25 March 2011

The merits of the SKS

My personal favorite for fighting gun is now, and probably always will be, an AK-47 but I once thought pretty highly of the SKS. I reckon I still do, I just like the AK better. I wrote this several years ago concerning the merits of the SKS compared to the AR-15. I don't think that the SKS is the "best ever" combat rifle but like I have said many times, I think it is certainly one of the best for individual or militia purposes. If one is successful in any firefights that may occur, they can trade rifles later.
Logistically, the AR-15 may be a better choice due to the fact that it is a NATO round. Ballistically, the SKS is better in most categories. It doesn't shoot as flat as the .223 but it has much more energy at any given range. Here's a breakdown of the two: The difference in the 'power' of the two cartridges is described below.
The energies listed in any reloading manual that carries both calibers will show that the 7.62x39 delivers more punch at any range.
The 7x39 with 123 gr bullet at 2400 fps has 1573 fpe at the muzzle and 660 fpe at 300 yds. The .223 has with a 55 gr bullet at 3200 fps has 1250 fpe at the muzzle and 519 fpe at 300 yds. fpe is obtained by multiplying the velocity in fps squared by the weight in grains and dividing by 450,250. This last number varies depending on what source you get it from but the result is so close that it's not relevant.
However, if you forget the trumped up BS in the manuals that are mostly used for selling points and use a more realistic means to compare these 2 cartridges, you will find that 7x39 vastly exceeds the power levels of the .223. Granted the .223 is fast, flat shooting and accurate. Their bullets are light and expand violently but that doesn't mean that they have any (I hate to use this term) knockdown power. 

The formula that we use for a better comparison is the Taylor Factor. The Taylor factor uses the speed, weight AND diameter of the projectile to get it's answer.
You multiply the weight in grains x velocity in fps x diameter in thousandths of an inch and divide by 7000. The result is not in pounds or anything else. It's just a relative number.
By using this formula, you will find that the .223 using the load listed above will come up with 5.6 for it's TKO at the muzzle and 3.6 at 300 yds.
The 7.62x39 arrives at 13.1 at the muzzle and 8.5 at 300 yds.
That is a substantial difference when you consider that a 158 gr. .357 mag is a 10.5 at the muzzle and 6.9 at 300 and a 165 gr. .30-06 is 21.0 at the muzzle and 16.6 at 300.
Either formula that you use, the 7.62x39 significantly beats the .223. The only thing (in my opinion) that the .223 has going for it is that it's a NATO round and generally easily obtainable and it's light so that you can carry lots of them (because you'll need to). I think that it is at it's best as a prairie dog cartridge.
Of course the 7x39 is also plentiful and still much lighter than the .308. My personal opinion is that the 7.62x39 is the perfect compromise between the power of the .308 and the light weight of the .223.
While it may be easier to hit distant targets with the AR, little penetration or tissue damage can be expected. Of course, the .308 is by far the best choice for battle but for militia purposes, I have ruled it out, at least for now, because of weight and cost of weapons and weight and bulk of ammo. There will be plenty of choices available in the future after a routine is worked out and we kind of see how things are going to go. There are countless thousands of SKS's and AK's in the US today and literally hundreds of millions of rounds of ammo. Availability will NOT be a problem for a few years after TSHTF and probably not in our lifetimes.
Like I've said before, you can get an SKS in excellent condition and 1000 rds of ammo for around $600. THAT'S the best way for a group to get well armed fast.
The 20-round non-detachable magazine is also my choice for the SKS IF you have taken the time to ensure it's reliability.
In a high stress situation, I would never attempt to put more than one stripper clip in the 20 rounder. The reason I got the 20 rounder to start with is to make it easier to insert the a 10 round stripper and to ensure that I would not have to shoot the weapon completely "dry" to make inserting a full clip possible. With the 20 rd. mag, I can shoot several shots and still be able to load a full clip in it if I get a break in the action without having partially loaded clips or loose rounds in my pocket. Naturally, I always start with 18-19 rounds in it to have the most that I can available and then keep it as close to that number as I can after that as opportunity presents itself.

I'm not a big fan of scopes on combat rifles (except bolt-guns, of course). If I put one on an SKS, I would remove the gas piston and make a manual repeater out of it for accuracy purposes. I surely don't like "see-thru" scope mounts, I think they will get you killed in a fight and help you to miss your deer during hunting season. IMO, once you get used to a scope or open sights, either one, on the same rifle, THAT is the sight that you will go to in stressful situation, whether in combat or hunting. If you're more used to the scope and your target appears at close range and/or in dense cover, you will go to the scope first and have to consciously make the change after realizing that it was the wrong choice. However fast you make the change, it won't be fast enough. The height of those mounts also puts your scope in position that is not conducive to a good cheek weld on the stock. They just do not allow for a natural position.
I have adjustable Tech Sights on 2 of my SKS's. They are fast, rugged and accurate. I drilled the aperture out to about .125" to make it a "ghost-ring".
I had 2 different stock configurations that I once used. A collapsible T-6 on my Paratrooper and a Dragunov on my main gun which I still have. The stocks and sights that I use make my SKS's viable options for ANY scenario that I can imagine except long-range precision shots. With my Tech Sights and Dragunov stock, I can ring a torso-sized gong at 500 meters damn near every time.
I have absolutely NO desire to have an AR of any configuration. The AR-15 feels cheap to me and I have found them to be way to finicky for me to trust the life of family and myself to when conditions are at their worst. If I change my mind later, they will be a dime a dozen after TSHTF.
The statement below is an excerpt from Al-Qa'ida Body Counts, by Odin Crowe, SOF Magazine, May 2002 issue, pg. 51
"Although the M4 has a greater range than than that of the terrorists, it has a couple of drawbacks, which are beginning to cause quite a commotion within the {Special Forces} community. The weapon system itself is fine for the intended purpose. However, the weapons system is finicky compared to it's Kalashnikov counterpart. Marines at Camp Rhino, Afghanistan, are reporting having to clean their rifles three times a day, in order to keep out all the dust, dirt and debris.
Another drawback is that the .5.56mm round isn't stopping the enemy as effectively as hoped. The returning U.S. operators are reporting that while the body counts are high, they are having to shoot the Al-Qa'ida and Taliban terrorist up to four and five times in order to kill the enemy. Now, while the M4 and M16 weapons systems are not meant to be a one-shot, one-kill weapons, having to engage the target four and five times in order to kill them is ludicrous. Neither of these two points is late-breaking news. However, they are being looked at again by the U.S. military. It could be that we have forgotten, being that we have not been involved in a major war or conflict in quite some time, or it could be that the .223 round needs to be re-evaluated. Whatever the case, it is very clear that we are sending many more of them to meet God via the .223 round than we thought we would {as opposed to heavy weapons systems like arty and airpower}. Praise be to Allah.
Cope Reynolds (Desertscout)
Southwest Shooting Authority
Listen to Cope live on The Watchmen.fm Mon thru Fri, 10am to noon Mountain time!
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