In 2009 my father loaned me his numbers matching Yugoslavian 59/66 SKS. This was the last version of the SKS and the best one made. It has fold out bayonet and barrel attachment for a rocket launcher. It was a beautiful rifle.

The SKS in stock form:

When I got it the gun was still packed in cosmoline. Cosmoline is a grease like substance that new weapons were stored in until the soldier used them. The cosmoline was in every nook and cranny of the gun. It took a few days to get it all cleaned off. This was a major pain but it meant that the gun was in unused condition:

Every single part just oozed of cosmoline. Even the wood stock was completely saturated with it. When the wood heated up the cosmoline would create little beads of sweat. It was horrible:

To remove the cosmoline from the wood, I heated it in an oven. Every 20 minutes or so I would wipe the cosmoline off and then put the stock back in the heat again. This took several hours. The metal parts were a little easier. I boiled them in water then sprayed them off with brake cleaner. This took a few hours as well but the work was easier:

Everything is squeaky clean:

After cleaning everything I took the gun to the range and tested it. It shot great! A few weeks later I was looking for something to play with and found the "Bloom Automatic Golf Ball Launcher". It was a cylinder that attached to the end of the rifle where a grenade would usually go. If you used blanks you would be able to fire a golf ball several hundred yards. This was always great fun at the range. Since the ATF has determined that a golf ball launcher is not a weapon this means you can also walk out in the middle of the street and fire a few off into the woods. It brings an entirely different twist to 4th of July and New Years Eve fire works displays. The gun with the golf ball launcher attached:

This is me literally not being able to hit the broad side of a barn. If you look closely, you can see the golf ball going between the tree and the barn:

Still, as fun as the golf ball launcher was and as nice as the gun was it was just not what I was looking for. The gun was heavy and even though it was very nice looking I just wasn't into the wood furniture. I wanted to have something with more of an assult rifle look. I started making a parts list of composite stocks and scope mounts. It looked like it would cost me around $350 to build the gun I wanted. I sat on the idea and parts list for a while and then in 2011 I saw someone was selling a modified SKS in my local area. It had a Tapco adjustable stock, a 2x red dot scope, and a tri-rail attached to the barrel. The barrel had about 6" cut off the end and the heavy bayonet, mount, and sight had been removed. I ended up getting the gun, 100 rounds of ammo, and 4 magazines for $400:

A comparison of the length / look of the two guns. FWIW, the new gun weighs 9.2# vs the 10.6# for the old gun. The tri-rail on the front weighs a hefty 0.8# so I might take it off at some time even though I think it looks pretty slick:

Got a very strange can of sardines in the mail today (complete with can opener):

I've never bought military surplus ammo before so I really didn't know what was in the can. It was just smaller boxes of 20 rounds each:

The first time I took the new rifle to the range I had a ton of problems with FTF (fail to fire). It looked like the firing pin was not striking the primer hard enough to fire the round (light strike). You can see the difference here with the primer on the left being slightly dented and the primer on the right having a much harder strike:

I took the gun apart and found that the bolt had been modified (rather poorly). Could this be the cause of my light strikes? Someone had ground down the sides of the bottom of the bolt:

Another view of the bolt. I was really scratching my head on why someone would do this. After a little research I found that an SKS-M (the "M" being Modified or Magazine) had a different bolt than a standard SKS. As the SKS was being phased out the Chinese started producing them to use AK magazines. The bolts on these rifles were modified by removing the extentions that slip under the feed lips of the mag and mechanically lock it into the magazine. Some SKS owners modified their bolts to match the look / function of the SKS-M. So, the mystery was solved. I had a "drop fee bolt" so a magazine could be inserted into the gun without the need for the bolt to be open:

The main thing that causes light strikes on an SKS is the firing pin being gunked up and sticking. This gun had an upgraded "made in USA" spring loaded firing pin vs the free floating firing pin that came in all but the very early SKS rifles. So, the firing pin could not have been causing the problem. I showed a few people pictures of the bolt and someone noticed that the front of the bolt had a "volcano". Note the rim around the firing pin hole on the left. The bolt on the right looks like it could have something there too but it is just a little dirty:

I took a drill bit and hand turned it to remove the volcano and put a small chamfer around the hole. After the work was done I headed back out to the range for a quick test. I say quick but it is a 1.5 hour drive round trip so there is nothing quick about it. How did it do? Well, instead of getting a FTF every 3rd round I dumped two 20 round magazines and only had one light strike (on the very first round - not sure why) out of the 40 rounds. I also had one stovepipe where the shell did not fully eject (this was the last round of the first magazine). I can live with that for now:

Note - You are probably seeing missing links to some pictures above. I still use Notepad to create the html code and have a template with plenty of extra references to pictures to save on typing. As I continue the page I will add pictures and descriptions and these missing links will disappear.