December 31, 2021Chinese SKS (Type 56) Rifle in Canada

The SKS (Russian: Самозарядный карабин системы Симонова, or Samozaryadny Karabin sistemy Simonova) is a Soviet Union designed carbine rifle. Many communists and Soviet allied countries such as China (named Type 56), Yugoslavia, Albania, North Korea, North Vietnam, East Germany, Romania, and Bulgaria manufactured their own variants during the Cold War.

SKS Specifications

Mass 3.85 kg (8.5 lb)
Length 1,020 mm (40 in),
Barrel length 520 mm (20 in)
Cartridge 7.62×39mm
Action Short stroke gas piston, self-loading
Rate of fire semi-automatic 35–40 (rd/min)
Muzzle velocity 735 m/s (2,411 ft/s)
Effective firing range 400 meters (440 yd)
Feed system 10 round stripper clip, internal box magazine.
Sights Hooded post front sight, tangent notch rear sight graduated from 100 to 1,000 meters.

History of the SKS

During World War 2, the Soviet Union looked to replace the large bolt-action Mosin-Nagant with a reliable semi-automatic intermediate cartridge rifle. Research had shown that most battles happen within 300 meters, and a smaller cartridge would allow soldiers to carry more bullets.

The SKS was designed in 1943 by Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov and came into service in 1945. The simple design was easy for relatively poorly trained troops to shoot and maintain. The SKS was soon exported and manufactured in many countries. The design remained surprisingly similar across the eight manufacturing countries.

The SKS was quickly made obsolete by the infamous AK-47 because the SKS lacked full-automating firing, and its box magazine was limited to 10 rounds. Furthermore, the AK-47 could be manufactured with a stamped receiver rather than a milled receiver making it lighter to carry and far cheaper to manufacture.

Chinese SKS (Type 56) Variant

Early in the Cold War, the Chinese depended on Soviet military technology and then tinkered with improvements over time; Much like the Nanchang CJ6 and Nanchang motorcycle.

The Soviet Union stop manufacturing the SKS in 1958, but the People’s Republic of China still continues to build the rifle for the export consumer market. Over 15 million SKS rifles have been manufactured worldwide with China manufacturing more than any other country. The Chinese named their first SKS variant the Type 56, but they went on to make many other slight variants: Type 63, Type 86, Type 73, Type 81, and Type 84.

Millions of SKS rifles were manufactured between 1955-56, China built a small number of SKS rifles with Russian parts and advisers, before making numerous minor changes, and continuing to manufacture millions of Chinese Type 56 variants. The most notable change is a spike bayonet rather than the Russian blade bayonet.

The SKS (and Chinese Type 56) is classified as “non-restricted” in Canada and is legal to own and operate in a safe manner by anyone with a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL).

Starting in the 1980s, SKS rifles were imported to North America, but in 1993 the Bill Clinton administration banned the import of Chinese firearms to the USA. SKS rifles are still imported to Canada and are one of the few firearms cheaper in Canada than in the USA. The SKS is one of the cheapest semi-automatic, non-restricted rifles chambered in an intermediate cartridge available in the Canadian market. They are extremely common in Canada and a mainstay in most Canadian gun collections.

You can now buy a Norinco commercial consumer model. There are a ton of aftermarket stocks and attachments. If you can find a military surplus one with matching parts and serial numbers, I think that you should leave it stock as a piece of military history. But realistically the SKS is a common target rifle that is cheap to shoot and maintain.

Typically, the Canadian import has a spacer welded into the 10 round box magazine to comply with the Canadian 5 round capacity law. Otherwise, they are affordable military rifle that is likely to increase in value.

The Chinese SKS (Type 56) is the most common variant found in Canada and will cost about $400 Canadian. Whereas, the more sought-after Russian versions will cost about $500 today.