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Type 56

Assault rifle

Type 56

The Type 56 was a standard-issue infantry weapon in China for over 30 years

 
 
Country of origin China
Entered service 1956
Caliber 7.62x39 mm
Weight (unloaded) 3.87 kg
Length 872 mm
Barrel length 415 mm
Muzzle velocity 710 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 600 rpm
Practical rate of fire 40 - 100 rpm
Magazine capacity 30 rounds
Sighting range 800 m
Range of effective fire 300 - 400 m

 

   During the 1950s China was the closest ally of the Soviet Union. At that time China was less developed and received a technological aid in a form of design package and manufacturing assistance for a number of Soviet infantry weapons. These included the SKS semi-automatic rifle, AK-47 assault rifle, RPD general purpose machine gun and other. Some local modifications were made to the AK-47 and it was adopted by the Chinese armed forces in 1956 as the Type 56. It was a standard-issue infantry weapon until the mid 1980s, when the Type 81 was adopted. That's more than 30 years! Currently it is still used by reserve units. The Type was exported to a number of countries. Though a dated design, it is still used throughout the world. Modern versions of this assault rifle are still produced in China for export and civilian customers. It is estimated that around 10-15 million of these assault rifles were produced in China.

   The Type 56 is similar to the AK-47. It is a gas-operated, selective fire weapon. It is chambered for a Soviet 7.62x39 mm ammunition. Though there are newer versions of this weapon, chambered for a standard NATO 5.56x45 mm ammunition. Initial production versions of the Type 56 had a milled receiver, but eventually production switched to a stamped receiver, that was cheaper to produced.

   This weapon is simple in design and technology. Build quality of the Type 56 was reportedly worse than that of the Soviet AK-47s. Some of these Chinese assault rifles lacked chrome plating in the barrel and gas system area, and thus were much less resistant to corrosion.

   Still though this weapon proved to be extremely reliable in all environments. The Type 56 do not jams or misfires in worst conditions possible. Also it is simple to use and to maintain. This assault rifle is perfectly suitable for poorly trained or untrained recruits.

   A fire mode selector switch has 3 positions for "safe", "semi-auto" and "full-auto". In "safe" position it blocks the trigger and prevents from loading the weapon. Also it serves as a dust cover.

   This assault rifle is fed from detachable 30-round capacity magazines. It is compatible with the Soviet AK-47 magazines.

   The baseline Type 56 comes with wooden furniture, made from solid wood.

   Unusual feature of this weapon is that it comes with an integral bayonet mount. It replaced a detacheable bayonet of the AK-47. When not in use, the bayonet is underfolded into the foregrip. It was influenced by the bayonet of the Type 56, a Chinese license-produced version of the Soviet SKS semi-automatic rifle. The Type 56 is the only AK-pattern assault rifle that uses such integral spike bayonets. However these cross-sectional bayonets were banned by Geneva convention on human warfare, as the wounds they produce do not close easily. Since the 1960s the bayonet on the Type 56 was optional. Some export operators completely removed their integral bayonets.

   This assault rifle has got simple iron sights. Maximum sighting range is 800 meters, though range of effective fire is limited to 300-400 meters. Though China's People Liberation Army was never fully satisfied with its performance.

 

Variants

 

   Type 56-1 is a version with an underfolding metal stock. It is a license-produced version of the Soviet AKS-47. The stock can be collapsed to reduce overall length of the weapon. An integral bayonet was optional. This assault rifle was intended for airborne troops and other soldiers, who needed a more compact weapon than the baseline Type 56.

   Type 56-1S or Type 56-4 is a civilian semi-automatic only version. It is chambered for a standard NATO 5.56x45 mm ammunition.

   Type 56-2 is an improved production version of the baseline Type 56. In the early 1960s the Soviets refused to give licenses to produce the improved AKM assault rifle and RPK light machine gun. This led Chinese to design an improved version of the Type 56 on their own. The new weapon was introduced in the 1980s. It came with a side-folding metal buttstock and was intended for all kinds of troops. Foregrip and pistol handle are made of polymer materials. Pistol grip had a different shape and resembled that of the Czechoslovak vz.58 assault rifle. On later production models the integral bayonet was completely discarded. Instead this weapon could mount a detachable knife-bayonet.

   Type 56C or QBZ-56C is a compact assault rifle with a shorter barrel. Its development began in 1988 and this weapon was introduced in 1991. It is fed from smaller 20-round magazines, though it can also accept standard 30-round magazines. Rear sight post is different. This weapon also has a different flash hider, resembling that of the Soviet AKMSU. This weapon was used in small number by some Chinese army units and Chinese navy.

   Type 06 is a modern version of the Type 56, chambered for a standard NATO 5.56x45 mm ammunition. It has an underfolding metal stock.

   Type 81 is a successor to the Type 56. The Chinese army had never been wholly satisfied with its Type 56 performance. This led Chinese to design a new indigenous assault rifle. The Type 81 incorporate many design features of the Type 56 and is chambered for the same 7.62x39 mm ammunition, but overall it is a new design. A prototype was ready in 1980. Its initial production commenced in 1983. This assault rifle was adopted as a standard-issue service rifle in 1986 and gradually replaced the Type 56. Some sources report that in terms of accuracy it is close to the US M16. Furthermore it has the same level of durability and reliability in adverse conditions as the Kalashnikov designs.

   KL-7.62 is an Iranian unlicensed copy of the Type 56. The original KL-7.62 was similar to the Type 56, however over the years some indigenous modifications were made. Later production models have a polymer stock and foregrip. Latest versions have a Picatinny-type scope rails.

   MAZ is a Sudanese license-produced copy of the Type 56.

 
Type 56

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Type 56

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Type 56

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Type 56

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Type 56

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Type 56

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Type 56-1

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