Norinco 84S: China Makes a 5.56mm AK Specifically for the US

Lot 1685 in the RIA September 2020 Premier auction.

With the commercial success of the semiauto Type 56S AK rifles in the US, Norinco looked for other options for export rifles to sell. Given the use of the 5.56x45mm cartridge in the US, an AK chambered for that round was an obvious answer. Norinco did not have the technical data package to make the AK-74, so instead they made their own conversion to adapt the design to the new cartridge (they did the same for the 5.45x39mm round as the Type 88, which was too late to be imported into the US). The result was a rifle with he unique Chinese Type 56 stamped features but chambered for 5.56mm. Six different versions were imported in the few brief years before the assault weapons import ban:

84S: Wood fixed stock and wood handguard

84-1: Underfolding stock and wooden handguard

84-2: Sidefolding stock and wood handguard

84-3: Extra-long polymer fixed stock

84-4: Sidefolding stock and polymer handguard

84-5: Sidefolding stock and black polymer handguard


  1. They have always had trouble understanding “how it works.”
    They just did.
    Thanks to production volumes, statistically, it sometimes worked.

    At the end of the day, they made a really smart move.
    They threw this stupid design into the trash and developed their own. Which they really were able to produce in their production. And which really works.

  2. They certainly were good investments along with the early polytec rifles.The 89 ban made a lot of those rifles instantly go up in collector value. Same for the HK 90 series guns, the Valmets. Even Colts went up drastically in monetary value for nib or Lnib examples.I was fortunate to have been into buying them back then.

  3. Somehow, I think the Chinese rifles contributed to idiots screaming about how gun-makers’ products were “magically hypnotizing children into becoming serial killers.” Just kidding.

    • Alongside with fiction novels, comics, cinema, RPG board games, videogames…
      (but never the news pressing down constant violence in daily life)

  4. If anywhere there is “propaganda of the cult of weapons”, it is in Japanese cartoons.
    Only in them, the most terrible wunderwaffe is a stationery cutter. 😉

    In general, this is not even insane nonsense, it is much worse.
    When a madman is delirious, it is normal, because he is mad.
    And when a supposedly “normal” person pushes something like that, it is malicious intent, and crazy, or at least idiots, are those who listen to this.

  5. For all their very high value due to import restrictions, the Norinco 5.56 version was just an ok design, with what I found were heat treating issues when shot a lot. Most disturbing was that on at least some examples the bolt wasn’t properly heat treated, eventually leading to headspace issues as well as peening of the firing pin channel, leading to spectacular kabooms from out of battery firing.
    For all the near worship of Chinese ak variants, I have found them fairly average in materials and construction. Their sheet metal tends to rust easily, and the indigenous “chu” wood used for the furniture is too soft for the application.

  6. I received a Norinco 7.62 Type 56S for my 16th birthday in 1989. Welcome to the USA. 🙂

    I still have it. At some point, a little piece of metal sheared off from…how to describe this? There are two little metal protrusions inside the receiver, one on each side, near the chamber end of the barrel. Right above where the front (towards the barrel) part of the magazine is. I am not sure if there purpose is for the bolt to slide on or to act as a bullet guide for rounds coming out of the magazine. The one on the left has some raw/jagged metal where the tip of the protrusion must have broken off.

    It still works fine. Also, the varnish bubbled on the front top handguard (surrounding the piston cylinder).

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