hvitträsk

drstanakatic: “I hope that whoever you are, you escape this place. I hope that the world turns and that things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you. I love you. With all my heart, I love you. -Valerie” - Alan Moore…
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7

The SKS Semi Automatic Rifle,

Before World War II the Soviet Union had intended to update their small arms arsenal by phasing out the Mosin Nagant bolt action rifle and replacing it with a semi automatic design.  This process began with notable models such as the AVS-36, SVT-38, and the SVT-40. However, due to the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, such plans could not be fully realized and as a result the bolt action rifle remained the backbone of the Red Army. As the war drew to a close Soviet ordnance officials once again began the search for a new semi automatic rifle to become the standard infantry arm of the Soviet military.  However, unlike other designs, the new weapon was to be of carbine length, based on lessons learned from brutal urban combat on the Eastern Front, and use an intermediate cartridge similar to the German STG-44.

In 1944 the Soviet small arms designer Sergei Simonov began work on a new semi automatic carbine which used a recently invented intermediate cartridge, the 7.62X33mm.  The new SKS (Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova - Self Loading Carbine) was a simple, rugged, and effective weapon which used a gas operated tilting bolt semi automatic action. It incorporated a ten round fixed magazine which was loaded using stripper clips (some models would use 30 round detachable magazines). The stock was made of hardwood, and later laminate, while the receiver and magazine were of stamped sheet metal. Like most Russian small arms, the SKS was designed with simplicity, economy, and ease of manufacture in mind. As a result, the SKS was relatively simple to mass produce, making it one of the most prolifically mass produced firearms in history with over 15 million manufactured. Most models tend to have a folding bayonet attached underside the barrel. A cleaning kit is also located in a compartment within the stock.

Apparently pre-production trial runs of the SKS began in the waning months of World War II, although I have never seen any sources that confirm this. The SKS was officially adopted in 1949, only a few years after the invention of the AK-47. While the AK-47 was the much better weapon, with a select fire system and 30 round magazine, it was difficult to mass produce, had many production issues, and had some reliability issues to be worked out.  Thus the AK-47 did not become a mainstay of the Soviet military until an improved model called the AKM was introduced in 1959. Until then the SKS would serve as the backbone of the Soviet Armed Forces. In addition to Soviet production, Communist allies often produced their own models and variants.  The most common example is the Chinese Type 56, which was adopted by the Chinese military in 1956 and continued in official use for over 30 years. Other Communist bloc producers include Romania, Poland, Yugoslavia, Albania, North Korea, Vietnam, and East Germany. Millions were also exported to Soviet and Chinese influence countries around the world.  As a result of the SKS’s availability, they have been used in every conflict around the world for the past 50 years.

Today, the SKS has been officially withdrawn from most militaries, and are typically relegated as a reserve weapon or a ceremonial arm.  They are still common among small militias, terrorist organizations, freedom fighters, guerrillas, and other insurgent groups.  Many more are sold as military surplus on civilian markets as popular hunting rifles and sporting arms.