Take Two Soviet Firearms … And Sort of Blend Them Together
Voila, the Chinese Type 63 rifle
by MATTHEW MOSS
China’s Type 63 rifle— sometimes referred to as the Type 68 — is an unusual weapon combining features from the Soviet AK and SKS.
The Chinese army had previously relied on Soviet small-arms designs. Beijing’s Type 56 series included versions of the Soviet SKS, AK-47 and RPD.
This practice ended when China and the Soviet Union’s interests and political ideologies began to diverge in the late 1950s, culminating in the so-called “Sino-Soviet split” that lasted between 1960 and 1989.
Following the split, the Chinese began to develop their own firearm designs. The Type 63 was the first. The Chinese army selected the rifle in 1963. It entered service in 1968.
Chambered in the Soviet 7.62-by-39-millimeter M43 cartridge, the Type 63 feeds from a proprietary 20-round magazine that can be loaded with stripper clips like the SKS. The first version of the rifle had a milled receiver, a later version featured a stamped receiver.
Unusually, the Type 63 is not compatible with the Type 56’s magazines.
Unlike the SKS, the Type 63 is a select-fire weapon. It has a rotating bolt similar to the AK’s and a gas system that borrows from both the AK and the SKS but has a two-position gas regulator.
Externally, the Type 63 resembles an SKS and, to a degree, the American M14. It retains the Type 56’s integral, folding spike bayonet and stock profile.
China made as many as a million Type 63s. However, the Chinese army wasn’t entirely pleased with the weapon and apparently began removing it from front-line service sometime in the late 1970s, although some appeared in photographs from the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War, including the one at left.
The more successful Type 81 replaced the Type 63.
Originally published at www.historicalfirearms.info.