The SKS rifle (also known as a simonov) is a budget-friendly semiauto battle rifle chambered in 7.62x39mm. With a milled reciever and an internal 10 round magazine fed by stripper clips, it makes a great all-purpose rifle. The guns were made in countries such as Romania, China, Albania, Russia, and Yugoslovia.
The Albanian SKSs are easily identified because of their forestocks which have a longer section of wood covering the gas system than other SKS models. The bolt handle on these models feature a smooth hooked place for the operator's finger to chamber a round while all other SKS bolts have a rounded, knurled bolt handle.
Romanian SKS rifles are rare. They look like Chinese SKS rifles, but are imported from Romania.
Chinese SKS rifles were made by Norinco. The Norinco company is still in business, but they don't import many models to the United States, thanks to trade agreements by former president Bill Clinton. Norinco SKS rifles are the cheapes in the US makret because there were a ton of them sold in the 1990s, imported by various countries. The market is still rather flooded with them, hense the low price compared to other SKS variants. Worthy of mention are the SKS-M and SKS-D rifles, which accept double stack AK magazines from the factory.
Yugo SKS rifles are a strange design. Either you love them or you hate them. I used to hate the look of the Yugo SKS rifles, but the design really grew on me. The grenade launcher attachment as well as the jungle gym styled grenade launching sights make the gun look particularly busy towards the muzzle end. Yugo guns are the only guns currently being brought into the country and can be had for about $325 at gun shows, but they often sell out quickly.
Russian SKS rifles are in my opinion the most beautiful SKSs ever produced. Many of them had laminated stocks which often exhibit great coloration. Russian SKSs have a reciever cover with a star and the year of manufacture, so its easy to date a Russian SKS as long as that cover hasn't been replaced.
SKS rifles in general, no matter what country of origin, are a great way to get into shooting the 7.62x39mm caliber. For $300 to $450, you get a milled reciever rifle capable of surprising accuracy considering the distance shortfalls of the 7.62x39mm cartridge.