countries and Red China. In East Germany, it was adapted and named the Karabiner S, in North Korea, the Type 63 and in Red China, the Type 56. SKS versions have found their way into the hands of Yugoslav, Romanian, Albanian and North Korean combatants.

Most versions of the SKS 45 sport an integral folding, spike bayonet. The Yugoslav version, the M59/66 has been equipped with grenade launching capability.

The SKS was adopted by the Russian army in 1949, but was quickly relegated to second-class status by the fully automatic AK-47 assault rifle. The SKS saw action in Vietnam—in the hands of the Viet Cong—and in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa.

Still, the SKS lacked the firepower of the more popular assault rifles.

Empty, it weighs 8.5 pounds. With the bayonet folded, the SKS measures slightly more than 40 inches with a 20.5-inch barrel. The SKS loads from the top like the U.S.-made Garand. It has a 10-round internal magazine and boasts a muzzle velocity approaching 2,500 feet per second. The SKS has a hooded post front sight and a tangent rear sight that can be adjusted to 1,000 meters (3,280 feet), although its effective range is realistically closer to 1,312 feet or 400 meters.