if you want a shooter, go for a Norinco (chinese). Despite what some fanatics say a Chinese is everybit as good as their Russian, Romanian, Yugo, and now Albanian counterparts. They range around $200 for a very good one.
Norincos are fine, though it's illegal to install a bayonet on it. Other models are classified as Curio and Relic, and are allowed to have certain features if they have to do with the classic configuration. Romanians, Russians, Yugos, and Albanians can have bayo lug, Yugo 59/66 can keep its grenade launcher too.
Far as I know, Romanians are fine. Depends a lot on what's available to you, as most non-Yugos will probably have been pre-owned. That means there may be choices of accessories and configurations. Watch out, as a lot of people can configure an SKS illegally without realizing it. If you're not sure, ask here.
And yes, $200 is a fair price for an SKS in decent condition. But it's a mixed bag.
If you can, inspect any SKS before you buy. Some look good externally, and may be rated "very good" by the seller, but have bad bores. Yugos have no chrome liner, and are usually dark but shootable. Check the gas tube and piston, as this is where a lot of people let the gunk build up.
It's ideal if you can test fire it. A lot of Yugos have gas valve leakage (easy to fix but irritating). On the plus side, the Yugo is more accurate than a Mini-30 with the right ammo. (Okay Ruger owners, flame on!)
I've seen Chinese, Romanian and Yugo SKS's down here in Florida going for around $160 to $200 on the average, for used. New/unissued will be higher.
I ought to correct myself... Norincos can keep the bayonet lug, though it still counts under the '94 ban... But can't have the bayonet attached. Russians, Romanians, Yugos, and Albanians can keep the bayonet if the rifle is in the standard configuration (ie fixed magazine, no thumbhole stock. Not sure about bipods, scopes, synth stocks, etc.)
Battle, I'm sure you can have a thumbhole stock on an SKS. It's the folding pistol-gripped stock that's illegal. As far as the other items, none of them contribute to an illegal conversion. Flash hiders, bayonets (Chinese), threaded muzzles, pistol grip stocks, folding stocks, and detachable mags constitute a violation of Section 922(r).
For purposes of federal assault weapon bans, thumbholes are fine. Some states classify them as assault features, however. And here's how it may get the SKS: Normally, things like bayonets are illegal to attach to imported rifles. Exceptions are made for C&R SKSs, but they have to be in original configuration. I think Dragunov stocks aren't included in that category. I could be wrong, and generally no one would care anyway, but it's important to be aware of.
Everytime I read about whats legal and whats not I get confused! Everyone says that a Chinese is not allowed to have a bayonet but others are. Mine is a Chinese SKS and it has the spiked bayonet. I bought it from a very reputable dealer here and I dont think they would sell anything that is illegal. Does the age of the SKS figure into this? I believe mine was made in 1957 or 1958 so would it have C&R status?
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