Type 56-1 Assault Rifle

Long term readers will know that every so often I go a little ‘off topic’ and discuss an item of militaria that is loosely connected Britain at best: these posts normally focus on an item of deactivated weaponry I have recently picked up and tonight is no exception as we are looking at a Chinese AK-47 derivative- the Type 56-1. As this weapon has been manufactured in huge quantities and used regularly by the enemy in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan there is a connection with the British military experience.

The type 56 was produced in state factory 66 in China from 1956 until 1973 and is now produced by Norinco for the export market and it is thought 10-15 million of these weapons have been produced in various configurations. The original milled receiver was replaced with a stamped one in the mid-sixties and it is this version we have here. My example has a folding stock, copying the AKS, and is therefore a type 56-1:imageTo fold out the stock, the user has to depress a button on the rear of the receiver:imageThis then allows the stock to fold back and the shoulder piece just moves into position:imageThe fittings on this weapon are made of wood, with wooden foregrips and a wooden pistol grip:imageImmediately in front of this is the trigger, trigger guard and magazine release:imageThe Type 56-1 uses brown plastic magazines that holds 30 rounds of 7.62x39mm:imageThe magazines are marked with a raised star:imageThe cocking handle is on the right hand side of the receiver, and in this case is welded solid due to the deactivation process:imageAlso on this side of the weapon is the change leaver allowing the operator to choose the rate of fire, this one is marked ‘L’ and ‘R’ rather than having Chinese characters and indicates the weapon was made for the export market:imageThe opposite side of the receiver has the weapons markings, a ‘66’ in a triangle for the state factory, the type ’56-1’ and the serial number:imageMoving forward we can see the gas block and gas tube which use the expelled gasses of the cartridge to recock the weapon:imageAt the very front of the weapon is the front sight block:imageThe rear sight is mounted on the top of the rear sight block and is graduated up to 800m (although it is doubtful the weapon would accurately hit anything at that range!):imageRemoving the receiver cover we can see the carrier spring that moved the bolt forward after the working parts have been moved to the rear by the expelled gasses:imageWhilst this weapon does not really fit in with the rest of my collection, the AK and its copies are such iconic weapons that I have always wanted an example and although it is welded solid, I am very pleased with this example, more so by the fact that it has clearly had a hard life and isn’t some factory fresh model straight out of an armoury!image


  1. The magazine you have is actually of Soviet origin, produced at the Tula factory, as indicated by the Star emblem pictured. The Chinese did manufacture a similar resin mag – commonly and incorrectly known as “Bakelite” – that featured the triangle Factory /66\ marking. The most common Chinese magazines are of steel manufacture and are distinguishable from their Soviet/European steel counterparts by their lack of a spot-welded metal ridge running the length of the back of the magazine body and feature two embossed lines on the bottom rather than three.

      • I promise I wasn’t trying to be some snooty “know it all” I just thought you might have been going for historical accuracy based on what the rest of you site looks like. Happy collecting!

  2. Hi Anglo, don’t worry I took the comment in the spirit you intended. I’m always pleased to get feedback, especially if it helps make sure the site is accurate- and I like my weapons to have the correct accessories so I will be keeping an eye out for the right mag. 🙂

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