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Monday, October 14, 2013

PPR Monday Gunday: Accessorizing your SKS, Part 1

Warning:  Purists, the easily offended, and those allergic to tactical rails should leave now.

One of the first things I did after I got Simon, my Chinese SKS knockoff, was to start accessorizing it. This is partly because I enjoy modifying things to better suit me, and partly because my most feminine feature is my obsessive need to add goodies to perfectly useful things in order to make them more "complete".

To put it in terms my male readers can understand -- you know how you would get Star Wars or G.I. Joe vehicles, and they often had empty spaces for gunners (or, god forbid, came with no drivers) ?  Did you ever say "Mom, I need more rebels/ Stormtroopers/ Cobra soldiers to put in here," because an unoccupied seat in a toy would drive you mad?  Because they all needed crews, right?  And you couldn't just put any old figure in the seats, because that just plain wouldn't make sense! Infantry was infantry, dammit, and while they could ride in the back they weren't part of the crew because that would make them Armored Cavalry, and the file card clearly states that these Joes are infantry, and....


What I'm saying is, more stuff = better toy, at least in my mind. Which is why I like putting stuffs on my guns. The very first thing that I did was to buy a bayonet and mount it, because I like sharp pointy things and there was a bayonet mount on Simon and so clearly he needed that spot filled to make him more complete. After that I thought, maybe, I would leave it alone after that.

Well, that lasted a couple months, which is a good run for me, but after coming back from the Bidet Shoot I decided that I really wanted to put an optic on Simon because my eyes are approximately 20/Startafirewithmylenses. This led me smack-dab in the wall o' fun called 922(r).

Brief aside:
At this point, gunnies are nodding their heads in rueful understanding. For the non-gunnies, 922(r) is a regulation that states, essentially, that imported guns like the AK-47, SKS and others are perfectly fine if you leave them as-is, but if you start to make changes to how they operate -- such as adding a pistol grip, or using external magazines on a formerly internal-magazine rifle -- you have to change out SEVERAL features all at once in order to bring it into compliance.

Yes, you are reading that correctly. An SKS with 17 "foreign" features is fine if you leave them stock, but if you add something, you have to add MORE things so that you only have 10 foreign parts and the rest are American-made.

If you are facepalming, you now know exactly what the rest of us feel like when dealing with 922(r). 

So as I said earlier, I wanted to add an optic. Fortunately, adding an optic is not disapproved by 922(r). However, mounting it to my rifle proved problematic:
  • I didn't want to drill holes into the receiver for a scope mount;
  • I didn't want to mount it on the receiver cover, because
    • I honestly wasn't sure if that was 922(r) kosher or not, and
    • I kept hearing that I'd need a shell deflector if I mounted an optic there, but
    • I still wanted to use stripper clips and a deflector would have prevented that. 
  • So I ended up saying "Why the hell not" and just bought a stock and detachable magazines, because that was the easiest & cheapest way to get a scope mount and I'd get more ammo capacity and ergonomic features in the process. 
Which is all a longwinded way of saying that I am reviewing the TAPCO SKS stock and the other stuff I bought afterwards. 
First of all, you're going to need tools. In my case, I needed an X-acto knife, a set of punches, a rubber mallet, and a socket wrench with a 3/8" adapter and a shaft long enough to reach 3-4 inches. 

To begin:
  • First field-strip your SKS (with all the cursing which this entails) and then remove the receiver from the stock.
    • I found that using a punch and a mallet was a good way to get the latch-thingie to disengage from the trigger mechanism.  
  • Realize that the receiver isn't going to fit into the holes in the stock without some trimming. 
  • Get a hobby knife and do some pruning to make room. 
    • Try not to cut yourself. Ow. 
  • Place receiver in stock
  • Mount pistol grip to stock using socket wrench. 
    • Realize that the screw is actually cutting threads in the plastic of the stock. 
    • Settle in for the long haul; this is going to take a while. 
    • Screw screw screw.
  • Try to add trigger assembly. 
    • Realize that the spring which TAPCO gave you isn't going to cooperate like the commie version does.
      • Why in Simonov's name is there even spring tension on the trigger assembly to begin with? Don't you want it to be held snug instead of constantly trying to escape?
      • I think this is all a sick joke on the user, like most Russian novels. 
    • Realize that if the commie version of anything is more forgiving, you're not gonna have a good time. 
    • Realize that you need to hammer that fucker into place. 
  • Get rubber mallet and pound on trigger guard until it pops into position. 
    • The nice thing about ComBloc designs is that they seem to enjoy a little "rough trade", so if you get frustrated and decide to beat the crap out of them, they aren't the worse for wear. Some even work better afterwards. 
  • Finish assembly of stock. 
Despite all of this, the stock isn't too bad. It's made of a decently thick plastic (but it's no glass-filled nylon, that's for sure) that has a pleasantly pebbled texture. The pistol grip feels good, and has a storage space inside it. The 6-position stock even comes with a plug so that you can put stuff (like a cleaning kit) into it. 


I bought a stock with the bottom rail, because I wanted the ability to mount a bipod and/or handgrip there. This was my first mistake, as the rail which comes attached to the stock is not metal like most accessory rails. No, it's plastic, and it's a cheaper plastic than the rest of the stock. 

The bipod was mounted forward of the break. Somehow, lifting the rifle up to inspect the buttstock caused the bipod to put pressure on the rail, and the cheap plastic snapped. 

In other words, the rail broke within about an hour of use. I would have been better off having bought the one with the bayonet cutout. Now I have a cheap rail, prone to breakage, and no way to fold the bayonet. I can either leave the bayo fully extended, or I can take it off. 

What's worse is that the rail which covers the gas piston isn't sufficiently thick enough to ensure a solid mounting surface. I noticed several times that my zero started to shift, and investigation showed that the plastic cover was warping ever so slightly -- probably from the pressure of the optic mount against the rail -- and did not have a firm base of contact with the rest of the stock.
The part in black is the gas tube. The part in beige is the cover with rail (obviously). 

Just in case it needs to be said, an optic rail which does not hold zero is worse than useless.

I was able to fix this problem, but that involved buying another accessory. Which is the subject for another article, naturally.

My Rating:  F for the optic rail; C+ (would have been a B) if installation had been easier, or if the rail didn't suck donkey balls) for the rest of the stock.  Buy this only if you really, REALLY want a pistol grip and/or an adjustable shoulder piece. 

FTC disclaimer:  I bought this with my own money so neener. 

1 comment:

  1. I have not, because 922(r) forced me to get magazines. I'll review those later.


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