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Old 07-15-2006, 05:48 PM   #1
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Soft Bolts on Chinese Rifles?

Just curious:

If the soft bolt issue exists for the Chinese M14 clones, and isn't just hype from Fulton and others to make cash, why doesn't it happen with other Chinese, or even more likely, former Soviet-bloc countries' rifles, such as the Chinese SKS, Romanian AK, Chinese AK, Yugo SKS, etc?

I mean, I know all rifles are not the same. But the AK uses a rotating bolt design like the M1 and M14 and you never hear about "soft" AK bolts. And wouldn't quality control in Romania or Yugoslavia, for example, be even less reliable?

Anyone around here have a Norinco that works fine and headspaces OK?

I'm trying to get to the bottom if this one. I recall tons of stuff on the web about Century Garands being crap and not working. But I have one and it's fine. And everyone I know who actually owns one has no problems with it. So, I'm wondering if the "Norinco bolts stink" buzz is just exageration due to a few bad bolts when the rifles first came out.

Thanks.
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Old 07-15-2006, 06:29 PM   #2
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Are you looking to purchase a Chinese M14?
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Old 07-15-2006, 06:48 PM   #3
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I had my eye on one for a while and just put a deposit on it.

(M14S- Norinco- marked on heel of receiver, looks great, already transplanted into GI stock, great bore.)
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Old 07-15-2006, 08:46 PM   #4
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I have a Polytech with the Chinese bolt and it works fine.

Maybe they heat treat the SKS bolts properly. Do the Chinese M14's imported into Canada nowadays have properly heat treated bolts? When did they start making M14's? It could be that when they first started making them they just didn't have the bolt heat treatment right but now they have corrected it. But I am a complete M14 newbie and this is just my guess as to why the bolts are soft.
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Old 07-15-2006, 10:18 PM   #5
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I have a half dozen Polytechs and Norincos and I've never encountered one with a "soft" bolt. The majority of the problem stems from the misunderstanding of the headspace differences between .308 WIN and 7.62X51. Essentially 7.62 headspace is longer (by design) - so that if you try to measure it with commercial .308WIN gauges it appears to be "out of spec" - and typically the blame is placed on the bolt for being "set back" during firing. What makes this perception possible - soft lugs on the bolt and therefore a solf bolt (so say the sellers of bolt replacement jobs). In reality as a military weapon Polytechs could headspace all the way out to 1.6455' (NATO Field Reject) before it really becomes a problem.

Most people who are concerned with bolt replacement are those who want to shoot commercial (.i.e. reloads) ammo in their rifles and want to start off with a rifle that is within .308 WIN GO/NO GO spec. Now that I understand!

Isn't it funny how the receiver "heat treatment" problem sort of just disappeared. I guess its because they couldn't convince too many people that a guy could reheat treat a receiver in his workshop/garage better than the manufacture could in his factory. After all we know the Chinese are fond of blowing up their personnel with defective small arms.
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Old 07-15-2006, 10:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJones
I have a Polytech with the Chinese bolt and it works fine.

Maybe they heat treat the SKS bolts properly. Do the Chinese M14's imported into Canada nowadays have properly heat treated bolts? When did they start making M14's? It could be that when they first started making them they just didn't have the bolt heat treatment right but now they have corrected it. But I am a complete M14 newbie and this is just my guess as to why the bolts are soft.
The People's Republic of China made M14 rifles by no later than 1971. China was legally exporting M14 rifles as early as 1987 to Germany and just completed a shipment to Canada in May 2006. The best history available on this can be found in M14 Rifle History and Development. An abridged version can be found at http://www.imageseek.com/m1a
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Old 07-16-2006, 05:02 AM   #7
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Thanks.

As for the difference between .308 and 7.62 leading to the rumors, I was thinking the same thing. Lots of guys assume or believe they are the same and then have complaints about a rifle, made for 7.62, that doesn't check out for commercial .308!

If I recall, a similar thing went on with some CETME rifles a while back.

As for me, I went into this knowing the M14S is designed for 7.62 NATO, and that's what I'm buying to shoot through it.
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Old 07-16-2006, 01:10 PM   #8
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Chinese Receivers: The Lowdown
From Walt at Fulton Armory

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chinese M14S Receivers (Polytech and Norinco): The Lowdown

Chinese receivers are the best thing this side of the USGI M14. They are dimensionally perfect, particularly in the area of the bolt lug recesses—something that most commercial receiver manufacturers can't seem to get right. The Chinese receivers are forged, as John Garand intended that the M14 receiver be made. We've never seen a cracked Chinese receiver.

However, the balance of the rifle is suspect, to say the least.

Here’s the full story.

The Chinese bolt is unconscionably soft and must be replaced by a USGI bolt. If the bolt is not replaced, the bolt lugs collapse within a few hundred rounds, leading to dangerously excessive headspace. The barrel/bolt/receiver relationship in the Chinese rifles is, for whatever reason, not the same the relationship found in USGI or even US commercial receivers. For a USGI bolt to close in a Chinese receiver, the receiver must be relieved in front of the bolt lugs. This is the only really good way to fit a USGI bolt.

Some folks mistakenly grind the front of the bolt lugs—which screws up the bolt stop interface, inter alia—or try to get the needed clearance by lapping the bolt—which makes the case hardened layer on the rear of the lugs perilously thin. Further, when you attempt to fit the bolt by removing material from the rear of the lugs, you create a great deal of slop—sometimes called “free headspace”—when the bolt is closed. This “slop” can result in an unsupported case head and blown-up rifle.

You must install a USGI bolt, and you must properly fit it.

With a USGI bolt properly fitted, its bolt face now intrudes into the breech of the barrel so far that headspace becomes dangerously short. Since the Chinese barrel is chrome-lined, the chamber cannot be deepened to achieve proper headspace. Thus, a US barrel needs to be installed so that it can be finish-reamed to the proper headspace.

Now, the gas system. The gas system parts are not compatible with USGI gas system parts. Further, the gas cylinder is not stainless steel as is the USGI gas cylinder. The threads on the Chinese barrel for the Chinese bolt lock differ from the threads on the GI bolt lock, which is another good reason for installing a US-spec barrel. Not only are the Chinese gas system parts not compatible with GI parts, they’re not compatible with each other! That is, two different rifles will have hand-fitted gas pistons, for example. So even if one were willing to put up with the Chinese gas cylinder’s tendency to rust internally, there’s no way to support the system. You can’t get parts. So a USGI gas system must be installed.

The trigger housing is generally good, as are the safety, mag catch & hammer spring assembly, but the trigger/sear and hammer are soft as butter. They must be replaced. The bolt stops are also soft, the cartridge clip guides a mess, and the rear sight assemblies are purely hopeless.

While the op rods can be OK, they do tend to roll out and eventually mess up the cam track in the op rod hump. Most should be replaced with a GI op rod.

The stocks are an unattractive “mystery wood.”

But What About Heat Treating?

Lack of proper hardness is not the only problem with the Chinese bolts. Nearly all (if not all) of the Chinese bolts we have seen—and we have worked on many hundreds of Chinese rifles since their importation began—are too long for proper firing pin retraction. This dimensional "long-coming" is enough to deadline Chinese bolts all by itself. Further, the bolt lugs are not properly shaped to evenly and fully seat in the bolt lug recesses. Heat-treating, even if it could be properly done, would not correct these dimensional flaws.

While the receiver is not quite as hard as that of a USGI M14 receiver, the Chinese receiver's hardness has been empirically determined to be more than sufficient. We've never seen a worn Chinese receiver, even those that have had tens of thousands of rounds through them. Heat-treating is simply not needed.

The Conclusion

When the whole package is considered, we at Fulton Armory strip down to the receiver and start from there. The result is the finest M14-type rifle this side of USGI. However, it’s tough for owners to reconceptualize their “Chinese Rifle” as what it really is, a “Chinese Receiver.”




Very best regards,

Walt

PS The above comments may or not apply to the "Norinco M305" rifles being imported to Canada. We are unable to import one of these rifles to examine it.
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Old 07-16-2006, 10:37 PM   #9
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Walt Kuleck and Ron Smith have widely different opinions of the Chinese M14's.

But both agree that the bolts are problematic.

And both offer high priced services to correct the problem.
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Old 07-17-2006, 02:51 AM   #10
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I have not read any report of a ChiCom bolt failure such as the cracked SAI bolt that has been pictured here.

I have read of many ChiCom M14 owners that are shooting with the original bolt without and problems.

My Norinco was purchased as a boltless barreled receiver.
I had Ron Smith install a TRW during the MK14 MOD 0 conversion.
This is an awesome combination.

My Poly has the original ChiCom bolt, but I have not fired this rifle yet.

HTH ~
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Old 07-17-2006, 05:19 AM   #11
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I consider Fulton's Chinese M14 treatise to be a warning that if they get their hands on your rifle, you can expect a "repair" bill well into four figures...and the first figure might not even be a one. "Hey, we told you we were gonna replace everything but the receiver and the front sight."

Also, at a gunshow, the in-person Fulton representative told me--not just once, but twice--that it was ILLEGAL to put a USGI bolt in a Chinese M14. We all know this isn't even close to true. Pretty much wrecked any confidence I might have considered having in their competence with the Chinese guns.
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Old 07-18-2006, 12:11 PM   #12
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Someone in Canada tested about a dozen Norinco M14S bolts a couple of years ago. They all tested very close to USGI bolts in hardness, about Rockwell 47 IIRC. It would be interesting if someone in the US could test the older Norinco/Polytech bolts for hardness. I've never seen actual hardness figures listed from those "experts" proclaming that the Chinese bolts are soft.
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Old 07-18-2006, 01:12 PM   #13
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My Polytech has never jammed or failed to work in thousands of rounds. Headspace has never budged.
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Old 07-18-2006, 01:23 PM   #14
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Place that I buy my ammo from has a few Poly's and Norinco's with original bolts. All of them look like a few hundred, if not more, rounds have been pumped through them jugding from the wear on the lugs and none of them look like their at the point of failure. IMO I think that the hype on the Chicom bolts is just that, hype, but who knows. It would be interesting if there were a test done on them.
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Old 07-18-2006, 04:24 PM   #15
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Thanks, a lot, for all the useful info!

Maybe it's because I used to be a newsman, I don't know; but I always value first-hand "I did it" info far above a ton of "He said, she said, this guy heard," stuff.

Not always, but very often, a rumor or widely held net opinion of something is out there and you can't find one guy who can give you first-hand experience to back it up.

It seems to be the case with the Chinese M14s.
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Old 07-20-2006, 05:43 PM   #16
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For what it's worth, Elmer hardness tested the new bolt he had on hand that we dropped in my Poly and he said it came very close to USGI spec. I still plan on a USGI conversion sometime in the future when budget allows. More than anything, I just like the idea of a USGI bolt, but as for now, I'm having a blast at the range.
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Old 07-21-2006, 04:51 AM   #17
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A Chinese bolt can still loose headspace no matter if it is hard enough or not.

It does not fit correctly to the reciever.

It does not have enough contact surface on the rear locking lugs to mate with the reciever properly. There is not enough contact area there and the lug tends to collapse quickly.

If you get one with a soft bolt it will wear in just a few hundred rounds. If it is properly hardened it will last longer but still it will wear quicker than a GI bolt and your headspace will grow over time.
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Old 07-21-2006, 05:23 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornbread2
A Chinese bolt can still loose headspace no matter if it is hard enough or not.

It does not fit correctly to the reciever.

It does not have enough contact surface on the rear locking lugs to mate with the reciever properly. There is not enough contact area there and the lug tends to collapse quickly.

If you get one with a soft bolt it will wear in just a few hundred rounds. If it is properly hardened it will last longer but still it will wear quicker than a GI bolt and your headspace will grow over time.
That's the best explanation yet.

Thanks Cornbread2
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Old 07-21-2006, 06:11 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornbread2
A Chinese bolt can still loose headspace no matter if it is hard enough or not.

It does not fit correctly to the reciever.

It does not have enough contact surface on the rear locking lugs to mate with the reciever properly. There is not enough contact area there and the lug tends to collapse quickly.

If you get one with a soft bolt it will wear in just a few hundred rounds. If it is properly hardened it will last longer but still it will wear quicker than a GI bolt and your headspace will grow over time.
I was sold on the need for a usgi bolt before I made the purchase, but, in my case, I think I have a great working rifle in the meantime...maybe even several thousand rounds.
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Old 07-21-2006, 12:38 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sukebe
Walt Kuleck and Ron Smith have widely different opinions of the Chinese M14's.

But both agree that the bolts are problematic.

And both offer high priced services to correct the problem.
Expensive, yes. Worth it, absolutely! The CHICOM receiver is simply the best currently available. It is true dimensionally and tought dimensionally. That is a matter of record throguhout the industry. Ron is woking on my second M14S conversion to USGI now and it's money well spent. After the work has been patiently explained to me in detail during one of his rare down times from USG work, I came away with the impression that it's a true barggain. Remember, the receiver is Melonited, too. it all adds up. Oh, he informed me that he's going to offer this service again routinely as there is just such a pent up demand for CHICOM conversions, due in large part to the all-over-the-map US semiauto receivers now on the market. Of course, with LRB's decision not to offer receivers alone for the foreseeable future, that drives demand, too, IMHO.
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