Tactical Imports Offers New Type 81M, With Underfolder Option

Zac K
by Zac K
The new Type 81M, in fixed-stock configuration. [Tactical Imports]

One of the most popular tactical rifles in Canada is back with a new production run—and while it may see release in some other countries, this is one rifle that will not make it to the U.S. market anytime soon. In the Frozen North, Tactical Imports is now taking orders for the Type 81M, with several upgrades over previous versions of this semi-auto rifle.

Tactical Imports Corporation @ TFB:

The Type 81M is a civilian version of the Type 81 select-fire rifle, which China developed for its military in the 1980s. Similar to a VZ-58, the Type 81 may look similar to an AK-47 from a distance, but there are obvious differences once you look more closely. The rifle combines features of other ComBloc rifles, including AK DNA and a lot of SKS design principles.

Underfolder, or wood stock? Tactical Imports is bringing both in, for the same price. [Tactical Imports]
Just as the Type 81 action became the basis for a range of military firearms, so it has also become the basis for a series of civilian arms, including the now-discontinued Type 81 LMG—a semi-auto version of a light machine gun, with heavy barrel, carry handle, bipod and a 75-round drum mag. To comply with Canadian laws, all versions of the Type 81 in that country have magazines pinned to only hold five rounds. Since the Type 81M is able to be purchased with a standard Possession-Acquisition Licence, the barrel length is 18.7 inches.
The fixed stock version is compatible with accessories like the side-mount scope setup. The 75-round drum mag fits both rifles. Of course, Canadian shooters will have that drum mag pinned to only hold five rounds. [Tactical Imports]
While the Chinese factory has shut down production of the LMG, at least for now, the heavier barrel profile carries on to the M-series rifles, along with other changes that are supposed to improve accuracy and usability. Here’s how Tactical Imports, which is bringing the rifle to Canada, described the updates:

The Type 81M is a modernized version of the Type 81 rifle, with a number of changes to improve the performance of the platform. These changes result in a rifle that is flatter shooting, more ergonomic, easier to use, and more modular. More than simply the sum of its parts, the Type 81M is simply the best performing and most accomplished Type 81 ever made.

  • Front sight is moved to the end of the barrel to provide longer sight radius
  • Rear sight “bar” and top quarter of front sight hood have been removed to provide superior sight picture and target acquisition
  • Magazine release has been widened to a paddle type shape for better ergonomics and faster magazine changes
  • Integration of palm swell in front handguard for better comfort, control and handling
  • Bolt carrier has been blackened for monotone look
  • Available with choice of fixed or underfolding stock
  • Underfolding stock offers the best choice for compact storage and transportation
  • Priced at just $1199

Note that the $1,199 MSRP applies to either the underfolder or the fixed-stock version. Converted to American dollars, that $1,199 CAD works out to roughly $900 USD.

Tactical Imports says the rifles come ready for muzzle devices, with right-handed M16-pattern threads. And while the underfolder option cannot take the optics side-mount that previous M81 rifles had, buyers can add an M-LOK forend to attach a red dot sight.

If you want to add an optic, the underfolder version can take an M-LOK forend. [Tactical Imports]
Business is booming for Tactical Imports at the moment; the company says they have extra staff assigned to order fulfillment as Canadians buy up tactical rifles ahead of constantly looming gun control. At its low intro price, the Type 81M is going to throw a massive wrench into the country’s second-hand rifle market, which has seen prices rising due to low supply and high demand.
The heavier barrel and improved sights should help accuracy. [Tactical Imports]
From Tactical Imports’ online posting, it looks like some other markets might get the Type 81M as well… maybe. Who knows where China sells their arms, on the global market? But one place that won’t get the Type 81M legally, unless the rules change, is the U.S., which has a ban on this and similar Chinese firearms.

Want to ogle more photos? Check out Tactical Imports’ pages here and here.

Zac K
Zac K

Professional hoser with fudd-ish leanings.

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Join the conversation
  • PoormettoStateArmory PoormettoStateArmory on Mar 14, 2024

    Type 56n’t

  • Andrew Andrew on Mar 14, 2024

    Paging Dr Vlad to teach me what the insides of these look like, and school me on the history.

    • Uncle Yar Uncle Yar on Mar 15, 2024

      @Andrew AK rotating bolt, SKS gas piston. Extended receiver length for reduced rate of fire via increased bolt carrier travel.

      Abridged history - Maoist China stuck to the whole "AK to replace SMG and SKS to replace Mosin" thing, and they're the only ones to done that among the 7.62x39 world. They claim SKS is more accurate, and even made the Type 63 rifle, which is essentially the basis for the Type 81. AK type 2 lug rotating bolt, SKS short stroke piston.

      The Type 63 to the Type 81 is like the FN49 to the FN FAL. The Type 63 looks like an SKS with an AK mag attached, but is mechanically the same idea as Type 81 of course, the Type 81 actually has a modern assault rifle controls and grips, and a superior dust cover design that doesn't expose the action spring as much. Again, compare FN49 to FAL. it's the same development path the Chinese took with the Type 63 to the Type 81.

      If you ask me, any accuracy benefit of SKS/63/81 over the AKM is marginal. On the SKS, it's mostly a psychological inhibition effect due to your limited ammo on board. The rest is personal preference between rifle stock vs pistol grip. The other part of that equation was ideological and political signaling. By the time 63 came out, China and USSR were half enemies by this point. That means, the TDP for AKM never arrived in China, so the Chinese might as well develop their own improved rifle (stamped receivers and all). The Type 56 (especially stamped receiver) was produced for mainly exports and military aid for PRC allies.

      The AK Type 56 also has a steep drop on the stock akin to the AK47 and not the improved straight (reduced drop) stock on the AKM. So, it's not surprising that Type 56 tended to be a bit more climby. The Type 81 has decent stock geometry, but still looked much like an AK to the extent that the PRC post Mao decided to make the Bullpup Type 97 just to upstage the Brits on the takeover of Hong Kong.