Yooper John's SKS - Battle rifle of many nations

SECTION  24:  In this section I will try to show how to figure out what year your SKS was made.  The only purpose of this page is to help make the collector aware that differences do occur and about anything could be possible. These are ALL from my personal observations and not from any books.

DATING YOUR SKS

I will try to explain the dating system for the SKS rifle.  Most of this information is/was gathered from various forums and from my own observations.  I do not guarantee that this is 100% accurate because as we all know, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE WITH THE SKS.

 

ALBANIA

The Albanian SKS is dated using the numbers on the left side of the receiver.  The year is actually stamped into the receiver.  Note after the serial number there is a dash and then the last two digits of the year.   Albanian SKS's were manufactured from 1967 to 1979 at the Umgransh Arsenal in Albania. No SKS's with the years 1972 - 1975 have been documented as of yet.  Some Albanian guns have no year reference numbers on them.  I would tend to believe these would be either prior to 1967 or after 1979 with the latter being the most reasonable. There were approximately 17,000 made, 11,000 of which are said to have been destroyed, leaving only about 6,000 in existence at this time. The model designation is referred to as Model 56. There is a production chart found on  "withergyld's" Albanian SKS survey page.    This page lists estimated  production numbers for the Albanian SKS.  This may be temporarily off line.

 

   

This is a 1969 vintage rifle.                             This is a 1978 vintage rifle.

The following information was found on surplusrifle.com and compiled by Glyn Reinders
 and is put here for non commercial use only.

Estimated production of Albanians over the years is shown in this chart, with figures gathered and put together by Glen Burton:

1967- 980
1968- 570
1969- 2800
1970- 2980
1971- 2620
1976- 160
1977- 660
1978- 4960
1979- 800
Undated- 420

Current opinion is that the undated models MAY be rifles produced in either 1975 or 1980, but this has yet to be proven.

So, there were an estimated 16,950 produced. For unknown reasons the Albanians destroyed or gave away nearly two thirds of them and it is believed that only 5700 are left in the world today. There have been reports that US Government led efforts "encouraged" the Albanian government to collect and destroy over 130,000 Albanian small arms (their SKS included) during the mid to late 1990's. This may be why we see limited numbers of them in the world market today.

My best guess is that, according to year produced, current world inventory may be:

1967- 320
1968- 180
1969- 970
1970- 1100
1971- 860
1976- 50
1977- 220
1978- 1850
Undated- 150
 

 

 

 

China

Perhaps the most difficult to accurately figure out the correct year as it is not stamped anywhere on the weapon.  The original SKS was first made at the Jianshe Arsenal in 1956. The Jianshe Arsenal used a 26 inside a triangle as it's factory stamp.  These are referred to as the Sino-Soviet models and are characterized by a 4 digit serial number preceded by a non numeric letter or symbol.  These early SKS's had no Chinese characters stamped on the receiver.  These characters translated to Type 56, the model designation of the Chinese SKS were found on later SKS's.  These guns were referred to as a Type 56 Carbine by the Chinese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note location of serial number in regards to the  factory stamping  /26\   This is a Sino-Soviet and was made in 1956

 

 

Starting in late1956 the Chinese started using their own serial numbering scheme for the /26\ Jianshe Arsenal.  The way you figure this out is by adding the first digit  to the year 1956.  This applies to s/n's more than 1,000,000.  Late 1956 guns only had 6 digits.

1234567 +1956 = 1957 ****  2234567 + 1956 = 1958 ****  3234567 + 1956 = 1959 **** 4234567 + 1956 = 1960

5234567 + 1956 = 1961 ****  6234567 + 1956 = 1962 ****  7234567 + 1956 = 1963 ****  8234567 + 1956 = 1964

9234567 + 1956 = 1965 **** 10234567 + 1956 = 1966 **** 11234567 + 1956 = 1967 ****12234567 + 1956 = 1968

You get the idea.  The latest s/n for factory 26 rifles that I have seen was 24000000 (24 million) series which would be 1980. 

This scheme seems to only apply to those rifles made at the /26\ Jianshe Arsenal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Note location of serial number in regards to the  factory stamping  /26\   This is a an early model and was made in 1959

       

Note location of serial number in regards to the  factory stamping  /26\.  In 1963 the Chinese added the 3 characters which translated to Type 56.  The positions are different than the early models.  The one pictured on the left is from 1964 and on the right is from 1980. 1980 was the last year production from arsenal 26.

 

 

       

The above pictured rifles are still a military contract as evidenced by the 3 Chinese characters between the arsenal stamp and s/n. Both these rifles exhibit late production techniques including stamped trigger guards, pinned barrels and spike bayonets to mention a few.  If the above mentioned dating scheme of the factory 26 rifles were applied to these two SKS's they would be from the year 1957!!  This is not very likely and that's why we can only apply that method of dating to the Factory 26 marked guns.

 

 

 

 

This gun would be a 1956 vintage which again by the characteristics of the gun would be very, very unlikely.  Notice the position of the serial number.  This is more likely a 1980's era weapon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a more unique weapon in that according to the dating scheme of the factory 26 rifles this would be a 1975 era gun. The features that  this weapon exhibit align closely to that era; spike bayonet, short barrel collar and milled trigger group to mention a few.  That is why this dating of the Chinese weapons is so difficult,  Did you notice NO Chinese characters!!  So, is this a military weapon or not?

 

 

 

 

 

East Germany

Dates of manufacturer are not known for sure but it is roughly the late 50's into the early 60's.  Most of the examples seen in the U.S. are Vietnam era bring backs.  Several were imported for a short time into the U.S.  Most of these were destroyed after the Berlin Wall came down. This model is called the 'Karabiner-S' or K-S for short.  These were made in Government plants in Suhl, Germany.

 

 

 

The East German SKS used the first 2 numbers to signify the year of production.  This one was made in 1960.

 

 

 

 

North Korea

Dates of manufacturer are not known for sure but it is roughly during  the early 60's and more than likely, 1963.   Most of the examples seen in the U.S. are Vietnam era bring backs.  The model designation is Type 63 Carbine and were produced in state arsenals.

       

Not sure on how to tell the year of these weapons as no definitive pattern has been observed.  The only difference between these two North Korean SKS's is the second digit which may be related to the year or the arsenal, not sure which.  The Arsenal is usually marked on the top of the receiver cover and all the pictures I have seen have the same stamping.  That is why I am led to believe the first 2 digits have something to do with the year. If someone else knows more about these I will post it, so let me know.

 

 

North Vietnam

This is another one that little is known about as far as the dating goes.  All the SKS's produced for North Vietnam seem to have the same serial number sequence and range.  Notice the two below are only 860 numbers off. They are referred to as just  SKS.   Again, as far as date of manufacture goes and judging by the characteristics of the rifles I would estimate the early to mid 60's as the time frame.  After the weapon producing factories were bombed most of the weapons were supplied by the Chinese. China was a huge supplier of SKS's to North Vietnam and many of the GI bring backs are of Chinese origin. It is believed that the M21 marked Chinese guns followed the Star 1 guns into North Viet Nam.

       

These two guns have the same Arsenal marking signifying North Vietnam manufacture and are only 860 rifles apart!!

   

This is a picture of the M21 gun.  They made a newer one that should not be confused with the early ones. Notice arsenal code.

See more on page 34

Romania

Romania used the entire year stamped after the serial number.  They were manufactured at the Cugir plant in Romania from the late 50's into the early 60's.  The only dates that have been verified were from 1957, 1958, 1959 & 1960.  There are reports of Romanian SKS's without the year stamped on them. They are more than likely, as in the case of the Albanian's, either prior to 1957 or after 1960 with the latter being the most reasonable.  The same thing was also found in the Russian SKS's.  Romanian SKS's are referred to as a Model 56.

       

This is a 1957 vintage Romanian SKS.                                This is a 1960 vintage Romanian SKS.

 

Russia

The Russian SKS's were in actual production from 1949 to 1956 when the rifle of  choice was changed to the AK-47.  For the most part it is easy to tell where and when the gun in question was made because of the markings and our knowledge of the Russian small weapons.  Two arsenals produced the SKS, Tula which uses the arrow in the star marking along with a plain simple 5 pointed star and Izhevsk, which uses an arrow in a triangle inside a circle as shown in the pictures below.  The model designation was Simonov Carbine SKS - Model 1945 or "SKS- 45" for short.

       

1949 Tula produced SKS.                        1955 Tula, last year the cover was year marked.                                                           

 

       

1953 Izhevsk, notice the rebuild marking.     Izhevsk 1954. Izhevsk only produced the SKS for 2 years.

 

 

 

 

In the mid 50's Russia started marking the guns on the left side of the receiver with a small star designating the manufacture at the Tula arsenal.  These are generally considered by many to be the last year run in 1956.  Note the small star rearward of the serial number.

 

 

 

 

 

Now comes the question.  When was the no date stamped Tula receiver cover gun manufactured?  It would seem logical that it would be either late 1955 or early 1956.  The receiver on these guns are not stamped with the small Tula star so it seems they would have been produced prior to that vintage SKS.  Being that they are stamped with the star but without a date on the receiver cover would suggest they were made later then the 1955 stamped guns.  The 3 guns that I have seen are not rebuilds since they show no rebuild markings nor do they exhibit any of the rebuild characteristics.  So, when were they actually produced?  It seems yet another mystery in the unending mysteries of the SKS!!!

 

 

 

 

The following information was sent to me from Bob "Tex" Hanes, an avid SKS collector and friend.

Below is a Russian website on the development of the PM Makarov pistol with information that coincides with information on the "Letter Dated" SKS year of production of these rifles. From what we know there were three different "Letter Dated" codes Russian "D" (looks like this Д), Russian "I" (looks like this  Й) and the Letter "K" that is the same as our letter "K" (looks like this К). From this information on these codes the production dates are 1956 - Д, 1957 - Й and К - 1958. The codes appear to be the same for production of weapons and ammo at this time period. http://pm9.ucoz.ru/index/ehvoljucija_pm/0-63

       

D series Letter Gun - 1956                                    I series Letter Gun - 1957                                      K series Letter Gun - 1958

 

 

Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia first produced the SKS in 1959 and designated it the Model 59.  It was similar to other countries SKS of the same era except for the chrome plating of the bore.  The year was signified by the letter preceding the serial number.  The Model 59 was produced in the late 1950's and early 1960's and identified with a (B) or (C) preceding the serial number.  There have been no reports of the Model 59 with a (A) prefix to the serial number.  In 1966 a new model was adopted and production was again started for the Yugoslavian SKS with the addition of a grenade launcher.  The new model was designated the Model 59/66.  This new model was produced from 1967 to 1989.  Letters were again used to signify the year of production starting with the letter (D) in 1967 and ending with (C) in 1989. Both of these models were produced in the Government run plant Zavodi Crvena Zastava in Kragujevac.  There is an excellent thread on the Yugoslavian SKS by "withergyld"  found on Survivors SKS forums, http://www.sksboards.com/smf/index.php?topic=81.0  He also has an excellent web site dedicated to the Yugoslavian SKS that you should visit.  It gives more detail and information than given here.  http://www.yugosks.net  This may be temporarily off line.

This is the chart found on Survivor's forum by withergyld and printed here with his permission.


 

Serial Number

Estimated Production

Year

Prefix

Start

End

Min

Max

 

B

15000

15100

100

9700

 

C

24700

49200

24500

34900

1967

D

50000

81000

31000

34240

1968

E

83440

122200

38760

42100

1969

F

123100

179700

56600

57800

1970

G

180000

229900

49900

50900

1971

H

230600

284900

54300

56500

1972

I

286400

334700

48300

54100

1973

J

339000

377200

38200

43600

1974

K

378300

427600

49300

58900

1975

L

436100

467600

31500

40900

1976

M

468500

517000

48500

52540

1977

N

520140

566100

45960

50500

1978

O

567500

614500

47000

49600

1979

P

615700

632300

16600

19400

1980

R

633900

644800

10900

16900

1981/1982

S

649200

668500

19300

26200

1983

T

671000

678000

7000

13900

1984

U

682400

690000

7600

14000

1985

V

692000

695900

3900

7400

1986

Z

697400

705000

7600

10600

1987

A

706500

714400

7900

10600

1988

B

715600

725100

9500

11700

1989

C

726100

726400

300

1300


 

 

 

 

This is a Model 59 SKS made in the early 1960's with the (C) prefix.

 

 

 

 

               

This would be a 1970 era gun according to the charts.      This one is the final year production  with a (C) marking.

 

 

Go to SKS page 25 for more info on the SKS.

 

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YooperJ
Copyright 1999 by [Yooper John's]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06 Feb 2014 15:17:32 -0500 .