(Contributed by Mitch Speth)The Lebanon War, Israeli Capture SKS
These SKS's made their way to the United States and Canada some time in the mid 1980's. They were commonly labeled as "Egyptian Contract SKS's" as some have Arabic marked stocks, but there is no evidence of China ever sending Egypt small arms. In fact, there really is no proof to support that theory. At the time, we believe it was just a name that stuck. Egypt was being supplied by Russia at the time of these rifles production and aid, and then Egypt was aided by the West later on. Instead, evidence points towards these having been sent to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization), and Syria, later captured by Israel, and then being exported to the United States and Canada.
After Israel became mostly a pro-Western and American ally, China began to support the Arabs and the cause of the Palestinians. After the Sino-Soviet split during the 1960's, China began to support the cause and aid the Palestinians more than ever, and had strongly supported the destruction of Israel. China supported Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). While not recognizing Israel as a nation, China recognized the Palestinian people as a nation in 1964. And only one year later, the PLO signed its first military aid and diplomatic agreement with China in Peking, March 1965. Israeli intelligence attached a value of $5 million to Chinese weapons supplied to the Palestinians between 1965 and 1969.
The Chinese government under Mao Zedong also had aided Palestinian militant groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as well as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) during this period. These what we believe to be Israeli Capture rifles are found in the late 50's to late 60's production years, during this peak of very tight Sino-Palestinian relations & military assistance, especially from 65' to 69' and later on as well. China also made a short lived arms agreement with Syria in 1968, in a move Syria made to make Russia jealous. Soon after, Russia began supplying Syria. We don't know exactly how many arms they received from China.1975 Lebanese Divide.
In April of 1975, civil war erupted in Lebanon, putting Christian, Sunni, Shiite, Druze, and Palestinians against one another. In June of 1976, Assad ordered 30,000 Syrian troops into Lebanon to protect the Lebanese Christians, and to fight the PLO and other leftist Muslim groups that were stationing themselves there. Many weapons would have been lost, captured, and more than likely swapped hands. In Syria today, we see what appears to be a wide range of different countries SKS's, including these particular Chinese SKS's with and without blued bolt carriers, and with blade and spike bayonets.
For example, here are some photographs of SKS's from the ongoing civil war in Syria:
Blued Carrier Chinese SKS's in Syria:
Arabic Marked SKS Stocks also in Syria:How exactly could these have ended up being captured by Israel and then sent to the United States?The 1982 Lebanon War
The invasion of Lebanon by Israel, and later known in Israel as the Lebanon War or First Lebanon War, began on June 6th, 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon, which was heavily occupied by the Syrians and the PLO. The invasion had several goals: Expelling the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), removing Syrian influence over Lebanon, and installing a pro-Israeli Christian government led by Bachir Gemayel.
After attacking the PLO, as well as Syrian, leftist, and other Muslim Lebanese forces, Israel occupied southern Lebanon, eventually surrounding the PLO and elements of the Syrian army. Surrounded in West Beirut and subjected to heavy bombardment, the PLO forces and their allies negotiated passage from Lebanon with the aid of United States Special Envoy Philip Habib and the protection of international peacekeepers. The PLO then relocated its headquarters to Tripoli in June 1982.
Picture below is a fraction of the small arms (many chinese sks) captured in Lebanon by Israeli forces 1982.
More information on the war can be found here:1982 Lebanon War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaIsrael captures equipment during the war"It is the largest and most varied such collection of arms and ammunition from any of the Israel-Arab wars. ''What surprised us,'' the Israeli officer said, ''was not what we got from the Syrians - regular battlefield equipment - but what the P.L.O. had amassed."
"The tanks, artillery pieces, armored personnel carriers, mortar and rocket launchers and small arms - enough to equip three or four divisions, military experts say - were hauled in from Lebanon for examination, conversion to Israeli Army use, possible sale abroad or the scrap heap."
"An army officer familiar with the recycling of captured equipment said, "It's worth hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps $1 billion or more - although we're not sure to whom."
''In the terrorists hands,'' he said, referring to the P.L.O., "we found huge amounts in great varieties of arms and vehicles made in 14 or 15 countries, including Hungary, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, North Korea, China, Japan, Belgium, France, Britain, West Germany and the United States."
"Visitors find scores of different pieces of military equipment, each identified according to make and origin"
More on the article here: ISRAEL PUTS CAPTURED ARMS ON DISPLAY - NYTimes.com
After the invasion and capture of over 35,000 small arms, Israel began separating, keeping, and selling for profit to militaries and to the civilian market abroad. It is believed this how we received our Israeli Capture SKS's both with and without arabic features.*JUST TO NOTE*
These do not have Israeli property stamp "(y)" marks, as some later Ak kits that have been imported into the United States have (amd others), but if these SKS's were immediately sorted, stored, and designated for sold abroad instead of IDF use, there would be no need for Israel to property mark these rifles.How to Identify
These Chinese (and very few Russian) SKS's are found with both obvious and not-so obvious features that signify what they are. The first give-away, which isn't even a foreign-given feature, is the import mark. The import mark is specific to the time period which these were imported (Mid to Late 1980's) by Century Arms International. We believe there are two import marks found on the IC guns that were exported to America, both of which will be found on the forward most part of the barrel.
The most common will say:
CAI. ST. ALB. VT.
SKS 7.62 CHINA
The more common 9 million (1964) & 12 million (1967) era rifles will have this mark. It is possible to find other 1960's era rifles with this mark as well, such as one 8 million (1963) and one Russian Israeli Capture gun we have found also with IC features. Next would be to look for other IC features on those particular rifles.
The second, more uncommon import mark will have a similar font & size, but will be missing the "LB" in "ALB":
CAI. ST. A. VT.
SKS 7.62 CHINA
We believe this was an other earlier smaller batch, which contains less "Arabic" features, so they are harder to identify without finding the import mark. This batch included Chinese SKS's with (for the most part) different years of production. So far, ghosts (1955), Letter Series (1959-1960), 8 million (1963) and 11 million (1966) era rifles have been seen with this mark and have IC characteristics. Since some of these rifles were imported caked full of sand, similar patina to the more common 9 & 12 million era rifles, replacement stocks, featuring the common Middle East red reshellac, were the very first CAI imports, have traces of removed arabic markings, and also fit the PLO aid timeline, they fit the IC description quite well. So far, there are only a few examples, and are quite uncommon so it seems,
Here is an example of your 9 & 12 million IC import stamp.
Here is an example of your average "early batch" import IC stamp.
A few have been found without Import marks, but containing Middle Eastern features, such as red reshellacs, black painted parts, blued carriers, arabic markings, etc. Also, these seem to fit right into the missing 1960's era slots, such as the 6 million (1961), 10 million (1965), 11 million (1966) era rifles. This batch of non import marked rifles also contain a couple of Russian SKS's. The reason there are so few here in the United States, and why they lack import marks, is not because they are bring backs, but because they were originally Canadian imported rifles. Border jumpers, to be exact. Canada did not need to import mark their imported rifles for a very long time, but still received batch(es) from Israel in the mid to late 1980's just like the United States did.
When Israel captured millions of dollars worth of equipment from the PLO & Syria in Lebanon, they sorted the weapons and then sold these batches abroad. Data suggests that the U.S. received their two batches, consisting of (mostly) a multiple years-specific batch, and the same with Canada.
So, just to be more clear,
SKS rifles with Arabic features containing the import mark:
CAI.ST.A.VT. & SKS 7.62 CHINA - Are nbelieved to be the first, smaller United States Batch with a wide range of late 50's & 60's Chinese SKS's.
CAI.ST.ALB.VT. & SKS 7.62 CHINA - Are the second, larger United States Batch consisting mainly of 9 & 12 mills.
Non import marked - Are the Canadian batch, mainly consisting of Russians, with some Chinese.
Some (but very few) United States imported Chinese SKS's have a similar era import mark, and the Russian laminate stock/Blued bolt carrier "Combo", but have a NORINCO export stamp. More than likely these rifles were made for export to this region, (because they share the same serial range and configuration as the ones imported that have Arabic given features) but never left China; instead, staying in China and later exported to the U.S. for the civilian market. These should not be labeled as IC's, as they never went there, but are still a cool variant to have, and are usually in very nice shape.
Examples of each:
CAI. ST. A. VT. marked "ghost"
CAI. ST. A. VT. marked V letter series
Non import marked 6 mill
CAI. ST. A. VT. marked 8 Mill:
CAI. ST. ALB. VT. marked 9 Mill:
CAI. ST. A. VT. marked 11 Mill:
CAI. ST. ALB. VT. marked 12 Mill:
These rifles are found in two main variations:
1. The first is the stock configured rifle. It should have a Chinese hardwood stock (rare, but matching if you're really lucky!), and a bolt carrier in the white. This type was sent as aid just as it was originally produced in China.
IC in standard configuration:
2. The second is found with a blued bolt carrier, and a double cut (blade and spike) bayonet groove Russian laminated stock. This variation was configured this way in China first, and then sent to Syria. Why? No one can be sure. How do we know they were sent to the Middle East in that configuration? Because of a very few in that exact configuration that were exported to the U.S. directly from China sporting a NORINCO export mark. Meaning, they were assembled as such in China, and then sent over to the Middle East (or instead, here much later!)
IC with Russian Laminate/Blued Bolt Carrier Combo:
This by no means, means you will only find these variations & specific combinations of features. Field replacement stocks were very common. IC's have been found with replacement Chinese hardwood stocks, and Russian Hardwood & Laminate stocks, on both SKS's with carriers in the white, and blued. This is where it can get a tad confusing.
For example, if you find an Israeli Capture that has a Hardwood stock, but with a blued bolt carrier, it started its life with a laminate stock (because of the blued bolt carrier), and the hardwood stock was a field replacement. If you find an IC with its bolt carrier in the white, and it is sporting a Russian laminate stock, know that the Russian laminate stock is a replacement stock, and it started its life in the stock configuration (because of the bolt carrier in the white).
Always go by what the bolt carrier is. If the bolt carrier is blued, it should be sporting a Russian laminate stock that was provided on the rifle when it left China. If the bolt carrier is in the white, it should be sporting it's original Chinese hardwood stock. Anything else is a field replacement (Or bubba! Eeek!). Most replacements are Chinese hardwood, with replacement Russian laminates and Russian hardwoods being a little more uncommon. But remember, the Syrians were aided mainly by the Russians at the time, this is probably why we see a few Russian guns (in Canada) and some IC's with Russian replacement stocks. Russian replacement stocks will usually have an original Russian serial number on the stock, or one crossed out and another applied, usually with no factory mark (Tula or Izhevsk) or year applied. Why? More than likely they were extra supplied refurb stocks, or off of other refurbed Russian SKS's.
IC with replacement Hardwood Russian Stock:
IC with replacement (non-matching) Hardwood Chinese Stock:
IC with Blued bolt carrier, but replacement Russian Hardwood Stock. This started it's life with a Russian Laminate stock, because of the Blued carrier:
The most telling feature is the white painted Arabic markings sometimes found on the stocks. These are usually 1 to 3 Arabic numbers, and are thought to be rack numbers. They can be found on either one, or both sides of the buttstock. If you find one with Arabic markings, you more than likely have a IC, and you should immediately look for the other features like the serial number & the import mark.
Examples of very nice Arabic rack markings:
There are some other characteristics that IC's may or may not have.
These characteristics include, (but are not limited to):
-Either the common Middle Eastern ruby red or a dark gritty brown reshellac
Usually will be messily applied, over stock crossbolts, edges of buttplate, etc.
-Sand caked in stock or interior of rifle
-Usually, but not always, in a specific serial range per year of production.
Such as the current 8 million era serial range rifles:
8,075,4XX to 8,085,67X
9,024,6xx to 9,059,5xx
10,099,5XX to 10,127,3XX
Or 12 Mills:
12,164,47X to 12,257,46x
-A black paint sometimes found on metal parts of the SKS
Commonly the buttplate, but has been found covering all parts of the SKS, even recevier & barrel.
Remember, need not have all, and some are much more common than others. Some IC's may never even be identified by people who do not know the less obvious features. Sad, but true.
If you have an IC, and need to get an opinion, either join the Files and post her up in the Chinese sks Military section, or you can email me here:
Data and ranges are always growing with these, so any IC guns and their features are very important! Thanks.