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Norinco NHM-91


Norinco NHM 91


Caliber, mm 7.62
Cartridge model 1943, 7,62x39
Length, mm:
Weight w/empty magazine, g 3,125
Sighting range, m 1,000

The NHM-91 is manufactured by Norinco Arms Corp and was marketed in the U.S. by ChinaSports Inc.  The NHM-91 is basically a regular AK with a 20 inch barrel in place of the standard 16 inch.  Many people say that the NHM-91 is the best sporterized RPK imported in to the United States, however the gun dose have some slight drawbacks.   The NHM-91 will accept all standard 30rnd China mags but German and Russian mags will NOT work in the rifle. Unless you modify the magazine well of the rifle or the magazine itself they will not work.    The NHM-91 has been imported in to the U.S. since the 1989 gun ban and was marked politically incorrect in 1998 during the Clinton importation bans.   Meaning they are no longer importable into the U.S.

Overall Rating: 3ak.gif (1471 bytes)

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Feeling a little bit of cabin fever and having recently traded for a new Norinco NHM 91, I grabbed a couple of hundred rounds of mixed ammunition and headed to the local range. Being a weekday there were very few shooters at the range so I was able to set up the Oehler 35P chronograph to see what results and consistency I would get not only from the rifle, but from the three types of ammo I had on hand for the 7.62x39 rifle.  In preparation for the outing I had run ballistic tables and graphs on my home computer using the Oehler Ballistic Explorer software to give me an idea of expected velocities and an optimum range to zero the rifle. Unfortunately, the ammo I had on hand was not in the data base so I used a 123 grain soft point, with an expected muzzle velocity of 2300 feet per second (fps) and 1445 foot pounds of energy, a 122 grain Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) at 2350 fps, and a 125 grain soft point at 2320 fps.  With this knowledge, I decided to zero the rifle at 100 yards. The NHM 91 with the detachable side mount scope has a line of sight that is 3.25 inches over the line of bore which provides clearance to use the military style iron sights which turned out to be a good thing but I will get to that later. When zeroed at 100 yards, based on a 2300 fps muzzle velocity, the bullet would be 1.38 inches low at 150 yards and 5.14 inches low at 200 yards. This would be acceptable for targets, cans, varmints or game animals. Shot placement on deer would be critical at 200 yards as the bullet energy would have already dropped below the controversial 1000 foot pounds of energy to 875-900 foot pounds depending on which bullet you use.  For those of you who may not be familiar with imported, assault style rifles. The Norinco NHM 91 is the Chinese made variant of the Kalashnikov action made famous by the widespread production and distribution of the AK47. It is advertised as an RPK action, the light machine-gun brother to the AK47. It comes with a 21 inch barrel that is said to be a National Match Grade barrel. The model that I got was fitted with the fiberforce Dragunov style stock and forearm with the ball and socket style quick detach scope mount topped off by the 4x20 Red Star scope. It additionally had the all metal machine-gun style folding bipod and I had installed the AK74 style flash suppresser. All in all, it looked like and felt like a weapon that could go to war or be carried around in the woods all day without tiring you out while being impervious to the weather. Of course to go to the woods I would prefer the five round magazines to the optional 30 round mags and the 75 round drum that I got in the trade.  To avoid sounding totally negative and destroying the image of an enjoyable day at the local range, I want to discuss the things that went right. The data that I had from the computer software had me excited to see how the short cartridge that so many armies around the would had adopted would perform. Also the possibilities for reloading seemed favorable due to the variety of .308 caliber bullets on the market. The chronograph that I had used previously to develop loads for other guns as well as to improve on a training manual for military use performed flawlessly. I had just outfitted it with an eight foot rail to improve the accuracy over the 2 foot rail that comes with the outfit and even with the broken clouds, all rounds were successfully recorded.   The rifle fired all three brands of ammo without a single feed or ejection problem. With the straight stock and the muzzle flash suppresser, I was able to observe the target throughout the recoil and cycling of the action allowing quick second shots as well as observing the impact of the round behind the target. When installed, the flash suppresser has two gas ports going straight up to reduce muzzle jump, and two ports each going left and right to help center the rifle during recoil, it also has a large tapered opening on the left and right to diffuse the flash. The ports are at nearly a 90 degree angle to the line of bore which did nothing to reduce felt recoil but was effective in controlling the muzzle. Based on this experience, I would suspect that under full automatic operation, muzzle jump associated with recoil would be less of a factor allowing more rounds to impact in the target area.  So much for the successes. At this point I would like to cover the problems encountered with the Norinco NHM 91 and its accessories. It started when I went to install the flash suppresser. The normal spring loaded pin in the front sight assembly that locks the accessories on the muzzle wasn't spring loaded nor would it retract enough to allow removal of the thread protective muzzle cap that came on the rifle. The drift pins that hold the front sight assembly to the barrel had been pressed in and could not be removed with normal procedures to repair the muzzle cap pin. With this experience behind me, I shouldn't have been surprised when at the range I tried to adjust the front sight for windage using a C clamp style sight adjustment tool that is advertised as a must for all AK and SKS owners. After bending the rod that goes through the screw on the adjustment tool the sight remains unmoved by my efforts and seems to be quite happy shooting a little to the right.  The use of the iron sights had become more important due to the problems encountered with both the 4x20 Red Star scope and scope mount. I needed the iron sights as a point of reference after the initial zeroing on the 25 yard range. After 25 rounds on the zero range, the rifle was impacting where I wanted it to based on the high line of sight and short range. It was grouping four of the five shots in a 1/2 inch group but the first round of all 5 shot strings after sight adjustments impacted 1 to 1 1/2 inches low. I still have to debug this but I suspect that the 2 problems I later discovered caused or contributed to this problem. Moving over to the 100 yard range, I was getting 2 to 3 inch groups that I felt initially was a product of the imported ammunition because of the erratic velocities that were being read on the chronograph. Efforts to correct the point of impact made things worse.  When I removed the scopes' protective caps from the windage and elevation screws, I read where the graduations were a click of adjustment equaled 1/2 inch of correction at 100 yards. This would have been fine as I was trying to achieve groups near the target not necessarily trying to cut the heart out of the center of the target. While making adjustments, I discovered that the adjustments were not positive. By this I mean that if I turned the screws 6, 8, 12, or more clicks, the point of aim had not moved as confirmed by the iron sights. With subsequent tapping on the scope housing with the handle of the screwdriver, the reticle would then move toward the correction. Setting at the bench I could not figure out the table for how many times and with what force you would have to tap the scope to implement the desired changes to the reticle. I guess the table would be same as the one for how many times you shake a broken compass to get it to point to the magnetic north.  In checking the scope further, I checked the scope mount screws to see if they had loosened up during firing. It was at this point that I discovered that 1 of the 2 was still tight and the other screwed had either loosened up or was never tight. I had failed to check this prior to my departure to the range. Since the NHM 91 has a stamped receiver, the mount screws are a screw and nut combination instead of a threaded hole in the receiver. This problem was remedied once I got home and had the rifle on the work bench but I would recommend the installation of a flat washer and lock washer to keep the screws tight and keep from damaging the metal of the receiver.  An additional accessory that I had to experience was the bipod. Having experienced gun tube droop and thermal bend on tank cannons and having to relieve pressure on stocks to achieve accuracy on sporting and target rifles, I didn't know how the designers overcame the problem of the bipod applying upward pressure on the barrel's muzzle. After firing a semiautomatic 10 shot string with 2 to 3 seconds between rounds, I found out that the designers hadn't changed physics as we know it. The first round impacted 4 inches higher than the previously established zero with the second round 1/2 inch higher. Each of the subsequent rounds climbed 3/4 to 1 inch each for a climb of approximately 8 inches during firing with the last round impacting 12 inches above zero. The 12 inch legs on the bipod raise the muzzle 10 inches above the ground. This height is to allow clearance for the extended 30 round banana style magazines and the 75 round drums, it was during the bipod firing that I was able to use a 30 round magazine. All other rounds were fired using a 5 round magazine. While it may have been a good idea based on the number of persons going to ranges with assault style rifles and high capacity magazines, the owner wouldn't understand my cutting a hole in his bench to provide magazine clearance. Unfortunately, unless a person is always engaging targets uphill or the targets are extremely tall, the muzzle height from using the bipod does not allow the shooter to assume a low silhouette in the prone position especially when the shooter raises their head slightly to use the scope. Couple this shooting position problem with the effects on accuracy and it reduces the effective use of the bipod to being a portable gun rack to keep from laying the rifle on the ground on its side.  At this point, my personal NHM 91 is now minus a bipod and a 4x20 Red Star scope. Not to give anyone the wrong idea, if I didn't feel there was merit or potential to the NHM 91 to achieve the accuracy of the Dragunov Sniper Rifle on a lesser scale and at a shorter range I would be minus more than a scope and bipod. Some bells and whistles are just that and do nothing to improve on what they are attached to or take away from the real potential. In this case, the scope and bipod are only bells and whistles. As of this writing, I have not been in contact with ChinaSports Inc's Service Department concerning either the Red Star scope or the front sight assembly problems.

One area that concerns me for those persons who might tread on the BATF rules or press the limits with the Hell-Fire trigger device, is the control of the guns hammer. The hammer hooks are not timed to the closure and lock-up of the bolt. The hammer hooks can be disengaged as soon as the bolt clears the hammer on the forward stroke to the bolt closed position. While this is a long shot that all the circumstances would occur just right to detonate a cartridge before the bolt is closed, it could happen. Being a predominantly left handed shooter, I'm a little particular on how I expose myself to metal fragments under 30,000-40,000 psi or cup whichever you prefer. What it would take is for the trigger to go forward enough after firing and for the trigger to be pulled again ( or the hammer hooks to slip ) at the same time that a cartridge is stripped from the magazine happens to seat itself into the recessed bolt face on the way into the chamber. With the shape of the hammer at the point where it strikes the firing pin it further minimizes the chance that it could strike a protruding firing pin with sufficient energy to detonate a primer. Its just that when dealing with a potentially moderate cyclic rate of fire weapon, like Murphy says "What can go wrong, will and at the worst possible time". After all, you hear of people winning lotteries and others getting struck by lightening quite often.  Once I achieve the sub minute of angle groups envisioned when one thinks about any firearm equipped with a National Match Grade barrel, I'll come back and do what I started to do on the imported ammunition. That is, to report on the readily available, best quality ammunition for the 7.62x39 for the money.

Phil Fields

Ballistic Explorer is a trademark of Oehler Research, Inc., Oehler 35P is produced and available through Oehler Research, Inc. Post Office Box 9135 Austin, Texas 78766,

Phone 512-327-6900, Fax 512-327-6903.

Norinco NHM 91 is Marketed through ChinaSports Inc. Post Office Box 3250 Ontario, California 91761 and is available through distributors and dealers nationwide unless otherwise prohibited by state or local laws.

Fiberforce Stocks model AK/MAK-90/MAADI ATI is a product of Advanced Technology Inc. 102 Fieldview Drive Suite 400, Versailles, Kentucky 40383.

"Hell-Fire" is a product of Hell-Fire systems and Distributed by Frank's Center, Inc. Hell-Fire Systems, P. O. Box 530 Nevada, Missouri 64772.

About the author: A reloader and shooter that customizes his personal firearms is pursuit of increased performance. Has been a Federal Firearms Licensed Dealer for 10 years, 20 years active duty and national guard military experience, involved with guns and hunting for 38 years. Resides in Fort Worth, Texas.

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