A Little Help
This is mainly an academic question but when such questions start rolling through the mind of a gun nut who knows how concrete the answer may become.
A friend & I discussed this a few days ago with no resolution. So I pose to you, dear reader, a question of depth, of subtlety, of vexation.
Which to buy; an SKS or an AK-47. & of the victor, which make & model with which features would be the best bang for the buck?
Posted by Publicola at April 5, 2006 02:42 AM
I'd go with the AK. You can get WASRs pretty cheap ($300 to $350 or so). My impressions are that the SKS is much more accurate but the AK is much more everything else.
The only real advantages the AK has are mag capacity and compactness.
Unless Zombie Apocalypse is upon you and you have limited rifle stowage space, I'd pick up a Yugo 59 (and a couple of cases of ammo with the savings) and call it good. Then I'd train with stripper clips rather than futzing around trying to turn it into an AK.
...of course, training isn't as sexy as accessories.
Truthfully? The last SKS I saw at the gun show was $110. An AK was, IIRC, running about $400. Get both. With careful shopping, you should come out pretty cheap.
If that's not an option, take Tam's advice and go for the SKS + lots of ammo and more range time.
"Excellent" condition Yugo SKSs are selling for ~ $150. "New" WASR-10s are selling for $350-$400.
Is $200-$250 worth removable magazines? That's the real question here.
From what I can tell, that's the only real difference between the two platforms. Both are "dig it out of the ground and shoot it" reliable (perhaps the AK has a slight edge here); both are not as accurate as the AR/FN platforms but certainly minute-of-looter; both have all sorts of aftermarket accessories available.
If you've got the money, get the AK. If you've got juuuust enough money, get the SKS and 1,000 rounds of ammo (it's going up up up in price).
Or, get both.
Can't help you without running afoul of Rule 1, to whit:" Never own a firearm you've been shot at with."
As far as which SKS, the Yugos are probably a good choice, and easy to find at a good price. I have the 59/66 because they were available for $125 in un-issued condition at the gun show when I was shopping SKSes.
The extra stuff on the 59/66 (grenade launcher, grenade sights, and night sights) is nifty. The only downside is that all that stuff plus the heavier barrel for launching grenades makes them a bit heavy. The 59 lacks that stuff and is a little more nimble.
I went with the unissued Yugo and then 'bubba'd' it up. The absolutely best, most satisfying, sweetest part of the whole thing was being to own a legal military grade rifle, with bayonet, with grenade launcher, with night sights...in stinkin' New Jersey. Even my FFL dealer thought it was illegal.
Then I got a BATF letter about what I could legally do to it, and did it. Then I bought a thousand rounds of ammo for cheap and shot it all...then bought another thousand rounds. Tapco has some cool new stocks...and the internet abounds with stuff.
AKs are a dime a dozen and you can't beat the SKS for price and reliability. I have drilled and tapped the frame for a scope, stripped the accessories off the barrel, mixed and matched parts, replaced the sights...and it is now much more accurate and still as reliable as a revolver.
BATF letter here: http://bjbarron.thatip.com:81/blogfiles/batfletter.jpg
Both have their good points.
The SKS is almost always more accurate. It is almost always more inexpensive, regardless of vintage, and usually the metal, wood and action are much nicer. They do tend to be, er, well they HAVE NO ergonomics, to say the least, and are somewhat heavy, comparatively. Mag is, generally, not removable for quick tac-loading, but is probably only a perceived weakness.
The AK is only marginally more pleasant to handle, at least in its original configuration, and not with that abominable "butthole" stock from the "crime bill" years. Lighter, unloaded, again, this is the case generally. Compactness is a big plus, especially for trunk gun purposes. Of course, for those who crave it, the mag capacity is obviously there. Not as accurate, especially when both are shooting 7.62 it seems.
They both shoot that damn 7.62x39 thingy, which should have been more along the x54R route, so they both get a "D" on their report cards for that. What with the death of that damn law about 18 months ago, I give the nod to the AK, as now it is far more feasible to get the features, do-dads and gee-gaws that one desires onto the thing. Take your pick.
In the end, it's a toss up. Thanks for playing.
I'll go with the SKS, for most of the reasons listed above. It's a lot more accurate in my experience; my commercial-production Norinco Type 56 shoots 3"-4" groups at 100 yards, while I've been lucky to even hit a man-sized target at the same distance with any of the various AK knockoffs. (I've also tried out a couple of Russian SKSs, and gotten three-inch groups out of them as well.)
I can also shoot the SKS from the prone position, which is where I tend to do my best rifle shooting. You can't go prone with an AK...unless you go with the dinky little five-round "sporting" magazines. So much for the magazine capacity advantage. And, you can buy two or three SKSs for the price of an AK.
Another benefit: I've done most of my shooting at public ranges, and on numerous occasions I've seen guys with overtly military-styled rifles like AKs get hassled by other patrons, who apparently become incontinent at the thought of anyone even wanting to own an assault-styled rifle. (Their loss, IMHO.) My sporterized SKS hardly draws a second glance; even original versions with an attached bayonet tend to be looked at as a curio or relic rather than a military weapon. And pre-loaded stripper clips go a long way toward offsetting the AK's one advantage in magazine capacity...if that is, the AK shooter is standing up.
I probably won't need (I hope!) to use my SKS defensively; I've got a shotgun for home defense. If I do have to break out the SKS, then surely I can get the job done with ten rounds or less. If I'm in a situation where I actually need thirty rounds or more of 7.62X39 and quick reloading...I'm probably screwed anyway.
Get an AK, a VEPR if you can find one. Best of the AKs.
My SKS Yugo version has made a believer of me. As above, $125-150 in great condition. Stripper clips work fine. Way accurate enough.
There's a replacement rear peep signt that fits to the back of the cover that works perfectly and order the replacement firing pin that uses a spring to prevent unintended full auto bursts if dirt gets hung in it.
Perfect SHTF rifle.
Buy the SKS first, get yourself a nice Yugo for around $150 and a case of ammo and take it to the range and shoot the hell out of it. Soon after you've shot the first case of ammo through the SKS, you'll feel the need for an AK, there's just no avoiding it.
SKS's and AK's just go hand in hand, they both have their good and bad points. If you don't eventually own both you'll never be completely satisfied!!
Final words: Start with the SKS, then get the AK later when you've got the extra cash.
(I've built, worked on and shot many AK's and SKS's. )
Frankly, everyone seems to see this as a SHTF situation, where the colapse of society is coming and, you have to pick ONE rifle before. So...I vote homebuilt AK. (After a cheap shotgun, and depending on area law, a cheap pistol)
Because, if there is a complete breakdown of society, it would be nice to have learned enough machining and stamping to build an AK. It isn't that much knowledge, but, it would be enough to let you build tube SMG's and similar weapons.
So...my vote is that anyone that really thinks the world is going to heck should buy a cheap Romanian AK parts kit (~$120),then beg, borrow or steal the know-how to build it, then start shooting.
As far as shooting for practice before you build a weapon...well...get an airgun...get a 22LR boltgun, etc. Some of the best highpower rifle AND IPSC pistol shooters learned, and still practice on airguns...so practice on the cheap...and LEARN how to build your own rifles.