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Type 81

Assault rifle

Type 81

The Type 81 was the standard issue infantry weapon with the PLA for the last 20 years

Caliber 7.62 x 39 mm
Weight (empty) 3.5 kg
Length 955 mm
Length (with folded stock) -
Barrel length 445 mm
Muzzle velocity ~ 720 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 650 rpm
Practical rate of fire 40 - 100 rpm
Magazine capacity 30 rounds
Sighting range 500 m
Range of effective fire ~ 400 m


   The Chinese army had never been wholly satisfied with its Type 56 (license-produced version of the Soviet AK-47) performance. 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 a new indigenous assault rifle. A prototype was ready in 1980. Its initial production commenced in 1983. This assault rifle was adopted with the Chinese army in 1986. It replaced the obsolete Type 56 assault rifle and Type 63 carbine. For the past 20 years it was the standard-issue infantry weapon in service with the PLA. Export operators are Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and some other Asian and African countries. Bangladesh obtained a license to produce these weapons locally. Currently the Chinese Type 81 assault rifles are replaced with the QBZ-95. A large number of ex-military rifles was transferred to law enforcement forces.

   The Type 81 is a gas operated, selective fire weapon, chambered for the Soviet 7.62x39 mm ammunition. This assault rifle incorporate many AK-47 design features, but overall it is a new design, rather than clone. Tests showed that the Type 81 is much more accurate than the AK-47 and much more controllable in full automatic mode. 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.

   A safety / fire mode selector is located on the left side of the receiver. It is much less clunky and faster to use. It has "safe", "semi-auto", and "full-auto" settings.

   This weapon is typically fed from 30-round box magazines. This magazine is externally similar to that of the AK, however these magazines are not interchangeable. The Type 81 is also compatible with 75-round drum magazine and 20-rouns special purpose magazine.

   Initial production rifles had a fixed wooden stock. Only 40 000 of these assault rifles were made, before production switched over to the Type 81-1 with side-folding metal stock.

   The Type 81 comes with adjustable iron sights. It has a sighting range of 500 m. There is no provision for any kind of optic mounting. This assault rifle can launch rifle grenades. It is also compatible with a Type 91B 35-mm underbarrel grenade launcher, which is based on the US M203. A bayonet can be attached.




   Type 81-1 assault rifle, fitted with a side-folding metal stock. It replaced in production the original Type 81, as this model was cheaper to produce;

   Type 81 light machine gun, fitted with a heavy barrel, wooden stock, bipod and carrying handle. This weapon is typically used with 75-round drum magazines. It has a sighting range of 800 m. This LMG replaced the ageing Type 56 (RPD) in service with the PLA;

   Type 87 (QBZ-87) experimental assault rifle, chambered for the new Chinese 5.8 x 42 mm ammunition. It was used to develop and test cartridges for the next generation QBZ-95 assault rifle.

Type 81

Type 81

Type 81

Type 81

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