This question comes up a lot. Someone sees a Norinco Hunter Series I, II, or III, and immediatley thinks, "that looks a lot like the Saiga, Valmet, etc...name your own reference, I think I'll convert it to an AKM or Galil." Before I make anyone mad, I bought my first Norinco Hunter 7.62 x 39, Type II with just that in mind. I am now buying any and all Norinco Hunters variants I can get my hands on and paying anywhere from ($350) to ($700), depending on the variant and condition. First, the only thing this rifle has in common with any AKM (we are "trained" by the industry, media and our own misunderstanding to call any semi-auto AK type rifle, an AK-47, 74, when technically, unless it has a three position selector lever which actually works, it is an AKM) is the gas tube and piston/bolt assembly to eject the spend case and load another round while placing the pin in the bolt into a firing position. There the similarity ends. This rifle is not an AK-47 Hunter/Sporter as some call it. If you insist, it is an AKM Hunter chambered in the AKM 7.62 x 39 round.
These are semantics and not all that important. I thought I should explain why I will use some terms. Now I am going to tell you why you should not covert this rifle to an AKM or Galil variant. As someone who has made a nice income off of reading trends in firearms, this rifle will be worth ($1500-$2000) within 5 years. 1) This rifle will NEVER, EVER be imported into the U.S. again......EVER. There is a ban on the importation of barrels and any rifle from the Chinese. Norinco was in business to sell AK clones of its military spec rifles and they were good rifles. Just take a look at what a good Polytech or Norinco AKM brings on the auction sites. This rifle was manufactured to get around the Ban in place at the time the majority of these firearms were imported. So this rifle will become rare....very rare. Some knowledgeable firearms owners still do not know what they are. Unless you are dealing with a friend, remember "caveat emptor" cuts both ways. I bought a new in the box, Norinco Hunter, Type II, with the famous "circle 386" stamp on the reciever, nice blond wood and finish, sling, oil can, and a ten round magazine, for ($460). I acted the reluctant buyer and the salesman at my local gun store threw in 2 30 round magazines. (These Hunters will take any AK magazine or drum) Still in the box! Which brings us to number 2) These rifles are accurate. I don't mean accurate for an AKM, I mean accurate as any semi-auto loader I have ever fired. When I bought my first one, I took it out to the farm to "run the gun". That means about 100 rounds of cheap Russian ammunition. First, I check to see if the front sight is canted. If not, I take the rifle 100 yards from the target and put it in a sighting vice and aim at the red zero for 100 yards. I fired three rounds. When I saw the target after my first three rounds, I loaded some good Federal 124 grain soft point ammunition in the rifle and fired another three rounds from the vice. My suspicions were confirmed. The first three rounds were right at the top of the red zero and were in 11/2 inch grouping. The second three rounds of good hunting grade ammunition, which my son uses in his deer rifle, were in 1/2 inch grouping about 1/2 inch higher. The Norico Hunter has a flip up rear reciever mounted slide on sight and when lying flat is a 100 yard open sight, and when flipped up is a 300 yard sight. I moved my target to 200 yards and using the 300 yard sight and the hunting grade ammunition, I got a nice 1" grouping. I bought a Chinese manufactured reciever slide rail and mounted an Nikon 4x16x40 scope on the rifle. (The same one used for the Remington R-15 and R-25 AR platform hunting rifles) Now this rifle has become my number 1 hog killer. I now own 7 of these rifles and counting. Finally number 3) This rifle has a milled reciever, great chromed barrel and good wooden furniture. It does not look like a "dogged out" AK, with rails and optics and lights and sirens. But I have always thought if I wanted my AKM to look like the AR-15, I should just shoot my AR-15. There is something vulgar about the AKM when "tacted out". I'll give two good examples of why you should not convert this rifle. When the GIs returned from the second world war, they brought the 98k Mauser and that great action home with them for hunting. They "sporterized" the most famous combat bolt action rifle in history, to make it practical for big game hunting in the U.S. Now these "sporterized" versions can be bought for less than ($200) and that is with the old Reidfield scopes still on them. The real 98k Wehrmacht Mauser, in good collector grade condition is worth up to 10 times that depending on the arsenal, year, markings, numbers, etc.... The second example is the Russian SKS. In 2004, you could buy them all day for ($200) or less. Same thing. Tapco accessories made these rifles "tactical" as advertized, and worthless to any collector today. Try and buy a Tula arsenal-ed, 1949-1954, mint condition, Russian SKS for that today. Take your ($200) and add another ($400) and you can buy one of mine. Some collectors get
($800) for the early 1949 "blond" artic birch SKS. I have several and would not sell them for that. Like the Norinco Hunter, they are never going to be imported again. Take the ($500) you are going to spend on a "good deal" when you see a Norinco Hunter, and instead, buy a Saiga, and either convert it yourself, or have someone like me, who has been doing the conversions since the rifle was being imported and there were no Tapco, ATI, Tromix, Vlator, or Krebs Custom parts. Then you have the real Kalishnikov AKM and that valuable Norinco Hunter will be left in a condition that makes its purchase a great investment.
In the end, its your rifle and your money. I made a killing on cheap Century Arms Romanian WASR-10 "Sporting" rifles when I went out and bought 200 of them right before John McCain was defeated by Barak Obama. Yes, I was one of the hoarders. I also collect the Mauser, Russian SKSs, AKMs, ARs, and various hunting rifles and shotguns. So do what you want with the rifle. I'm just one voice. However, I have done my homework and advise anyone who asks "leave the rifle alone."