I like really like guns, and when I find quality guns for a low price, I’m more than a little excited. Right now we have a large market of inexpensive Russian surplus weapons, and while some may roll your eyes at these “commie” guns, I think they deserve a second look.
The big three Russian rifles are of course the Mosin Nagant, the SKS, and the AK-47. The AK-47s may not exactly be surplus, but I’ve included them because they’re still inexpensive and, of course, Russian.
These guns are definitely not going to win a beauty contest, but they are reliable, powerful weapons that serve their purpose. All three weapons can stand in for a baseball bat and still shoot afterwards. These weapons were designed for wars when hand-to-hand fighting was still commonplace.
Ammo for these three weapons is pretty common, more so for the AK-47 and SKS (you can buy the rounds at Walmart). Any respectable gun shop will carry the 7.62 x 54R rounds. Russian surplus 7.62 x 39 normally goes for around six dollars for a box of twenty, with 7.62 x 54R going for around seven dollars a box of twenty. By comparison to .308 and .30-06, these prices are ridiculously affordable. For survivalists and preppers, it’s definitely an affordable round to stock up on.
The Mosin Nagent
This is the cheapest in price, but far from the lowest in quality. The Mosin Nagent fires the 7.62 x 54R round, which is the equivalent of our .308. This weapon is surprisingly accurate, even with just iron sights. Of all three of these weapons, this is the one I would attach a scope too, even though it’s a bit tricky to do so.
The bolt on my Mosin Nagent is perfectly smooth, delivering a crisp action every time. The internal magazine holds five rounds, and I never have had a feeding issue. This is a bargain deer rifle, and in fact, I’m confident this weapon can deal with larger game. Recoil is comparable to your bolt action .308.
The best part of this rifle is cost: I paid $89.95 for mine, and it came with an oil can, sling, and a dual stripper clip carrier.
Understand when buying these rifles that a lot of them have spent many years sitting in crates in Eastern Europe, so you need to carefully look over the rifle before you decide to buy.
First, you want to check over the stock, looking for major cracks in the wood. Secondly, you want to look for rust. No self-respecting gun shop is going to let their weapons rust, but it doesn’t hurt to look. Next is the barrel: you want to open the action and look through the barrel. You’re observing for any pitting in the barrel and to make sure the rifling is still deep and intact. Lastly, check the sights. Make sure the range adjuster actually slides and the sights are not bent or broken in any way.
The SKS rifle may not always be a Russian; it could be Chinese, Yugoslavian, or Romanian. The SKS price are rising though: a few years ago you could pick one up for around a hundred and fifty dollars, but these days you’re looking at two to three hundred for a rifle. I’m willing to bet these prices are going to keep going up.
This nice semi-auto is a great hunting rifle, assuming the game is within about three hundred yards. The ammo is similar to the 30-30 round in range and recoil. While it is capable of taking out a deer or hog, it is still affordable enough for pest removal.
Recoil is tame, so fast follow up shots are a breeze, but the weapon is still powerful enough to take down a big buck. There is a large range of accessories available should you choose to throw a little money into your thrifty little rifle. Scopes and scope mounts made specifically for the SKS are easy to find, but not really necessary. The SKS wasn’t made for a scope, but aftermarket modifications are available. Stocks ranging from tactical to simple polymer sporting stocks are available if you get tired of your wood stock.
Be aware the magazine is fixed and reloaded with stripper clips. You can buy an extended magazine, but it’s not necessary. Stripper clips are cheap enough to be disposable if you choose.
Something else to consider is most of these rifles come with some kind of bayonet, and the bayonet can be replaced by a folding bi-pod, which is a pretty handy accessory in my opinion.
When buying an SKS you want to look for the same basic things you look for on a Mosin Nagent or any surplus rifle. One thing with the SKS rifle is the firing pin, which is a free-floating firing pin in the bolt. This can cause a slamfire if the bolt is stuck forward by grit, grime, gunk, or cosmoline. After buying your weapon, it’s important to take it apart and clean the inside of the bolt and firing pin, ensuring there is nothing to catch the firing pin.
A powerful, affordable, semi-automatic capable of filling multiple roles? Yes please.
This is the rifle even your grandmother knows, seen in countless movies as the preferred bad guy gun. The AK-47 is most mass-produced firearm in history. As I mentioned, these are not technically surplus rifles, but semi-automatic clones of an assault rifle.
These weapons are popular because of cheap production cost, user friendliness, and, of course, reliability. The AK-47 can be called the poor man’s tactical rifle, usually ranging from six hundred for a basic Romanian WASR clone to twelve hundred for a custom American brand.
In a survival situation, you may find yourself needing more firepower than your sporting rifle can offer, but shelling out the dough for an AR-15 isn’t an option. The AK-47 fits the role nicely.
The AK fires the same round as the SKS, the 7.62 x 39mm, so ammo is cheap and readily available. Magazines are easy to find as well, ranging from eight to twenty dollars for your standard thirty-round steel mag. If you want to spend extra, you can get the 75-round drum and really open up your volume of fire.
The mags are well made, and I personally have never had issue with my Romanian mag, my Chinese mag, or my Tapco polymer mag.
The AK-47 accessory list is constantly growing as well, rivaling the AR-15 in sheer amount of options. You can have side-folding stocks, under-folding stocks, M4-style collapsible stocks—basically whatever option you want, they have. You can sink a lot of money in customizing your rife.
The AK-47 is only accurate to about three hundred meters, but in my opinion, that’s more than enough range for a civilian who needs a defensive rifle. The weapon’s reliability in any weather or environment speaks for itself; it just doesn’t stop. From the desert of Iraq to the tundra of mother Russia, this beast just works.
You can’t really go wrong with any of these weapons when it comes to price and firepower. Sure there are better rifles out there, but the rifle you can afford is better than the one you can only look at in a magazine.