Chinese Type 81 Rifle: Shooting Review

    The Chinese Type 81 was not a copy of anything else, but a new rifle designed from the ground up in China. Normally chambered in 7.62×39, the rifles have served the PLA since 1981 but on this installment of TFBTV, we shoot an exceptionally rare EM356: A variant intended for the US commercial market that was banned from import one month after being revealed to the public.

    Transcript …

    – [Voiceover] Hey guys, it’s Alex C with TFBTV.

    Today, we’re going to be doing some shooting with a Chinese Type 81, specifically a very rare variant called the EM356.

    Less than 20 Type 81s exist in the US, and only three EM356s, which were chambered in.223 for the US commercial market, were ever made.

    The guns were brought in for the 1989 Shot Show, but the ’89 import ban happened a month later, so further importation was stifled.

    The EM356s were essentially toolroom prototypes and no magazines were ever even designed for them.

    As such, I had to do a lot of work to get a Beryl magazine to fit.

    The Type 81 was designed from the ground up in China and features a short-stroke gas piston, much like a Dragunov rifle.

    It was introduced in the PLA in 1981, and is still in service but being gradually phased out by the Type 95 and Type 03 rifles.

    So let’s see just how well this rare bird performs.

    (gun cocks) (gun firing) So right off the bat you notice that the recoil impulse of the Type 81 is actually quite pleasant, at least in 5.56.

    The carrier doesn’t seem to impact the rear of the receiver with as much fervor as a.223 AK, which is nice.

    Not to say it doesn’t have a little bit of pop to it, as it does, but I really do wish that these were imported in large numbers.

    However, Norinco kind of shot themselves in the foot when they tried to sell RPGs and APCs to Oakland gangs.

    I’m not making that up, by the way.

    (gun cocks) (gun firing) (gun firing) Over the course of this range day, it became pretty apparent that this is in fact a toolroom prototype.

    Ah, the front sight even gradually became unscrewed.

    But I decided to take it back to 300 meters anyway, to see if I could make anything happen with it.

    (gun firing) One thing I do like about the Type 81 is the sights, there’s a hooded front sight post, similar to a Type 56 AK, and then the rear sight has a notch in it, but it is also covered up, so it kinda provides a nice sight picture all in all.

    The sights are also adjustable from 100 to 500 meters, which is pretty nice instead of having a slider as well.

    It’s a knob that the user simply turns, and the number facing you is the distance that you are shooting.

    (gun firing) (gun firing rapidly) We hope you enjoyed this video of a very rare and interesting rifle all the way from China.

    Not a gun you see very often in the United States, and it was very cool to shoot this gun.

    So big thanks to Ventura Munitions for helping us out with this video by providing the ammo.

    We hope to see you all next time.

    Alex C.

    Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.