During the Cold War, the SKS rifle was a staple of the Soviet Union. Today, other nations still use it for ceremonial purposes, and some keep it as a reserve or militia issue.
SKS rifles are common in war zones across the globe, and many have been brought to the United States since the 1980s. Here it is a favorite of shooters and collectors alike.
As with any rifle adding a scope to your SKS rifle is one of the best ways to improve your shooting experience.
Unfortunately, picking the right scopes for SKS rifles has been challenging since the mount sometimes affects the scope. With that in mind, we chose scopes that suit the 7.62×39 intermediate power with a reasonable price (other than collectors, the SKS you’ll scope is probably a $2-400 beater). There are a number of nice options for budget scopes for SKS rifles, but the five best scopes below stood out to us the most.
Note that for most scopes you’ll need a SKS scope mount such as
Quick Summary of the 5 Best Scopes for SKS Rifles
|NCStar 4x30 Scope||
||$43 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Monstrum Tactical Compact 3x Scope||
||$99 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|UTG 4-16 Compact Scope||
||$153 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight||
||$218 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Sniper 4X32 Compact Scope||
||$89 Shop NowClick to read my review|
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How to Choose the Best Scopes for SKS Rifles
Here are some factors to consider to give you an idea of what to look for in a scope.
One of the most important aspects of a riflescope is magnification. The range of magnification is the number of times the naked eye’s vision can be multiplied. In other words, a 2x magnification scope has twice the power of your unaided eye.
This is entirely dependent on the type of shooting you intend to do. However, in the case of getting scopes for SKS rifles, a medium or mediocre long-range scope would suffice. This implies that the magnification range should be between 3 and 9x.
Always check the lens size: the larger the lens size, the better the light transmission. This is because excellent scopes for SKS rifles provide a good balance between light gathering capability and image quality. The lens coating is another example. Light transmission increases again if the lens coating or anti-glare features are improved. A good optics system will produce bright, clear images.
The reticle is what allows you to zero in on your target. So, choose an SKS rifle scope with a reticle that you are familiar with and understand. If you’re unsure, the classic red dot reticle is ideal for close-range combat shooting, while the simple Duplex crosshair is ideal for medium-range hunting.
Scope eye occurs when you mount your scope in such a way that you must hunch up close for a clear field of view. When using a powerful rifle, if you get too close to your scope, the recoil will cause the scope to smack into your eye. If you don’t want your head to hurt, make sure you have enough eye relief.
One thing to consider is the scope’s quality and durability. Being more expensive isn’t always an indicator of the scope’s quality. Having an idea of how your scope should work will help you get your money’s worth.
The 5 Best Scopes for SKS Rifles
NCStar 4×30 Scope
Early commercial SKS scopes generally incorporated a tiny 4x sight, either as a clone of Soviet-style sniper scopes or a cheap sports optic. A 4x scope of this design is one of the finest SKS scopes available. So this inexpensive option from NCStar is worth a look.
Because most scopes for SKS rifles have a dust covermount or side mount, space is limited. A scope that is too long can prevent the use of stripper clips and be hit by ejecting brass. Using a sensible, compact scope avoids these issues.
Now let’s be real. You aren’t going to take it to war, and you probably aren’t going to be using it in extreme conditions. But for the common knockabout role many SKS rifles fill, this is an acceptable scope. The fixed power design makes it possible to build a cheaper optic. As long as you don’t prefer high-end glass or optical coatings, this will let you plink cans, shoot a deer, or take out that coyote in the hen house.
- Compact design ideal for use with the SKS
- Suitable for use with the 7.62×39 cartridge
- Entry level scope will not stand up to abuse
- Fixed power not ideal for some uses
- May not provide as clear a sight picture as more expensive scopes
Monstrum Tactical Compact 3x Scope
Can you tell that I’m a fan of compact scopes for SKS rifles? Because I am, but this will be the last one we look at. Notable again for the low cost, you could describe this three power scope as an optical sight.
Either way, when you are dealing with a 3-4 MOA rifle like the SKS. And shooting a round that most shooters use within 300 yards, you’ll find this is a perfectly acceptable scope.
What I really like about it is the illuminated reticle. It gives you an edge shooting in low light conditions or poor weather. If you are using your SKS as a ranch rifle or truck gun, you never know when you’ll have to use it. Therefore, having that illuminated reticle is a really nice touch. Otherwise, what we’ve got here is a pretty classic compact optic.
It’s well made, backed with a one-year warranty. Plus, it doesn’t weigh a lot (less than one pound). It even has a built-in mounting base, so you don’t have to fiddle with rings. Basically, if you want an under $100 compact, illuminated reticle optical sight, this should do the job quite nicely.
- Illuminated reticle
- Easy to install and operate
- Low magnification
- Single color illuminated reticle
- Can only attach to a Picatinny rail
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UTG 4-16 Compact Scope
Most SKS scopes have a 1-inch tube. However, skilled shooters know a larger, 30mm tube allows more light transmission. As a result, it produces a clearer sight picture. Most SKS scopes are compact. Also, there is usually a trade-off between a larger objective lens, and actually being able to use stripper clips.
By combining a 32mm objective lens with a 30mm scope tube, UTG has built a dandy little compact scope ideal for the SKS. Plus, it packs more than enough magnification for whatever shooting task you might have for your rifle.
Now pretty much any scope these days has a sealed, nitrogen-purged tube, and some sort of coated optics. This is no exception. The real standout feature is the two-color red and green illuminated reticle. These features allow you to choose between low light and daytime friendly illumination on your reticle.
This makes it possible to better acquire targets in all lighting conditions. A real bonus when you consider dark-colored game animals or targets. All in all, this is a pretty solid, all-purpose scope. With the 4-16 magnification, you can readily make use of the maximum potential of your favorite SKS.
- 4-16x magnification lets you engage at any practical distance with your SKS
- Red/ green illuminated reticle
- 30mm tube for superior light transmission
- Entry level brand
- 32mm objective may not suit some shooters
- May encounter a fuzzy sight picture at long distances
Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight
While not really a scope, due to its lack of magnification, Vortex Optics makes one of the best optical sights. Despite the largely traditional look, it is still an intermediate-powered carbine at 100-500 meters.
Vortex is famous for high-grade optics, and this red dot is suitable for hunting, tactical use, or general knockabout work. It comes with a lifetime warranty and this scope is as tough as your SKS rifle. As a bonus, you can always pair the flip aside magnifier of your choice with it, and get all the benefits of a red dot and a scope.
Priced at just around $200 and built with state-of-the-art optical coatings for a superior sight picture, it is even an affordable choice for your SKS! No matter how you look at it, if you want something better than clunky Soviet iron sights, Vortex makes one heck of an upgrade for your rifle.
- Lifetime warranty
- Straightforward controls
- No magnification
- Requires batteries to operate
- Should be used with a see through mount or riser in order to retain iron sights as backup
Sniper 4X32 Compact Scope
This is yet another SKS rifle scope that has impressed many new users. This scope features a milled aircraft-grade aluminum body to withstand constant heavy recoil. It is also fog-proof and shock-resistant, with nitrogen-charged housing and weather-resistant seals, making it long-lasting.
The Sniper compact 4X32 riflescope has sapphire lenses and an excellent coating, which is very effective in adverse weather conditions. This scope has an excellent 4X magnification. Also, its parallax is usually set to about 100 yards. However, the 4X magnification is fixed and not adjustable. The magnification is excellently designed to compensate for the rifle scope’s inability to zoom.
According to many gun users, this scope is one of the better SKS scopes on the market at a reasonable price for only $89. If you are looking for a scope that is excellent in quality both inside and out, this may be the first option you should consider.
- Made with durable materials
- Easy to mount and with clear optics
- It is able to shoot perfectly at 75 yards
- The scope is mounted low on a flat-topped receiver
- The reticle ranges are not covered in the manual
- The scope cannot be adjusted for magnification because it lacks a zoom feature
A Quick History About the SKS Rifle
The SKS gun evolved from severe house-to-house warfare in WWII Russia. While the PPS and PPSh submachine guns offered terrifying amounts of short-range firepower, the Soviets lacked effective intermediate-range self-loading rifles. As a result, the Soviet engineers developed the 7.62x39mm cartridge inspired by the German StG 43 rifle’s usage of 8mm Kurz.
They used a small quantity of prototype SKS rifles in 1945. The lightweight semi-auto carbines were popular with soldiers who had previously been handed shoulder-bruising Mosin Nagant rifles and carbines. Consequently, the SKS became the Soviet Union’s new weapon in 1949.
However, from the beginning, this was an infantry rifle and fitted with iron sights. No SKS using nation adopted and issued a standard scoped version. Although some limited effort was made to scope some during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. It took Norinco to mass-produce scoped SKS rifles, and these were strictly for the US commercial market.
Ultimately, scoping the SKS has come down to side mounts attached to the rear of the gun with screws, various dust cover mounts ranging from barely capable of holding zero, to requiring multiple set screws, or various clamp-on schemes or rear sight replacement scout mounts.
Getting a solid, stable scope for SKS rifle is either an act of gunsmithing or a bit of voodoo. However, once done, we are left with the question of what is the best SKS scope?
And that concludes our review of the best scopes for SKS rifles. Our top pick is the Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight. Its build is sturdy, and it’s even backed with a lifetime warranty — that’s the confidence of the company that it only offers the best kinds out there. It also produces high-grade visual sight, is versatile, and comes at a reasonable price.
But if you have a tight wallet right now, you can opt for our best budget buy, the Sniper 4X32 Compact Scope. Sure, it’s not the cheapest option on our list. But it’s the most affordable scope for the SKS rifle with its features. Sapphire lenses, weather-resistant coating, and magnification — this scope has a lot of good stuff in it with its small price tag.
An interesting and informative article, thank you for it. Since 1991 I have owned six SKS carbines. My first was a Norinco, then three Chinese Type 56 military issue, a Russian Tula and a Yugoslavian M59/66A1. I still have the Yugo and Russian, the wife has one of the Chinese carbines.
The 7.62X39mm cartridge indeed is not a “sniper” cartridge and the carbines do not lend themselves to such activity. A side mount, in my opinion, is the only workable, realistic scope mount for an SKS and a scope is really unnecessary except for those whose eyesight is poor enough to necessitate a scope.
In your opinion, is this a descent deer hunting rifle?