Monday, May 04, 2009


The weather in SE PA has been rainy for almost a week, but I didn't let that stop me from going to the range yesterday with my Norinco MAK-90.

The MAK-90 is an AK variant imported from China from 1990 through 1994.  Following the elder Bush's import ban in 1989, the Chinese came up with an AK which met the more strictly-construed "sporting purposes" clause.  The result was basically an AK with a wood thumbhole stock and no bayonet lug.  IIRC, around a million MAK-90s were imported in the 90s.

The thumbhole stock isn't bad for righties but I am left handed.  So, in accordance with 18 USC 922(r), I "debanned" the rifle after I bought it.  To do so, I replaced the furniture with a Tapco T6 stock, SAW grip, and Galil-style handguard.  After having the Tapco handguard on the rifle for a couple of years but never being happy with it, I replaced it a few months ago with a K-Var US-made upper and lower Bulgarian-style handguard set, which includes a steel heat shield.  The result is much more satisfactory.  It looks better, is more robust, and provides much better thermal protection.

In addition to replacing the furniture, I replaced the fire control group with US-made parts in the form of a Tapco G2 kit.  The Chinese FCG gave a nice smooth and light trigger pull, but I needed 3 more US parts to make the rifle 922(r) compliant.  I have G2 FCGs in two rifles and they work very well.

Anyway, I think I'd only had the MAK-90 to the range once or twice since debanning it.  So, I packed it along with some Wolf Military Classic 7.62x39 and headed down to the Southern Chester County Sportsman's & Farmers Association.

The outdoor ranges at SCCSFA are covered, primarily for noise abatement, but because of their arrangement vis-a-vis prevailing winds, they also keep you dry if it's raining.  With some good rain gear you can stay pretty dry when it's time to post or change targets.

As expected the MAK-90 ran fine, especially since my round count was low and I shot in 5 round strings.  My main goal for yesterday was to fine tune the 100 yard zero, so that point of aim and point of impact coincide.  This will allow me to take advantage of the rear sight elevation graduations for ranges past 100 yards.

One thing I noticed yesterday was that the MAK-90 has a lot more muzzle movement during firing than my Arsenal SLR-101SG, which has a good muzzle brake.  With the Arsenal I can easily deliver rapid aimed fire.  With the MAK-90 and it's slant brake, which is designed for right handed shooters, not so much.  So last night I placed an order with Cope's Distributing for an AK-74 style brake.  The AK-74 brake should not only reduce the already mild recoil, but also keep muzzle flip to a minimum.  I used to own a Saiga in 7.62x39 with such a brake and it worked well.  (Interestingly, my SAR-1 with a bare muzzle seems to jump around less than the MAK-90.)

Once I've mounted the new brake and get the change to test fire the MAK-90, I'll post a follow up range report.


Martin Schap said...

Sounds like you have made some very intelligent improvements to your rifle. Any chance of pictures when the next range report goes up?

Anonymous said...

Do you have the third hole?

Dave Markowitz said...

No third hole, thankfully.

Anonymous said...

I about to get my hands on a Norinco Mak-90 and do not know anything about them. My biggest concern is availability of mags and ammo. I am getting it from a family member who got it via a family estate settlement; his in-laws. Unfortunately there are not mags or ammo with it. Any thoughts.

Dave Markowitz said...

The MAK-90 uses standard AK (Kalashnikov) magazines. Magazines for European and Chinese AKs are interchangeable. They are readily available and cheap. AIM Surplus is usually a good source. As of 1/31/10, AIM has Hungarian surplus 20 rounders for $9.95 each. These are nice because they don't stick out as far as 30 round magazines. AIM also has surplus 30s for about the same price.

Avoid most US made AK magazines. The Tapcos are OK for range use but not as rugged as the surplus steel magazines. Bulgarian "Circle 10" "waffle" magazines are about the best you can buy, but run close to $30 each.

Note: The MAK-90 will NOT accept single-column 10 round magazines.

For ammunition, the MAK-90 will use any 7.62x39. Again, AIM Surplus is a good source but there are many online vendors and you can usually find it at gun shows. 7.62x39 is one of the cheaper centerfire rifle rounds, as long as you don't buy American made ammo.

Anonymous said...

i purchased a norico preban mac 90, for 450. it came with a standerd 5 shot clip and a steel 30 round clip. its in good shape. it has a black polyfiber type plastic stock. first is this a fair price? second was looking for a muzzle brake. it has the threaded end on the barrel. i found an original chinese slant break for 25.00. what would you recomend?

Anonymous said...

Did you ever get a slant brake for your Mak-90? Do you know if the thread is 1x14? what is the barrel width? Can you send your reply to

Dave Markowitz said...

I put an AK-74 type brake on it, not a slant brake. It does have 14x1 LH metric threads.