The Type 56 assault rifle (Chinese: 56式自動步槍, 56 Shì zìdòng bùqiāng, literally means Type 56 assault rifle) is a Chinese derivative of the Soviet AK and AKM assault rifles manufactured by Norinco and was adopted in 1956 by the Chinese armed forces. The Type 56 is often seen in movies about the Vietnam War mainly due to the difficulty in locating original, authentic Russian AKs.
Originally a near-identical (or possibly exact) copy of the AK-47 with a milled receiver, later production models are fitted with stamped receivers à la AKMs. The Type 56 can be visually distinguished from normal Russian AKs by the fully enclosed front iron sight; Russian AKs have a U-shaped front sight. Other than that, the Type 56 mixes and matches characteristics from the AK-47 and AKM and consolidates them into one weapon. Some characteristics include:
- As per above, the Type 56 has a fully-enclosed circular front iron sight, as opposed to the U-shaped front iron sight of normal Russian AKs
- Type 56s have 1.5mm stamped receivers à la an RPK's as compared to 1mm stamped receivers as seen on Russian AKs
- Type 56 barrels are similar to an AK-47's, but are heavier than an AKM's
- Type 56s have the double hook disconnector of an AK-47 compared to an AKM's
- May have a folding spike bayonet à la an SKS nicknamed the "pig sticker", as opposed to the detachable bayonets of the Russian AK-47s and AKMs; three different variations of these "pig stickers" have been sighted on the Type 56, with the Type 56s being the only derivative of the Russian AKs using spike bayonets
- Military-issued versions lack threading on the muzzle as seen on the AK-47 and AKM, which disallows the fitting of muzzle compensators or blank-firing adapters; commercial Type 56s may have threading on their muzzles
- Has a blued finish à la an AK-47, as compared to the black oxide or parkerized finish of the AKM
- Sights only adjust to 800 metres (2,600 feet; 870 yards) à la an AK-47, as opposed to 1,000 metres (3,300 feet; 1,100 yards) on an AKM
- Almost all Type 56s lack the side mount plate as seen on AK-47s and AKMs
- Gas relief ports on the Type 56 are located on the gas tube à la an AK-47 and not forward of the gas block like an AKM
- Type 56s do not have the AKM's hammer release delay device, likely due to the Chinese preferring a slightly higher rate of fire for their Type 56s
- Fixed stock is less in-line à la an AK-47, as compared to the AKM's straighter stock
During the Vietnam War, the Type 56 was used along with the AK-47 and AKM by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army from the 1960s to 1975.
During the Soviet–Afghan War (1979–1989), many Type 56s were supplied to Afghan Mujahideen guerrillas to fight Soviet forces by the China, Pakistan and the United States who obtained them from third party arms dealers.
The Type 56 was used extensively by Iran during the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988) and Iraq used a small number of the Type 56 during the war.
During the Croatian War of Independence (1991–1995) the Type 56 was used by the Croatian Armed Forces and also in the Bosnian War (1992–1995) the Type 56 was used both by Bosnia and Croatia. During the late 1990s, the Kosovo Liberation Army in Kosovo were also major users of the Type 56, with the vast majority of the weapons originating from People's Socialist Republic of Albania, which received Chinese support during much of the Cold War.
Use of the Type 56 in Afghanistan also continued well into the 1990s and the early 21st century as the standard rifle of the Taliban. When Taliban forces seized control of Kabul in 1996 (a majority of the Chinese small arms used by the Taliban were provided by Pakistan). Since the overthrow of the Taliban by U.S.-led Coalition forces in late 2001, the Type 56 has been utilized by the Afghan National Army, with many rifles serving alongside other AK-47 and AKM variants.
The Type 56 is regularly used by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Palestinian territories.
The Type 56-1 is a copy of the AKS-47 and AKMS. It also includes an under folding stock.
The Type 56-2 is the same as the Type 56-1 except it has a side folding stock instead of the under folding stock.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Central African Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- East Timor
- Iraqi Kurdistan
- Ivory Coast
- North Korea
- Republic of the Congo
- Sierra Leone
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
- United States
Former users Edit
- North Vietnam