Type 81 assault rifle

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Type 81
Type 81-1 (top) and Type 81 (bottom)
TypeAssault rifle
Battle rifle (CS/LR14 export model)
Place of originChina
Service history
In service1983–present
Used bySee Users
WarsSino-Vietnamese conflicts
Cambodian–Vietnamese War
Soviet War in Afghanistan
Sri Lankan Civil War
Lord's Resistance Army insurgency
Kargil war
Boko Haram insurgency
Persian Gulf War
Baren Township riot
Croatian War of Independence
Bosnian War
Kosovo War
War in Afghanistan
Internal conflict in Burma[citation needed]
Iraq War
Syrian Civil War
Internal conflict in Myanmar
Production history
No. built50,000+
VariantsType 81-1
Type 81 light machine gun
Type 87
Type 87-1
Mass3.4 kg (7.50 lb) (empty)
4.5 kg (9.92 lb) (loaded) (CS/LR14)[1]
Length955 mm (37.6 in)
785 mm (30.9 in) (butt folded) (CS/LR14)[1]
1,010 mm (40 in) (butt extended) (CS/LR14)[1]
Barrel length445 mm (17.5 in)

Cartridge7.62×39mm (Type 81)
5.8×42mm DBP87 (Type 87)
7.62×51mm (CS/LR14)
ActionShort stroke gas piston, rotating bolt
Rate of fireApprox. 700–720 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity750 m/s (2,461 ft/s)
760 metres per second (2,493 feet per second) (CS/LR14)[1]
Effective firing range400+ meter
400-500 meter (CS/LR14)
Maximum firing range2000+ meter
Feed system30-round detachable box magazine (20 rounds for CS/LR14), 75-round detachable drum magazine
SightsAdjustable iron sights

The Type 81 (Chinese: 81式自动步枪; literally; "Type 81 Automatic Rifle") is a Chinese-designed Kalashnikov and SKS based, second-generation, selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle adopted 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 SKS[2] and 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. The PLA has replaced most of its Type-81s with the Type 95 or Type 03 series of weapons, though it is still in service in the reserves and armed police. An improved version is also used by the Bangladesh Army under the designation BD-08.


The Type 81 incorporates elements of the Dragunov, SKS, and AK-47 series rifles. The design criteria it met included accuracy of 1.78 inch R50, that is 50% of the hits within a 1.78 inch diameter at 100 meters; improved controllability in full-automatic; the same reliability of the AK but a longer service life to approximately 20,000 rounds; and able to use existing AK and SKS production tooling at the time.[3]

The rifle retains the general layout of the Chinese Type 56 assault rifle (a license produced AK-47), but it has a SKS-like short-stroke gas-piston design and other improvements to reduce recoil and muzzle jump, giving better firing accuracy. Notable physical differences from the Type 56 assault rifle include the stock of the rifle, the length of the action, bayonet, and the positioning of the front sight.[4]

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 22mm rifle grenades, which are slid over the unobstructed barrel muzzle now formed into a spigot-type rifle grenade launcher.[4]

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 non-detachable swing-out spike-shaped bayonet of the Type 56 rifle was also replaced on Type 81 rifles with the detachable Type 81 knife-bayonet.[5]

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.[4] Its sight remains at the front of the LMG barrel.

The Type 81 can be fitted with a Picatinny rail, bipod, foregrip, and flashlight.[6]


Canadian civilian legal version of the Type-81 rifle
  • Type 81 7.62×39mm rifle with a fixed wooden buttstock. 400,000 were produced before it was replaced by the Type 81-1.[7]
  • Type 81-1 7.62×39mm rifle with a foldable buttstock. Originally intended for paratrooper use, the Type 81-1 replaced the Type 81 with its fixed wooden buttstock as the standard issue rifle for the PLA.[7]
  • Type 81 LMG 7.62×39mm squad machine gun[7]
  • Type 81 MGS Semi-automatic only version of the Type 81 LMG.
  • Type 81S Early semi-automatic only model intended for the U.S. market. Only 20 were imported in January 1989 before further importation was blocked by executive order.
  • EM356 5.56×45mm variant of the Type 81S, intended for the U.S. market. Only 3 Tool room prototypes were completed and imported for the 1989 SHOT show before importation was banned along with the Type 81S by executive order. No magazines were ever made for them so modified 5.56×45mm AK magazines must be used instead.
  • T81SA Semi-automatic variant in 7.62×39mm.[8]
    • T81-1SA Same as above, but with folding buttstock.
  • Type 87-1 5.8×42mm experimental rifle, used to develop and test 5.8×42mm DBP87 cartridge for the QBZ-95 rifle
  • Type 87 Served as a development platform for the next generation of PLA small arms, being used as a test-bed for the then new 5.8×42mm DBP87 ammunition. It never went into full-scale production but has been in service with PLA special forces.[7]
  • Type 81 Tactical Tactical variant used by the PAP
  • CS/LR14 7.62×51mm battle rifle. Newest tactical upgrade with modifications, such as tactical rails, foregrip, additional mountings, etc.
  • NAR-10 Tactical variant made for export.
  • NR-81S semi-automatic made primarily for the European and Canadian markets.
  • Type 81A Upgraded variant with new stock and Picatinny rails shown at the 2018 Zhuhai Airshow.[9]

Foreign variants[edit]



  • Kachin Independence Army flag.svgKachin Independence Army produced Type 81 variants dubbed the M23, comes with updated polymer furniture with a Sun Motif. Not much is known about their manufacturing details due to their clandestine origins, possibly unofficially licensed built with PRC tooling as proxy military aid delivered through Bangladesh.[12]
  • Kachin K09: Comes with black/plum polymer furniture.
  • Kachin K010: Comes with green polymer furniture.
  • Kachin K011: Dedicated indigenous 45mm rifle grenade launcher variant.


Bangladesh Armed Forces members with BD-08.

Non-state actors[edit]


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External links[edit]