The Albanian SKS is now the rarest of all
"imported" varieties of SKS found in the world, outside of
the North Korean, East German, and Vietnamese models that
were war "bring backs", with very few in existence. It is made
of milled steel and fires the standard AK 7.62x39 mm
cartridge like all SKS, but is different from other
country's SKS in several ways. In this article I will
attempt to provide some history and observation of this
I have been collecting Albanian SKS carbines for some time
now and currently have around 50 in my personal collection.
I have samples from every year of production and have
photographed and catalogued them, along with my other SKS
Albanian SKS Photo Collection
The Albanian SKS was believed to be an early Simonov design
that was never manufactured by other European countries. It
was known locally by the name "July 10th Rifle", after
Albania's Independence Day. The Albanian SKS was
manufactured at the Umgramsh Factory from 1967-1971 and
again from 1976-1979. There is some debate about what
happened during the years 1972-1975 but I have never seen or
heard of Albanian SKS's from this time period.
Until recently, I had never seen a 1979 rifle. A couple of
months ago I bought out J+G Sales when they had 5 Albanians
in stock. The salesman listed off the years and said there
was a 1969 included. When I received the package imagine my
surprise when the 1969 turned out to actually be a
previously unseen rifle from 1979!
|Photo of 1979 serial number
Estimated production of Albanians over the years is shown in
this chart, with figures gathered and put together by Glen
Current opinion is that the undated models MAY be rifles
produced in either 1975 or 1980, but this has yet to be
So, there were an estimated 16,950 produced. For unknown
reasons the Albanians destroyed or gave away nearly two
thirds of them and it is believed that only 5700 are left in
the world today. There have been reports that US Government
led efforts "encouraged" the Albanian government to collect
and destroy over 130,000 Albanian small arms (their SKS
included) during the mid to late 1990's. This may be why we
see limited numbers of them in the world market today.
My best guess is that, according to year
produced, current world inventory may be:
I base my assumptions on research I have done and
correspondence with other collectors. I have also emailed
various weapons and export ministers within Albania for
information on production numbers and export figures, with
limited response on their parts.
The obvious differences between the Albanian SKS and those
from other countries are:
1) The extended length stock and the extended 3 vent upper
handguard that extend all the way to the gas block. This
photo shows the Albanian on the top and the Russian on the
2) The trapdoor butt plate has 2 doors rather than the normal
one. This photo shows the Albanian on the left and the
Russian on the right.
3) The Albanians use an AK style charging handle rather than
the round style used by all other countries. This photo
shows the Albanian style on the left and the Russian on the
4) The Albanian rear sling swivel is located on the left
side of the butt stock as compared to the bottom of the
butt stock on other models. This photo shows the Albanian on
the top and a Russian on the bottom.
5) The 10 round fixed magazine on the Albanian has a
slightly different bottom profile than those on other SKS's.
The photo shows the Albanian on top and the Russian
Albanian serial numbers are, in most cases, stamped on
visible parts and usually contain 3-6 numbers followed by a
dash and then the last 2 digits of the year of manufacture.
Ex: 02645-78, would be rifle serial number 02645
manufactured in 1978. You will also see electro penciled
serial numbers on the gas piston. This is an example of a
rifle that I acquired that was not date coded for some
|Undated rifle serial number.
The stocks on Albanian SKS are usually of two color types.
Rifles manufactured in 1967 and 1968, with some of the 1969
ones, were of a much darker color than all prior years.
Example of 1968 rifle
Rifles manufactured from 1970-1979 on almost always had a
beech stock with various shades of orange varnish. Example
of 1978 rifle:
The stocks vary in condition from some that are "mint"
condition, to some that are in really bad shape. It seems to
have been relatively common practice for Albanian soldiers
to carve their initials into the stocks of their guns.
Other observations I have made of the Albanian SKS:
1) Trigger pulls run the range from very nice to horrible.
This mirrors the standard range of SKS trigger smoothness
found in other countries. Testing of trigger pulls revealed
everything from 4.5 lbs to 11 lbs, with everything in between.
2) The bayonets on Albanian SKS are all black, spike type
bayonets similar to the ones on Chinese SKS except for the
3) Accuracy of the Albanian SKS seems to be "better than
average" when compared with Russian, Romanian, Chinese, and
Yugoslavian SKS. As a matter of fact, I have several that
are more accurate than even a Russian Tula that I have that
is marked as sniper grade on it's front sight. All of my
Albanians are capable of putting 5 shot groups within 4" at
50 yards and 9" at 100 yards.
In summary, the Albanian SKS is well worth collecting. It is
an interesting variation of the standard SKS and is a well
put together, accurate rifle. Given the low number of these
rifles in the world today I believe the law of supply and
demand will soon cause their prices to rise quite