Are you currently looking for an SHTF rifle on a budget? If so, you may want to give consideration to the SKS, and specifically to the Norinco SKS.

The SKS has been a popular surplus military rifle with American citizens for many years due precisely to its low cost as well as its versatility; it’s not uncommon to find an SKS rifle for around $300 or so, and it can be used as both a rifle for defense and for hunting game.

With literally millions of SKS’s in circulation, including the Chinese made Norinco SKS, there’s also no shortage of spare parts or aftermarket accessories.

Let’s dive more deeply into the SKS carbine and what it has to offer:

History of the SKS

The SKS was originally developed shortly after World War II. The war had made it apparent that bolt action rifles were on their way out as standard issue military rifles. The United States military had already adopted the .30-06 M1 Garand, and numerous other countries were experimenting with issuing semi-automatic rifles to their troops. Germany developed the Gewehr 43 and STG44 rifles, and the Soviet Union had issued the SVT-38 and the SVT-40 as a supplement for their Mosin Nagant rifles.

The SKS was designed at the end of World War II as a light and short carbine

Many countries also began to invest in intermediate rifle cartridges. This was because he current rifle cartridges, such as .30-06 or 7.62x54mm, were designed to touch targets out to one thousand yards away, and yet most firefights took place within ranges of three hundred yards or less. Subsequently, intermediate cartridges were to become the new norm.

The SKS was developed as a new carbine firing an intermediate cartridge called the 7.62x39mm at the end of World War II, and the weapon even saw very limited service on the Eastern Front in 1945. It’s a gas operated carbine with a gas piston rod and spring loaded bolt carrier, and held ten rounds of ammunition, loaded via stripper clip in the top of the receiver.

While the SKS was not officially an ‘assault rifle,’ it certainly paved the way for assault rifles such as the AK-47. In fact, it was because of the development and wide adoption of the AK-47 a couple of years later that the SKS never saw the major success it likely otherwise would have.

Nonetheless, the SKS was still used by the Soviet army as an additional infantry rifle to the AK-47 and was also adopted by the militaries of countries all around the world, including Eastern Bloc countries in Europe, Africa, and Southeastern Asia. American troops in the Vietnam War encountered North Vietnamese troops with numerous SKS carbines in their arsenal.

The SKS was also produced by numerous manufacturers around the world, including by Norinco in China. Today, Norinco SKS carbines are among the most common, being called the Type 56. In fact, out of the approximately 15 million SKS rifles made, over half were manufactured in China.

Norinco slightly revised the SKS manufacturing process by using a stamped receiver and lack of milling on the bolt carrier. Norinco SKS rifles were issued to the Chinese Army, but today are mostly used for just ceremonial purposes.

Huge numbers of Russian surplus weapons, including the Mosin Nagant and SKS, were also dumped into the United States in the 1980s, where they could be bought for incredibly cheap prices. Today, the SKS is not as cheap as it was back then, but they can still be easily found for the $250 to $400 range.

Why Own A Norinco SKS?

There are many reasons why people were buying SKS rifles back when they were first imported into the states in the 1980s, and people buy the rifles largely for the same reasons today: besides having neat historical value, the SKS is also affordable and versatile.

Granted, Chinese rifles are generally well known for being crudely made, and the Norinco Type 56 SKS is certainly no exception. But Chinese rifles are also known for being functional and durable, and that applies to the SKS as well.

The SKS is a semi-automatic rifle with a ten round capacity, and this combined with its relatively short length means that it can be used for self-defense.

Furthermore, the SKS also fires the 7.62x39mm. This round is inexpensive and easy to find, and it also has ballistics very similar to the .30-30 Winchester round. It’s a bit too light for the biggest game such as brown bear or elk, but it can easily be used on mid-sized game such as deer, pronghorn, or wild boar.

In addition, the SKS carbine is currently classified as a Curio & Relic by the ATF. This means that under United States Federal law, it can be sold with features that could be restricted on other kinds of rifles.

The SKS carbine has an abundance of aftermarket parts and accessories, making it an easily customizable weapon.

So there are many benefits to the Norinco SKS as an SHTF firearm. It’s light and short, has a fairly good capacity, can be used for both defense and hunting, has a very large supply of replacement parts and accessories, and so on.

Of course, the SKS should not be considered a flawless rifle either. The trigger pull is admittedly a bit sluggish, and the sights are not the best at all either.

In addition, it certainly takes longer to reload a rifle with stripper clips than with box magazines like the AR-15 or AK-47.

But in an SHTF situation, regardless of whether you’ll be out in the woods or in a densely populated urban area, the SKS will as a whole be a good choice for the reasons we’ve gone over.

Norinco vs. Other Manufacturers

There has been a substantial amount of date in regards to the overall quality of the Norinco SKS in comparison to other manufacturers of the rifle.

The Norinco SKS will, on average, sell for less money than other kinds of SKS rifles. It’s not uncommon to find Norinco SKS’s for $250 to $350. SKS carbines manufactured in Tula, Russia, will usually cost far more money than other kinds of SKS rifles, while Yugoslavian SKS rifles will be priced more comparably to the Norinco.

The Norinco SKS is the most common SKS variant out, with over six million built.

Prices aside, the Norinco SKS is considered by many gun owners to be superior in quality to Yugoslavian SKS’s because of having a chrome lined barrel that the Yugoslavian SKS lacks, but being lesser in quality compared to Russian or Romanian made SKS’s.

Nonetheless, you can still expect perfectly reliable function out of your Norinco SKS (just as with any other SKS), so don’t take this to assume that your Norinco SKS will be a poor choice for a rifle.

The least desirable kind of SKS to own will be one that has parts from many different companies or manufacturers, as the quality of these rifles can vary significantly.

Conclusion

All in all, if you’re looking for a budget SHTF rifle that’s suitable for both hunting and defense, the Norinco SKS is a decent option. At the very least, it’s an important part of military history and will be a worthy addition to any gun collection regardless.

Just remember that the price of SKS rifles in generals is going to continue to go up as the supply dries up, so it could be a worthwhile investment to pick one up soon as well.

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Alex Joseph is an avid bow hunter and father of two boys. Originally from Tacoma, Washington. Alex now resides in California.

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