Norinco MAK-90 Model of the Kalashnikov AK-47

General Specifications
Calibers: Usually 7.62x39mm; rarely 5.56x45mm
Overall length 35.1 inches
Barrel length 16.34 inches
Weight with empty magazine 8 lbs 4 ounces
Receiver metal thickness: 1.6mm (most other stamped AKs have 1mm thick receivers)

The letters/numbers MAK-90 stand for Modified AK-1990. I have owned three of them, and share some of my photos in this web page. The MAK-90 is a Chinese factory built AK model exported to the USA from China from 1990 through 1994 by two Chinese export companies: Norinco and PolyTech. Following the import ban in 1989, the Chinese developed an AK which met the "sporting purposes" clause. (The earlier AKs were banned because of their "evil" features: pistol grips, folding stocks, threaded muzzles and bayonets.) The new model was basically an AK with a wood thumb-hole stock and no bayonet lug (although you do sometimes see MAK-90 receivers with under-folder holes drilled and filled). Around a million MAK-90s were exported to the USA in the early 90s. According to "JA," of, more MAK-90 rifles were imported from China than any other model of semi automatic AK type rifle from any other country. MAK-90s were made to shoot 7.62x39 or .223 caliber ammunition. A very few were made to shoot 5.45 x 39 ammo. The retail price for a new MAK-90s was often less than $200. They often were sold with three 5-round magazines, an oil bottle, a cleaning kit and a sling.

A magazine ad from the early 1990s

(I would venture to opine that the most common model NOW (2009) for sale in the USA is the WASR-10, modified for 30-round magazines. The WASR-10 is based on a CUGIR Romanian model, but is modified to be "922r compliant" and distributed in the USA by Century Interational Arms.) On April 6,1998 a ruling by the Treasury Secretary banned the import of semi-automatic rifles that use a magazine holding more then ten rounds. Century International Arms takes the WASR-10 imports from Romania, reams out the magazine hole to accomodate a double-stack 30 round standard magazine, and then replaces enough parts in the WASR-10 to make it 922r compliant. (In contrast to the MAK-90, you may note that the WASR-10 has stocks of cheap plywood, a ribbed receiver cover, open-top sights, no "dimple" in the receiver, and a Soviet-style scope-mount welded on the left side of the receiver.)

Standard WASR-10 As Modified and Sold by Century International Arms

In 1990 the Chinese AK factories screwed a nut on the muzzle to cover the threads, and some were tack welded on. The bayonet lug was ground down to eliminate the possibility of the MAK-90 having an "evil" bayonet. According to "J.A.," "...The standard thread size for AK-47 type rifles is 14x1mmLH. This means the diameter of the threads is 14mm and the pitch is 1mm. The LH means that the threads are left hand and to screw a muzzle brake onto the barrel you will have to turn it to the left/counter clockwise." I think a lot of MAK-90 owners think they have a threaded muzzle when they really don't. If your entire barrel on your MAK-90 seems to be threaded, then it is NOT. These are just machine tool marks.

This MAK-90 muzzle is NOT threaded. What appears to be threads are just machine tool marks.

The model name was ground off (or lined through) and the new model name MAK-90 was stamped. Some had 90 added to the serial number that denoted the year of import (1990). They were named "Sporter," and sold with a five-round magazine, to make them seem more like hunting rifles.

Original model name ground off, and re-stamped MAK-90 Sporter

"JA" posted the following remarks on the Gunsnet Forum in 1999-2000.
(I cleaned up the grammar a little bit, for clarity):

All Chinese AK rifles have barrels that are larger in diameter than European AK's.

I took some measurements: All measurements were taken with calipers and the barrels were measured 1/2 way between the front sight and gas block.

The stamped receiver MAK-90 in 7.62 and .223 have barrels that are .608" in diameter.
The milled receiver MAK-90 has a .615" diameter barrel.
The milled receiver MAK-91 has a .684" diameter barrel and the NHM-91 has a .668 diameter barrel.
The Maddi post bans have .580" diameter barrels and Romanian's are .584".

All AK's have barrels that are 4 different diameters in different places. The chamber is the largest diameter then steps down at the rear sight block, next the gas block, and finally the smallest diameter is at the front sight.

All Poly Tech AKs have an oval 386 stamped on the receiver. All the milled receiver Chinese rifles have 386 in a oval. The post ban models MAK-90,MAK-91,AK Hunter and Poly Tech Legend pre bans have the 386 in a oval.

The barrels of milled receiver MAK-90 and 91 rifles are not threaded . The fit and finish of Poly Tech rifles pre or post ban are the best of all Chinese rifles imported. The trigger pull is the best of any AK imported into the US, yes even better than the "holy grail" of AK's, the Bulgarian SLR-95. Just spray paint a milled MAK-90 black like the Bulgarians, and you will have the best finished AK imported with the best trigger pull.

All Chinese MAK-90 rifles that were in the first bunch imported/in customs right after the 1989 ban had threaded barrels. All after this bunch had the threads turned off the barrel. My NHM-91 and MAK-91 have barrels heavier and longer than MAK-90's. They shoot tighter groups but I don't know if this is because of better/heavy barrels or longer sight radius of the 20" barrels.

All the milled receiver post ban rifles have the slant cut with round hole in the rear of the receiver. I subscribe to the theory that they were going to be underfolding stock receivers, but instead of the holes milled in the side, one was cut in the rear. My MAK-90 and MAK-91 fit my NHM-90 stock like a glove. My NHM-90 has a receiver with a solid slanted rear and cut outs for the underfolding stock on the side of the receiver.

More measurements of my AK rifles barrels with calipers between the gas block and front sight:

Either 30-round or 5-round magazines will fit and work fine in a 7.62x39 MAK-90.
You may notice that most Chinese AK magazines do not have the welded ridge on the "outside curve," but are smooth.
There were some made with ribs long ago, but they are rare. Buy them here.

The later MAK-90s imported after 1990 had the threads on the muzzle actually turned off, and a 2 digit year of import stamped in front of or in back of the serial number (for example 91, 92, 93, 94). Some have a space or dash between the serial number and 2 digit year of import stamping. No MAK-90s were exported to the USA after 1994, however some Poly Tech rifles that were sitting in warehouses were finally released to their importers in 1996.

MAK90 with molded Choate Stocks

The court forced the importers to re-fit these rifles with Choate thumbhole stocks. (The logo "Choate Tool" can be seen in a circle on the flat end of the recoil pad.) Also, the bayonet lugs were ground off, and muzzle nuts welded to the barrels. The initials SP were stamped on the left side of the receiver.

Serial Number Beginning with 94 for the year 1994

Sometimes AK enthusiasts take a "de-fanged" MAK-90, and restore it to pre-ban condition. Hazmat posted this on the AK-47 forum: "Another type of MAK 90 that came in had the underfolder bayonet collar ground down. Here's a pic of a 'de-banned and re-fanged' version: You'll note the collar behind the front site base. This was ground smooth on the MAK 90 to make it compliant with import restrictions. The rifle itself was imported by KSI of Pomona, CA in '94 and had all the features of a standard MAK 90; thumbhole stock and neutered front site base. She was bought NIB 4 yrs ago and converted by fellow board member Surly. It has NEVER had a round through it. If you would like to use the photo on your site, no prob. Just give me credit." Here's the photo:

This is Hazmat's De-banned and Re-fanged MAK-90

There were more than a dozen American companies that imported MAK-90 rifles. The importers company name, city and state are stamped on one side or the bottom of the receiver. Some their name stamped on the barrel between the gas block and front sight. Importers included KSI (King Sports Imports) or JPE in Pomona, California; NASI of Midland, TX; KBI of Harrisburg, PA; Sile of New York, NY; Interstate Arms, Billerica, Massachusetts; ARMCO, Boylston, MA; C.J.A. (China Jing An), Springfield, Michigan; B-West, Tucson, AZ; C.S.I. (China Sports Inc., Los Angeles and Ontario, CA; ACC/INTRAC of Knoxville,Tennessee; ClayCo Sports, Clay Center, KS; Pars International Corp. of Louisville,Kentucky; KBN Inc. of Harrisburg, PA; Compasseco, Bardstown, KY; LABANU INC, Ronkonkoma, NY; Century Arms International of Saint Albins,Vermont; and Keng's Firearms Specialties (KFS), Atlanta.

This MAK-90 was imported by C.J.A. of Springfield, Michigan.

If you are buying a MAK-90, beware of getting one with the "third hole." There are still a few MAK-90s out there that are considered "machine guns" by BATFE. (Sometimes imported by LABANU INC, Ronkonkoma, NY) These Norinco receivers have the "third hole" for the auto sear drilled through the receiver just above the mag release. This will look like a second flattened rivet/screw right above the mag release. The rivet will go right through the receiver, and be riveted on both sides. If there are two rivets right next to each other above the mag release, don't buy it. Do not confuse the third hole with the hammer stop, which is a convex rivet. The auto-sear rivet is flat. If you come across such a MAK-90, do NOT buy it!

Photos of what not to buy, and what is OK to buy

There is a close connection between MAK-90s and the Maadi MISR-90s from Egypt. When a ruling by the Teasury Dept. banned the import of Chinese guns and ammo in April,1994 there were thousands of MAK-90 rifles in warehouses waiting release from customs. The importers petitioned the Treasury Department to release these rifles for sale, since they were already in the USA when the import ban went into effect. They were allowed to sell the rifles as parts kits if the receivers were cut up. Not many kits were purchased by individuals, so Century Arms bought most of the MAK-90 parts kits and produced the model MISR-90 rifle. This rifle had an Egyptian Maadi receiver, but all the other parts came from Chinese MAK-90 parts kits.

An Egyptian Maadi Model

All MAK-90 rifles have stamped sheet metal receivers except for one lot of rifles imported (by China Jing An - C.J.A.) in 1993 that had receivers milled from a solid block of steel. These receivers were manufactured by Chinese State Factory 386. They were all designed for the typical AK 7.62x39 ammo. The stamped and milled receivers can be easily distinguished from one another because the stamped receiver has rivets holding it together and the milled receiver has only one rivet at the front of the receiver, and is obviously milled instead of dimpled. MAK-90 barrels are not threaded into the receiver, merely pressed in, and pinned.

A milled MAK-90 receiver, showing the cut-out, instead of the "dimple."

The front sight of the MAK-90 has a fully enclosed hood/sight protector with a hole in the top; and a smooth receiver cover. An AKM has a sight protector that is open on the top, and a ribbed receiver cover.

The bore is chrome-lined, and the rifling is good. If you keep your barrel clean, it will shine.

Note the smooth receiver cover; it has no "ribs" stamped in it.

The MAK-90 rifles were imported in cardboard boxes nestled in styrofoam inserts that had cut-outs for the rifle and accessories. Each rifle came with three 5-round magazines, a buttstock cleaning kit, a gas port cleaning tool, a cleaning rod, a sling and a manual. Click here to see the manual in PDF format. Some of the earlier MAK-90s came with three 30-round magazines and a bayonet. Most of these rifles had the 30-round magazines and bayonets removed from the boxes by the importer or dealers.

Some of the MAK-90s were sold with Chinese "drum" magazines. These are easier to load than the cheaper Romanian drums.

The fit and finish on the MAK-90 is comparatively good and the trigger pull is smoother than other models of AK rifles from other countries. The highest quality MAK-90 is thought by most to be that of PolyTechnologies, and imported by Keng's of Atlanta, Georgia. Here's an early Guns and Ammo magazine ad for the PolyTech "MAK-90." Some MAK-90 owners find the stock unsightly or uncomfortable, and file the thumbhole to make it fit the hand better, or replace the thumbhole stock with an ordinary AK-47 stock. If you do that, you must then make your MAK-90 922r compliant by replacing a number of other parts with US made parts. Note: Please remember that the MAK-90 receiver is 1.6mm thick, and the barrel is also thicker than on Eastern European AKs. So, if you decide to "remodel" your MAK-90, keep this in mind. Some parts that fit other AKs, may not fit your MAK-90. The Ironwood Designs stock is considered to be the best choice for replacing a thumbhole stock on a MAK-90 with a slant-cut reciever.

MAK-90s feature smooth "double-hook" fire-control-groups, rather than the more common modern "single-hook" mechanism.

Just a word about replacing the thumb-hole stock: don't assume that you have a "slant-cut" receiver, just because it looks that way with the thumb-hole stock in place. Remove the stock and look at the rear of the receiver. It may actually be straight cut. It would be good to be sure about this before you spend money on a specialized stock set.

Typical MAK-90 Thumb-hole Stock

A Chinese Replacement Stock Set

There are some excellent books about the AK-47. You can probably buy these at I have...


AK-47 Receiver Examples (Many Photos and Descriptions)
Pre / Post Ban Chinese AK47 Rifle Overview (J.A. Freeman)
J.A. Freeman's Wonderful Informative AK-47 Pages
Romanian Kalashnikov Rifles
Norinco Firearms
Norinco Type 56 Assault Rifle
Chinese Kalashnikov Reference Guide
High Road Discussion/Directions: How to Re-stock Your MAK-90, and Make It 922R Compliant
Gunsnet AK-47 Forums
The AK Forum
The AK Files Forums
AR-15.Com AK-47 Forums
Absolutely Huge AK Photo Gallery
Stottman's AKs of the World (Another Huge Photo Gallery)
MAK-90 Manual in PDF Format
Maadi Manual in PDF Format
JA Freeman's Maadi Information