Since the horrendous shooting at Republican lawmakers Wednesday morning in Virginia, there’s been a lot said about the weapons used.

James Hodgkinson came armed with a licensed 9mm semi-automatic pistol, and what we’re told is a Chinese SKS “assault rifle,” which media reports say is an “AK-47 variant.”

Screenshot/ABC News

Darin Prince, who’s one of the nation’s preeminent experts on the SKS rifle, told Independent Journal Review that the gun Hodgkinson used is neither an AK-47 variant nor an assault rifle:

“There is such a thing as an ‘assault rifle’ but it’s a military term to mean a select fire rifle which can transition between semi-automatic and automatic. The SKS is not capable of making the transition and, in fact, was made to be an exclusively semi-automatic use.”

Here’s a fully automatic AK-47:

YouTube/Independent Journal Review

Prince told IJR that the gun was conceived in the former Soviet Union about the same time as the AK-47, but that they’re completely different guns, so it’s inaccurate to say the SKS is a variant of the AK-47.

Here’s what an SKS rifle looks like being fired:

YouTube/Independent Journal Review

He told IJR that the SKS has a longer barrel and a totally different way to load ammo, but there is one common factor:

“The only common thread is the size of the ammo.”

Both guns take 7.62x39mm rounds, but the SKS’s barrel is about four inches longer than the AK-47.

The SKS takes a “clip-fed” 10-round magazine:

YouTube/Independent Journal Review

IJR asked Prince to listen to the recording of the shooting to determine if Hodgkinson had modified his rifle:

"From the more than five-minute video, I heard only 10 7.62 rifle shots. That’s the legal capacity for that firearm. I’m going to assume that his rifle is not modified but it’s hard to know when the videographer started taping.

The first five rifle rounds were not well-placed shots because they were too fast. He was shooting indiscriminately. But the second set of five are the ones I’d be worried about. He was acquiring targets and his shooting was more methodical because he was giving himself more time.

There were 56-57 pistol shots in all, and that includes after the police got there."

He told IJR that the SKS rifle was “basically obsolete the day it was issued” because the AK-47 was a better gun for the Soviet military. It's now “relegated to ceremonial use only."

But there are “tens of millions” of the guns on the market, especially the Chinese-manufactured model that Hodgkinson purchased legally.

Mediaite notes that the SKS has never been included on any lists of “assault” weapons.

Prince, who operates North County Firearms in San Diego County, says he sells a lot of the $350 guns at his shop, which is located close to Camp Pendleton Marine Base.

You can see the differences in the guns for yourself in the videos below:

Fully auto AK-47:

Semi-Auto SKS:

Editor's note: This article was updated after publication to clarify the statement given about the possibility that the weapon had been modified.

Be the first to comment!
sort by: latest