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Checking ZB-26 7.62×39 Barrel

Chinese ZB-26 7.62x39 Barrel

Before we send the ZB-26 kit off to the FFL 07, I want to make sure this barrel is actually a 7.62×39 caliber. 

When you research the subject of Chinese ZB’s, the story is often parroted that these were converted with sleeved SKS barrels. The problem with that statement is it doesn’t really tell the real story. 


Well…looking at our barrel, it appears to me the Chinese took a barrel blank and sleeved it. But they didn’t take an actual SKS barrel and do the job. Big difference! 

Which puts to rest the theory I read on one website, “Having one of those would be great. If you shoot out the barrel, it would be cheap and easy to source a replacement SKS barrel”. 

Just reading that you can tell we have a lot of people discussing a firearm they have never even seen in real life. Much less touched and looked at the barrel of one. 

How long is a SKS barrel? How long is a ZB-26 barrel? How thick is a SKS barrel? How thick is a ZB-26 barrel? Where is the hole for a gas-block on a SKS? Where is the hole for the gas-block on a ZB? If you don’t know the answers to these questions off the top of your head? No worries, the right answer is they don’t match. 

Don’t even get me started on the ZB barrel extension. An extension that needs to be as long as a 8mm round, but chambered for the much shorter 7.62×39. And is that extension a second piece connected to the SKS barrel? 

Maybe? I have my doubts. I am not an expert on sleeving barrels. I am not an FFL 07. I am not someone who knows everything there is to know about the BREN / ZB-26 design of LMG. But here is my theory right now, with the caveat that someone can swing by any minute and educate me with more info. 

Looking at this example in my hand: The Chinese took a full sized barrel blank and sleeved the ZB. They had to manufacture barrel extensions from scratch. The extension and the sleeve may very well be one solid part. And if they did all that? They likely made custom blanks to begin with.

Or flat out made the barrel from scratch.

I don’t know how many ZB’s the PLA ultimately ended up with, but I can guess it was a healthy pile. In my opinion this conversion project was a significant weapons program. It was done in bulk. And it was done intelligently. With some engineering involved. 

I do not believe SKS barrels were involved in any way with this program. That is a Western MILSURP myth. 







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