If there is anything you take away from all this, let it be this: Never mount anything that requires precision to plastic. Always use metal.
With this mantra firmly in mind, I went looking for a way to mount a steel rail to my SKS without ultimately mounting it to the plastic stock. I found what I was looking for in the Leapers UTG SKS Tactical Quad-Rail Forearm System w/Extra Bottom Plate, hereafter referred to as UTG rail.
Compared to the debacle that was the ATI stock, installing the UTG rail was delightful. Even without comparison, it was easy:
- Unscrew the four bolts that mount the upper piece to the lower, using included allen wrench;
- Place halves around your SKS, with the bolts bracketing the gas block;
- Tighten bolts.
Et voila! She is installed. You have metal clamping to metal, providing a secure platform.
- The UTG Rail will mount to both aftermarket stocks and original wooden stocks (I tried it with both).
- You can mount a bipod or sling loop on the bottom, and lights or other goodies on the sides.
- It comes with enough rubber rail covers to cover the sides (and then some!).
- It does not interfere with a folding bayonet.
- So far as I know, this does not affect 922(r) restrictions, so you can mount an optic to your otherwise-stock SKS without having to go the full modification route like I did.
- Leapers/UTG is an American company. Most of their products are made in Michigan, and those which are outsourced are made in Taiwan, and not mainland China.
There aren't many things wrong with it, but these are worth noting:
- It's heavy. It weighs about 2 pounds, and it's right at the end of the rifle, which could cause balance problems -- especially if you have a plastic stock that's light in the ass, like the ATI.
- You can't affix the cleaning rod unless you want to do a LOT of drilling.
- You can't fold the bayonet and keep a bipod mounted on it. You have to choose one or the other.
- Certain gas block covers (like the one that comes with the ATI stock) will not fit underneath it. You will either have to replace it with the original wooden cover, or keep the piston exposed. I chose the latter, but that's because I'd already removed the original to try the plastic ATI cover. Unless you're worried about running hot, I'd say leave the wood on.
My Verdict: a solid A rating.
While I haven't (yet) beaten and abused this thing, it feels very solid and has held up well to being bumped, dropped, and otherwise finger-fucked. Weight is an issue, but I'd rather have rugged and heavy than light and flimsy any day.
Having to choose between a bipod mount and the bayonet is annoying, but understandable. If ATI had given me a real mount instead of a cheap plastic one which broke, I could have mounted the bipod there and had the best of both worlds.
I do however find it annoying that UTG went to the trouble to make their rail system bayonet compatible, but completely left out the ability to keep the cleaning rod. If they had managed this, I would have given them an A+.
I recommend this product to all SKS owners.
Next: In part 3, I'm going to talk magazines and other goodies.
FTC disclaimer: I bought this with my own money so neener.