The SKS was developed late in WW2 & introduced on a trial in the closing stages of that war. After the war the Soviets were developing the AK47 & they put the SKS into production in 1949 as a back-up to the AK. It didn't see wide-spread use by the Soviets but eventually equipped & was mfg by many of the ComBloc countries including China, N Viet Nam, N Korea, Romania, East Germany & even Albania! The Soviet guns went thru a series of modifications, the original 1949 guns were mfg w/a spike bayonet similiar to the original 1945 trials guns, in 1950 they switched to common blade style, they were mfg in the Soviet Union from 1949-1956/57.
Album by willyp. Photos by willyp. 1 - 73 of 73 Total. 12013 Visits.
1949 Tula SKS 1st production year, early guns were improved versions of the original 1944 trials guns that saw very limited service in WWII, early production is primarily 1949 into early 1950 & these rifles have some substantial diffeences from later guns.
1949 w/bayonet extended Obvious physical (visible)differences are the early guns had: 1) Spike bayonets 2) stocks were shallower in front 3) front band 4) take down lever 5) machining differences in rear sight bases, front bases/bayo mounts, floorplates, mag latches etc.
49 Buttstock right All original mfg SKS's from 1949 to late 55-56 were fiteed w/hardwood stocks, this particular example has been rearsenaled but appears to have all of it's original parts.
49 Tula right side action Carefully compare this view w/pics of the later guns & the comparison views later in the album for the visible differences.
1949 Top cover marking Here you can see the early Tula star, date of 1949, serial (interestingly this ones serial is 1949!), also note the small rework indicator stamp os a diagonal line in a box, also note the takedown lever which is shorter has a hole in it & the pin that goes through the receiver doesn't have an "obvious" weld mark, possibly a 1pc assembly?
49 rear sight Note the black paint finish, as originally these rifles had a high gloss blue finish & bright bolts, some of the rifles were refinished in black paint during refurbs some weren't, some rifles were refitted w/later parts during refurb some weren't.
49 rear sight closeup Rear sight base machining is different compared to later production, you can also see the forend of the stock is much shallower, the grips are shorter & shallower also.
49 bayonet cutout Here is the bayonet cutout on an original spike bayonet 1949 stock, much longer than the later blade bayonet style.
49 Forend, right side Another obvious difference is the gas port on the early rifles which were 90%, the port itself appears almost square, later mfg was much more angled.
49 w/spike bayonet extended
49 w/spike bayonet extended left side
49 left forend
49 Tula gas port A better view of the early 90%, square gas port, this port will also be found on early-mid 50's production guns, also note the different machining of the sling swivel bar, more squared on the early guns.
49 Tula left upper band-forend View of the front band, much shallower than the later blade bayonet style.
49 Tula left forend
49 Tula action left view Note the serial#, 1949!, this rifle has 2 obvious repairs to the wood.
49 Tula bottom trigger-mag
49 Tula left side buttstock Original mfg guns would have the Tula star, date & serial number here (same markings as top cover), this rifle has the remains of the markings (couldn't get them to show in the pic as they're VERY light) which were mostly sanded off during refurb.
49 Tula left side bayonet extended
49 Tula left view
1953 Tula mfg SKS45 The SKS was produced by Tula arsenal between 1949-1956/57 & by Ishevsk in 1953/54. The guns were the same except for markings, Tula denoted by a star, Ishevsk by an arrow in a triangle within a circle. Approximately late 1952-1953 production standardized on what I would term mid-production form, Tula, 1952-1955 & Ishevsk 1953/54 being the same except for the markings.
53 Tula right buttstock All SKS45 production rifles between 1949 & 1955 by Tula & Ishevsk were originally mfg with hardwood stocks. One of the clues to a rifles original configuration is the presence of the acceptance or final inspection stamp on the RIGHT of the stock which can be seen faintly in this pic.
Tula acceptance or final proof mark. The Tula marking consisted of the Crylic character shown within a circle (Ю), the character would be U in English, the Ishevsk marking consisted of 2 Crylic characters within a circle (next pic). All original guns mfg at both arsenals would have these stamps in the right buttstock, stocks w/o these stamps are later replacements. This marking could also be (Т over О,cryllic mkgs)
Ishevsk Acceptance or final proof mark For Comparison to previous pic, this is the marking found on the right side of the buttstock on original production fitted stocks for Ishevsk arsenal mfg, basically same as Tula except for different Cryllic Characters (АП)in the circle. This is a pic of an as issued 1954 Ishevsk gun. This could also be (ИП).
56/57 Tula "side rail" mkd laminate stock marking All original production SKS's from 1949 thru at least mid 55 production were fitted w/hardwood stocks as original, w/the previously shown acceptance mark on right butt for Tula. In either late 55 or 56 thru the end of mfg in the Soviet Union SKS's were originally fitted w/laminate stocks, these original mfg laminate stock guns will show the same Tula acceptance stamp (Ю)on the right side as shown & will have the serial# on the left side but w/no Star & date mkg, a laminate stock on one of these late "side rail" marked guns w/no acceptance stamp on the right side and/or multiple serials, or the remains (look closely at any you're checking) are replacement stocks NOT original mfg.
53 Tula right side action Machining differences denote the "mid" (my term) variants in the rear sight mount, bolt carrier, & take down lever areas.
53 Tula right side import markings A large number of genuine Soviet SKS's were imported in the 80's-90's, most were arsenal reworks although they were a number of original condition guns to be found, this 53 Tula I believe is a rifle in it's original configuration, parts & finish. This particular rifle was imported by Century Arms.
53 Tula right side rear sight
53 Tula right forend Forend
53 Tula right w/bayonet folded The "mid" production gas port & blade bayonet. The bayonets have been seen in dull silver, polished & blued, the blued bayonets are thought to be replacements, there will also be found minor machining variations in the bayonet mount.
53 Tula muzzle w/bayonet extended
53 Tula left w/bayonet extended
53 Tula left bayonet folded
53 Tula stock cutout for blade bayonet The bayonet & cutout were the same for late 1950-1955, 1949 & very early (possibly) 1950 guns used a spike bayonet & the cutout was longer, also the stocks for the spike bayonets were slimmer in the forend & the front band was shallower. In late 55-56 the stocks were laminate wood but the cutout was the same as the late 50-1955 guns.
53 Tula left forend
53 Tula top view of rear sight Soviet sights are characterized by the n type character denoting the battle sight setting.
53 Tula left action Original production rifles were finished in a high gloss blue on most metal parts, the receiver top covers exhibited a distinct 2 tone appearance about where the top cover marking would be if in their original finish. Rework guns would have a dull even black/blue & in many cases a painted black finish.
53 Tula left side receiver markings From 1949-1955 the SKS45 serial was marked on the forward part of the left receiver rail, numerous & variable inspection markings would be found in the chamber area & in many places on the stock. Note also the bright finish of the bolt, all original production guns had bright bolts.
53 Tula closeup of rail marking Here is a closer view of the markings, one of the "clues" to an SKS's originality is the bolt finish, some guns during rework had the bolts painted black, some rifles did not, an original gun would have to have a bright bolt but a bright bolt alone does not mean it wasn't reworked.
56 Tula closeup of rail marking In late 55 or 1956 Tula mfg SKS (no Ishevsk mfg is known other than 1953 & 1954), were switched from hardwood stocks to laminate stocks, the arsenal marking (Star) was applied to the left receiver along w/serial# & a Crylic character which is believed to be a date code & the top covers on the "side rail" marked guns was left unmarked except for the serial in the normal location at the rear. Check the other pics for clues on how to determine the originality of the laminate stock on a particular rifle by matching the markings & styles shown in the other pics.
53 Tula magazine marking As on most Soviet arms the parts of the rifle that were serialized always had the full serial including Crylic prefixes on the individual parts, this would include the receiver, top cover, stock, bolt carrier, bolt, magazine & trigger guard, the gas tubes, firing pins & at times bolts could sometimes be found w/etched numbers.
53 Tula trigger guard
53 Tula markings on wrist area
53 Tula Top Cover Mkg Tula star w/arrow w/date 1953 on top cover, the 2 tone finish didn't show up in this pic.
54 Ishevsk Top Cover mkg Here is the markings for an original as mfg 1954 Ishevsk mfg SKS as opposed to Tula, instead of the star it has an arrow in a triangle within an oval & the date, note the 2 tone blue finish of the cover which is an indication of original finish on Soviet SKS's.
56 Tula Top Cover, no markings This is a pic of the top cover of the late "side rail" marked Tula mfg guns, no markings other than the serial at the rear of the cover but the 2 tone finish is still present.
53 Tula left buttstock Original markings for Tula SKS's consisted of the same markings as the top cover, the Tula star, w/the matching date (in this case 1953) & the serial number. To check a stock for originality there should be ONE matching serial, the correct arsenal mkg & date AND the correct (for arsenal) acceptance marking on the RIGHT stock. You have to check the stock closely for line-outs or sanded off numbers. A stock w/the matching serial but no arsenal/date on left & no acceptance mark on right is a replacement as are ALL laminate stocks prior to late 1955/56.
53 Tula left butt marking These are original, as mfg Tula markings for 1953
54 Ishevsk Left Butt Mkg For comparison here is a pic of the butt markings, left side of an original as mfg 1954 Ishevsk SKS, same as the Tula except the arsenal marking of an arrow in a triangle within a circle, these same markings will also be on the top cover.
56 Tula original laminate left Butt Mkg This is a pic of an original as mfg 56 Tula laminate stock, it is the original serial on the stock & the factory acceptance/final proof is on the right side of the stock. The circular marking on the right butt is THE indicator of originality on these stocks as even a replacement stock may very well have only 1 serial on it as many of the laminate stocks used as replacements were new stocks, these new replacement stocks would NOT have the acceptance marks on the right side as they were NOT fitted at Tula or Ishevsk as original fittings. If the stock being used as a replacement was a takeoff from an original mfg gun it would have the right side mkg (or more likely the remains of one) but there would be another serial# on the wood (the gun it was originally fitted to at mfg).
53 Tula left w/bayonet extended
53 Tula left w/bayonet folded
1949vs1953 Tula SKS's The following group of pics show an early (1949-early 1950 mfg) rifle versus a mid (late 51/early52-mid 55 mfg) gun. There appear to be about 4 major mfg variants of the Russian SKS (for collectors purposes) but different features seem to have been phased in as time went on rather than all at once & some or all of the features can be found on guns, the originality & time frame of the changes can only be ascertained by examining enough verifiable original examples as possible.
49vs53 w/bayonets extended right side Top: 49 Bottom: 53 Other than the bayonet the general outline of the rifles is a bit different due to the stock dimensions & the early/spike gun is longer w/the bayonets extended.
49vs53 right side buttplates Left: 53 Tula Right: 49 Tula The 49 buttplate appears to be a bit "straighter" in profile & is thicker than the later rifle.
49vs53 right action Top: 49 Tula Bottom: 53 Tula Note: the 53 is in original finish, the 49 is in rework finish although consisting of all it's original parts. Compare machining variations, take down lever, stock etc.
49vs53 right side takedown levers Left: 49 Right: 53 My reason for using the 49 vs 53 for comparison is the 53 is probably the main style, the style between the 49-50 & late 52 is mostly a combination of both!
49vs53 Tulas Rear sight area
49vs53 Tulas forend area Better closeup of the rear sight bases & forend for comparison.
49vs53 Bayonet cutouts Here you can see the dimensional differences, a later, blade bayonet stock would have to be heavily modified & recontoured to fit the spike bayonet, also the front band is very different.
49vs53 Tulas right muzzle areas Some of the "non" visible, "non" obvious differences are: 1) early guns had non chrome bores 2) early guns had 90% gas ports in the barrel 3) early guns had spring loaded firing pins 4) early guns had no disconnector as part of the trigger group 5) various machining differences in internal parts.
49vs53 Tulas right forends Top: 49, 90% block bottom: 53, 45% block Between these 2 variants there is another that was similiar to the 53 but the machining on the outeside of the port was a bit different.