Best All-Around Survival Weapon-The SKS

After talking to Rourke about doing this post I put a lot of thought into what I believed would be an all-around, medium priced Survival weapon.  This is based off the fact that If I was only allowed one weapon that would serve as a defense weapon as well as one that could be used for other things like hunting for food.

One of the main reasons that I chose the SKS is the fact that it is a very simple weapon.  It is not only simple to operate but it is also very simple to maintain.  The SKS has been around since WWII and has been used around the planet.  It is basically the predecessor of the AK-47 and the weapon most used in the world.  The reason these weapons are so widely used is the fact that for the most part they are indestructible and parts are widely found and easily modified from model to model.

The cleaning process is as simple as weapons get.  The bolt is basically three parts.  Anytime you can find a weapon with fewer moving parts means that it is less likely to break and simpler to tear down and clean.  There are many different tactical stocks made for this weapon that are out on the market and they are very well priced.  I would highly suggest that if you pick up one of these weapons that you get rid of the wooden stock as it is heavy and has no way of attaching a single point sling.

The SKS has proven it’s self as a very reliable weapon because most of the weapons that were manufactured in the 40’s are still around and are still very shoot-able.  They stopped producing the SKS in the 60’s, but there are still companies that produce new ones specifically for export. 

There are a lot of these weapons out on the American market so parts are very easy to find.  I have seen a huge amount of aftermarket parts for these so that you can modify the weapon to fit your needs.

The fact that most of these weapons are still around  primarily has to do with the fact that they were built with very good steel back in a period of time that they had good steel around.  Some of the newer weapons out on the market are made of steel that I find a little plausible for long term use.

The biggest advantage for the SKS is that ammo is readily available at just about any gun shop, and you can find it all over on the internet. The SKS shoots 7.62×39 ammo.  This ammo is generally cheaper than the other popular calibers out there.  A lot of the 7.62×39 ammo out there is the non-corrosive type which helps with the longevity of the barrel of the weapon.

The SKS not only can serve as a close quarters battle weapon but can also shoot long range shots up to about 600 yards very accurately as well.  If this weapon is outfitted with either a holographic site or a red-dot site it makes a formidable assault rifle.  You can also mount a standard body scope for more accurate long shots.  As a former Special Forces Weapons Specialist I look for simplicity in my weapons because they will serve me better in the long run.

Note from Rourke: Thanks Badvoodoodaddy!!!

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11 thoughts on “Best All-Around Survival Weapon-The SKS”

  1. BVDD – excellent post, and very true. Back when I was a poor boy, I picked up an SKS for about $79. I put a Choate folding stock on it, and a 20 rnd. fixed mag. I had well over 1,000 rounds loaded up on stripper clips. But naturally, I sold it and bought something “nicer.” Sure wish I still had it. It would be ideal for dropping in a PVC pipe and burying in the garden.

  2. BVDD – Great article! Thank you for the time and thought. I had a couple questions after reading it. I’ve been looking around at these and see the price and condition widely vary from say $350-450’s. What should I look for in terms of condition or tell tale signs to an issue with this rifle? I’ve seen these with an adapter that will take external mags – your thoughts on this (i’ve heard mixed opinions). What do you feel makes the SKS preferred over the AK as I’ve been considering both.

    Thanks again!

  3. Are magazines an issue with the SKS? I’ve got friends that own them, but have never fired one. I will say that amongst most of the owners I’ve talked to, the’ve complained fairly loudly about the magazines, lack of capacity, and aftermarket mags. As an AR guy I don’t really have a dog in this fight; I’m just curious. Your opinion?

    • hillbilly –

      I have no experience with the SKS. I believe they have a standard fixed magazine and can be modified to take an AK magazine.

      Other readers please correct me if I am wrong.


  4. Country Guy, The condition of the wooden stock is not as important as the over all condition of the barrel and the receiver. You want to make sure that the bayonet lug is not bent and that the bolt slides all the way forward with out any sticking. I would also highly advise that you replace the standard mag with an aftermarket metal high capacity mag. These are usually the same ones as are used in the AK. You can get them anywhere from 10 round to 40 round. I prefer the SKS over the AK mainly because of weight. Even with an aftermarket synthetic stock on the AK it is still heavier than the SKS with a synthetic stock. The mounting process is simple on an SKS they sell an aftermarket mount that replaces the back bolt cover with just to hex bolts to remove and replace. They come with the rails already to go and just mount the scope with two thumb screws.

  5. HillBilly, you want to stay away from the plastic mags, they have parts that like to break off. Always get the metal mags and you will never have a problem.

  6. Great post VooDoo.

    I would agree with you idea about ease of use and takedown. These weapons are VERY easy to clean and care for and the parts are plentiful. They are kind of the “glock” of the rifle world. If you are intuitive, I think a novice could take apart one these little gems. I think it is also a good rifle to start off with for someone who has not shot this type of weapon before. They are also good for plinking and practice. You can also find this ammo just about anywhere.

  7. Oh to be back when the SKS was $99 out the door! I’ve shot the SKS and found it not to be a bad rifle, but I’d rather have the AK. There is a type, lemmie look it up… the Russian SKS-M or the Chinese Type 84 that takes standard 7.62×39 AK mags. There are also gunsmithing methods that can do the same.

    If you have an SKS and want to “tweak” it a bit, here is a pdf on what parts are needed and how to install and tweak them to have an Appleseed “approved” 1 – 1.5 MOA SKS. (Minute Of Angle means that if the shooter does their part, the rifle will put 3-5 rounds into a spot not much bigger than a silver dollar at 100 yds.)

    While not as accurate as my AR, the SKS doesn’t cost what my AR did.


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