The Type 81 assault rifle was the principal automatic rifle used by the Chinese People's Liberation Army from the mid-1980s until 1995. It incorporates elements of the Dragunov Sniper Rifle, SKS, and AK series rifles. The rifle is cosmetically based on the Type 56/AK-47, but with some significantly different design and improvements to reduce the recoil and muzzle jump, giving better firing accuracy. The Type 81 rifle also made some changes in its external design to make it more user friendly than the original Type 56/AK-47.
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.