Tracing Ammunition Suppliers in Ukraine

C. J. Chivers investigated the firearm ammunition used by Ukrainian rebels and discovered that they are exactly the ammunition you would expect to find in Ukrainian military stockpiles or in the inventory of the arms dealers who pillaged Ukrainian stockpiles after the Soviet collapse. Chivers reports at the NY Times

With its independence in 1991, Ukraine inherited a huge and unneeded stockpile of arms and ordnance from its former Soviet masters. In the years since, the country’s businessmen, security services and cargo carriers, operating in an environment plagued by corruption, have repeatedly been accused of trafficking the surplus in black-market arms deals to Africa and the Middle East. So it was little surprise that this year, after fighting broke out, that Ukraine felt the sting of what had been its own shadowy trade. Exactly the sort of weapons it has long exported found bloody use on Ukrainian soil.

The presence of the ammunition from multiple Soviet factories that were busily manufacturing standard ammunition for Soviet rifles in the late Soviet period aligns neatly with historical factors at play in Ukraine. Put simply, these rounds, along with the samples from Luhansk, carried the headstamps one would expect in Ukrainian military arsenals and in the unregistered stockpiles from the Soviet collapse.

It is well worth reading the article in full. I was reminded of the the movie Lord of War (2005). At one point the Ukrainian born arms dealer Yuri Olav (Nic Cage) visits his uncle, a Ukrainian general in Odessa, and purchases the majority of his small arms stockpile.

Ukraine stockpile scene from Lord of War

Ukraine stockpile scene from Lord of War

From the Lord of War script …


Crates of machine guns from floor to ceiling. DMITRI gives YURI a
tour of the armory.

How many Kalashnikovs do you have?

(referring to the inventory in
his hand)

(looking over Dmitri’s shoulder)
Is that a “4”? It doesn’t look like a “4”
to me. It looks more like a “1”.

(missing the point)
No, it’s a “4”.

It’s whatever we say it is because no one
else knows the difference.

Dmitri finally gets it. Yuri examines a Kalashnikov.

YURI (cont’d)
10,000 Kalashnikovs for a battalion. Your
stocks are dangerously depleted, Dmitri.
You should order more from the factory.

This is too much for Dmitri. He stops, confronts Yuri – takes back
the AK-47 Yuri is inspecting.

Someone will work this out, Yuri. What
happens then?

We’ll cut them in. Anyway, what could
happen – you’re the luckiest man alive.


The sun sets over a grassy field. YURI sits alone – closely
inspects a Kalashnikov.

It is a strange moment between a man and his favorite gun.

As we hear Yuri’s thoughts, we are treated to lovingly shot close
ups of the weapon and its features often seen in slow motion: Sun
glistening off the chromed barrel. Folding metal stock arcing
elegantly into place. Precise docking of the 30-round curved

Avtomat Kalashnikova, model of 1947 – more
commonly known as the AK-47 or Kalashnikov.
It’s the world’s most popular assault ritle
– a weapon all fighters love. An elegantly
simple nine pound amalgamation of forged
steel and molded plastic. It doesn’t break,
jam or over-heat. It will shoot whether its
covered in mud or filled with sand. It’s so
easy, even a child can use it. And they do.
The Russians put the gun on a coin.
Mozambique put it on their flag. Since the
end of the Cold War, the Kalashnikov has
become the Russian peoples’ greatest export
– after that comes vodka and suicidal
novelists. One thing’s for sure, no one was
lining up to buy their cars.

(IMFDB reports that the guns in this scene were actually SA Vz.58 rifles rented from an arms dealers. It was cheaper to rent 3,000 real Vz.58 rifles than purchase replica AKs)

Thanks to Trev for the tip.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Sixshot6

    Its a just a reflection of what Eastern Europe is. We have problems in the West, but I believe the corruption on the scale seen in these countries is written into their DNA. We complained about the previous Ukrainian Administration being corrupt. That is a laugh.

    • eddie d.

      I know TFB is not the best place to discuss this matter of political nature,
      but since I am a resident of an Eastern European country, I felt like I had to ask you something:
      what countries are you referring to exactly by “Eastern Europe?”.
      Can you name at least 5 Central-Eastern European countries by heart?
      Do you know the region and its political, economical issues and/or interests, historical background?

      The majority of the countries in this region have been EU members for at least 10 years, and are quite far from the late ’80 stereotypical picture that some people think about E-Central Europe.
      A few examples -with firearm references to be on topic- : the Czech Republic (home to CZ, Ceska Zbrojovka), Slovakia (Grand Power pistols), Croatia ( HS 2000 becoming famous as the Springfield XD), Slovenia, Poland ( MSBS ) and Hungary ( AMD-65, PA-63 ) .

      About this “corruption (…) is written into their DNA” matter: it’s simply not true and is quite offending, to be honest.
      Please, be respectful and do research before drawing conclusions, it may hurt other people.

      WIth friendly regards, a European TFB reader:


      • Sixshot6

        I didnt mean to offend anyone Adam and I am very sorry. I am familiar with CE European History. I’m actually glad for Grandpower as they created a nice uk legal pistol and are in the process of making another one that I am interested in finding out about. I know that living under communism wasn’t conductive to having a good healthy atmosphere. Until recently I had contact with a girl from not far from where I live but who was born in Poland and for the first 7 years of her life lived in that system. I am also aware of countries like Bulgaria living under the Ottomans and the balkans under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Maybe if things had worked different and Kaiser Wilhelms father had not died so young and Archduke Ferdinand not died and had the chance to implement parliamentary democracy of the kind seen in the Uk, Austrialia, Canada and New Zealand (and those countries are in the top 10 least corrupt, though not the uk sadly, it has taken a beating with scandals relating to stuff you are probably aware of). Basically none of us live in this alternate universe where ww1 and possibly ww2 didnt happen. We got what we got and to misquote Edmund Burke. Evil got to triumph as good men stood by and did nothing.

        In Hindsight the world we live in today is a result of some bad luck and a stupid fool who in another time would just have been a common criminal. Best of luck to the future I suppose?

        • eddie d.

          Sixshot, no problem man!
          The region -including my country- sure has its problems,
          but we’re making progress. Well, most times.
          The recent events in the Ukraine are very sad and alarming though.

          Back to guns and your question: well, it’s a tough one.
          I don’t think any company can take the place of the Kalashnikov Concern.
          Way too many brands and models under one umbrella.
          When it comes to quality, Bulgarian firearms are the obvious alternative IMO.
          As you may well know, Arsenal AKs which enjoy the best rep alongside VEPRs come from Arsenal Bulgaria.
          It’d be a wise step for them to pick up the manufacture of additional models of AK origin. Of course they don’t have the licences of the shotguns etc. , and even if they did, that would immediately exclude them from the US export/import list, because of the “interest/connection with Kalashnikov Concern”.

          The Turkish can make some great guns too, like the licensed MP5s, the Hatsan Escort MPA or the Canik 55 TP9,
          but they don’t produce any AKs as far as I know.

          As for Romania and Romarm: I don’t know much about them to be honest.
          Referring to a Hungarian defense industry article I’ve read,
          small arms such as the PSL are generally produced by state-owned Romarm which has a dozen of subsidiaries.
          I don’t know about the import plans of US companies,
          but I guess the gears are already grinding hard trying to find new sources.
          Romanian facilities could be a possible answer.

          Interesting fact: Romanian company CRIABO Defense & Security recently bought the license of the Hungarian .50 BMG
          (or 12.7x108mm Russian) anti materiel rifle Sero GM6 Lynx,
          which they will be making under the designation Gepard GM6,
          with the help of several Romanian state-owned defense companies like IOR Bucharest and Romarm.

          I wish our Romanian friends good luck for the production, the Gepards are great guns, especially the GM6.
          I have to admit I’m quite proud it was designed in Hungary.

          • Sixshot6

            I suggested the Rom WASR as like the saiga Sporter, its normal version had a single stack mag. so move the trigger back, maybe put on a sporting monte carlo stock And Viola instant Saiga sporter repro. Also put a fab defence Aluminium forend with the stock on as standard and you can have central scope mounting. Sure you need covers to stop from going ahh f**king Spiders but it helps. I have a VZ58 from CSA. I don’t know if you know about the trigger release they have made for the uk market, but its the closest thing we have here to semi auto. Well its called the MARS rifle. One the subject of the shotguns, my question is does anyone know what patents KC holds on them and what we know to be public domain stuff? If you can make a shotgun that is similar but can avoid what is definately patent/copyright protected it should be good to produce a copy. Be careful with that though, as Winchester had an Auto 5 copy back in the day called that was nicknamed the window maker, due to the deaths caused by using it due to them scrimping on patent protected stuff that was necessary for safe operation. Have a nice day. Is that rife semi or bolt? Might be a possiblity for some people I know in Canada as very few 50 bmg semis are legal there, due to a list of banned makes and models.

          • Sixshot6

            Also how come nobody has thought instead of an AR or AK shotgun and this is me thinking of the Turkish companies making HK stuff. Why not a G3 derived Shotgun?

          • eddie d.

            I don’t think anyone would think about designing a G3 based shotgun. Complicated and bulky even in .308 size, kicks hard, rollers get worn out, tears up brass, doesn’t have a monolithic rail top (stamped steel receiver), and quite an outdated design.
            The MP5 is the only gun in that product family that still goes strong.

            About the Gepards: several of the earlier models are bolt action, there’s even a single shot version in the lineup, but the M6 is semi auto. A Canadian company import it, so it must be legal, with local restrictions of course. Don’t know if Sero even makes the earlier versions anymore by the way.

          • Sixshot6

            Well from people I know in Canada, if its not on the prohibited list and it passes muster with with the RCMP (though the recent thing with CZ 858’s and swiss arms rifles that had been legal for years shows how an state body can possibly abuse the powers they have). it gets imported. The bolts and singles would be uk legal, but there are not many 50 BMG ready ranges in the uk, nearest one to me is in Cumbria, more than a 3 hour drive away, also they are all military ranges and while open to civilians, there use is restricted and non military use was cut down a couple of years ago. But still doable, but mainly held back, by the price of guns and ammo. I thought would mention the outdated design and the rollerbock design eating up brass. I just asked, because if you don’t ask, you never find out. I believe French Famas has the same problem and since they cant make a new gun and the facility that made the ammo that worked with it is shut down, they’re likely to go with a european made AR, possibly the HK 416 (HK could use a new government contract about now).

      • Sixshot6

        On a slightly more positive note, which companies in those areas do you think will fill the hole that is now there from a lack of Saiga Sporters? Do you think RomArms or what they are called could make something similar out of the WASR 10’s?

    • dp

      What you say is apparently as close to reality as it can be. The life (if you can call civil war in those terms) is largely run by bunch of power thirsty oligarchs. It does not even deserve name ‘republic’. Yet, I know that there is lot of talent and genuine culture in individual regions of that ‘country’. It just must find a different arrangement how to co-exist in peace and prosperity.

      • Sixshot6

        Life is about compromise to an extent, some things should never be compromised like Freedom of Speech and general freedoms that me can never be guaranteed by a piece of paper but by the people who practice them. However for the rest, it is more complicated, its why the middle east is as it is and what is happening in Ukraine is happening. Somewhere down the line you have to deal with certain people and find out if they can be reasoned with or at least bargained with. If neither of those options are realistic, then….. I don’t like to think what happens next. Hell I looked at a globe I received as child (I was born in 1988), and even living that long some countries names have changed and split up and become new countries. That is the reality too dp,

        • dp

          Thank you for your feedback Sixshot!
          As you correctly stated with “reasonable people you can reason” and come to agreement on basic principle and that is necessity of going along with each other. This however does not apply for fanatics, usurpators and unscrupulous crooks.

          • Sixshot6

            You are welcome. I do not like to think what we have to do those groups of people you list. I fear when we deal with one group of them, it is like the Hydra. You cut off one head and another grows, so sad.

        • DiverEngrSL17K

          Well said — you have expressed in a nutshell the incredibly complicated and diverse aspects of the human condition. It is very easy to talk about standing up to unlawful rule and dictatorships, etc., and of steadfastly upholding the principles of right versus wrong, but it is not so simple in the real world. Especially when one has to take into account the real threat to one’s livelihood, family, personal well-being and social and material standings, coupled with the added dynamic complexities of nationalistic propaganda, patriotism and convincing appeals ( whether true, half-true or otherwise ) to collective survival.

          • Sixshot6

            Although this started as a result of one of my darker moments I’m glad I managed to get people thinking about complex issues, that are above us all. We can all only do what is humanly possible. I also had one more think of what DP said and the three groups he mentioned, the unscrupulous crooks can some of the time be reasoned with, but mainly by virtue of them not being able to make money once their head has been blown off. The Fanatics and usurpers on the other hand, I’m not sure how to deal with them, only that it may involve horrendous violence to stop them in their tracks. I saw a discussion on comments of the head of JCB about his comment on sanctions on Russia hurting them. Some thought democracy and the like had to take a front and others were with him on them. My view, the talk about Democracy, freedom and the like is great and all, but the people working at JCB will mainly care about whether they can look after their families. Its all well and good leaders on six figure salaries saying their economies can cope, they have to go and convince the people in their countries they affect that its worth it, they might not like the answer. I don’t have the answer but that is my take on that and many other views that affect the world today.

      • Sixshot6

        Hell this ‘real -politic’ is screwing people over. I feel most sorry for the people working for the Russian companies that are sanctioned who will be low level people working a job that may lose work due to less business and American gun owners who are denied a basic tenant of capitalism to buy what they choose, which is Saiga rifles and shotguns. The import of them hasnt been banned in the UK (yet) but the main dealer has trouble getting them in now (though he had trouble before the problems started, one of the joys of living in gun unfriendly uk),

  • M

    Not really breaking news, nor is it suprising. Early in the conflict I remember seeing footage of Rebels lining up behind a truck while they passed out crates of 7N6. I remember going: “Hey…. I know what that is….”

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      It is really unfortunate that the common people on all sides will once again have to suffer for the vainglorious ambitions of a few, whether those latter be the principal antagonists in the conflict ( Ukrainian politicians versus pro-Russian Ukrainian rebel leaders ), or whether they are ostensibly on the “outside” looking in ( Russian leaders on the one hand and U.S. and EU politicians on the other, all hoping directly or indirectly to gain some advantage and influence at the others’ expense ). Add to that the long and convoluted social, economic and ethnic history pertaining to the region, toss in a good dose of corruption and the will to power on the part of those who can afford to indulge, and we have a volatile mixture simmering just under the surface. It brings to mind those two proverbs of how “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” ; and “When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled ; when elephants make love, the grass still gets trampled”.

      • Herp

        It’s hard not to get political in these threads and I hope I’m not pushing the envelope with this. Here’s what I have to say: common people NEVER have to suffer over the vainglorious ambitions of a few. If they suffer it’s because they choose not to act outside the influence of existing social constructs. They have resources and brains. They can choose to be civilized. They are free agents. Nobody can make them fight on another’s behalf.

        • DiverEngrSL17K

          A very good point, Herp, and thanks for your input! I will add, though, that there are a lot of intervening complications in this sort of equation, such as overt and subtle threats to one’s family in order to make one “toe the line”, the threat of social and material disenfranchisement, and also the ever-popular subtle hint of what might happen to oneself if directives are disobeyed. These methods are usually all used in conjunction with one another to some degree ( and adjusted to suit a given situation as seen fit ), and when skilfully combined with propaganda and appealing calls to national pride, unity and so on, can be an extremely powerful means of coercion that even the most aware, determined and hard-neaded will have a difficult time resisting. We should also keep in mind that not all people are privy to the sort of awareness and depth of understanding you or I are privileged to have, so manipulating such individuals often does not take as much effort. A close look at the history of the human race will bear this out to no uncertain degree.

          Thankfully, there have been times in that same history — though never enough — when a collective spirit and the right juxtaposition of circumstances have resulted in people choosing ( and therefore risking life, limb and everything or everyone they cherish ) to act outside of the social constructs you mentioned. It is the fact that such uprisings against manipulation and dictatorial ambitions actually do occur that keep me still hopeful for the future of the human race. It has been said that the Age Of Information, i.e., the Internet, has made it a lot easier for more people to reach out, learn, and be aware of the world they live in, but we should also keep in mind that the “few” with the will to power are not going to stand idly by. They can and will find ways and means to use that same Internet to serve their own ends. Like any other resource or weapon, the Internet is a two-edged sword. The competition for hearts and minds on the Web is therefore like any other arms race — at a given period in time, and with the aid of a certain methodology or innovation, one side will have the upper hand, followed by countermeasures that give the advantage to the opposite side until the former comes up with a counter-countermeasure, and so on.

  • dp

    No wonder. I have read a stories of utter corruption and disarray in that country long before last hostilities (following Kiev antigovernment Banderite coup) broke out.
    Anyone who knows some basics about history of that part of wold will know that country is not self-sustainable.

  • Jon

    Its a lost batte against ignorance, but the weapon he is holding and speaking about is a AK not a AK-47.

    The AK-47 is a very rare and preciated rifle, very little quantity were made.

    • Popular movie. There are two types of people in the world, those who know what an AK-47 is, those who don’t.

    • Sixshot6

      Very True, original AK’s have milled not stamped receivers, strangely early chinese one’s had milled receivers too.

      • Bubba

        They very first AK-47s were stamped. But they didn’t hold up very well so they were made for 2 years or so. They are very rare now, but are easily recognized because the front trunnion of these guns are exposed.

        So in the early 50s they were temporarily replaced with milled guns until the builders could solve the issued with durability. This gun was also called the AK-47. In the mid 50s the design was revised again and the milled guns were lightened.These guns are rarely seen in the west today but is fairly common in Africa and the East.

        In 1959 they had solved the technological issues of making stamped steel guns and started production of the AKM. This model and copies of it are very common throughout the world.

        • Sixshot6

          I only knew part of the story, I knew some early models were stamped before the milled but did not know why the temporary change over to milled. Thank you, you learn something new everyday. My only com block gun is a VZ58 and its milled and I don’t know for sure but I hear people say it is lighter than a stamped AK, any credibility to this?

          • Jon

            VZ-58 is one of the best gun ever produced, it’s lighter, at least as reliabe as a AK and slightly more accurate. Take care of your gun.

          • Sixshot6

            I will do, mine is the 223 model and fitted with a ar magwell adapter and despite what people say will work with some polymer mags. I know a mod for the Magpul E mag, that makes them work a treat.

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            Jon said it before I did, and he is correct. I have two vz.58’s, an AKM and an AK-74, and will definitely vouch for what he says. Regardless, they are all solid, excellent rifles that will not let you down even in the most extreme circumstances.

          • Sixshot6

            Thanks, also I must be keeping this and another thread alive, how long are they kept going? I’m just talking as I like talking to people and finding out stuff. You keep answering, I’ll keep asking. Also does anyone know why instead of the Lada rifle that died a death, the czechs and slovaks during the height of the cold war never thought to make a 5.45×39 VZ? If a 223 one can be made a 5.45×39 should be a doddle.

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            That is an excellent question. I am thinking that what was then Czechoslovakia probably found that the 7.62mm x 39 cartridge fulfilled all present and anticipated requirements and saw no need to adopt the 5.45mm x 39 round ( or any other caliber for that matter ) along with the associated complexities and expense of re-tooling, logistics, retraining and re-equipping. Also, Czechoslovakia had always followed an independent way of doing things while still recognizing the reality of Soviet influence and therefore having to nominally be a member of the Warsaw Pact ( a good example of this was the adoption of the Soviet 7.62mm x 39 cartridge over the home-grown 7.62mm x 45 cartridge, first used in the vz.52 rifle, in the new vz.58 which had a superficial external resemblance to the AK-47/AKM, but which was in fact a completely different design ). It may also be possible that some far-thinking Czech leaders of the time foresaw the possibility of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and a change in alliances more orientated towards the West and NATO, or at least a closer relationship with the latter if nothing else. These are, of course, only my opinions on the subject. I am perfectly willing to concede that I might be wrong, and if so, other contributions are welcome as they can only add to our collective knowledge.

            There are some very knowledgeable contributors who will probably have a more accurate perspective on this topic than I do, namely :

            1. Max Popenker (, TFB & Forgotten Weapons )

            2. dp ( TFB, and I believe he was from Czechoslovakia )

            3. Denny ( Forgotten Weapons, and also from Czechoslovakia )

            4. Leszek Erenfeicht ( Forgotten Weapons )

            If I have left anyone else’s name off this distinguished roster, I do extend my deepest and sincerest apologies. Having said this — gentlemen, if you get to read this, can you help in answering the question? Thanks very much in advance.

          • Sixshot6

            Ok, will any of the guys tell me I ask them here, calling all of you guys please tell as close to the truth as possible please. Also they did have the Lada rifle in production as I mentioned but their hearts didnt seem to be in. Maybe they did foresee a breakup of the Soviet Union, alot of people who didnt live in it could see it was not the threat some people mentioned or as strong. Enoch Powell and some others called this out the decade before hand.

        • Jon

          Bubba, first production rifles were named AK or Kalashnikov by its users, only western inteligence used AK-47 name.

      • Wetcoaster

        Not as strange as it seems. Remember when the Chinese first set up to make AKs, their economy was still more agrarian than industrialized. Labour and smaller machine tools were probably initially cheaper or at least more available than the tooling needed to stamp out receivers.

        I think what’s more interesting to me is that they felt it necessary to use thicker metal in their stamped guns and that one of the design goals of the Type 80 rifle was to improve reliability over the Type 56.

        • Sixshot6

          Don’t you mean the type 80 rifle? I think the type 80 is a pistol, but I believe you mean the type 81, its rifle that takes from the ak, dragunov and sks (the piston is a short stroke like an sks).
          this one then? I believe the type 97 bullpups that are sold in Canada are basically a bullpup version of it. Someone was also talking about Norinco making a semi auto only 81 and selling in the great white North, but with how long the mounties take to improve stuff, its either been denied (as an AK variant when its a much an AK as a Mazda is a Ferrari) or still being looked at. I won’t see one due to UK laws and you won’t see one due to the executive order of 1995 for the US. I have my VZ58 so I’m not too bummed though.

          • Wetcoaster

            Sorry, yes the Type 81. The World’s Assault Rifles by Gary Paul Jones and Thomas B. Nelson mentions that stamped Type 56 receivers are 1.5mm sheet metal like the RPK instead of 1mm like other AKs.

            The Type 86 is the bullpup derivative of the AKM. The Type 97 is a new design.

          • Sixshot6

            So a whole 0.5mm thicker, that must be why you see so many Type 56’s still on the US market after all these years? I know the type 86 is a bullpup ak, I was just led to believe the 97 was an 81 bullpup, especially as the chinese military version, QBZ 95 is 5.8×42 and a prototype rifle based on the 81 called the 87 was in that caliber. I have seen sources that say less than 2000 semi auto 86’s are in the US, have you seen one?

          • Wetcoaster

            No, I’m in Canada, so no 86’s here. There was a 81 derivative that uses the QBZ 95’s 5.8mm ammo, maybe as a backup in case the 95’s didn’t work out.

            I’d love to read a side-by-side comparison of the Type 86 and the other more recent East Euro bullpups based on the AK. Is there something about the AK’s design that just makes it easier adapt to a bullpup layout, or was that just the flavour of the time?

          • Sixshot6

            The 81 derivative was the 87 and I’m guessing you have a type 97? So who was it that was supposed to import the semi auto 81’s and any news on that front? I know the mounties declared the Akdal m1919 to be an AR variant, despite what we’ve all discussed on the previous post (its one of their tube mag shotties converted to use detachable mags and dressed up in AR clothing), but its a long stretch to call the 81 an AK, plenty of non restricted guns use AR magazines in Canada, so tell me why a non-restricted gun should not be able to use AK mags? If all else fails, why has no one and I mean no one in Canada, taken some Valmet Hunters and 78 (including the rare 7.62×39 version) to reverse engineer copies from? If Norc’s AR copies are treated like regular AR’s, their copies of those should be treated no different. Am I missing something?

          • Wetcoaster

            I don’t have a Type 97, but they are available again. The second version apparently passed RCMP muster (the first initially passed, but was then re-evaulated as being too easy to convert to full automatic by whatever criteria the RCMP labs use)

            It’s a long stretch, but the original named prohibition somehow groups the SVD under the AK category for the ban instead of naming it individually, so…

            I’m not sure which of the importers is working on the Type 81. As for the Type 86, I’m just reading off the description on books and the modern firearms website that it was developed for export and based explicitly on the Type 56 (AK) action even after the PLA had moved on to the Type 81.

            Type 81 mags are apparently different from AK mags. Type 81 magazines can be used in AKs, but not vice-versa because AK mags lack the cut outs for the Type 81’s bolt hold-open device.

            I can almost guarantee you that any attempt to make a Valmet Hunter clone would fall afoul of the AK-type ban. The Valmets were granted a specific exemption from the AK ban. I think you’d have to re-start Valmet (it no longer exists) and start making those specifc models again to remain kosher.

            As a final aside, Canada by itself isn’t large enough market for Norinco to invest in tooling specifically for it. All of the firearms we get from them are basically produced on machinery already in place for other purposes:

            Shotguns are still exportable in the US, and are also used domestically by Chinese LE/MIL

            Type 97, 1911s, and M4 clones are also exported to foreign LE/MIL (One run of 1911 ‘police’ editions were over-run from filling a contract for a Phillipines police dept and their MP5 clones are seen there as well).

            The M14s are exported to New Zealand and Europe as well, and that tooling was either meant for supplying the US market (pre-import ban) or fifth columnist guerillas during the cold war (Taiwan, South Korea, and the Phillipines all used M14s at some point).

            The M16A1 clone’s background is probably similar since it seems like an odd configuration for civilian export.

            Probably like the Czechs with the long-barelled vZ-58s, the Chinese are willing to produce modified configurations for the Canadian market (presumably why we have Type 97’s again), but not to the extent of making all-new designs and tooling.

          • Sixshot6

            I hear you on that, though my VZ58 was made with the uk in mind. Its not a straight pull bolt or a self-loader, its hard to describe and I did link to a vid on another post but I’ll show you what it is here.

            I just thought a remake on different toolings was doable for the valmet models. It is an odd variant for a civilian market for the AR15A1 you are right, probably is a hangover from some insurgency that never happened. I think possibly ak mags could be modified to work, there is a guy that showed how to mod ak mags to hold the bolt open on ak rifles like Yugo and Croat mags which were designed to hold the bolt open.
            I know the laws on mag capacitys in Canada for semi auto long arms are 5 rounds, but…. AR pistols mags (in fact any pistol mags that exist), 50 Beowulf 5 round mags that can hold 15 rounds of 223 and unmodified 40 s&w/.357 sig mags that can hold 12-14 rounds of 9mm, those exemptions. Don’t you have a supply of mags that were designed for the AIA enfield bolts from when the company still existed? I know the rifles are rare (my dad passed up the opportunity to get one and they are hens teeth rare in the uk, I told him he was fool for letting one pass by). Those mags are 10 rounders, so possibly if you could get some mags labelled as for the AIA, give then the cut away needed, then you would have mags that worked for the 81 and 10 rounders to boot, or am I missing something here that could land someone in trouble?

          • Sixshot6

            Also, is the AK ban why you didnt get any Saiga shotguns before the recent SHTF recently? Were they treated as AK variants?

          • Wetcoaster

            That would be it exactly. I can’t say I was particularly surprised about the Sig rifle reclassification. In the original importer’s words:

            It appears there was a miscommunication and that the Classic Green/Black Special/Blue Star/etc. civilian rifles were not SG540 derivatives, but SG550 derivatives (The 540s are legal, the 550s were banned by name along with many of the other guns) and that the RCMP lab did not actually examine one in person.

            No clue when they discovered that oversight, but I suspect they must have known for a while before the re-classification.

            Mind you, in one forum thread, I did point-blank ask an owner why his gun had come with a SG55x series owner’s manual if it was not actually a 55x gun as claimed. (I got the vague ‘differences’ answer).

          • Sixshot6

            Good comment, I guess that difference in model makes all the difference. Its why the Famae’s are legal right? Also I noticed on the Mako groups website that E lander makes a 15 round 223 magazine that is actually the size for it? Any possibility of being able to ‘re-label’ them 50 beowulf and have a better quality magazine? Though I do hear the PCV mags are pretty good now. You have any experience with them? I wish all Canadians with those rifles well in getting their problem resolved. Its not their fault.

          • Wetcoaster

            You got it. The FAMAE’s are 540 derivatives, so are unaffected by the 550 prohibition. In theory, if you had a new rifle that traced direct lineage to the original AR-10, it would be unrestricted.

            In practice, all modern 7.62mm ARs are new designs scaled up from AR-15s and you’d have a hell of time making that particular case if it was even possible.

   looks like the current importer for SG540/542 rifles from Chile. At one point they had a few Type 88 sniper rifles too, so they might well be the importer working on the Type-81. Canada Ammo and Marstar have also led importing efforts from China or the Czechs before, so they are other possibilities.

          • Sixshot6

            has anyone ever seen any of these AR10’s that were imported into Canada in the 60’s then? I remember hearing that the AR180B’s were popular when they were being made as they were close to a non restricted AR. Has anyone got any word on whether Armalite will make them again? I damn nearly when I was baby emigrated to Canada with my parents. I guess I’d having my own issues with gun laws there, not as bad as the uk, but still annoying. What is the word on Ares SCR rifles? Restricted or Non-Restricted?

          • Wetcoaster

            I don’t know if anyone’s submitted an example to the RCMP yet, but barring something unusual (since it’s designed for the US civilian market), it would be restricted on account of barrel length.

            Privately refitting an 18.5″ or 18.6″ barrel would let it be re-evaulated as non-restricted (like a number of M1 carbines). Alternately, if the factory produces a run of Canadian market guns, they should also be classified as non-restricted.

            This is actually the case for a lot of newer US-made military-style semi-autos.

            (I say military-style because the design and accessories are directed towards tactical uses, even if they often fail to win LE/MIL orders)

          • Sixshot6

            I only say what would be its restriction status as it can take AR uppers, mind they seem a bit inconsistent in this regard (the AK M1919, that are just a shotgun dressed up to look like an AR, you’re chances of running a .223 upper on them are nill, but the RCMP wouldn’t hear it I guess). If its Non-restricted its a good way of having a rifle that takes AR mags that you can shoot wherever. Rather than a range toy. Well the website mentions 16.25 inches barrels for carbine and 18 inches for rifles. So it means a Canadian run to get it to 18.5 or 18.6 might be needed. Also is there an min OAL by law?

          • Wetcoaster

            Overall length requirement in Canada is usually interpreted as being at least 26″ OAL.

            The is it or isn’t it an AR thing is one of those vexing things. There’s a leaked RCMP memor regarding their concern over the Mossberg 715, which has no relation at all (and is currently non-restricted). The Umarex guns (Colt M4-22, HK416-22, S&W MP15-22) are all classified as restricted although the degree to which they are actually related to an AR-15 is highly questionable.

            Yes, the AR-18s were popular for a time before there was more choice in the tactical style semi-auto rifle market. (The Mini-14 was always available, after all).

            There are aftermarket magazine wells/lower receivers for G36/SL8 and the Swiss Arms rifles that let them take AR magazines (also stocks and grips in some cases).

            As well, the SCAR-L and Robinson Arms rifles (and ACR and Tavor and Type 97 and…) all take AR magazines, so non-restricted guns that take AR-magazines aren’t uncommon at all

          • Sixshot6

            I was aware of the choices of non-restricted guns that take AR mags, you missed out the two Variants of the Kel tec SU16, the F and X, the X being dressed up in AR like furniture. I know the F is like the CA model and can fold but not fire folded, so overall length must also be based on functionality too (I’ve heard of a similar thing in Russia with some Saiga rifes that are short and have folded stocks, they have a firing pin block that stops them from firing folded to keep the overall length). You also missed out Magwells for VZ58’s, I know as I have one but it only works with GI mags and some polymers (mine works with Magpul E mags, though a little bit at the bad of the feed lips need cutting off to not interfere with the last round bolt hold open). . What exactly were the details of this leaked memo if I may ask?

          • Wetcoaster

            It was not meant to be an exhaustive list.

            The Colt Canada ARs are exactly what they say they are. People have been complaining about the price because a single importer managed to get their own import permits for Colt USA guns and has been brining 6920’s etc. at close to US prices (They were running close to $2700 CAD new just two-three years ago if you could find them).

            Memo here:

          • Sixshot6

            Some parts of it are blocked out, any reason why? Also if that is the case and you can get a US Colt cheaper, that may be the way to go. Incidentally what is the quality of Colts these days compared to modern manufactures? I know of North Eastern Arms as straight pull versions of their AR’s are for sale in the uk and some .22lr semi autos they made, they have a good reputation, so what is colt at the side of these newer companies? Is it a case of paying for a name?

          • Wetcoaster

            NEA’s repuatation in the Canadian market is a bit mixed, and there are some less than satisfied customers. Some odd QA hang ups. For example, their uppers and lowers don’t always interchange reliably with other manufacturers. Register on Canadian Gun Nutz and you can probably find a few threads.

            Also, they made a run of aftermarket 870 shotgun barrels that somehow ended up being parkerized on the inside as well as the outside.

            Colts are generally regarded as excellent. Remember that they were going for $2700 CAD when Stags were closer to the $1500-$1800 mark (all AR prices have dropped – sometimes substantially – in the last year. Probably partly from the Colt importer, but also because of new wave of low-cost ARs like the Norinco CQ-A and the Core-15).

            Colts used to be close to the most expensive ARs available next to niche manufacturers like KAC.

            NEA were aiming at the entry-level price range when the AR market was still tight.

            Incidentally, there never seems to be a whole lot of RRA guns available. Questar (one of the importers that stock them) used to be perpetually back ordered. I have no idea if that situation has changed since then.

          • Sixshot6

            if I lived in Canada, I’d probably opt for a stag due to them making uppers with left-handed ejection (I’m a lefty, its why I like the VZ58). Its a shame that the only new Stags that sell in their own state is their 22 conversions due to how their last gun bill defined the action of a centrefire semi auto. So what is the quality like of the Norinco’s? I see them sell in Italy and a few places in Europe too, though in Italy’s case its because the Euro and their own laws make American guns expensive (I know the post sept 11 stuff didn’t help, but still). A Bushmaster AR there can go for 3000 euros, which is 4383.35. So you can see the appeal. I also noticed polytech AR’s with 20 inch barrel that are sorta in the the spirit of A1 AR’s are there for sale, they even have a model 1:12 rifle twist, though I know from what I know that 1:9 is the way to go. I believe Stag arms that are 22s are gonna sell in the uk soon, basically I think they’re just the centrefire ones with a conversion kit in. I might get on the future, is it a wise purchase?

          • Wetcoaster

            I have no idea on the Stag .22s. You should check on a US site.

            The Norcs work, but QC can be hit or miss in some cases. The handguards are a known issue – they are out of spec, so aftermarket handguards (Magpuls are popular) sometimes have trouble fitting. The M4 clones are a 1-in-9 twist barrel with a flat top upper.

            Register with CGN and you’ll probably find a whole pile of threads regarding them.

          • Sixshot6

            Thanks, I guess Chicom manufacture is what it is, I guess how the AR is, it needs a certain way to be good, the M14’s won’t suffer so much due to having a forged receiver. Thank you very much and have a nice day.

          • Sixshot6

            Also what is the deal with these Colt of Canada AR’s are they any better than any other AR’s out there, or just an expensive gimmick?

  • Hagge

    All the ammo I buy for my AKM is from Ukrainian surplus. I home it is not stolen…

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    Eddie d. & Sixshot6 :

    I have to say that your mutual discussions and exchanges are not only very informative and educational, but are also couched in the best spirit of what TFB was intended to be — open-minded, civil, respectful even as opinions differ, and with the obvious goal of learning from each other — definitely NOT the mere, sweeping arrogant posturing and worthless antagonistic commentary one sees too often.

    You have both set a good example for all to follow.

    • Sixshot6

      Thank you, I wrote my first comment in bad spirits and was in a dark place and later felt bad for it, but with what you stated is what makes this blog a good place for discussion I took some valid points reevaluated what I thought was the better idea after some consideration, decided on what I wrote which is pretty much… what I will now stand by. We live in the world we have, not what could have been. It does no good to resort to name calling so I am glad to have played a part in shaping that discussion. I so hope that we all have more positive things to discuss in the future and not that chaos and that hope goes to everyone on this blog. I don’t hate the cranks we get here, I feel sorry and pity them. I wish everyone here the best.

    • eddie d.

      Why thanks a lot, my good Sir. 🙂
      Good to be here, I learn an awful lot by reading the news, articles and comments.
      Makes for a great information source for firearm enthusiasts.
      Go TFB!

  • Toms

    Those rebels play CJ like a fiddle. Early on he interviewed some key players and seemed to believe that they were not Russian intelligence. This was all before heavy Russian involvement became common knowledge. Most of the supplies Russia is feeding to the rebels came from the huge stockpiles they captured in Crimea. Thus Russia kills two birds with one stone, supplying an insurgency with discretion, making it look homegrown, and doing so for free, minus the small transportation fee.

    • Max Popenker

      It’s funny how often “common knowledge” is put forward before the truth. Like, you know, “it’s common knowledge that Saddam has chemical weapons”

  • mosinman

    i didn’t know that scene from Lord of War had VZ.58s instead of AKs
    honestly i think the VZ.58s would be an even better choice to equip an army than an AK-47