The SKS, short for the Samozaryadniy Karabin sistemi Simonova, is a 7.62x39 service rifle built in 1945 by Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov. The SKS requires periodic cleaning and maintenance.
To help you take the best possible care of your firearm, this article aims to serve as a guide for cleaning the SKS, whether you’re an amateur or an experienced user.
SKS Cleaning Kits Comparison Chart
Field Sport Chinese Military Genuine Surplus SKS Rifle 7.62x39 Cleaning Kit
Deltac BRAND - AK SKS Buttstock Cleaning Kit
BOOSTEADY 7.62MM AK/SKS Cleaning Kit
Safety Tips to Keep in Mind While Cleaning
It may seem irrelevant or glaringly obvious, but always unload the gun before you begin cleaning it. Obey the 10 Commandments of Firearm Safety at all times and treat all firearms as if loaded.
Never point your rifle at another human being, including yourself and keep the gun under lock and key when not in use to prevent children from getting in contact with it.
Remember not to prod or pry off any part of the firearm. Gentle tapping is permissible.
To begin, make sure the safety is on as pulling the trigger could cause injury to the trigger group and point down range.
You then pull the magazine release tab on the underside and remove the contents or magazine.
Pull the bolt carrying charging handle all the way back and inspect the chamber by sight and touch. Close the fixed magazine.
Step 1: Preparation
Gather Your Tools
Cleaning the SKS thoroughly will take about 10-15 minutes so to speed up the process, it is best to gather your tools beforehand.
Find a clear space or high table away from children and pets, and find a sheet or newspapers to protect the chosen surface from grease marks and chemical stains.
This step has the additional advantage of protecting your gun from scratches.
Clean the Gun Surface
Some rough toweling and a superficial wipedown of the exterior of the gun is a good way to keep your own hands clean before the actual disassembly.
A recommended product for this process is the WD-40 which does not affect wood on the SKS.
Step 2: Disassembly
Removing the Receiver
The first time you´ll try to assemble a rifle by yourself, it will be quite tight.
Make sure the bolt is in a closed position and then proceed by turning the lever near the receiver cover counterclockwise.
Pull outward to remove the receiver and also take out the bolt, spring and bolt carrier. Clean with WD-40.
Removing the Trigger Group and Magazine
Prop the muzzle of the barrel on the floor and work on the indentation behind the trigger guard with a screwdriver till you hear a click or the trigger housing rises slightly.
Lift the trigger group swiftly out of the rifle and clean thoroughly with the WD-40 to remove grime and grease.
You can remove the magazine in the same way, by pulling it downward.
Remove the Barrel and Receiver From the Stock
Note that you must remove the magazine before the rifle stock. You can remove the barrel and the receiver from the stock by pulling upward on the receiver till you reach a 10-degree angle. At this point, you push the rifle front forward.
Once done, you can rotate the lever on the right side block clockwise to remove the gas tube and piston.
Lift and wiggle the gas tube assembly upward from the rear without applying excess force.
Remove the gas piston from the tube and clean. The operating rod can be removed by rotating the same lever at the 1 o'clock position, but you need to be careful as the rod is spring loaded and will launch itself once released.
Step 3: Cleaning
I’ve mentioned the use of WD-40 to clean the gun components, but if unavailable, you can substitute it with a suitable oil-based cleaner.
However, users have reported a water-ammonia mix to be an effective cleaning solution as well.
Clean the Barrel
Use a Phosphor bronze brush to scrub the barrel from the receiver end. If you start from the muzzle, you risk damaging the crown so you should avoid it.
Run the brush through the barrel 3 to 4 times and switch to a cleaner dampened swab tip for a more thorough cleansing. Do this and replace the swab tip till it comes out completely clean.
For the final cleaning, use a cleaning jag to go over the chamber and then use 2 dry patches, the second of which should come out clean.
Using Q tips and a toothbrush, clean the bolt carrier, the bolt and the cuts after which we can move on to the trigger group.
Clean the Trigger Group
Use the toothbrush bore cleaner and Q tips to remove any sign or grease and dirt. Apply 1-2 drops of oil to the spring where the hammer pivots and trigger connects.
Clean your recoil spring assembly and spring blocks in a similar manner.
Finally, take a clean patch and rub down all metal surfaces of the gun before reassembly.
Step 4: Reassembly
The reassembly is a simple process. You only have to put the parts back together in the exact reverse order you removed them.
Keep in mind, however, that the large screw going through the mid portion of the wooden stock is not to be tampered with.
Install Trigger Group
To reinstall the trigger group, set the rifle upside down on a flat bench with the safety on, position the group and straight arm push down until you hear it click into place. You can tap the trigger group lightly if it gets stuck in place.
Reset the Bolt
Turn the weapon over to insert the bolt, bolt face towards the chamber and the locking cuts upward, into the receiver.
Insert the bolt carrier into the receiver engaging the locking cuts on the bolt and the receiver rails. Now, install the recoil spring assembly into the cut in the bolt carrier with the locking clip forward.
Reinstall the Magazine
Push the front of the magazine in first and make sure it catches onto the bottom lip of the receiver.
Reinstall your receiver cover and push it all in. When seated properly, push the retaining pin and rotate it 90 degrees to lock it into place.
Quick Take - The Best Cleaning Kits
These are our recommendations for the best cleaning kits for the SKS:
Our Top 3 Picks for SKS Cleaning Kits
Maintaining your weapon is an impossible mission without a good cleaning kit. Improper lubrication and cleaning can cause undue wear and tear, and a below optimum performance.
Hence, we’ve selected our top 3 cleaning kits which are said to last the test of time.
This kit contains all the basics necessary to clean your SKS. Includes a Rod Handle, a 7.62x39mm Bore Brush, a Takedown Tool, and a Metal Cleaning Kit Tube.
An advantage of the kit is that the products come with their cosmoline removed, so the parts are ready for use.
Unfortunately, a cleaner isn’t included in this kit, but it is still quite functional and easy-to-use. The kit is custom made for the SKS but fits the AK 47’s cleaning needs quite well too.
Another one of our recommendations is the AK SKS Cleaning kit. This kit contains the following products: one Cleaning jag, a 7.62x39mm Bore Brush, a takedown Tool, a Trigger assembly pin tool, a Punch, and 2 Piece Storage Tube that you can use as a handle for a cleaning rod.
Buyers, however, have complained about the heavy cosmoline coating, but an easy solution is to soak the components in hot water to get it off.
On the whole, the product has received positive reviews and is ideal for someone looking for a genuine military style kit.
Possibly our best pick from the lot, this kit contains a .223 cal Brass Brush, a .223 cal Chamber Brush, a 7.62mm Bore Brush, a 7.62mm Chamber Brush, a 7.62mm Nylon Brush, a 7.62mm Mop, a Double End Mini Nylon Brush, a Brass Slotted Tip, a 5 Sections Rifle Rods, a 25 pcs Clean Patches, and metal gun cleaning picks.
Additionally, it comes with a zippered compact case that makes storage easy. Apart from the SKS, you can also use the kit to clean variations of AK-47 and M-16.
Cleaning your SKS after a productive shooting session can be quite cathartic, but the experience can be all the more enjoyable if you have the right tools at hand.
With practice, the average shooter can become adept at dissembling rifles and hence get a better idea about the tools needed to clean his or her rifle and fend off the rust. One of the kits we have mentioned should be sufficient for maintenance.