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Chinese SKS with Puzzling Serial Number

smartoldguysmartoldguy Member Posts: 45 ✭✭
Some years back I obtained a pristine, unfired example of a Type 56 Chinese SKS.  The rifle had been owned by a rural-community militia leader who had stashed scores of guns and large quantities of ammo in a disused cistern on his sprawling agricultural property.  I'm told the SKSes were bought in a large lot by the now-deceased prepper.  That individual's son later inherited the lot and it was he who sold me the rifle (along with accessories and a thousand rounds of Chinese ammo).  The seller, a trustworthy gentleman whom I've known for many years, told me that like most of the stored rifles, this SKS had spent somewhere between 30 and 40 years inside a sealed PVC tube in that cistern.

I wasn't in need of another SKS but the price was compelling.  Incidentally the ammo was uniquely packaged in a surplus US missile cylinder which was also tightly sealed.

The rifle has obviously never been fired.  All serials match.  It has no signs of wear of any kind and is perfectly intact.  It has traces of cosmolene in various crevices.  It has a rubber shoulder pad which I have not seen on any other SKS.


More recently I decided to check out the rifle's story to whatever degree I could.  I wanted to know its date and place of manufacture, that sort of thing.  And I encountered a puzzle.  The serial number can't be correlated to any data I can find anywhere as regards number ranges of Chinese manufactured SKSes.  I may not have looked in the right places, but I did a lot of looking.  Here for instance:  http://chinesesks.weebly.com/dating-the-chinese-sks.html

For instance by most accounts, Chinese SKSes numbered over 9 million have the spike bayonet.  This rifle has the spike but is numbered just over 1.1 million.  The bayonet serves to date the manufacture from 1964 onwards.  There is a notable absence of any markings that might identify the Chinese manufacturer.


Furthermore the markings on the rifle identify an importer that I couldn't get much info about.  "JPE POMONA CA"  The entity did exist but useful details have eluded me.  The address and its near neighbors turned up other mostly-former importers of Chinese goods as I recall.


There are no other markings than those pictured, aside from the usual full and partial serial numbers (all matching) in the usual places.

My speculation is that this was among the very early SKSes to be imported into the US, and that it was made in one of the lesser-known or smaller-volume Chinese factories.

Maybe someone here can assist in a better identification.  Maybe not.  Maybe others appreciate a mystery.  :-)

This rifle may shortly be going up for sale.  Which is a large part of my renewed interest in its history.  I want to be able to accurately represent it to its prospective buyers.

Comments

  • TRAP55TRAP55 Member Posts: 7,882 ✭✭✭
    This is the most comprehensive website for SKS info:

  • Henry0ReillyHenry0Reilly Member Posts: 10,643 ✭✭✭
    I put "chinese sks no factory mark" into my search and got back a lot of discussions on various gun boards. I remember seeing examples with serial numbers like yours but can't recall any details about other markings.  Here's a link to a 15 page discussion:  http://www.sksboards.com/smf/index.php?topic=5329.0

    I used to recruit for the NRA until they sold us down the river (again!) in Heller v. DC. See my auctions (if any) under username henryreilly
  • smartoldguysmartoldguy Member Posts: 45 ✭✭
    Thanks @TRAP55 and @Henry0Reilly !  I followed up on both links.  Couldn't read everything, interesting as it all is, but I did pretty much figure out that my particular question isn't well answered there.  Good stuff though!
  • rufe-snowrufe-snow Member Posts: 18,242 ✭✭✭
    I wouldn't be selling it, until you have done a lot more research. It might date to 1957, when the Chinese started production. The first year of production was 1956, using the  tooling and parts they got from the Russians. After that, the first digit of the serial number, was raised sequentially, for each year after 1956. 

    Might explain the lack of the normal Chinese arsenal markings? If it was one of the very early Chinese  production SKS's?

    A reference I ran across, states that "JPE", was a subsidiary of Brolin Manufacturing. Or at least had some connection with the Lin brothers. The Lin's were based in the San Gabriel Valley area, of Southern California. The dabbled in many different firearms associated areas. Probably dating between the early 80's and mid 90's. One post asserted that "JPE" stood for "Jay's Pacific Enterprise's". Whether this is factual, I don't know?
  • mac10mac10 Member Posts: 745 ✭✭
    commercial made for export
  • smartoldguysmartoldguy Member Posts: 45 ✭✭
    mac10 said:
    commercial made for export
    Possible.  My understanding has been that the SKSes intended for American consumers were sold without bayonets and typically had the "blonde" furniture.
  • smartoldguysmartoldguy Member Posts: 45 ✭✭
    rufe-snow said:
    I wouldn't be selling it, until you have done a lot more research. It might date to 1957, when the Chinese started production. The first year of production was 1956, using the  tooling and parts they got from the Russians. After that, the first digit of the serial number, was raised sequentially, for each year after 1956. 

    Might explain the lack of the normal Chinese arsenal markings? If it was one of the very early Chinese  production SKS's?

    A reference I ran across, states that "JPE", was a subsidiary of Brolin Manufacturing. Or at least had some connection with the Lin brothers. The Lin's were based in the San Gabriel Valley area, of Southern California. The dabbled in many different firearms associated areas. Probably dating between the early 80's and mid 90's. One post asserted that "JPE" stood for "Jay's Pacific Enterprise's". Whether this is factual, I don't know?
    I had understood the spike bayonet didn't appear until 1964.  Anyhow there's no way this example dates as early as that.

    I went very carefully through the material at http://www.yooperj.com/SKS.htm comparing features point by point -- and while this rifle doesn't cleanly fit any category, the aggregate of its characteristics seem to suggest it was made sometime in the 70's.  It has some features that Yooper John described as early, some mid AND some late.  Its quality overall is significantly higher than late-production rifles in all respects, in fact better than any other SKS I own.  The milled trigger guard for instance has a superb finish, characteristic of early production rifles.  It has the cyrillic "n" on the sight, also an "early" feature.  Yet the safety lever lacks grooves, which Yooper John says is a "late" indicator.  The barrel is not pinned, and has the short barrel lug of "mid" type.  The list goes on, but you get the idea.  Several characteristics were said to have dated up to but not beyond 1980.

    Thanks for your info on JPE.  That sounds like some of the same data I encountered in my earlier searches, but I didn't make a connection to Brolin Mfg. or the Lin brothers.  I'll follow up on that.
  • TRAP55TRAP55 Member Posts: 7,882 ✭✭✭
    Mac10 confirmed what I thought it might be, a commercial export. Otherwise it would have Chinese arsenal markings. You can see on John Yooper's site, the multitude of variations that came out of China alone.
  • smartoldguysmartoldguy Member Posts: 45 ✭✭
    TRAP55 said:
    Mac10 confirmed what I thought it might be, a commercial export. Otherwise it would have Chinese arsenal markings. You can see on John Yooper's site, the multitude of variations that came out of China alone.
    I'm inclined to agree.  Nothing else quite makes sense.

    Having examined it so closely against the Yooper data, I now feel like I've got a pretty good handle on it.  The recoil pad is highly suggestive of intent for the commercial market.  I was persuaded to think it was military surplus by the presence of the bayonet; but at the time that wasn't restricted.  I now know that it was starting in 1989 that SKSes intended for the commercial market were required by ATF rules to omit the bayonet in order to qualify as "sporting" rifles.

    Date-wise, it fits with the verbal history of the rifle as told to me by the son of its original US buyer, when he said it had been stored away for around 35 years and possibly longer.  That placed the purchase date in the mid 80's at latest and the late 70's at earliest.  As mentioned in my other post, several characteristics of the rifle were seen by Yooper as dating to 1980 at the latest.

    Anyhow, my working theory is that this rifle was manufactured by one or another of the Chinese arsenals, but not for military use.  It stands to reason that the manufacturer probably changed nothing substantial about its processes, but merely diverted some portion of its usual military production to commercial sales, and did a bare minimum of extra work.  Which may have consisted of nothing more than giving the rifles a separate numbering scheme, screwing on that butt pad and placing it in a cardboard box.
  • rufe-snowrufe-snow Member Posts: 18,242 ✭✭✭
    All military firearms, not just SKS's weren't importable prior to the mid 80's. When the gun control act of 1968, was amended, to permit  the importation of surplus military firearms. The only loophole to this, was surplus firearms that supposedly were used by the police rather than the military.
    Years ago I had a Chinese SKS, with the Chinese, "Public Security" marking on it. Because of this "Police" marking, I always believed, it was one of the earliest Chinese SKS's imported. Circa early to mid 80's.
  • nmyersnmyers Member Posts: 16,129 ✭✭✭
    I've noticed that there are many "alphabet" importers who bring in a single batch of firearms, then disappear.  I suspect that these are usually well known companies that want to avoid having to provide warranty service or product liability.  But, they also have the chance to negotiate a batch of higher quality guns like your SKS.  All SKS rifles made in China for the US market were made after they stopped making them for military use.  That is why none are qualified for C&R status.  Within the last 2 years, several importers have been able to convince ATF that Chinese SKS's they imported were actually military issue, & they bring a high price, despite the fact that they are usually in fair - poor condition.
    In most cases, an importer mark indicates commercial production for the US market.  If the serial number is not all Arabic numbers, the importer must stamp a new Arabic serial number.  (This is the case with Russian SKS's.)
    If you are unable to prove by markings that your rifle is > 50 years old, it cannot be transferred on a C&R permit.
    Neal
This discussion has been closed.