Type 81 assault rifle

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Type 81
Type 81-1 (top) and Type 81 (bottom).
Type Assault rifle
Place of origin  China
Service history
In service 1983–present
Used by See Users
Wars Sino-Vietnamese conflicts
Sri Lankan Civil War
Internal conflict in Burma[citation needed]
Production history
Designed 1971
Variants Type 81-1
Type 81 light machine gun
Type 87
Type 87-1
Weight 3.4 kg (7.50 lb) (loaded)
Length 955 mm (37.6 in)
Barrel length 445 mm (17.5 in)

Cartridge 7.62×39mm (Type 81)
5.8×42mm DBP87 (Type 87)
Action Short stroke gas piston, rotating bolt
Rate of fire Approx. 700–720 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 750 m/s (2,461 ft/s)
Effective firing range 500 m (547 yd)
Feed system 30-round detachable box magazine, 75-round detachable drum magazine
Sights Adjustable iron sights

The Type 81 Assault Rifle is a Chinese-designed second-generation, selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm automatic assault rifle which has been used by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) since the mid-1980s.


The weapon was introduced into PLA service in 1981 but did not become widely distributed until the late 1980s. It replaced the Type 56 rifle (a Chinese license produced AK-47). Its first combat use came during the Sino-Vietnamese border conflicts of the mid-1980s. Currently the PLA is in the process of replacing the Type 81 with the Type 95 or Type 03 series of weapons, but full conversion is not expected until the mid-2010s.


The Type 81 incorporates elements of the Dragunov, SKS, and AK-47 series rifles.

The rifle is cosmetically influenced by the Chinese Type 56 assault rifle (a license produced AK-47), but with an SKS-like short-stroke gas-piston design and other improvements to reduce recoil and muzzle jump, giving better firing accuracy.[1]

The Type 81 rifle retains the general layout of the AK-47, but is an improved variant of the Type 56 rifle. Major differences include the stock of the rifle, the length of the action, bayonet, and the positioning of the front sight.[1]

The most easily distinguishable feature of the Type 81 is the more exposed muzzle part of the barrel. The front sight has been moved back as a modification to be able to fire rifle grenades, which are slid over the unobstructed barrel muzzle now formed into a spigot-type rifle grenade launcher.[1]

There is a significant gap between the trigger guard and the magazine on Type 81 rifles, while on the Type 56 rifle series the magazine is adjacent to the front of the trigger guard. The Type 81 rifle is a short-stroke gas-operated design, while the Type 56 is a long-stroke design.

The non-detachable swing-out spike-shaped bayonet of the Type 56 rifle was also replaced on Type 81 rifles with a detachable knife-bayonet.

Like its predecessors, the Type 81 is a series of weapons. The Type 81 (fixed stock) and Type 81-1 (folding stock) are 7.62×39mm caliber assault rifles with 30-round magazines, and the heavier Type 81 light machine gun (LMG) fitted with a 75-round drum magazine is used in the squad automatic weapon (SAW) role.[1] Its sight remains at the front of the LMG barrel.

The Type 81 can be extensively upgraded, and can be fitted with a Picatinny rail, bipod, foregrip, flashlight, and much more.[2]


Type 81 light machine gun
Soldiers of Rapid Action Battalion, an elite anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of Bangladesh Police, with BD-08 (Type 81) assault rifle
Troops of Bangladesh Army are Firing with Fully Automatic Assault Rifle BD-08 in a Range.
Type 81 Type 81-1 Type 81 machine gun
Overall length 955 mm (37.6 in) 750 mm (29.5 in) (butt folded) 1,004 mm (39.5 in)
Bore diameter 7.62 mm (0.300 in)
Cartridge 7.62x39 mm
Weight 3.50 kg (7.7 lb) 3.40 kg (7.5 lb) 5.15 kg (11.4 lb)
Effective range 500 m (550 yd) 500 m (550 yd) 500 m (550 yd)
Muzzle velocity 720 m/s (2,400 ft/s) 720 m/s (2,400 ft/s) 735 m/s (2,410 ft/s)
Rate of fire (theory) N/A N/A 720 r/min
Rate of fire (sustained) N/A N/A 120 r/min
Cartridge capacity 30 rounds 30 rounds 75 rounds


A prototype called the Type 87 was introduced in the late 1980s. It served as a development platform for the next generation of PLA small arms, being used as a test-bed for the then new 5.8x42mm DBP87 ammunition. It never went into full-scale production but has been in service with PLA special forces.[3]

  • Type 81 (7.62 mm assault rifle with a fixed butt)[3]
  • Type 81-1 (7.62 mm assault rifle with a foldable butt)[3]
  • Type 81 LMG 7.62 mm squad machine gun[3]
  • Type 81S Early semi-automatic only model for the U.S. market. Extremely rare, under 10 were imported before further importation was discontinued by executive order in 1989.
  • Type 87-1 (5.8×42mm experimental assault rifle, used to develop and test 5.8 mm DBP87 cartridge for QBZ-95 rifle)
  • Type 87 5.8 mm squad machine gun (prototype)
  • Type 81 Tactical Tactical variant used by the PAP
  • CS/LR14 Newest tactical upgrade with considerable modifications, such as tactical rails, foregrip, additional mountings, etc. Said to be chambered for the heavier 7.62x51mm.
  • NAR-10 Tactical variant for export.
  • NR-81S Reincarnation of the Type 81S, made primarily for the European Market.


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