Drum Roll Please

Now introducing my long awaited SKS trigger job instructional video.

The entire thing ended up being about 45 minutes long. In order to upload it onto YouTube, I had to split it into 5 segments:

 

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Part One

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Part Two

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Part Three

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Part Four

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Part Five

Enjoy.

[Update] David at Vote for David, clued me in in the comments that he has a post up on improving the SKS trigger as well. One aspect that he covers that I don’t is decreasing the first stage or takeup. But he doesn’t talk about decreasing the creep at all…different strokes for different folks. At any rate, David’s post is worth taking a look at just to get a different perspective and also he has some very good pictures that could help if something is unclear to you. [/Update]

SKS Trigger Job Update

Since I’m no longer doing the trigger jobs, I’ve told several people that I’m going to do a post on how to do them. I was hoping to have it done by this weekend, but it is taking longer than I thought.

Part of the reason is because I decided to do an instructional video rather than a straight post. I’ve got the video segments in the can, but I’m working on some animations to explain how the trigger/sear/hammer works and the concept of Positive/Neutral/Negative sear engagement and why it is so important on the SKS. I’m making good progress, but the animations are taking a while to get done. I’m not only an amateur at gunsmithing, but at movie making as well. I’m still working on it diligently and I hope to have it done very soon. I’m going to “youtube” it, but I’ll also have a higher definition version available for download and I may even offer a DVD version for purchase, depending on how well it turns out.

Anyway, I just wanted to give an update in case anyone hits the blog this weekend hoping to find the trigger job post.

SKS Trigger Job

[Update] Due to the recent changes in ATF interpretation of “manufacturing” and my strong desire to avoid federal prison time. I am no longer doing trigger jobs. I apologize to anyone who would like to have this work done, but It simply isn’t worth taking the chance. At some point I plan to do a post on completing the trigger job which I hope will enable some of you to do the work yourselves. It isn’t rocket science (prima facia evidence: I can do it) so hopefully, with a little instruction, you’ll be able to do it too. [/Update]

Yesterday I posted the history and decision making process involved in making this offer so, if you’re interested, there’s more info there.

First, I don’t want to mislead anyone who is thinking about letting me do this work; I am not a professional gunsmith. I am a self-taught hobbyist. I am not doing this to “make a living” or even to make “extra money”…I’m making this offer to meet a specific need. Once that need is met, this offer may no longer be available so, if you are thinking about it, now is the time.

In a nutshell here’s the basic offer:

For a donation of $35, I’ll do a basic trigger job on your SKS

For a donation of $50, I’ll do the basic trigger job and add an overtravel stop to your trigger housing.

Now for the details:

The basic trigger job consists of re-cutting and polishing the sear and hammer contact points, polishing the sear rails, and adjusting the sear engagement. What you will end up with is a distinct two stage operation with a slightly positive sear/hammer engagement, very minimal creep and a crisp let-off. I don’t have a trigger pull gage (yet) but by my estimation, after completing this trigger job, the trigger pull will be reduced to somewhere between 4 and 6 lbs.

Someday I’ll get a gage and I’ll be able to refine that a little more, but that’s about as close as I can estimate it right now.

If you would like to install Wolff springs, purchase them and send them with your trigger housing assembly and I’ll install them for you as a part of the basic trigger job. The reduced weight hammer and sear springs from Wolff will reduce the trigger pull by about another pound and are more consistent than the stock springs.

The SKS is a pretty sturdy rifle and I don’t anticipate having to replace any parts, but the possibility exists that something will be worn beyond the ability to adjust or repair. In that event, I will contact you and explain exactly what needs to be replaced and why. At that point you can:

A) Have me stop work, reassemble the housing and send it back to you as-is (and I’ll refund your donation if you’ve already made it).

B) Purchase the parts that need replaced and have them shipped to me.
or
C) Have me purchase the replacements parts and let you know how much you need to add to your donation to pay for them.

The installation of an overtravel stop addresses one more thing that can have a major impact on the “feel” of the trigger.

Overtravel is how far the trigger continues to the rear after the sear breaks and the hammer falls. Overtravel on an SKS is quite dramatic and can have a significant impact on accuracy.

Installing an overtravel stop requires drilling and tapping a screw hole into the rear of the trigger guard so if you want your SKS to stay original, this mod is not for you.

It is also not the prettiest of modifications so if the look of it bothers you…again, not for you.

But if you care more about trigger feel and accuracy than aesthetics, you may want to consider this.

I have found that the overtravel stop screw makes a significant difference in the feel of the trigger and my ability to be accurate with this rifle.

Also, note that I have the pistol grip removed from my T-6 stock in this picture. If you have a T-6 stock (or, I would imagine, any aftermarket stock with a pistol grip) after the pistol grip is installed, it hides the screw head fairly well which makes the mod much less noticeable.

OK, so your thinking “I’m interested, now what?”: first e-mail me by clicking on the “Contact Me” link just under my profile in the sidebar. After I get you my mailing address, you remove your trigger housing group and send it, along with the Wolff springs if you want them installed, to the address I give you. I will do the work, then mail the housing back to you. You pay for postage/shipping one way, I’ll pay it the other way. If you want me to use a shipping method other than standard First Class USPS, you can pay the difference and I’ll ship it any way you like.

As far as the donation goes, you can send a check or money order along with the trigger housing. I will wait for personal checks to clear before mailing the housing back and you will be required to pay any bounced check fees that my bank charges me should the need arise. Alternatively, you can use the “donate” buttons in the sidebar to make your donation through Paypal or Gearpay (be sure you don’t donate to Ryan Frederick by mistake…he’d appreciate the donation, but he’s not going to do a trigger job for you). I will mail the trigger housing back to you as soon as I finish it and either the check has cleared or the donation has been credited to my Paypal or Gearpay accounts.

I guarantee my work. If I break your trigger housing, I’ll fix it or replace it. If you aren’t satisfied with my work after you get the trigger housing back, I’ll refund your donation (minus the cost of parts if I had to replace any). We’re all a part of the shooting brotherhood. You’re trusting me to do this work for you so I’m trusting you to be straight up with me after it’s done. If you say my work sucked, it sucked and you’ll get your money back.

If you DON’T think my work sucked, I’d appreciate it if you could write something about it so I can add your thoughts below. My first contributor was kind enough to write something and, if and when I receive more, I’ll post them below his.

 

Thank you for your interest in my project and I hope you’ll consider my offer if you have been thinking about making your SKS into a better shooter.

The Scuttlebutt from Contributors

A couple months ago, I asked Curt to perform the trigger improvements on my SKS trigger group that he had accomplished and so ably blogged about on his own rifle. My SKS is a great rifle but the trigger was just terrible. The trigger pull was rough, indefinite in its release and completely incompatible with accurate shooting. I asked Curt to do the work since he was already experienced with the task and it looked like something I didn’t want to tackle.

He did a terrific job! He had the work completed and back to me in just a week even though I said there was no hurry and he included the over-travel mod after asking me via email if I’d like it done. When I got the chance to shoot the SKS, it was like a new rifle! The trigger releases light and smooth and is a huge improvement from before Curt’s efforts. I was able to consistently hit an empty 20 pound propane tank, offhand, at 120 yards, using iron sights, a shot that I missed more often than I hit before the trigger improvements. The rifle is so good now that my buddy Kenny said he’d be tempted to buy his own SKS and have Curt do the same work since he was so put off by the original trigger during previous shooting trips.

Curt’s efforts on my trigger group has made my SKS into exactly the rifle I expected it to be and I appreciate his expert work.

–Nate McCord, Ogden, UT

SKS Trigger Job

[Update] Due to the recent changes in ATF interpretation of “manufacturing” and my strong desire to avoid federal prison time. I am no longer doing trigger jobs. I apologize to anyone who would like to have this work done, but It simply isn’t worth taking the chance. At some point I plan to do a post on completing the trigger job which I hope will enable some of you to do the work yourselves. It isn’t rocket science (prima facia evidence: I can do it) so hopefully, with a little instruction, you’ll be able to do it too. [/Update]

I’ve raised a little cash toward buying a new computer by giving M1 and SKS post CDs to those who donate but, with the help of, fellow gunblogger and SKS owner, Nate, I’ve come up with a new and improved fund raising effort.

Basically, he asked me to do a trigger job on his SKS for him. He went with the deluxe package: he bought a Wolff spring set and sent them with his trigger group and had me install an overtravel stop screw in addition to the basic trigger job.

This is the first time I’ve ever done any gunsmithing on a rifle that wasn’t my own. I knew I could do the job successfully; but, as an amateur, I was a little concerned that my work wouldn’t be up to his standards.

Happily, he was satisfied. He even agreed to write a “testimonial” so here’s my advertising campaign:

A couple months ago, I asked Curt to perform the trigger improvements on my SKS trigger group that he had accomplished and so ably blogged about on his own rifle. My SKS is a great rifle but the trigger was just terrible. The trigger pull was rough, indefinite in its release and completely incompatible with accurate shooting. I asked Curt to do the work since he was already experienced with the task and it looked like something I didn’t want to tackle.

He did a terrific job! He had the work completed and back to me in just a week even though I said there was no hurry and he included the over-travel mod after asking me via email if I’d like it done. When I got the chance to shoot the SKS, it was like a new rifle! The trigger releases light and smooth and is a huge improvement from before Curt’s efforts. I was able to consistently hit an empty 20 pound propane tank, offhand, at 120 yards, using iron sights, a shot that I missed more often than I hit before the trigger improvements. The rifle is so good now that my buddy Kenny said he’d be tempted to buy his own SKS and have Curt do the same work since he was so put off by the original trigger during previous shooting trips.

Curt’s efforts on my trigger group has made my SKS into exactly the rifle I expected it to be and I appreciate his expert work.

–Nate McCord, Ogden, UT

Thanks for the kind words Nate. Your trust in allowing me to do this work for you is greatly appreciated.

Because of his satisfaction with the job, I now feel more confident about offering to do this work for other people. I’m going to describe the details of what I’m offering in another post so that it won’t have all this history attached and just the details of the offer. I probably won’t get to that tonight, but be looking for it tomorrow and if you know anyone who owns an SKS and might be interested in making the trigger better, send ’em my way.

I’ve got to clear the air about this

Early this morning, I was looking over my referral logs and I ran across a referral from a google search that peaked my interest. I can’t remember the exact search string now (the listing has dropped of my logs and I didn’t think to save it at the time)…anyway, the search was regarding “fully automatic SKS.” I know he didn’t get what he was looking for on my blog but I was wondering what kind of hits he got.

The vast majority of hits were on forums and involved someone asking “how do I make an SKS fire full auto” and the other forum members saying…basically…”you don’t.”

But I did run across this blog post. It’s a crime blog and the post was about the arrest of a couple of suspects…one who reportedly was in possession of an “SKS machine gun.”

Well, I was going to post a comment informing the author that the SKS was never a “machine gun” but I realized that a couple of people had beat me to it. There was then some back and forth regarding whether it could have been an SKS illegally modified for automatic fire, culminating in this piece of…um…wisdom:

You most definately convert a SKS to full auto there are several ways but the most easy is a popsicle stick or anything 3/32 of an inch thick between the sear disconnector and the reset,also magazines up to 60 rounds are made for the sks,so they very well could have had a machine gun.

I immediately posted a lengthy and quite technical response to the comment, but apparently moderation is turned on and either the reply didn’t live up to the standards of the blogger, or it just hasn’t been reviewed yet; either way, I wanted to get this out there right away because this is a common piece of misinformation promulgated by the Brady Bunch and their unwitting accomplice – the Great North American Mall Ninja.

It is NOT possible to make an SKS (or any other semi-automatic rifle) into a fully automatic weapon in such a simplistic way.

Generally, these ridiculous “simple tricks” will, at the most, cause the weapon to malfunction and slam fire. This is extremely dangerous.

In this specific case, with the SKS, one of the functions of the disconnector is to ensure that the bolt is fully closed and locked before the hammer will fall. Monkeying with the disconnector of an SKS in the manner described would defeat that safety mechanism and the weapon WILL fire “out of battery”. That means that cartridge goes off before the casing is completely enclosed in the chamber. Can you say “kaboom?” Sure you can.

Basically, if all of the protuberances and soft mushy tissues of your face are currently arranged in a manner satisfactory to you, don’t try this because if you do, those features may be dramatically and suddenly rearranged.

And, for all your trouble, hospital visits and interviews with the ATF, you STILL won’t make the SKS fire as a full auto because there is another feature of the mechanism that would prevent it.

Anyway, my point is:

1. Contrary to what the Brady’s and Mall Ninjas insist, there is no “simple” method of converting a semi-auto into a full auto…at least not one that would actually work and not explode on you.

2. The method the commenter on that post authoritatively states will work on an SKS most decidedly will not. He was talking out his butt so don’t bother trying. Even if you don’t blow your face off, you still won’t have a full auto.

This concludes our broadcast day…goodnight.

M1 Carbine/SKS Range Report

I finally had an opportunity to get to the indoor range and test out the M1 Carbine and SKS since my last escapades with them. The M1, I hadn’t really done anything to, but I had only fired 20 rounds through it so I wanted to shoot some more as well as zero it at 25 yards.

The SKS, I wanted to check operation with the bipod, forward grip and light installed. I wasn’t sure if the bipod or light, being newly attached to the tri-rail barrel mount, would cause any harmonics or other unusualness that might affect aim point or accuracy. I wanted to see what I could do off-hand with the vertical foregrip installed, and I wanted to make sure the light wasn’t going to crap out after the first shot.

First, the M1. I had only fired one box of ammo through it and had had three failures to fire in that 20 rounds. Not a good ratio. I cleaned the bolt again before this range trip and I brought more and different ammo this time.

I started out with the sight centered in windage and on the lowest setting on the elevation ramp. She was shooting about 2 inches high and three inches right.

After dialing in the left windage and playing around for awhile, I shot this 5 shot group at the center diamond.

For reference, the squares are one inch.

Ignore the holes on the lower left, they were left overs from zeroing and playing around. From the prone position, with no rest, military iron sights, at 25 yards, four of the 5 holes are touching. The hole high and right was shot number 3 and a called flyer. I’d say she shoots purdy good for an old girl.

This is off-hand, standing. I held two inches under the center of the diamond and put 5 right on the money. That little rifle is easy to shoot. Once I get the FTF issues ironed out, I’m thinking this is going to become my primary home defense firearm. It is light, well balanced, handles very well and puts the holes right where I’m pointing it.

I’m not sure I can express this in words, but upon taking her out of the box after the visit from the BBTOJ and lifting her to my shoulder for the first time, my immediate thought was “man, this thing just feels good to point.” It just felt so natural going up to my shoulder. I knew that if she shot worth a darn, we were going to become very close friends.

She does.

We are already.

I’ve just got to figure out why she gets stubborn sometimes.

I finished off the four mags I had loaded for a total of 60 rounds. I “only” had one failure to fire while on the last mag. I thought about shooting some more and seeing if the FTFs continued, but it was getting towards closing time and I still had more shooting to do. From looking at the primers, (successfully fired on the left, FTF on the right) it looks like the FTF was caused by a light strike. The primer is barely dimpled. The trigger felt normal and I heard the hammer fall so I don’t think the problem is in the trigger group. The fact that I went from 3 FTFs out of 20 to 1 out of 60 is a vast improvement…maybe I still didn’t get the bolt clean or perhaps there is a burr or flaw on the firing pin or bolt that I didn’t notice. I’ll check the bolt again and see what I can see. I REALLY like this rifle and I REALLY hope I can get it ironed out.

Anyway, on to the SKS. First I wanted to check out the zeros. The tech sight seemed just fine. Right on the money at 25 yards.

The scope had drifted a little bit but I got it dialed right in. I will say that I’m not terribly satisfied with the scope. I’m not actually surprised about that considering the price I paid for it…and some of it may be because I still don’t have a cheek pad and I just don’t get a good cheek weld when using it. Something that just needs more work.

Anyway, the bipod worked extremely well. Very stable, no problems with accuracy (at least any more than usual), did what it was supposed to do. I can’t complain a bit. We’ll have to see how it holds up long term, but at this point I’d say well worth the $30 investment.

The light also came through with flying colors. I tried it turned on and off and had no problems. Granted, I only went through about 70 rounds so only time will tell how well it will hold up over sustained use, but at least it didn’t crap out after the first couple of shots. Also well worth the investment…all $8.00 of it.

Finally, the vertical foregrip. The only issue I had with it was that, with the grip extended, it was just barely in the way and made it a little more difficult than usual to insert the 30 round mag. The shorter 20 round mags (which are my preferred mags anyway) were no problem. As far as stability…well, this target was shot standing, off hand using the foregrip and the Tech-sight/Williams Firesight iron sights. This was a full 30 round mag fired as fast as I could get away with (the range doesn’t allow “rapid fire” for more than a double tap…but you can still get away with firing pretty quickly as long as you don’t go crazy with it).

I was very happy with the improvement in handling. I can definitely keep it within minute-of-badguy even shooting quickly.

In a nutshell, I’m pleased with all of my additions and not in the least disappointed with any of them at this point. The only thing that really NEEDs improvement is to add a cheekpad and, if that doesn’t result in improvement, possibly a better scope.

Hopefully I’ll find the time to get out to the rifle range sometime before spring. I’m pretty eager to see what I can do with the carbine at 100 and 200 yards. I’ll keep you posted.

SKS Answers

In a comment to my last SKS post Phil of Random Nuclear Strikes asked a couple of good questions that I thought other readers may be interested in so I decided to answer them in a post.

What detachable mags have you found that work reliably?

I’ve tried three different detachable mags. I’ve got a steel 30 round mag from John Masen. This magazine is well put together, sturdy (it IS steel after all), loads smoothly and feeds reliably. The only drawback is that the bolt hold-open doesn’t work. I didn’t have much luck with the bolt modification that allows inserting the mag with the bolt closed…it works, but the mags don’t go on easy and I wouldn’t want to have to go through that under less than ideal conditions…like, say, when someone is shooting at you.

The second one I tried was a “Poly” 30 round mag from David’s Collectibles (about 3/4 of the way down the page). That one was very cheaply made. This mag never fed reliably and the follower hung up regularly both during loading and firing. I took the mag apart and tried smoothing and shaping the follower but had no luck. The problem was that the follower had too much slack inside the mag and would tilt to one side or the other, or fore and aft, and would catch on the inside of the mag body. At one point while still playing with it, hoping I could get it to work, the follower hung up with about 18 rounds loaded. When I was rocking the top round and pushing to try to free it, I guess I pushed a little too hard because the body of the mag split at the rear seam. I threw it away in disgust after that.

Finally, I tried the Tapco 20 round composite mag. One thing about the listing that confused me: It says “The bolt must be back in order to insert and remove the magazine”. I wasn’t sure whether they meant that the bolt must be MANUALLY pulled back, (meaning that the mag didn’t operate the bolt hold open latch) or just that, like any other detachable SKS mag, it wouldn’t go on with the bolt closed (unless you do the mod that I linked to earlier).

Well, I’ve got two of these mags and at least with my rifle, the bolt hold open works perfectly. The bolt is held open after the last shot and doesn’t close when the mag is removed, allowing easy insertion of the next mag. Also, I’ve never had a feeding failure of any kind with either of the to Tapco mags I’ve got.

The only complaint I’ve got with them is that the composite material just seems flimsy to me. I’m afraid that, under harsh conditions or over time, the relatively thin composite walls of the mag will crack and split. I wish that I could find a metal bodied mag that works with the bolt hold open latch, but I haven’t discovered one yet. If any readers out there have information about other magazines available for the SKS, please comment or send me an e-mail.

I need an rather long LOP on my rifles. How long can that type of stock go?

This is an easy one. The T-6 stock has six positions. I measured from the curve of the trigger to the center of the butt. This is what I came up with on my rifle (to the nearest 1/8″):

Position 1: 11 1/8″
Position 2: 12″
Position 3: 12 3/4″
Position 4: 13 1/2″
Position 5: 14 3/8″
Position 6: 15″

If 15″ isn’t long enough, you can add what looks to be about another 5/8″ by installing Tapco’s rubber recoil pad.

I personally keep mine on position 3 for any position other than prone. When prone, I’ve found position 4 better suited for maintaining eye relief with my optics.

Latest addition to the EBR

Last week I alluded to another upcoming minor modification of my slightly altered Yugoslavian SKS utility rifle.

Because of the slightly barrel heavy aspect of the SKS, I have been of the opinion for quite some time that a vertical foregrip would be a useful addition. I’d been kicking this around for a while but just hadn’t stumbled across a foregrip that grabbed my interest…until a couple of weeks ago, when this one from AIM just reached out and whapped me upside the head.

(as usual, click all pix to make bigger)

I like the idea of being able to fold it under out of the way when not in use. After e-mailing their staff to get measurements to make sure it would fit the way I wanted it to (many thanks to the AIM support staff for their prompt response), I ordered it.

The only problem was going to be mounting. The TAPCO T-6 stock does not have a rail on the bottom. The foregrip area is too thin to machine one into the tupperware so I had to come up with a rail that I could just bolt on.

I found a weaver style metal scope mount at Dick’s Sporting goods that I though would work (with some slight modification)…and I was off.

The mount that I bought was too long to fit under the flat portion of the Stock’s forearm area. I thought about using a shim to enable me to fit the whole mount on, but I decided that would look cheezy. I ended up cutting the mount down…

…squaring the newly cut edge with a file and then smoothing off sharp edges with a jeweler’s file.

After a touch of paint on the newly cut edge, I was ready to mount it to the stock.

To remove the action from the stock, first the pistol grip comes off by un-bolting it from the inside.

Then you can get to the mounting tab that holds the trigger housing group in place.

I always use a phillips screwdriver to push the tab in and release it.

As soon as the trigger housing group is pulled free, the action is released from the stock.


Then I drilled holes in the stock for the mounting bolts.

I’m not even going to go into my reasoning for deciding what length to cut the mount, where to place the mount on the stock etc, because it was basically just a matter of personal preferences and aesthetics. Pretty much anyone who does this would have to decide on their own.

I will say that there are reinforcing “ribs” spaced a few inches apart all along the inside of the forearm part of the stock. Make sure you position your mount holes so that the attaching nuts will clear those ribs. I actually drilled the holes close enough to the ribs so that they would be snug against the flats of the nuts to prevent them from turning. That reduces the chances that they will vibrate loose.

As a side note, the mount only came with short machine screws. This mount was designed with drilling and tapping the receiver in mind. I bought stainless steel screws and nuts at the local hardware store for attaching the mount to the stock.

Of course, I painted the heads of the screws black for aesthetics’ sake.

At that point it was simply a matter of slipping the foregrip onto the mount…

…and installing the securing cross-bolt.

Viola!

Slip the action back into the stock.

Reinstall the trigger housing group.

Bolt the pistol grip back into place.

And there you have it.

Folded.

Extended.

I didn’t think to stick a magazine in before taking the photos…it looks even better with the mag and the grip makes a world of difference when handling her in tight quarters.

Start to finish, this minor mod took less than an hour.

The only thing left that I’ve been contemplating is taking a few inches off the barrel to shorten her up a bit. I haven’t ruled that out yet, but I haven’t definitely decided to do it yet either. I would only be able to take off maybe three inches without having to machine either the barrel or front sight in order to move the sight back farther. I’m not sure that the effort would be worth the little bit of length advantage I’d realize.

I also have some concerns about whether shortening the barrel would reduce the gas pressure enough to make her start short cycling the action again.

I’ll have to think about it a little more…I’ve got too much time and energy into this project to risk turning it into a fancy single-shot.

Anyway, that’s my latest. Whaddaya think?

SKS Update

Just a couple of minor additions to my utility rifle. No real “gunsmithing” here as they were both just popped onto the barrel tri-rail mount that’s been on her for a long time.

Click pix to make bigger

I totally cheaped out on the “tactical light”. It’s a 5 LED “water and shock resistant” flashlight I picked up on sale at Walgreen’s for $5.99. It actually seems to be put together pretty well for what it is. I may buy a couple more at that price just to have laying around. Add a $2.00 low profile 1″ scope ring and viola!, one “tactical light”. I haven’t had it to the range yet to see how it holds up against the minimal recoil of the SKS but even if it craps out immediately, for about $8, it was worth a try.

The bipod is from CDNN Sports and I have to admit I’m pretty impressed with the quality for a $29 bipod. I’ll let you know how that stands up to wear and tear as well.

I’ve got a couple more minor mods coming up that I’ll let you know about after they’re done. It’s slow going right now because our finances are so tight, but she’s getting close to the uber-scary PSH inducing hoplophobe’s nightmare that I envisioned when I started this project many moons ago.

SKS Bolt Hold Open

A new reader e-mailed me about my SKS mods. It seems he has a Yugo M59…the model without the grenade launcher…and was interested in some of the things I’ve done.

During the discussion, he asked about the bolt mod that I did. I told him I would give him some more information (with pics) about how the bolt hold open system works and the purpose of the bolt mod. I was just going to e-mail it to him but I decided that any information that can be put out there should be made as public as possible…I bet there are other people out there looking for the same info.

With that in mind, here goes:

As I explained in the Bolt Mod post (linked above), the problem with using detachable magazines with the SKS is that many of the aftermarket mags do not operate the bolt hold open latch. That means that the bolt does not stay open after the last shot. This is a serious issue because the bolt has rails at the bottom that lock into the feed lips of the magazine. That means that, to change mags after the last shot, you have to open the bolt and hold it open with one hand while using the other two hands to operate the magazine release catch, remove the dry magazine and insert a fresh one, then the bolt can be released again.

Actually, you can do it with only two hands, as long as you are independently wealthy and can afford to replace all the magazines you beat up by dumping them on the deck when changing mags.

Either way, this is an issue. Basically, it means that a modified SKS is not very practical for use as a homeland defense rifle and is only really suitable for use as a “fun gun” at the range. A “sort of” fix for this problem is the bolt mod that I described in my earlier post. All you do is grind off the rails at the bottom of the bolt that catch on the magazine feed lips. That enables you to change mags without opening the bolt.

It is not truly a fix because there are still issues. You can’t load your mags to max capacity because inserting the mag with the bolt closed causes the rounds to push down into the magazine. With a fully loaded mag, this is often very difficult if not impossible. Some magazines feed lips allow the rounds to move around too much which causes the top round to shift and jam up the works when attempting to insert a loaded mag with the bolt closed. Having the mod is better than not having it but it is not utopia.

After completing this mod, I purchased a 20 round “polymer” (read plastic) mag from Tapco. Lo and behold, at least on my rifle, the Tapco mag actually operates the bolt hold open latch.

Here’s how it works.

The follower in the magazine (the part that pushes up on the bottom round) has a small “tail” that sticks off the back end.

With the magazine loaded, the follower is pushed down into the magazine so that the “tail” is down inside a groove in the magazine.

Here, only one round is loaded so the “tail” is sticking up a slightly, a second round placed on top of the first would push it down completely into the mag.

Once the last round is stripped into the chamber, the tail sticks up as high as it will ever go.

That “tail” pushes the bolt hold open latch up. After that last round is fired and the bolt cycles back, the bolt hold open latch is pushed into the bolts path.

When the recoil spring pushes the bolt forward, the face of the bolt catches on the latch, locking the bolt open.

This is just a reference photo to show you what part of the rifle we’ll be looking at. I hate it when I’m given closeups for illustrations and they just assume you know what general area you are supposed to be looking in (car manuals are notorious for this).

We are going to be looking up through the bottom of the magazine well.

This is with the bolt locked back. The bolt hold open latch is in the way of the bolt, the bolt is making contact with the latch at the arrow, holding it from moving any farther forward.

There is a small metal tab on the face of the bolt hold open latch. This tab is what the “tail” of the magazine follower pushes on to raise the latch into position to lock the bolt open.

The bolt hold open latch is actually held in the unlocked position by a weak spring. It is the tension of the bolt, being held firmly against the latch by the tension of the recoil spring, that keeps the hold open latch in the locked position.

To release the bolt, all you have to do is pull slightly back on it, as soon as the tension on the latch is released, the spring will push it out of the way of the bolt (in the direction of the arrow) and the bolt will close.

To lock the bolt open without a magazine inserted, put your finger up into the rear of the magazine well. You should be able to feel the tab sticking off the bolt hold open latch. Pull the bolt to the rear while putting upward pressure on the latch, as soon as the bolt clears the latch, the latch will slide up and the bolt can be released. It will catch on the bolt hold open latch thereby locking the bolt open.

This is a different perspective with the bolt locked open again. The pencil is pointing to the hold open latch.

Again with the bolt closed, the pencil is pointing at the latch.

If your bolt hold open isn’t working with your magazines, either the “tail” on the magazine isn’t positioned correctly (or it simply doesn’t have one) or the tab on the bolt hold open latch that the “tail” is supposed to press on is worn or possibly broken off.

Numrich Gun Parts has the bolt hold open latch for $7.05 if you need to replace yours (I would imagine that this particular part is the same for the model 59 but I make no guarantees and offer no promises…Numrich also has parts listings for the Type 45 and Type 56).

The arrows in this photo are pointing to where the rails on the bottom of the bolt SHOULD BE had I not ground them off.
the gaps where the arrows are enable the magazines to be removed/installed with the bolt closed…usually…with some difficulty…depending on your magazines…your mileage may vary.

The best all around magazines I’ve found to date are the Tapco 20 rounders. They feed flawlessly, they install the most consistently with the bolt closed and they operate the bolt hold open latch so I generally don’t have to worry about them working with the bolt closed.

I hope this cleared some things up for the reader who originally asked the question, as well as anyone else happening upon my humble little corner of cyberspace. If any of my explanations or photos were unclear, and you are still unsure how this works, feel free to let me know in comments or shoot me an email and I’ll try again.