Monday, April 27, 2009

Norinco model 84S Range Report

Yesterday I made it out to the range with the Norinco 84S that I picked up a couple of weeks ago.

The Norinco 84S is a Chinese made semiauto-only stamped-receiver Kalashnikov rifle chambered in 5.56x45 (.223 Remington).  They were imported for about two or three years, with imports cut off by the 1989 import ban imposed by Bush I.  Like other Kalashnikovs, it's operates by means of a long stroke gas system.  The chamber and bore are chrome plated, as is the gas piston.  The furniture on my rifle is black plastic.  Other Model 84Ses came with wood furniture, and some underfolders were imported.

There is no heat shield in the front handguard.  The butt stock holds a typical Combloc cleaning kit and there's a cleaning rod stowed under the barrel.  (My rifle was missing the cleaning rod but I had a spare laying around.  Unfortunately, the threads do not match the cleaning jag or brush.)  The muzzle is threaded and wears a birdcage flash suppressor.

Sights are typical AK: a post front that's adjustable for elevation and windage with the correct tool, and an open leaf rear sight that's adjustable for elevation.

When new, the Norinco 84S came with three 30 round magazines, a sling, oil bottle, cleaning kit and rod, and a bayonet.  Unfortunately, mine came with only one magazine and the sling.  I've since managed to acquire five more 30 round mags and one 15 rounder.  The magazines are unique to this 84S; other .223 AK mags do not fit.  They are similar in construction to other Combloc steel AK mags, made from heavy gauge steel with reinforcing ribs.  I can't see ever wearing them out.

Side note: On, Rifle Dynamics' Jim Fuller mentioned that his colleague modified an Norinco 84S to accept Bulgarian plastic "Circle 10" mags, as used in the Arsenal 5.56mm AKs.  This required milling out the front of the mag well and trunion.

I brought a couple hundred rounds of .223 with me, 120 of Wolf 55 grain JHP and 80 Federal American Eagle XM-193 5.56 Ball.  Due to time constraints I only shot 100 rounds of Wolf, which worked flawlessly.

All my shooting was done at 50 yards at an SR-1 target.  With the Wolf ammo it'll hold the 10 ring.  Not impressive accuracy but I've yet to find a rifle which gives good accuracy with this ammo.  However, it goes bang and functions fine in my .223 AKs, Mini-14, and Colt AR-15s, so it's OK for practice out to around 100M.

Shooting the Norinco was a pleasure.  Recoil was mild, the impulse similar to that of my Arsenal SA M5.  The flash suppressor seemed to work well as I didn't notice any fireballs.  The rifle got pretty warm and the lower handguard kept me from getting burned, but it does get warmer than the Bulgarian handguards with steel heat shields.

Due to the limited supply in the US, the Norinco 84S has fallen primarily into the collector's item category.  However, they are well made, durable, reliable rifles fully suitable for serious use if you like the idea of a Kalashnikov chambered for 5.56x45.  The biggest hurdle to face for serious users is obtaining an adequate supply of the proper magazines.  The previously mentioned mod to allow the rifles to accept Bulgarian magazines could be a viable option, especially if one were to acquire an 84S in "user" condition.

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