Tell Me About Norinco MAK-90's


August 7, 2007, 03:28 PM
Just got back from the local shop/range where I was renewing my membership. I noticed that they finally had some more AK's in stock so I went and had a look.

There were two identical Mak-90's on the wall, so I had a quick look at one of them. The thumbhole-style stock has always intrigued me, and I've considered it as an option whenever I finallt get my hands on an AK. It was a but cumbersome, but I think with a little sanding and contouring of the pistol-grip/thumbhole area to fit my hand better it would work.

Now, on to my questions -

1. I thought Norinco's weren't being imported anymore? Am I wrong, or have I been misunderstanding that whole deal this entire time?

2. If I am wrong, what's the quality of their build? The rifle I looked at had a stamped reciever, and comes with a 10-round mag. The stock was a little rough, but that doesn't really bother me as I'd be refinishing it myself down the line anyhow. Since I'm in MD, I'm limited to 20-round "tanker" mags with it, is there any issue I should know about them not fitting properly, or am I good to go?

3. How does one tell if their front sight is canted? I eyeballed it when I shouldered the rifle in the shop, and I didn't see anything noticeably out-of-whack, but in all fairness I only spent about 10 minutes with the actual rifle in-hand. If they are canted, what do I do to fix that? Or is it just FUBAR?

4. If I wanted to down the line, could I remove the thumbhole stock and replace it with the standard style configuration? I know on certain AK's you can't really do that without some fairly involved "surgery" to the rifle.

5. And lastly - how's $360 OTD as an asking price? Sounds reasonable to me, as far as basic, stamped-reciever AK's go.


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August 7, 2007, 04:35 PM
1. not imported anymore is correct

2. the ones I've seen and used are top notch

3. they are not known for canted sights, again the ones I've seen and used were straight

4. yes, as long as you play the 922r "BATFE browney points" game.. 16 parts of which 10 or less are foreign, US FCG = 3, US piston = 1, US Buttstock = 1, US pistol grip = 1, US foregrip = 1, US muzzle device = 1, US magazine floor plate = 1, US magazine follower = 1... those are the most available US parts.

5. $360 sounds okay, I was looking at one for $350 at the last "fun show"... coulda would shoulda... didn't = me pouting.. LOL

August 7, 2007, 05:20 PM
MD - Thanks! So if I were to remove the thumbhole stock, how many points would I need to make up? By looking at it, it seemed like all I had to do to change the stock was drive out a pin, but I'm not sure if it's more involved than that.

Prince Yamato
August 7, 2007, 05:55 PM
I just bought one, so here's the run-down of the Mak-90:

Good features:
*It has a 1.6mm blued receiver (thicker than a regular AK)
*It has a double hook trigger group.

Odd/non-standard features:

Some (most?) of the Mak-90s have slant cuts on the rear of the receiver as well proprietary rear trunnion and tang. What this means is that they CANNOT take a regular AK-47 stock. The screw holes will not line up with either stock or trunnion modification.

The front handguards are also slightly smaller than on a standard AK. This doesn't so much affect the top handguard, but the bottom one needs to be dremeled slightly to fit. The dremeling will not be visible, as you dremel the actual part that slides INTO the receiver on the lower handguard. The lower handguard retainer also lacks a sling catch and a cleaning rod hole. Neither of this is a major issue, as the sling catch is moved forward behind the gas block and there is no bayonet lug/cleaning rod retainer below the front sight and gas block anyhow.

The pistol grip screw is also non-standard (too short). You need to buy a standard AK grip screw. The nut however, is threaded correctly. I was unable to find a replacement at Home Depot. So I just bought one for $3 at a gun show.

The Front sight is also hooded (like an SKS) and is non-standard. This is actually not a big deal.


You need to add 5 US parts to make the rifle 922r (or 90210 compliant as I like to call it). 6 parts if you thread the barrel.

The simplest thing to do is replace the trigger group (3 parts), add a US pistol grip (1 part) and add US furniture (Handguards, upper and lower only count as 1 part, buttstock as 1 as well). You can also replace the piston on the charging handle, but that requires drilling, and is a pain.

Traditionally, people will tell you that you need to buy Ironwood furniture for the Mak-90. In actuality, ANY front handguards will fit with minor dremeling (so there's 1 part).

Replace the trigger group with the Tapco G2 kit. Many people talk about the Norinco Trigger group as if it's some magical thing imbued with an ancient Chinese secret... it's not, it's just double hook, which is why it's so "sweet". I replaced mine with the Tapco G2 group and it feels the same. So, there's (3 parts) Make sure that you buy one of those Red Star Arms plates to replace that stupid Sheppard's hook. Also, do your work on a light colored floor. The sear spring WILL go FLYING across the room. :)

Replace the pistol grip and screw as previously mentioned (1 part)

Hooray! Now you're compliant.

A Romanian folding stock CAN be dremeled to fit the Mak-90 with slant cut receiver. You merely grind down the metal on the receiver end of the folding stock (grinding work will not be visible). Next, it would probably help to dremel the rear tang on the rifle to accommodate the second screw hole on the folding stock.

Because of the thickness of the receiver, the folding stock will not fit exactly like it does on the standard AK receiver, never-the-less, it will fold and fire folded. Your fingers might graze the folded stock however, when you cock it (whilst folded)

If you thread the barrel, add a US-made flash-hider.

Replacing the trigger group is actually very easy. I'm functionally incompetent with most "smithing" tasks, but was able to do it in my living room.


* No longer imported.
* Some of them had an auto sear hole. This will look like a second flattened rivet/screw right above the mag release. Go to wikipedia and look up AK-47, if the side of your receiver has the two rivets right next to each other above the mag release like the machinegun in the picture, you illegally own a machinegun. This is the "third hole" everyone speaks of on AKs, but nobody ever seems to want to point out. Please do not confuse the third hole with the hammer stop. That is a convex rivet. The auto-sear rivet is flat.

August 7, 2007, 06:14 PM
See, that makes it seem like a huge hassle. I'm not one for fiddling much with my guns, simply because I don't have the know-how to identify and understand what the heck I'm grinding away on or removing.

Part of why I'm interested in the MAK is because my shop NEVER has AK's in, and definetly not at decent prices so I figured I'd do a little research to make sure I wasn't buying junk and jump on it. Now, I already know it's not junk, I just don't have the desire/ability/money/time to fiddle with all that stuff at the moment.

I just want to be able to pick up an AK for under $450, that's good to go out the door, so I can have some cash left over to buy a few mags and some ammo and hit the range.

I'll have to think about this. Might still pick it up, but it seems I'm looking at more than I thought as far as bringing it up to snuff compliance wise.

Thanks for the info.

Prince Yamato
August 7, 2007, 06:21 PM
I didn't know ANY of this until I bought a MAK-90. The trigger group sounds like a daunting task, but it really isn't. In fact, with a retaining plate, it's pretty simple. I did all of this in my kitchen and living room (I live in an apartment). It's not an impossible task by any means. It consumed a Saturday evening, but that's about it.

August 7, 2007, 06:30 PM
Yea, I'm sure I'm over-reacting a bit - I just have always been really slow on the mechanical side, so when someone starts talking about trunnions, tangs, sears, rivets, etc I'm thinking "Do what to the who? What's a *insert part here* and where is it supposed to go? I broke something, was it important? Oh crap, I lost a spring." And so on, etc. :o

I admit that I'm becoming more comfortable with the inner bits of guns, but I've never been the mechanical-minded type so it's somewhat akin to asking me to re-assemble something while blindfolded, I just have no idea where to start or what things are supposed to look like in their natural state.

I wonder if picking up a Saiga and converting it is actually the better way to go. I've heard good things about the rifles as they are out-of-the-box, and seen some very, very nice conversions.

August 7, 2007, 06:48 PM
I wonder if picking up a Saiga and converting it is actually the better way to go. I've heard good things about the rifles as they are out-of-the-box, and seen some very, very nice conversions.
Since you have to play the parts count game with the MAK-90, you might as well start with a cheaper rifle of equal or better quality (Saiga). You'll still have to replace the parts, but you'll have less invested in the initial rifle, and you won't have to Dremel so much stuff to fit it since Saigas take standard AK furniture and whatnot, if I understand correctly.

Or, you could buy a recent WASR (Romanian) for $350-$400, refinish the stock yourself, and have a rifle already in standard configuration without having to play the parts count game. A converted Saiga is probably nicer as far as fit and finish go, but the Romanians work very well (I own a SAR-1, 2002 model).

August 7, 2007, 07:03 PM
While I do have a Saiga, if you want something that will run out of the box without the work, you can get new furniture from Ironwooddesigns, they do make mak 90 specific furniture.

As stated above, the FCG is pretty easy to replace, and so is the gas piston.

We have to remember that these rifles were meant for rough use and field repair via simple tools...

Prince Yamato
August 7, 2007, 07:05 PM
Ack! The Saigas have the same amount of different AK parts as a Mak-90, but require you to actually cut into the receiver. A mak-90 only require a little modification of the rear tang...

You know what... just get a regular AK :) Forget the modification garbage. If you don't know what you're doing, you'll just be in for one big headache!

August 7, 2007, 07:45 PM
...runs like a champ and won the rifle stage of two 3-gun matches (so far). It's a well made AK. This one has a normal (non-slanted) stamped reciever. MAKs are slightly heavier than the average AK due to the thicker receiver and (I believe) a heavier barrel. My only complaint was the sharp edges everywhere, but a file and some cold blue was an east fix. I also opened up the rear sight a bit, the notch was tiny. Tapco G2 fire control, self-made cherry pistol grip and handguards, and Romanian wire stock.

August 7, 2007, 07:58 PM
Haha! Good lord, I should have known I was opening a can o' worms with this post! I think I'm gonna sit back for awhile, stick with my 1911 and .22's and read, read, read all I can and see what my options are for both out-of-the-box compliant AK's and what mods I might have to do with the others.

Thanks for the replies everybody, I'm gonna re-read all these posts and see what I can figure out about getting the right rifle for me.

August 7, 2007, 08:30 PM
My MAK90 is square back. I don't like the original thick wood thumbhole so I went with an after market Choat Dragunov stock rather than make a 922 compliant conversion. The Choat grip is much more comfortable. I'm not 100% happy with the stock because it's not a standard pistol grip, but I love the factory trigger. It's like butter. And I won't mess with that.

August 7, 2007, 08:33 PM
Honestly, that's one of the biggest things that's keeping me from wanting to deal with it. I have no idea how to check and see what shape the back of the reciever is, and it's gonna suck if I have to screw around with the thing to fit a new stock set.

August 7, 2007, 09:00 PM
I don't have much to add to what has already been written, other than to say the MAK 90 is an outstanding rifle. None of the replacement parts are difficult to install.

August 7, 2007, 10:04 PM
1) No longer imported.

2) Very high quality. Some are milled, some stamped, all top notch. Mine is stamped.

3) A Norinco is unlikely to be canted, if it isn't obvious, I wouldn't worry. That was more of a thing with the Romanian ones.

4) Piece of cake, but follow 922r. When I bought mine, it was in original (LNIB) condition. I swapped out the entire trigger group (Tapco G2), handguard, handgrip, and the stock. That's more than enough parts (6 swapped, only needed 5), and you can swap others if you'd prefer (gas pistol, magazine parts). As for the stock, not every Norinco has a slant-cut receiver. Mine did not, so a regular stock fit just fine. It was two screws; one on the top of the tang, one on the handgrip. I thought about recontouring the thumbhole stock, but I decided I'd be more likely to screw it up, and I just didn't want to fool with it.

5) $360 is a great price. I got mine for less (a buddy was selling it before he moved out of country), but it's hard finding them for under $400 now, especially if they're in great shape. Go for it and never look back.

August 7, 2007, 10:34 PM
For that price I would take it. Get it now before it's gone, and worry about converting it over then.

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