- For other similarly-named weapons, see Type 56.
The Type 56 assault rifle (Chinese: 56式自动步枪, 56 Shì zìdòng bùqiāng, literally meaning Type 56 automatic rifle) is a Chinese copy of the Soviet AK-47 and AKM assault rifles manufactured by Norinco and entered service in 1956 by the People's Liberation Army.
The Type 56 is often seen in many movies and television shows due to the difficulty in locating original, authentic Soviet AK-47s. In 1956, the Type 56 had a AK-47 milled receiver and the Type 56 produced after the 1960s has the AKM stamped receiver.
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 Soviet AK-47s by the fully enclosed front iron sight; Soviet AK-47s 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 Soviet AK-47s
- Type 56s have 1.5mm stamped receivers à la an RPK's as compared to 1mm stamped receivers as seen on Soviet AK-47s
- 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 Soviet 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 Soviet AK-47s 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.
The Type 56-1 is a variant with an underfolding stock, similar to the AKS-47 and AKMS.
The Type 56-2 is a variant with a side folding stock.
Iranian variant of the stamped receiver Type 56.
Iranian variant of the stamped receiver Type 56-1.
Sudanese variant of the stamped receiver Type 56 with under folding bayonet and is manufactured by Military Industry Corporation.
- The Type 56 is also commonly known under the designation "56式冲锋枪" in Chinese, which literally translates to "Type 56 submachine gun". The designation is generally used in tandem with "56式突击步枪" and "56式自动步枪" designations, which translates to "Type 56 assault rifle" and "Type 56 automatic rifle".