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Refinishing T53s and T56s

Century has recently brought into the country a number of Chinese Type 53 and Type 56 carbines. Type 53 is a copy of Soviet M44 carbine, and Type 56 is a copy of Soviet SKS. Both were manufactured on production lines imported from Soviet Union when the countries were still friendly.

Type 53s hit the street early in 2012, and have instantly become the most affordable version of Mosin carbine available on the market. As of this writing they are available online for as low as $120 (plus shipping, transfer, and taxes, of course). We have a few of them here. They come in different degrees of mismatch (so far we have not seen a single one with a matching bolt) and bore conditions.

Type 56s - also known as Sino-Soviet SKS, because, unlike the later Norinco models, it is an exact copy of the Soviet rifle - has just started to show up. These rifles have chromed bores that looked new on all the rifles we've seen. Some of these have matching numbers down to the stock, many have mismatching bolt, and one out of 5 we've seen had a Tula dust cover. Very few have active cases of surface rust on the magazine and trigger group - however, in no cases rust would have compromised either functionality or accuracy.

And yes, we carry them in our store. Thank you for asking!

All these rifles share one problem. The stocks look hideous!

Both T53s and T56s must have used the same type of lacquer and perhaps stored in conditions that damaged it. Be it as it may, the state of these stocks were awful, almost repulsive.

Just as an experiment we took the absolute worst of the rifles - almost completely mismatched, with bad case of rust on the trigger assembly and the magazine, and the worst stock - and experimented with it.

This is how rust looked from the outside.

Majority of it was under the wood, however. Rust needs to be removed because if left untouched it serves as a catalyst for more rust. A steel wire brush from Harbor Freight Tools soaked in CLP did the job.

It left severe pitting, but who cares? None of it is anywhere close to actual moving parts, and most of it will be hidden behind the wood.

However, to make sure it is not going to rust again, we reblued it with a cold blue solution (which happened to be Birchwood Casey Liquid Blue, but it can be anything, really).

The stock itself was covered in Citristrip Gel (Home Depot) and left for half an hour. Citristrip is rather mild, environment-friendly substance which emits no fumes and is safe to use indoors.

After 30 minutes we washed the gel off with a nylon brush and left the stock to dry. The nasty lacquer was gone, but the original stain remained. On the pictures it turned out a bit darker than it really was.

And up close...

After letting the stock dry thoroughly, we rubbed a bit of linseed oil in. This made the color absolutely perfect (it is a bit lighter than the photos).

All in all it took about 1 hour of work, and the rifle now looks rather nice!