AI4FR Virtual Militaria Items Tour 

Albanian Items


There is not a lot known about the Albanian SKS rifles since their importation into the U.S. a couple of years ago. Some reports have the total number being built at around 17,000 rifles with all but 6000 of them being destroyed. It is believed that they were manufactured from the late 1960's to 1978. The Albanian SKS is designed after the Russian model SKS 45 but the Albanian version has some unique features such as the AK-47 style charging handle and the extra long upper handguard.

Most of the pictures on this web page were taken soon after the UPS truck dropped off the boxes. Most of the military surplus firearms that come from the importers will have some Cosmoline on them. Cosmoline is the trade name for a generic class of rust preventatives, conforming to MIL-C-11796C Class 3. It is a yellowish, light amber, or greenish colored ointment like mass with a petroleum odor. Cosmoline is similar to petroleum jelly in properties, appearance, and thickness. It is actually a purified residue that is obtained from the distillation of petroleum oils. Its most common use is in the storage and preservation of firearms but items as large as entire vehicles could be preserved with it.

The U.S. Coast Artillerymen during World War II that served on the coastal artillery batteries were known as "Cosmoliners" because they were given the near constant task of applying cosmoline("greasing down") to the guns. During the Pacific campaigns in World War II, the United States Marines even sang a song about Cosmoline. They adapted the popular big band tune, Tangerine, and would sing "Cosmoline...keeps my rifle clean." Due to its gelatinous nature, Cosmoline can be quite difficult to remove completely from firearms and, as such, it is being replaced with vacuum pack PET film which vacuum seals the item that is to be placed in storage. 

Since I have posted other firearms from the collection on this web site that have already been cleaned of cosmoline, I thought I would create a page showing the cosmoline that is often on these surplus firearms when they arrive. The Albanian SKS rifles that are shown on this page are by far the worst case or caked with the most cosmoline then the average item. Most of the items just have a thin coat of this Cosomoline on them. These rifles on the other hand are so full of cosmoline that it would be impossible to tell what the NRA rated condition is and it would be suicidal to fire them until they have been fully cleaned.  

As can be seen in these next two photographs, the wrapping material and importers warning tags are still near the rifles. I have as of yet been able to figure out why the rear sling swivel is on the left side of the stock and at the position it is. This may all seem normal with nothing out of place, unless you are a right handed shooter, as this sling swivel is right where your cheek is going to rest. When the rifle is fired, it will obey Isaac Newton's law and recoil backwards. The metal sling swivel might produce some soreness after repeated firing or even possibly after the first shot.  

Cosmoline is one of them items that collectors have a love hate relationship with. We love the protective qualities of the stuff because with-out it, the items we enjoy collecting would be a heap of rust. On the other hand, it can be a real chore to fully remove the goop from all of the nooks and crannies on a firearm. As is so often the case, a full and complete disassembly of the item will need to occur to get the job done properly.  

These next two photographs show both sides of the rear sight. As can be seen, the Cosmoline is spread on so thick that the blued finish on the metal can not be see.. As you go through this web page and view the pictures of these two Albanian SKS rifles and see all of the Cosmoline on them, keep in mind that the Cosmoline will also soak into the wood stock. Collectors have tried different methods of milking the Cosmoline back out of the wood to include, baking the stock in the sun, in a hot oven, wrapping the stock in aluminum foil and then placing it in the attic or on the rear dash of an automobile parked in the sun. The stock is normally left in these positions for quite some time with the owner going over to it every so often to check on the progress and to wipe off the excess Cosmoline that has leaked out.  

The photograph on the left is of the underside of the upper handguard. Even this area of the rifle was not spared the application of Cosmoline and it is a good one half inch thick in places. The photograph on the right is not a picture of a night crawler fishing worm. If the reader will take a close look at what is next to this worm it will become apparent where this pile of Cosmoline originated from. Sitting next to this worm of Cosmoline is a bore patch. This pile of Cosmoline was removed from the barrel when the first cleaning patch was pushed through the bore. I shudder to think what would have happened if this rifle was fired with all of this Cosmoline obstructing the barrel.

Let the cleaning begin. The photograph on the left is a number of internal parts from the SKS that has gone through the cleaning process. At the far left of the photograph, the round tubular items are actually the cleaning kits that is stored in the butt of the rifle.

In for a penny, in for a pound. I figured since I was cleaning the Albanian SKS rifles stocks, I would also do the same with the Yugoslavians made SKS's. The photograph on the right is a side by side comparison of both the Albanian and the Yugoslavian made SKS rifle stocks. The two stocks on the bottom are from the Yugoslavian SKS rifles. The second one from the bottom has gone through my de-greasing process and is now in the drying stages. After the stock has been throughly dried, it will be lightly sanded and an oil finish will be applied.  

While this web page has been about the Albanian SKS rifle and the Cosmoline found on the two rifles I received from the distributor. I wanted to also show the reader that the Albanian SKS rifles were not alone when it came to getting covered in the stuff. These next two photographs are of the receiver section on an Italian Mannlicher-Carcano 91/38 rifle that I received from a different distributor. As can be seen, this rifle will also need some serious cleaning before it can be taken to the range. The red warning tag that is still attached to the trigger guard of the rifle is evidence that the rifle is fresh out of the box. This Cosmoline was and is used by many different nations including the United States. Some of the U.S. rifles such as the model of 1917 Eddystone, 1903, and others have been seen with just as much Cosmoline on them.



The SKS Carbine by Steve Kehaya and Joe Poyer  

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