The Type 56 assault rifle is a Chinese copy of the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, which has been manufactured since 1956. It was produced by State Factory 66 from 1956-73, then by Norinco from 1973 onwards. Originally, the Type 56 was a direct copy of the AK-47, and featured a milled receiver, but starting in the mid-1960s, the guns were manufactured with stamped receivers much like the Soviet AKM. Visually, most versions of the Type 56 are distinguished from the AK-47 and AKM by the fully enclosed hooded front sight (all other AK pattern rifles, including those made in Russia, have a partially open front sight). Many versions also feature a folding bayonet attached to the barrel just aft of the muzzle. There are three different types of bayonets made for Type 56 rifles.
The Type 81 replaced the Type 56 in PLA service during the 1980s (which in turn was later replaced by the QBZ-95) but the Type 56 remains in production by Norinco for export customers.
The Type 56 is likely the most widely proliferated AK-47 type rifle in the world having shown up on battlefields in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, South America, etc. While exact production figures are not known, it is commonly estimated that as many as 10-15 million Type 56 rifles have been produced since the 1950s which means they may account for nearly one-fifth of the world's AK production.
Type 56 variants
- Type 56 – Basic variant introduced in 1956. Copy of AK-47 with fixed wooden stock and permanently attached spike bayonet. Beginning in the mid-1960s, the guns were manufactured with stamped receivers, mimicking the improved (and cheaper) Russian AKM, while the permanently attached bayonet became optional. The weapon is still used by Chinese reserve and militia units.
- Type 56-I – Copy of the AKS-47, with an under-folding steel shoulder stock and the bayonet removed. Like the original Type 56, milled receivers were replaced by stamped receivers in the mid-1960s, which made the Type 56-1 an equivalent to the Russian AKMS.
- Type 56-II – Improved variant introduced in 1980, with a side-folding stock. Export only.
- Type 56C (QBZ-56C) – Shortened barrel version introduced in 1991 for domestic and export market. The QBZ-56C began development in 1988, shortly after it was discovered that the Type 81 assault rifle was too difficult to shorten. The QBZ-56C as it is officially designated in China, is a shortened, carbine variant of the Type 56-II. The barrel length has been reduced to 280mm and overall length of the rifle is reduced, to 557mm long with the stock folded and 764mm long with the stock extended. The QBZ-56C weighs only 2.85 kg and has an effective range of up to 300m. The QBZ-56C is used by the People's Liberation Army Navy on both surface and submersible ships and with the People's Liberation Army Special Operations Forces as a limited issue weapon, the QBZ-56C is also in limited use by PLA reserve forces and militia stationed in Tibet, as the thinner air at higher altitudes strains soldiers' ability to carry heavy objects. In order to further lighten the total weight of the weapon the bayonet lug was removed; the QBZ-56C is often carried with a twenty round box magazine, although it is capable of accepting a standard Type 56 thirty round magazine.
- Type 56S or Type 56 Sporter – civilian version with only semiautomatic mode.
- Type 84S - A civilian version of the Type 56 rifle chambered for the 5.56x45mm NATO round.
|Type 56 Assault Rifle|
|Place of origin||People's Republic of China|
|Used by||Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Benin, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Malta, North Korea, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Vietnam |
|Wars||Vietnam War |
Laotian Civil War
Cambodian Civil War
Sri Lankan Civil War
Soviet war in Afghanistan
Croatian War of Independence
Cambodian–Thai border stand-off
War on Terror and numerous others
|Manufacturer||Norinco, Bangladesh Ordnance Factory (License-made)|
|Produced||1956 to present|
|Number built||10-15 Million|
|Variants||Type 56 Assault Rifle, Type 56-1 Assault Rifle, Type 56-2 Assault Rifle, QBZ-56C Assault Rifle, Type 56S, Type 84S rifle|
|Weight||Type 56: 4.03 kg (8.88 lb) |
Type 56-1: 3.70 kg (8.16 lb)
Type 56-2: 3.9 kg (8.6 lb)
QBZ-56C: 2.85 kg (6.28 lb)
|Length||Type 56: 874 mm (34.4 in) |
Type 56-1/56-2: 874 mm (34.4 in) w/ stock extended, 654 mm (25.7 in) w/ stock folded.
QBZ-56C: 764 mm (30.1 in) w/ stock extended, 557 mm (21.9 in) w/ stock folded.
|Barrel length||Type 56, Type 56-I, Type 56-II: 414 mm (16.3 in) |
QBZ-56C: 280 mm (11.0 in)
|Action||Gas-operated, rotating bolt|
|Rate of fire||600-650 round/min|
|Muzzle velocity||Type 56, Type 56-I, Type 56-II: 735 m/s (2,411 ft/s) |
QBZ-56C: 665 m/s (2182 ft/s)
|Effective range||100–800m sight adjustments|
|Feed system||20 or 30 round standard magazine|
|Sights||Adjustable iron sights|