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Discussion Starter #1
[ I also posted this question over on www.ar15.com, the AK subforum, but people here on KTOG seem to know so much about everything that other gun forums are probably not necessary! ]

My friend just aquired a Norinco AK. It came without any mags, in good shape, and he got a good deal on it for only $350 (at least I think that's an excellent price - if not, don't tell him that, because I advised him to buy!) I would call $350 a good price on any decent AK, and it being a Norinco is just icing on the cake IMHO.

Anyway, I have a Romanian myself, but none of my mags will fit his Norinco (yes, they're both 7.62x39 !) I have about 30 different mags - Some Hungarian (?) 20 round metal mags, 30-round "European surplus" metal mags from AIM, and a Tapco plastic that came with my rifle. None of them fit his Norinco. This issue is that the the distance between the top of the mag release and the bottom of the receiver is notably smaller on his Norinco than on my Romanian. It is not an "almost fit", it is a "no way, no how these mags will lock up in that rifle".

So, what is the suggested "fix" for this? I didn't want to advise him to start filing down on the top of that mag release until after I asked around amongst some Norinco experts here. Norincos don't require some kind of special mag, do they? I can't imagine this, but I really don't know. If filing down the top of the mag release is the appropriate fix, would it be best to drill out the rivet it pivots on and then grind the thing on a grinding wheel? It appears that he may have to remove a significant amount of metal to me, so filing it as it's installed would be a arduous task. And then, how do you go about re-riveting the mag release back into place? Where would you buy a replacement rivet, and what kind of special tools would you need (I've never set a rivet in my life). Alternately, anybody know a good AK gunsmith in the Denver, Colorado area? What do you think a gunsmith would charge for this work?
 

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Anyway, I have a Romanian myself, but none of my mags will fit his Norinco (yes, they're both 7.62x39 !) I have about 30 different mags - Some Hungarian (?) 20 round metal mags, 30-round "European surplus" metal mags from AIM, and a Tapco plastic that came with my rifle. None of them fit his Norinco. This issue is that the the distance between the top of the mag release and the bottom of the receiver is notably smaller on his Norinco than on my Romanian. It is not an "almost fit", it is a "no way, no how these mags will lock up in that rifle".

So, what is the suggested "fix" for this? I didn't want to advise him to start filing down on the top of that mag release until after I asked around amongst some Norinco experts here. Norincos don't require some kind of special mag, do they? I can't imagine this, but I really don't know. If filing down the top of the mag release is the appropriate fix, would it be best to drill out the rivet it pivots on and then grind the thing on a grinding wheel? It appears that he may have to remove a significant amount of metal to me, so filing it as it's installed would be a arduous task. And then, how do you go about re-riveting the mag release back into place? Where would you buy a replacement rivet, and what kind of special tools would you need (I've never set a rivet in my life). Alternately, anybody know a good AK gunsmith in the Denver, Colorado area? What do you think a gunsmith would charge for this work?
Most likely the mag release is installed improperly, bent, or from a different weapon with a similar mag release. I'm pretty sure the part should be interchangeable with your Romanian AK, so you can compare it. It could also be the seating for the mag release, which would require a good deal of work.
 

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Maybe this could be one answer. I have not seen one in a really long time.

Not sure of the model of the gun, but it may be one of the funky 10 round, single stack jobs they came up with for a while. Can't remember for sure, but it may have been an attempt to circumvent the 922r B.S. rules. Another attempt to keep the "look." The stupid "butthole" stocks they sold the MAK-90s with had standard size mag well and a shorter double column, 10 round mag. That could still be defeated by getting the 30 rounders separate and doing the no-no thing of putting the standard buttstock and P-grip on them.

What was done was to make the guns with a mag well that would only take a single column, 10 round mag. and still have the original config of the gun. It almost looked right all over and appared to have a shorter standard mag. But it wasn't. It had the look, but tnot the capacity. It could not easily be modified for a standard double column AK mag. However, some guys claimed that it could be done just by trimming around the sheet metal to make the mag well open further. I could not believe that. Think it might have to have a double wide feed ramp also. Never did look close at one.

I almost bought one of those by mistake right after the AWB started. It was selling for like 125 and was a hard sell. Almost did, till I pulled out the mag and it did not look quite right. As far as I can remember my NORINCO AK mags inter changed just fine with mags from a beater Rommy I had. Also with a current Egyptian AK and an older one I had. About the only thing I noticed was a little side to side wobble, but they still worked. Don't care for the mags with the external seam ine back that sicks out. The Chinese ones do not have it. But they all worked on guns I have had, even a Saiga with home done mods.

So it could be one of those single column AKs. LooK good, work good, but don't have the capacity. Figure that is why there was no mag in it. Probably lost the one mag that came with the gun and they were not made for long. No one would buy the guns that would not take the hicaps. Probably be hard as hell to find a mag for it now.

Hipe that helps. Maybe that is what it is. Still an o.k. deal if ya find a mag?????
 

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I say if the mag release is too long file it till the surplus metal mags fit. I just read something the other day about milled reciever chinese AK (NMH?) variants not accepting the euro type mags, but it made no mention of what exactly prevented them from doing so... filing the mag catch is common and necessary on Saiga rifle restorations, and if for some reason it gets botched, the release assembly can be replaced. If the catch is filed to metal mag specs, it should also function with the Tapco polys, which may be needed for 922 compliance on some chicom rifles. (DISCLAIMER: Do research though, I am no expert on 922r laws, and I don't want to steer you wrong ;) )
 

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… Not sure of the model of the gun, but it may be one of the funky 10 round, single stack jobs they came up with for a while. Can't remember for sure, but it may have been an attempt to circumvent the 922r B.S. rules. Another attempt to keep the "look."...
Most of those were WASR variants.

I don't believe there were any single stack Norincos... it's possible, of course, but I've never seen one.
 

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Norinco did install a little rivet with a "nub" on it in many of their AKs back in the day. This was in order to get around importation restrictions. It made it so you could only use their 5 or 10 round mags that they cut specifically to fit. If there is a little rounded nub on the underside of the rifle next to the mag release, that's probably your problem. Drill or file it out. It doesn't violate 922r, any other regulations, or CO state laws. In fact, most dealers popped this rivet out before they sold them. It was just an importation gimmick. Of course, 922r still applies if there are too many foreign proscribed parts in the rifle to begin with.

I also recall reading that some Norincos were notoriously finicky with non Chinese mags in general, although I've had no problems with mine. This could also be your problem.

Could you post a pic? That might help as well. Also, what type/model Norinco (i.e. MAK 90/91, NHM 91/91, etc.) Otherwise, we could always meet up and compare my Norinco NHM to see if we can find the problem. I can also bring one of their proprietary mags with and see if it fits. Otherwise, you can always try the 5280 Armory down in Arvada. They specialize in AKs.
 

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I remember those, now that you mention it. Still a double-stack, but the mags had to be modified or, like you said, the "limiter" removed from the well. I never owned one, but I saw one or two for sale back in the day.
 

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Most of those were WASR variants.

I don't believe there were any single stack Norincos... it's possible, of course, but I've never seen one.
I do remember the WASR variants. I did see a few of those. But I am almost sure the one I handled was a NORINCO. Those were the only ones I was buying back then cause the finish was nice.

Forgot about the ones with the rivet. Never had one of those. Forgot alot of that stuff. Doesn't seem like it was that long ago, but it has been.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
This rifle is a Chinese Norinco, imported by Csi in Ontario Canada, model "nhm91".

It DOES have that extra rivet installed just behind the mag well and above the mag release lever. So I'm pretty sure that's why it doesn't want to lock the standard mags in place. I'll show my friend how to take out the trigger group so we can drill out that rivet from above. Hopefully that will fix it. If not, I'll probably be back here for more advice! We won't get a chance to work on his AK for several days, so it will be after that when I can post any more updates.

I have advised my friend to only use US-made mags to make sure he's 922r compliant.

Thanks for all the helpful replies!
 

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If it's an unaltered NHM-91, he'll need more than USA mags to make it compliant.

http://gunwiki.net/Gunwiki/BuildAkVerifyCompliance

Personally, I'd replace the trigger, hammer and disconnector with a new trigger kit. Also change out the stock, pistol grip, and fore end with USA parts. Then he'll be compliant with foreign mags. The cost of conversion will easily be offset by the cost of more expensive, and often crappy, USA mags.

The NMH-91 sometimes has a metal tube spot welded onto the end of the barrel to cover up the threads, instead of them being ground off. It's real easy to break the weld and be able to use the threads for a muzzle device. If this rifle is one of those, I suggest breaking off the tube, otherwise ATF could argue that it is a foreign made muzzle device or barrel extension, even though it serves no purpose.

Also, due to the fact that the NHM receiver is 1.5mm thick, rather than the more standard 1mm, you will have to do a bit of fitting if you install new furniture.

I am not a lawyer.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The trigger in my friend's Norinco looks like my Tapco G2 trigger, except mine is single hook and his is double hook. I did not look super closely and I need to do that. So those trigger parts may have already been replaced. The stock is the original Norinco thumbhole thing, and the wooden forearm handgrip is bulkier than the ones I'm familiar with, so I assume that's original Chinese as well.

How would this Norinco have made it into the US if it was not 922r compliant in the first place? It was evidently not smuggled in - it is marked as being imported through Ontario Canada. I don't know what date it was imported however.

I don't know how/why the ATF would want to call a welded-on thread barrel nut (that's what it looks like) a "foreign muzzle device", except to be a pain in the butt, but if we can break that weld we can install a US-made slant brake or something to cover that part of things.

Below is the impressions I got of the rifle on quick overview:
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the receiver - foreign
the barrel - foreign
the front trunion - foreign
the bolt - foreign
the bolt carrier - foreign
the gas piston - foreign
the trigger - US
the disconnector - US
the hammer - US
the buttstock - foreign
the forearm handguard - foreign
the handgrip (this Norinco has a buttstock/handgrip combo unit) - foreign
the magazine body - US
the magazine floorplate - US
the magazine follower - US

I need to go back and verify that the trigger group is indeed US made, and if so, he should be 922r compliant when using US made magazines (unless the ATK oversteps themselves and decides to call a welded on muzzle nut a "foreign muzzle device").

To use foreign made mags I'd think the easiest things to replace would be the buttstock, pistol grip, and forearm grip. And *if* he wants a muzzle device, assuming we can break the existing barrel nut weld, it would need to be a US made one. The gas piston could be replaced with a US made version farily easily too, if needed.

I wonder what the point of 922r is? It's not like any of these things we're talking about make the rifle "more deadly" or anything like that. Seems like just a bunch of nonsense put down as a "requirement" by bored pencil pushers.
 

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It was imported in "sporter" configuration, meaning thumbhole (or similar non pistol grip) stock, 5 or 10 rd magazine, no bayonet lug, muzzle device, or any other "non sporting" features. This made it 922r compliant under the "sporting" arms definition. Simply by inserting a hi cap mag, you are making it a "non sporting" firearm in the eyes of the ATF, and thus you have to jump through all the hoops. And you're right, it is b.s.

The spot welds are real easy to break, from my experience. In fact, one of them broke accidentally when the barrel got bumped. Otherwise, I'd have never known that the threads hadn't been turned off by the manufacturer.

One last piece of advice. If your friend puts a pistol grip stock on it, I'd suggest one that has storage space in it. That way he can keep copies of 922r, receipts showing that you have enough USA parts in the gun to prove it's legit, and the relevant CO statutes regarding firearms with the rifle. If your friend gets jammed up by an overzealous cop, he'll have the resources to prove that he's in the right. I've had to teach officers in 2 different departments the differences between a legal and an illegal AK. In their defense, most don't know because 922r is an ATF regulation and not a state or local law.

BTW - At $350, your buddy got a smokin' deal. I've seen the NHM90/91 go for over twice that nowadays.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
If your friend gets jammed up by an overzealous cop, he'll have the resources to prove that he's in the right.
Well, at age 73, if he ever gets "jammed up by an overzeolous cop" then he'd just spook and keel over and die of a heart attack anyway. Problem solved! :eek:
 

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... The stock is the original Norinco thumbhole thing, and the wooden forearm handgrip is bulkier than the ones I'm familiar with, so I assume that's original Chinese as well...
Sounds like it may have the US-made Bishop stock set like mine came with/still wears today. The HG was particularly thick on those sets.

No good solo pic of it, but here's one cropped from a larger group shot...



Does it look like that?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yes, my friends rifle looks exactly like that, less the bipod, except your wood is much nicer - but I think his would refinish that well if he wants to do the work. I did note, quite painfully, that when you snap the gas tube back down into place, it can pinch the heck out of your fingers because there is only a minimal gap between the upper and lower handguards. My Romanian has more room between the upper and lower handguards for you to get your errant fingers in without harming them. I've got a blood blister on my thumb to prove his Norinco gap is smaller than I'm used to!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
My friend's magazine lock-up problem was that stupid rivet. It was doing what it was designed for - keeping you from using standard AK mags. Drilled that rivet out, and standard mags now fit just fine.

My friend said that rivet must have been made of pot metal. He barely touched it with his Dremel tool and it just melted away and fell out in 2 or 3 seconds.
 
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