The Soviet-produced SKS, or the Samozaryadniy Karabin sistemi Simonova, was the design of Sergei Gavrilovish Simonov and is sometimes designated as the Simonov SKS. The system is a simple self-loading, short-stroke gas piston-operated, tilting bolt weapon and fires the 7.62x39mm M1943 rifle round.
The SKS was, in fact, the first Soviet weapon to be manufactured after the acceptance of the 7.62x39mm M1943 round, also referred to as an 'intermediate' cartridge. Many assume that the development of this round stemmed directly from experimentation and research of captured German MP44 guns from the Second World War - which utilized a similar 'short' round in the form of the 7.92mm.
The SKS system, in itself, is a basic weapon system with very little flair. It is a robust and well-constructed weapon that has been found to be easy to operate, though some have questioned the weight of the weapon for such a small round. The 7.62mm round can be box-fed from a standard 10-round magazine or fed by hand in single round loading. An integrated bayonet system is attached via a hinged connection underneath the barrel and can be folded out or stored at the user's discretion. Well-though out construction means that the weapon can be field-stripped in a short amount of time as well, either for repair, replacement of parts or for cleaning.
Produced in large numbers in the Soviet Union and for its satellite states, the SKS ensured itself a place in firearms history. To date, the SKS has become an increasingly popular weapon for sport or self-defense in the United States, where it is classified as an antique relic and thusly can be sold with most of the military accessories intact. The 10-round capacity of the weapon in some areas is increased to 30 rounds via secondary market magazines and slight modification to the system.
The SKS has also been produced by Yugoslavia as the M59, in China as the Type 56, in North Korea as the Type 63 and in former East Germany as the Karabiner-S, all maintaining the basic components of the base Soviet SKS.