Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday's Thoughts and Other Stuff (SKS vs. AR-15)

Dear Preppers and Survivalists,

Changing of the Guard
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,
Moscow, Russia (2006)
photograph by
Kok Leng and Maurice Yeo

SKS Rifle
The SKS rifle is a fixed magazine-fed semiautomatic rifle. It fires a 7.62 X 39 cartridge. The SKS rifle weighs 8.5 pounds (3.85 kg), and it is 40 inches (1.02 meters) long.

photograph by

The SKS rifle is no longer used, in front line service, by any country. It can be found in the hands of second line troops (National Guard and Reservists), cadets, ceremonial guards, security forces, and ... freedom fighters or terrorists.

Oooh, ... and citizens, too, for self defense and sporting purposes.

The AR-15 series rifle was never used, in front line service, by any country. (O.K. It was used by the U.S. Air Force ) The ones you will see in firearms' stores are an adaptation of the M-16 series rifle for the general public. It is used by citizens for self defense and sporting purposes.

photograph by
Steelerdon at Wikipedia

The AR-15 series rifle is a detachable magazine-fed semiautomatic rifle. It commonly fires the 5.56 X 45 (5.56 NATO) or .223 Remington cartridge. The rifle, when properly designed, will also fire the 7.62 X 39 mm, .300 Blackout, and the 5.56 X 39 mm cartridges. The AR-15 rifle comes in a variety of lengths and weights, depending on its configuration.

For this blurb, I'm going to use the M-16A2 lengths and weight. They are 39.62 inches (1 meter, just about) and 8.8 pounds (4 kg). Needless to say, a 16 inch barreled AR-15 (M-4ish) rifle with a collapsible stock will weigh 7.3 pounds (3.33 kg) and be 30 to 33 inches (.76 to .84 meters) long, depending on "If" the stock is extended or collapsed.

Both rifles fire a commonly available cartridge. The SKS rifle fires the 7.62 X 39mm while the AR-15 fires the 5.56 X 45mm cartridge.

photograph by
Richard C. Wysong II

Both cartridges will kill or wound a person out to 437 yards (400 meters) for the SKS rifle and 600 yards (550 meters) for the AR-15 rifle, if the shooter is doing their part.

Of course, some folks are going to ask about the other cartridges that a properly configured AR-15 can fire. I consider these rounds to be 'exotic' for the prepper or survivalist, so I will not discuss them. You will need to do your own research if you're interested in the .300 Blackout and 5.56 X 39 mm cartridges.

The SKS rifle is no longer manufactured, so you and your family can only purchase 'used' rifles. These rifles will range in price from about $300 for a basic well-used rifle to $650 for a newish rifle with accessories such as a rifle case, stripper clips, magazine pouches, and manuals.

Needless to say, a family member or friend may have an SKS rifle that they will give you for free or the price of a favor ; - )

AR-15 rifles can be purchased new or used. A new basic rifle can be had for about $700 with the sky's the limit for a custom manufacturer's rifle. Yes, there are some people selling AR-15s for $2,000.

Like any other firearm, used AR-15 rifles will come in a variety of prices depending on the rifle's configuration and manufacturer.

Before I continue, the AR-15 series rifle comes in a variety of barrel lengths, 10, 12, 14.5, 16, 20, 22, 24, and probably others. The shorter barreled rifles (10, 12, and 14.5 inches) are considered SBRs or short barreled rifles. They are more regulated then the longer barreled rifles (16, 20, 22, an 24 inches). These SBR AR-15s require additional paperwork and fees. Plus, there is the hassle factor because of the additional paperwork.

The AR-15 rifle also have a variety of buttstocks and handguards. Some buttstocks (the part that goes against your shoulder) are fixed; they stay the same length; while others are collapsible; they can change lengths to better fit a person.

derived work by

Some handguards allow attachment of various devices to the handguard such as flashlights, grips, and lasers.

The SKS and AR-15 rifles have different sights. The SKS rifle uses open sights while the AR-15 uses peep sights. Between the two, peep sights are the easiest to use.

However, ... The easiest sights to use will require you to spend more money. These sights are the telescopic sight and the reflector sight.

Telescopic sights are the ones that you have seen for many decades. They are usually found on hunting rifles, generally. These telescopic sights (rifle scopes) increase the target's image size when viewed through the rifle scope.

photograph by
Staff Sergeant Bronco Suzuki

Reflector sights are the ones that you have seen used by our country's Soldiers, Airman, Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsman. They are usually found on combat type weapons. The reflector sights (red dots) are usually unmagnified; however, there are magnified versions.

photograph by
LCpl Miguel A. Carrasco Jr.

Now, these sights can be mounted on either rifle with specialized mounts. Depending on the mount, the SKS can accept a sight on the cover or over the rear sight. The AR-15A3 (M-16A3/M-16A4) has picatinny rails machined in the upper receiver. Picatinny rails can also be found on handguards.

Needless to say, the state of art in weapons is always changing, so you may find more options for your rifle during your research. Plus, you're going to spend about, say ... $200 to $400 dollars or more for a quality reflector sight for the AR-15 rifle. While a good telescopic sight for the SKS rifle will set you back about $150.

I mentioned earlier that the AR-15 series rifle will have a variety of barrel lengths. That's not what I want to talk about in this section. I want to talk about whether the barrel is chrome-lined or not.

It seems these United States military and a lot of others countries have chrome lining in their military's barrels. This chrome lining protects the rifle barrel from rusting, harsh environments, cleaning chemicals, and other reasons.

Some AR-15s don't have a chrome-lined barrel while some barrels have one. Now, some folks think an unlined barrel is o.k. because you and your family won't be doing things (patrols, cordon and search, repealing attacks, and ...) like the military. Plus, the unlined barrel are, supposedly, more accurate.

SKS rifles, on the other hand, are all almost chrome-lined because they originally started out as military rifles.

Did you notice the 'almost?'

Yeah, the SKS rifles manufactured by the Yugoslavians have unlined barrels. (You can tell them buy the grenade launcher attached to the end og the barrel) It seems the Yugoslavians didn't have the money to chrome line their barrels : - (

photograph by

Another thing that I would like to mention about rifle barrels is their thickness. In the SKS, you don't get a choice. There is one barrel, and one barrel only. (O.K. There are two. One is 20 inches long, and the other is 16 inches long)

With the AR-15 rifles, it's a different story.

There are 'pencil' barrels (very thin), a medium profile (a thicker barrel), M-4 profile (a medium barrel with a notch cut in the barrel to mount a grenade launcher), a heavy barrel (a thicker and heavier barrel), and some I probably don't know about or forgot.

Like the M-16A2 barrel. It's thinner underneath the handguard and thicker just before the front sight.

So, what's the big deal about barrel thickness. First, these United States started noticing that soldiers were bending their rifle's barrels. Not a good thing 'If" they were trying to kill someone.

So, ... They went with a thicker barrel. Of course, there's more to the story.

It seems, a thicker barrel will take longer to heat up (and cool off), staying accurate longer. In other words, the barrel get so hot it starts to droop.

The SKS rifle has a fixed magazine that holds 10 rounds. The magazine can't be taken out of the SKS rifle. (O.K. The magazine can pivot. That's kind'a 'out').

So, ... The rifle is reloaded with cartridges on stripper clips or individual cartridges.

photograph by
U.S. Military

The AR-15, usually, has a 10, 20, or 30 round detachable magazine. The magazine can be removed from the rifle and reloaded with stripper clips and individual cartridges. The added benefit of a detachable magazine allows the AR-15 to have several pre-loaded magazines allowing a 'faster' reload.

Preppers that practice will be able to reload a SKS rifle as fast as a trained person reloading an AR-15, kind'a.

So far, I have written over 1200 words on the SKS rifle and the AR-15.

And, ... You probably realize the SKS Rifle and the AR-15 are two different rifles, by now.

Before I begin; I have to tell you something.

Both rifles will kill. A newish SKS rifle for $400 will kill just as well as a $2,200 La Rue Tactical AR-15 series rifle.

So, ...Which one to get?

First, let us think about some considerations.

- If you're former or current military, I would immediately suggest an AR-15. You have a lot of high priced training and lots of muscle memory, even if you were a clerk or cook. Plus, you might have some 'extra' gear and magazines laying around from your military service ; - )

I would also suggest a "Ford or Chevy" version of the rifle from Bushmaster, Olympic Arms, Ruger, or ... You know; the ones that are selling for around $700, new.

- If you're married with children, I would suggest a SKS rifle because you're going to be buying a lot of these rifles. Your children will need to be armed for tough times, so you will need a rifle for each family member. At around $400 per rifle, your family could purchase four SKS rifles for the price of two AR-15s with required accessories.

Remember, the SKS rifle is ready to shoot the way it is while the AR-15 rifle needs magazines, sights (depending on the rifle), and other things to function properly.

- If you're going to 'share' a rifle, I would suggest an AR-15 with a collapsible stock. The collapsible stock will allow the rifle to 'shorten' or 'lengthen' as needed by each person. Plus, a collapsible stock will allow the rifle to be more easily hidden.

Just to contradict myself. Most people can effectively shoot the SKS rifle even "If" the rifle is too short for them. Plus, there are folks that manufacture a collapsible stock for the SKS rifle. It just adds to the total cost of the rifle.

And, ... I think, they're not worth the price, at over $100

photograph by
Mitch Barrie

- If you live in a state or country that prohibits so called 'assualt rifles,' a SKS rifle may be your only choice to arm your family.

But, ... You're going to have to be politically active because states that prohibit so called 'assault rifles' will be coming to confiscate your SKS rifle, next.

Second, let us be practical.

Most preppers are going to need a good quality handgun because a rifle is a weapon that defends a country while a handgun is a weapon that defends you and your family.

So, ... I suggest you skip getting a rifle unless you live in the country, don't plan on manning road blocks, and ... other 'combat' related tasks. Plus, most 'likely' events (hurricanes, winter storms, under employment, and ...) won't require a rifle.

Yep, I said it. You just might be wasting your money buying a rifle for your family's preps, so you have to seriously think about this!

Plus, ... Have you ever seen a refugee with a rifle? Of course you haven't because the security forces would be calling them Terrorists ; - )

Third, to reinforce my preference for the SKS rifle for most preppers and their families, Katniss and I were talking about this blurb and she said something like 'So you're saying, for about $2,800 dollars, (the price of four AR-15s and nothing else) a family could purchase four SKS rifles, ammo, and some other stuff to help them be better prepared.'

Yeah, I love Katniss!!!

Equipment, Spare Parts, and ...
I talked about this several years ago.

GSIEP - Firearms for Preppers: SKS Rifle


GSIEP - Firearms for Preppers: M-16?AR-15 Rifle, Part Two

Avoid the DERP
I do not know who came up with term, but it's bad, just plan bad. (probably Say Uncle or someone he linked to ; - ) This is the useless stuff that folks are trying to get you to buy.

Like Fireclean, over-sized magazine release, or putting a bullpup stock on the SKS rifle.

photograph by

I apologize. I couldn't find a SKS rifle with a 30 round magazine, reflector sight, and bullpup stock.

Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) is the standard for military rifles. Someone that is or was in the military will probably be able to tell you why they use it. I just know that it works.

So, ... How much do you need?

I would suggest about 500 rounds for each rifle. This is a good beginning, but you're going to need more. Our elected representatives and unelected officials have a tendency to cause trouble every once in a while. This trouble usually causes shortages for a couple of years. Plus, it's never a bad idea to have more than you need. It's just like food for you and your family. Except you're feeding a firearm ; - )

Almost Lastly, ...
I was going to compare the AK-47 series rifle with the AR-15. Until, I found a really good Wikipedia page that does a ... Comparison of the AK-47 and M-16

Lastly, ...
If you liked this blurb, I ask that you mention it in a the facebook post, tweet it, e-mail, or other method of communications to your friends and family.

Next, ... I would like for you to join the National Rifle Association and donate to the NRA's Institute of Legislative Action, the Second Amendment Foundation, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, or the American Civil Liberties Union.

When you donate to the ACLU, make sure you include a note about your support for the Second Amendment to the Constitution of these United States and how you think they should support it, too ; - )

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state,
the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Like any other subject, there is more, but I'm hungry ; - )


SKS Rifle - Simonov SKS Carbine

J&G Sales - TC 9-56: SKS Rifle - Simonov SKS Disassembly

AR-15 Rifle - TM 9-1005-249-10

Commonwealth Protection Institute - TM 9-1005-249-23&P

South Texas Marksmanship Training Center - TM 9-1005-319-10

KDE Guns - TM 9-1005-319-23&P

Global Security - MCRP 3-01A: Rifle Marksmanship - FM 3-22.9

U.S. Army - FM 3-22.9: Rifle Marksmanship with Change 1

Utah National Guard - FM 3-22.9 Change 4

WeaponsMan - If You Had Only One 5.56mm Carbine?

Others - Introduction to Gun Sights

Wikipedia - Telescopic Sight

Wikipedia - Reflector Sights

WeaponsMan - A Short History of Chrome Bores

U.S. Marine Corps - MCRP 3-01B: Pistol Marksmanship

U.S. Army - Crew Served Machineguns

Wikipedia - Comparison of the AK-47 and M16


Foxtrot 2 Charlie said...

A thorough article for sure. I would like to expand on the negatives of both weapons. The AR/M16 has a bolt with 6 locking lugs. The lugs and chamber must be clean, so the bolt will seat and the firing pin will strike the primer. If the chamber isn't clean and the bolt doesn't seat, a "bolt assist" mechanism allows the shooter to force the bolt to seat. I know of no other weapon that has this feature. The Springfield M1A/M14, M1 Garand and Ruger Mini-14 do not have the locking lugs, nor do they require a bolt assist. New shooters to the AR family may find the bolt assist, unusual.

The AK/SKS family has reliable and accurate weapons. The spectrum of reliability spans from cheap to way over priced. The problem I have with these weapons is the ammunition. The ammo is made every where and quality control is never a hindrance going out the door. As far as a drop-down magazine goes, take a step in the 1920's and get something with a detachable box magazine.

So, M1A, M14, M1 Garand and Mini-14. If you just have to shoot AK ammo, get a Mini-30.

Anonymous said...

Two comments about the SKS, since I own two of them:
First, the recoil will eventually cause a cheap scope to drift away from zero.
Second, you need to keep the bolt and firing pin well maintained to prevent the pin from "freezing" in the forward position. If that happens, you may accidentally discharge the round that you are loading. I've had that happen twice and eventually replaced the firing pins with a custom design that was spring operated.

These are not arguments against owning an SKS - I am merely saying that if you plan on using a scope, get one that is of good quality. Regarding the firing pin issue - you must always include this component in your maintenance/cleaning routine. In other words, don't get lazy.

Finally, I favor the M-16 simply because it has a flatter trajectory and can put a target down at longer range than the SKS.

Sean M said...

There are a few things that need to be corrected here. Overall decent information for someone that is unfamiliar with long arms and new to prepping but some info is incorrect. There is no 5.56x39 cartridge; I believe you are thinking of the the 5.45x39. I can be a stickler for details, sorry.

You state that the AR-15 series was never used in front line service but was used by the Air Force. The US Air Force used the standard M16 for many years (as opposed to the A1, A2 or other variants), not the AR-15. The AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16 (lacking select-fire capability and possibly a few features depending on the version) and was never fielded by any branch of the US military. However, Colt sold “AR-15s” (a trademark of Colt Industries btw) to the Malaysian military in 1959. So technically AR-15s did serve in a military service but this is more of a trivia quiz question than anything and unlike civilian AR-15s I believe they in fact had select fire capability (a rose by any other name).

You state that the SKS has a fixed magazine (although you mention a 30 rounder coupled with a bullpup stock) that cannot be taken out. This is incorrect. 20 and 30 round SKS detachable magazines are readily available, although the AR-15 was designed this way and magazine changes are far easier and faster in the AR-15.

You also state that if you plan on sharing rifles, the reader should choose the AR-15. That’s dead wrong. Of course I can hand my rifle to anyone else and they can fire it, possibly even very effectively. However as anyone that has served in the military will tell you, M-16/AR-15 iron sights are adjusted for the individual shooter. The farther the target, the greater the deviation will be between shooters on the same rifle without adjusting the iron sights.

One of the biggest factors for preppers is going to the availability of replacement parts. There are tons of AR-15 parts readily available at guns shops, outdoor stores or even available from cannibalized rifles (again way more AR-15s floating around than SKSs) compared to SKS parts.

Also, chrome lined barrels are a must in a prepper rifle. The entire point is to be prepared for the worst case scenario. Environmental conditions may be harsh. Cleaning materials and tools may be scarce. The last thing you want to worry about is corrosion in the barrel of a rifle that may be protecting the lives of you and your family. The price difference is negligible so this is a no-brainer.

Overall the smartest choice for most people will be the AR-15. The SKS is fun to shoot (I have a few myself) and make a decent backup rifle, but the AR-15 wins this hands down. Not trying to flame you or anything, I just think that fellow prepper folks need the best information possible.

Someone You Know said...

Dear Foxtrot 2 Charlie,

Thanks for the insight about another one of the design 'flaws' of the AR-15 series rifle. I also agree with you about the potential problems with 7.62 X 39 ammunition for the SKS/AK-47 series rifles.

However, ... I have to disagree with you about the Mini-14 and Mini-30 by Ruger.


The rifles are too unique.

The AR-15 and SKS rifle have been produced in the millions. According to an article, that I read over at WeaponsMan, more AR-15s are bought every year then these United States military would need to re-equip its entire inventory.

Lastly, I consider the M1A/M-14 and the M1 Garand rifles as a 'different' class of rifles, the battle rifles.

And, ... That's a whole 'nother article in itself ; - )

WeaponsMan - Saved By the Bell (Contract): Colt? Not So Fast.

Wikipedia - Battle Rifle

Someone You Know said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks, again, for pointing out two things that folks need to know "If" their family is going to use the SKS rifle during an event.

Most folks point out that the optics for a rifle should cost about as much as the rifle. So, ... a $400 rifle should have a $400 telescopic sight (rifle scope) : - (

Needless to say, that is expensive when your family is also budgeting for long-term food storage, base camp water filters, and ...

In my opinion, these rifles don't need an optic (telescopic or reflector sight, depending on your threat analysis.

As Anonymous points out, the SKS rifle can get dirty enough to 'Slam Fire.' In other words, each firearm has its unique maintenance requirements, so you will need to do more research.

Anonymous, I am getting to a place in our preps where I'm looking a one or two scopes for our family's SKS rifles. Do you have any recommendations?

Sincerely, SYK

Someone You Know said...

Dear Sean M

First, thanks for the insult. I appreciate it ; - )

Second, these United States Air Force used the Colt AR-15 for a very short time when, I think, General Curtis LeMay bought a few for the Air Force's security forces guarding bombers. (early '60s)

Sean M, I know the British were fighting an insurgency around that time, so it's possible but please provide your source for "Colt sold “AR-15s” (a trademark of Colt Industries btw) to the Malaysian military in 1959." because I'm interested.

Third, generally, the detachable magazines for the SKS rifles are crap. They are too unreliable for preppers. If folks are interested in a SKS rifle with detachable magazines, they need to research the AK-47 series rifle.

But, ... That's another article ; - )

Fourth, ... The library is closing so I have to go.

Lastly, there is more.

Like, ... No the AR-15 isn't the 'best' rifle. Each family is different with different needs.

No chrome lined barrels aren't the 'best' especially "If" a family can afford only one firearm. Then , .. That would be a handgun, .357 magnum revolver with 50 cartridges, .38 special SJHP ; - )

And, ... Much more, but I have to go.

Sincerely, SYK

Sean M, you make some good points but, you might want to read "16 Weeks" or buy the book "Prepper: Surviving the Tough Times Ahead" to get an understanding of my mindset.

American Rifleman - ArmaLite M-15 A2 Carbine

GSIEP - 16 Weeks

Barnes and Nobles - Prepper: Surviving the Tough Times Ahead

Someone You Know said...

Hey Everybody,

O.K., I'm going to write a blurb, next Friday, to answer some of the issues brought up by everyone. Thanks again to Foxtrot 2 Charlie, Anonymous, and Sean M for your comments,

Sincerely, Someone You Know

Mr Evilwrench said...

That locking bolt carrier lug is a good part of the reason the AR series holds accuracy like a bolt gun; it's a much more stable bolt configuration, but as stated you have to keep it clean.

The fixed magazine on an SKS isn't such a disadvantage; there's a slot right there on the bolt for a stripper, and you can rip another ten rounds right in. Still have to keep the bolt clean, it's a mistake to treat it as an AK. Man, I can remember crates of those things for $90 each...

There is confusion over the AR-15 vs M-16. The AR-15 was the designation of the select-fire rifle developed by Eugene Stoner at Armalite (the provenance of the AR designation), and that is what the Air Force had way back. The design was taken over by Colt for military sized orders. They modified it somewhat, and it was adopted by the military as M-16, then Colt retconned the AR-15 model number for the semi auto version, so two different rifles have gone by that model number. Interestingly, the AR-15 was developed from the original AR-10 that was one that lost out to the M-14. Look up a picture, they're interesting in a what might have been way.

All that said, you're probably better off with the SKS until you've developed a few chops to support your ARs.

Old 1811 said...

Another point that hasn't been brought up here:
If you live in a jurisdiction that has an "assault weapon" ban, the SKS MAY be legal where the AR is not. One of the key points in most "assault weapon" bans is "capable of taking a detachable magazine holding more than 10 rounds." A factory SKS falls outside that definition. (I know several people who bought SKS rifles during the 1994-2004 Federal "assault weapons ban.")
I'm not a lawyer and you should check your local laws, but this is something to look into.

AR-15 Shooter said...

The more guns you have the better. AR-15, SKS or AK-47, they are all good.