If you were a little late in getting started with the game like I was, you might think this week’s weapon has always been around. The now-ubiquitous SKS has had such an impact on the game that it’s hard to remember a time without it.
This carbine joined us in the 0.33 update, becoming the first new rifle since the game’s debut and shaking things up in a big way. Let’s take a closer look at this post-War workhorse and find out what makes it such a great all-around weapon.
The Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova, 1945, “SKS-45” for short, or simply “SKS” as we know it, is a semi-automatic carbine rifle designed by Sergei Simonov in 1943. It is chambered to fire the now common 7.62x39mm round the same as its eventual successor: the legendary AK-47. It features a top-loading, ten round internal magazine and is operated by a spring-loaded bolt-carrier and gas piston rod.
Its simple design belies its excellent capabilities, as it features manually-adjustable sights which can be set for up to 1000 meters. Capability like this drew enough attention to see it tested against the enemies of the Soviets towards the end of World War 2, and formal adoption by the military in 1949. Though it was already being phased out of service with the Soviets as early as 1955, it would continue to see wide use both in its home market and in many other places around the world up through the 80’s and 90’s, and even sees ceremonial use today.
The example we see above is representative of an average SKS, and includes a folding bayonet and 10 round “stripper” clip. Our in-game version differs from this in that its optional bayonet is fixed and the barrel includes a spigot-type grenade launcher mount on the end as well as a ladder-style folding grenade sight on top of the barrel.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Window of Opportunity
For a very brief period of time on the Experimental branch, it was possible to create a combination unheard of today: an SKS with a Long Range Scope. Most won’t remember this oddity because it was fixed before 0.33 hit the Stable branch and the ability to mount the scope lasted only two short days — beginning with 0.33.114792 and ending with 0.33.114855.
Though players lost the ability to combine the two, existing SKS rifles with the scope mounted on them stuck around until the Experimental branch was completely wiped much later on. In the interim, the rare combo became a bit of a unicorn weapon, with players killing each other just to get their hands on one.
Despite its strange place in the timeline of the game’s development and the short time that it was available, the combination was less than ideal anyway and never really had a chance to succeed. Players may see some oddball combination like this return with the advent of weapon modifications, but until then this will remain a peculiar footnote in the history of DayZStandalone.
Original images by /u/skalle007 and /u/sunfit.
The hangar-to-hangar skirmishes via cold concrete runways that dominated the early days of the Standalone were rife with the sound of this carbine. Dedicated snipers still preferred the Mosin for its outright power and attachments, but the SKS offered a higher rate of fire and twice the ammo capacity — something very hard to ignore in those days.
This gun never made any promises about variety, it just pledged to kick a lot of ass. With decent iron sights, optics weren’t a necessity to do well against your foes. Even beginners could pick it up and jump right into the fight thanks to its forgiving nature relative to the Mosin.
Equipped with the only attachment that really matters — the PU scope — this gun will do just about anything you ask of it without fuss. A quick trigger finger will make it viable at short range, it will clean house at medium distances, and if the shooter is comfortable it will even put down targets at long range. The limiting factors are the shooter’s skill and the power of the ammunition.
While stripper clips will make your life easier, this gun really only needs a box or two of ammunition to be kept happy.
While this gun may be designed as a jack of all trades, it can still be satisfying to use for those who prefer hanging back and engaging their targets at a comfortable distance. It may not have the punch of the larger caliber rifles, but a well-placed shot will still do the job.
Given a height advantage, a single SKS user can terrorize an entire town. In this regard, it does a heck of a job impersonating rifles in a class above.
The SKS has few attachments, but truthfully needs only one. Add the first PU scope that you come across and forget about anything else except ammo. That scope adds some range to your capability without sacrificing short range usability.
Other tools at your disposal include the standard fare for rifles: the ghillie gun wrap for stealth operations and the improvised suppressor which can come handy in a pinch. There’s also…
The Pointy End
…the SKS bayonet. Though it hasn’t been available for a while, it will soon make its return as a proper melee option. Once brandished as a decorative piece to send a message to your enemies, it will finally have the dangerous capability to back up its sinister appearance.
Image by Chris Torchia.
Suit Your Mood
What it lacks in available attachments, the SKS makes up for in customization. Using one of the cans of spraypaint you see lying around everywhere, you can change your rifle from the standard wood finish to a pseudo-camouflage green or mean looking black. Because a camo pattern is not available for this weapon, you can swap between colors at will. Just be aware that once the wood finish is gone, you can’t go back to it.
Old School Excellence
The simple, rugged design of the SKS is its greatest asset. It excels in nearly any situation because it asks so little of you and gives so much in return. Not only is it simple to operate, but it’s satisfying too when you’ve got the luxury of enjoying it.
The finer details will be lost in the heat of battle, but you won’t be frustrated afterward either.
Even though the 7.62x39mm round is weaker than its big brother, this capable and plentiful ammunition is perfect for the role the SKS occupies. It packs just the right amount of power to put down most any target without the harsh recoil that comes with the larger round.
Perhaps most importantly, the SKS will quickly put ten of these strong slugs down range, eliminating any question as to whether or not it can get the job done.
No matter when you started playing DayZ, you’ve surely got your own memories associated with this special rifle. Whether it be from a time when this was one of your only options… or more recently when this old standby has worked to stay afloat in a sea of automatics.
It continues to impress both veterans and newcomers alike with its unique blend of capabilities, and its strength will endure for a long time to come.