Communist Heresy: Norinco’s M305A M14 in 7.62x39mm

Norinco is a huge consortium of manufacturing plants in China that make all manner of goods for export, including military hardware. One of Norinco’s factories has been making copies of the American M14 rifle for export for some time, although they are not seen in the United States because Chinese rifle imports are prohibited. Canada has no such restriction, however, and because Canadian law specifically bans most other 7.62mm NATO semiauto rifles by name, the Norinco M14s (formally designated the M305) have become very popular there, in both original 22″ and shortened 18.5″ barrel lengths.

Just recently, the factory added another variation of the rifle – a conversion to 7.62x39mm, using AK magazines, called the M305A. This appears to have been a remarkably simply conversion, as the AK mag fits nicely into the receiver with only a minor change to the magazine support well in the stock. Sure, some might ask why one would want an M14 in 7.62×39…but those people are clearly not familiar with the firearms market. These smaller-caliber rifles are quite pleasant to shoot, and use much cheaper ammunition as well. They are substantially heavier than comparable rifles like the SKS, but have nicer aperture sights.

Thanks to Marstar for letting me examine and shoot one of the M305A rifles!


    • Hey, they finally made an assault rifle out of the thing…if that’s what anybody ever really wanted??!!
      I’ll give ’em that much!

    • Cheap ammunition and a nice rifle. What heresy? Nobody accused Poland of heresy for adapting Mosin rifles to 8×57 IS. For the record, 7.62×39 is easier to get in more areas than 7.62×51 NATO. And the aperture sights are easier to use than tangent sights when tracking intended victims such as deer, raccoons, and wild boars (assuming the boar isn’t in your face already). Did I mess up?

      • Ian knows it is not ‘heresy’ per se; he just wanted to spice up his style…. it has been quite subdued and factual up to this point.

        • “‘heresy’ per se”
          This reminded me about Adeptus Mechanicus faction of Warhammer 40k table-top game and tech-heresy hated by them.
          Anyway. Discarding certain weapons basing only on their “nationality” (if that can be used for fire-arm) would be… (hope that is right word) frivolous.
          List of copied enemy weapons in history is very long, just check for example 12 cm Granatwerfer 42 from World War II era or К-13 (NATO parlance: AA-2 Atoll) missile from Cold War era.
          7,62×39 has advantage over 7,62×51 in smaller mass of single round, which mean same quantity of 7,62×39 cartridges will have less weight that 7,62×51 cartridges, which is important if you are moving by foot-slogging.

  1. Well hopefully Trump will lift the import ban. It’s certainly cheaper than the Ruger Mini-30 and probably just as accurate (because of the Ruger rifle’s woeful reputation in that regard).

    • “Well hopefully Trump will lift the import ban.”
      Wait, for me U.S. gun laws seems to be complicated beyond any sane level of complexity for me, but it is able to lock import of fire-arms from this or that country?
      And how is producing defining? Does this affect which part are made in “forbidden” country and finally assembled in “ok” country?

      • The government can be very arbitrary interpreting the law, and yes they can limit imports or add tariffs to drive up the price. When I used to build model airplanes, the superior Japanese plastic models had a huge tariff put on them that made them prohibitively expensive in order to protect US model makers…but the superior quality of the Japanese product still made them popular with dedicated hobbyists. Foreign countries have no rights in reaching US markets, of course it can work both ways.

      • I agree that it’s beyond sanity. Part of it is good old-fashioned economic protectionism — it’s always easier to pass any gun law if you don’t have gun manufacturers opposing it, and restrictions on importing cheap guns (whether that’s new manufacture like Norincos, or military surplus rifles back in the day) have occasionally been a good way to get them oboadn. Part of it is about international trade negotiations, where some penalty must be agreed on for some reason, and firearms import/export is a penalty that both sides can agree on.

        Anyway, the situation with imports has multiple parts; I may not hit all of them, but I’ll try to cover those relevant to Norinco and China.

        In 1968, the Gun Control Act (GCA) did a lot of things, but with respect to imports, it restricted importation of guns to those “generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes”.

        In 1989, President Bush declared that rifles with flash-hiders, bayonet lugs, etc. were not suitable for sporting purposes; this stopped importation of ordinary SKSes from China (or anywhere else), but they were soon imported as “sporter” models without those features.

        In 1990, the Crime Control Act was passed, and it extended the GCA’s restriction on importing firearms to also restrict assembling a non-sporting firearm from imported parts; specifically it enumerated a list of 20 parts (e.g. barrel, trigger, magazine floorplate), not all of which are necessarily present in any one gun, and prohibits assembling a non-sporting gun with more than 10 imported components on the list. If you hear Americans talking about “922r compliance parts”, this is what they’re talking about. So you could import a “sporter” SKS, but restoring it to standard (“non-sporting”) configuration would be a crime. And you can legally import a “parts kit” (everything but the barrel and receiver from a demilled rifle), but to actually build a rifle out of it (with a US-made receiver) you must either convert it to a “sporting” configuration, or throw out eight other parts, and replace them with US-made parts. Classic economic protectionism masquerading as “crime control” — we can’t compete with cheap imported guns, but as long as you buy enough parts from us, you can do what you want.

        FWIW, there’s currently a proposed law in Congress — the same one I mentioned the other day that would loosen suppressor restrictions — that would eliminate the “sporting purpose” requirement. This would make everything I just mentioned go away — but sadly, there’s more.

        In 1993 or 1994, as part of negotiating China’s permanent trade status (previously had to be renewed every year), new rules were put in place, changing our previous ban on exporting munitions to PRC into a ban on both imports and exports. (Apparently this was justified as a punishment for human right violations by PRC…) “Munitions” in this context includes ammunition, guns, gun parts, etc., but notably and specifically excludes sporting shotguns. So no SKSes, no M14 clones, etc., not even the “sporter” versions, but there still were Norinco shotguns being imported, including their Winchester 1887 and 1897 clones.

        In 2003, a couple 2-year bans were slapped on Norinco specifically, in retaliation for their having supplied Iran with some parts or equipment for a missile program. These banned the import of non-gun stuff, plus the sporting shotguns that were still available, but they have since expired.

        And that’s everything I know of. Most of it is temporary, limited, and/or conceivably mutably within a few years, but the big obstacle — the ban on importing “munitions” from China — seems likely to stick around.

        • “specifically excludes sporting shotguns”
          And how is sporting shotgun defined?
          If generally shotgun would be allowed, then it would give several opportunities, from “shot” version of repeating rifle (in fact in inter-war period Soviet Union, Mosin rifles converted to either 32 gauge or 28 gauge (rarer) were popular among huntsmen for legal reasons).
          Possibly even self-loading rifle could be redesigned for that, say SKS from 7,62×39 to .410 (2″), however it could give some problems due to its rimmed nature.

          • As I understand it, there’s no real definition in law, and the exact interpretation is left to… the President? the Attorney General? Not sure, but something like that.

            So even if someone did make a .410 SKS, and was initially allowed to import it, it could at any time be ruled non-sporting and blocked, just like the previously-legal rifles were declared non-sporting in 1989.

  2. That is one cool idea. Would love to have one, as long as it is reasonable in price (not like the Springfield model starting at $1500).

    Like the low recoil and sights. So-so on the weight but that probably helps the ease of shooting.

  3. While I am not interested in acquiring any of these Chinese hybrids (I am not interested in any sort of “tactical” non-sense), what makes me wonder is how it pays off for maker/ importer to this volume limited market. I seriously doubt it. But maybe I am in error of judgement here (or messed up as Cherndog says) 🙂

    • “I seriously doubt it”
      Was it exported as batch of this model only or was it part of bigger bundle, also containing other NORINCO-made models of weapons?

      • My longer term observation is that in Canada (and this is my working hypothesis) one of alternately ruling parties has had cozy relation with Chinese business class. This ‘special relationship’ may be completely apart of what is seen in U.S. stereotypically as products of “Chinese communist” origin.

        What remains completely hidden behind this ideological agenda is the fact, that we currently may not be able to survive one month of Chinese trade blockade, should it be imposed on us. Consumer items of all kinds and clothing are almost all exclusively Made in China. And this is not just Walmart what I am talking about.

        So yes, it is conceivable this is “part of bigger bundle” as you say. Regular public has no clue what’s behind the scene and better for them that way.

        • Just to add to that “Chinese business lass” I mentioned. After dissolution of British Hong-Kong many of elites from that mini-state ended up in Canada. Their presence is omnipresent; it you want to see on your own visit northern Toronto – Markham, best in evening times. You will get the idea pretty quick.

  4. I think Norinco should be allowed to import at least shotguns of pre-1900 designs. But the politicians are not smart enough to make distinctions.

  5. I seem to remember Norinco “M-14’s” coming in in the 90’s and being absolute garbage. Welded flash hiders, no American parts interchangeability, and just feeling loose and sloppy overall. Like they had been made to AK tolerances… I’m guessing these are a bit better made now?

    • As long as China is a single political party dictatorship ruled by the Communist Party, describing China as a communist nation is perfectly fair.

      Heck, according to some apologists for Marxism there has never been a ‘true’ communist nation.

      • Technically I would classify the Chinese Communist Party as a collection of “economically pragmatic socialists” who used free market ideas to do what the Soviet Union failed to do: get very rich (in fact, tons of Chinese kids from the urban regions are spoiled brats with too much money on their hands) and develop industry at a rapid pace. The “planned economy” of the Soviet Bloc seemed to me like a dull soccer game where the scores are rigged before the match even begins, which is no fun at all.

        • I would classify PRC as an oligarchy with a mixed economic model. In some ways China is less socialist in economic terms than many European countries, that is if we count European style welfare states as socialist (a more correct term would be social democratic). On the other hand it still maintains many state industries in addition to the privately owned.

          • AFAIK you are completely correct; China is purposely misunderstood in the West. One reason I can think of is that West lost its chance to exploit China, so this enemy-creating out of China is kind of revenge. Current China may be assertive, but it is not aggressive; if it was it would annex Taiwan.

            I had known for couple of years university educated Chinese man (actually from both China and Japan in trade and international relations) who told me quite a bit about real life of Chinese people. To say it is “communist” is questionable (depends on definition). For instance, there in no national health care programme or pension plan – cornerstones of any socialist (or better say social welfare) state. You may be right in saying that countries of Scandinavia are further into ‘socialism’ than China.

            China can be best described as mixed economy with encouraged private initiative; it guarantees some basics to its people, but does not tie them into Marxist (deviant) dogma.

            Again, unfortunately we are on slippery slope of politics. It tells you though how much need is inside of people to speak out. Speak out elsewhere because their ‘elected’ politicians ignore them. Is our model of governing society better than theirs? I am not sure. They grow, we stagnate.

          • That “completely correct” appraisal should fit better with Cherndog’s view, while “partially correct” would be more fitting with your (Euroweasel’s) view. The term “oligarchy” could be applied elsewhere, not just uniquely in PRC. My view anyway.

          • There are of course many types of oligarchy, such as aristocracy, Roman Republic style government (which was later copied by some Italian city-states) and so on, but I can’t find a better term to describe the Chinese model of government. The country is ruled by the relatively small party elite, which is subject to no democratic control, but there is no single leader with overwhelming power, so it’s clearly not a autocracy, either.

  6. Given the Canadian 5 round mag limit (which gives a M305 and a SKS the same mag limit) and that cheap Norinco 7.62mm NATO is available I don’t see point of this- apart from “just cause” – unless you’re about to buy your first semi-auto center fire.

    For the record G3s, AKs and FALs (the full list of bad guns is long) are legal in Canada if you are grandfathered circa 1992. In what may be the stupidest gun law I know of (the mag limit being neck and neck), one can own a “Prohibited” long gun and the ammo for same but can’t take it target shooting to a government approved range although it appears you might be able to get around it if you can find a way to shoot it via “appraisal” or “repair”.

    • Banning guns by name rather than by type seems like a very irrational thing to do. Even if one believes that stricter gun control reduces crime, why would a spesific make or model be “worse” than any other similar gun? Additionally you create very artificial markets that favor the manufacturer or importer of the still allowed makes or models of similar type.

      • This also spawn other problem (or rather make somewhat philosophical question very real): how long this or that example of gun remain that model of gun?
        For example: how much FAL should be modified to become not FAL? How we know it is or is not FAL?

      • In various discussions I have heard in time I recall one view which in my mind has some credence. There is no question about legitimacy of sports shooting and hunting. It was to create, either as part of firearms permit or outside of it a class of bona-fide firearms collectors. That of course is creating another catch: would they be allowed to fire them as well? It seem to be real problem to solve to satisfaction of both – collectors and society in general. More you go into it, deeper you get stuck.

      • It’s only irrational if your aim is to remove certain capabilities from the market. That wasn’t the aim. The goal was to be seen to be doing something (mainly with an eye on votes in Quebec and Toronto) and simply circling “cool” guns in Gun Digest was the quick way to do it. That’s how you get FALs prohibited and M1As not.

        The result is that Canadians own more guns than ever. The guns they own are more modern. Most people who owned prohibited weapons had to buy other similar guns if they wanted to shoot them. The Progressive Conservative party which brought the laws in was destroyed due to vote splitting between them and the new Reform Party and never recovered. Gun owner- police relations plummeted.

        Has violent gun crime gone down? A bit, along with all violent crime, but since the RCMP refuses to release information on the legal status of suspects and weapons used in crime it’s hard to know exactly how irrelevant the laws are. A recent study showed only 4% of people charged with violent crimes with guns were also charged with administrative gun charges.

  7. I have an SKS-M and this seems like a remarkably similar conversion, although the SKS-M needed mostly bolt changes to work with the AK mags, and not really any gas system changes. Both are slightly awkward because the magazine goes way into the receiver. Both are made by Norinco even. I have tech sights on mine so they both have aperture sights too!

  8. The rechambered-to-use-7.62x39mm-caliber AK cartridge M305 clone of the Western 7.62x51mm-caliber M14 battle rifle is proof of the PRC military-industrial complex’s extensive expertise in cloning foreign-made hardware to augment its local stockpiles on every range from small arms to aircraft such-as-the-CQ-311-based-on-the-Vietnam-era-M16A1-and-post-Cold-War-era-M4-carbine.

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