sks with scope

Need A Budget SHTF Rifle? Consider The Norinco SKS

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:

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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.


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.

Alex Joseph

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

One thought on “Need A Budget SHTF Rifle? Consider The Norinco SKS

  1. I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. The woods here are primarily black spruce mixed with deciduous, maple , oak and beech, poplar. Extremely thick lots of bogs rough terrain. White tail deer roam here like pests there are so many of them. About 6 years ago I purchased an SKS Russian. I paid extra for it somewhere in the 500.00 range. Ordered it from British Columbia. They had 1 shipment of NEVER issued parade rifles. Now when I say never issued I mean they were parade rifles. Most or all SKS have your stamped steel butt plates mine is brass. Also I have a glass red commie star in my stalk with hammer and sickle. It came to me free of causmaline though I did clean it thoroughly again. All numbers match and not done with an engraver which most do when refurbished. Made in 1952. On the bolt carrier cover there is a star stamped into it. Tula? My buddies there is a triangle? 1953, Any way it also came with 2 mag pouches filled with clips and there was a complete cleaning kit for inside the stalk. This one works similar to the Lee Enfield where as my friends rifle you stick your finger in the hole provided and pop out comes the cleaning kit. I like that. They are not a rifle of beauty but if you compare mine to his, my rifle is sweet. The wood is of a laminate vs solid. The only thing I did to it was remove the upper hand gaurd and gas tube for an aerated one. Gives it a bit of a wow factor lol. As well I put a wolf rail on it to mount a very nice red dot optic. It’s the only way you can keep your group extremely tight. Otherwise I was told your bullets will wander. At the back of the bolt carrier cover the wolf rail comes down and secures where the latch is to disassemble so instead of having to remove screws where the latch is and on either side I simple use a pin so I can just pull it straight out. Very secure and tight but very practical. The only downfall is that u can’t use stripper clips. I have a magpul. 20 round banana clip pinned at 5. Easy though to accommodate 20 if all goes to hell. I have taken 2 very big swamp bucks with it from my ground blind 60ish meters the other one was around 85 based on my range finder. It’s probably one of the neatest little rifles I have and definitely my go to along with my 44 mag S&S shoulder rig. I also can say I have fired multitudes of good ammo in it without ever having an issue. That is really the most accurate rail system is the wolf rail. Unfortunately you can’t use strippers. I am looking for a drum for it however our country is NOT the same one I served with when I was in the navy for 28 years. I was a navy frogman and I also was a highly trained medic/ physician and dive med tech. Our gun laws are under severe attack here by our woke leader. He has systematically destroyed our beautiful nation from within in just 8 years. IT INFURIATES ME to no end. We WILL NEVER capitulate to their madness. I did 3 tours overseas in combat theatre nothing though like what is happening is Ukraine/Russia. I’m a proud Canadian and I love and will die for my country even at the age of 60. Sorry for getting off topic. My blood pressure rises if I see that banana republic transvestite leader of ours prancing around on tv. It’s enough to make you drive your fist through it. He wants now to take these away from us and make them the latest on the hit list but because there are so many in circulation it would be crazy. Off this topic I also wanted to tell you I have another non issued SKS from Norinco with the spike bayonet vs the knife configuration of my Russian one. Got it at Bass Pro. Once again a fantastic mint rifle and it shoots like a dream. I’m not doing anything to it except put a fiiber op post in the front site for quick acquisition. I love it. I would not shoot a moose with it though I’m sure it will do the job well within 100 meters. I have a Sharps 45/70 for that work. Anyways just thought I would send you out a few words of thought . If you are in the market for one they fetch at around 500.00 for the Norinco new. I got lucky with my old Soviet rifle and I love it , love them both and they make great deer rifles if hunting in thicker woods with a blind or tree stand. Out of the question beyond 100 though I’m sure there are those out there that will say different. Thanks for your site.

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