The Type 63
(Chinese: 63式7.62mm自动步枪), often incorrectly referred to as Type 68 by Western sources, is a Chinese-designed rifle with a resemblance to the SKS. However, the weapon uses a rotating bolt working system from the AK-47 rifle instead of the tilting bolt system of the SKS. It is based on the Type 56.
The Type 63/68 was intended to replace the Type 56 semi-automatic carbine in Chinese service at one time when infantry felt the need for a compromise between rifle firepower and long rifle range and to help the Type 56 rifle integrate into service as there were too few of these to equip the entire PLA. The development of the Type 63/68 started in 1959; the design certificate was issued in 1963 (which is why the Chinese designation is "Type 63"), and the rifle entered service within the PLA in 1968 (which is why the weapon is referred to as the "Type 68" by Western experts).
Other than China, the biggest user of the Type 63 rifle was Albania, where it was exported in quantities when the Communist regime split from the Soviet sphere of influence to gain stricter relationships with China (to which it also granted, for a certain amount of time, a naval base in the Mediterranean sea). The Type 63 rifle was also exported by China to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and throughout the 1970s, it was also sent in smaller amounts to Burma, Cambodia and other countries in Asia and Africa. Shipments were also made to Afghanistan to support the local guerrilla fighters against the Soviet invasion.
The Type 63/68 rifle is a select-fire weapon, fed by proprietary "cut-down" 20-round magazines or standard AK-47 30-round magazines, although these require minor modifications (removal of the bolt hold-open device) to fit. The fire selector is placed on the right side of the weapon right above the trigger guard, at index finger reach. The Type 63/68 rifle also features a non-removable folding spike-bayonet and a gas regulator system to use standard live ammunition or blank ammunition for the launch of rifle grenades.
The Type 63/68 was an outdated design already at the moment of its adoption. It responded to a military philosophy based on the use of masses rather than of weapons, a philosophy that claimed the troops to be able to stop the enemy advance by rifle shots at extremely long distances and by relying on the use of the bayonet for the final close-quarters engagements.
As such, the Type 63/68 had the accuracy and range of an "old time" rifle but was too long and heavy to be serviceable and lacked the firepower of a true modern assault rifle as it was less than controllable in full-automatic fire. Additionally, design flaws and poor manufacturing qualities erupted with user experience gaining a reputation of unreliability. Poor performance and increasing availability of more modern weapons (Chinese-made AK clones) in Chinese service caused the final withdrawal of this weapon from PLA use in 1978.
Several thousand of these rifles, with welded semi-auto-only selectors, were imported as surplus into Australia and sold to the public in the late 1980s. It was shown that the guns could be converted back to select fire, although one required a reasonable knowledge, metalworking skill, and access to the right machinery. Customs made an attempt to recover them, but an unknown number were unrecovered. Several dozen have turned up in the hands of OPM rebels in West Irian, Indonesia. They have also been seen in the recent fighting in Bangladesh, but whether or not they came from Australia is unknown as the Chinese "sold" many Type 63/68s on to other interested parties.
The Type 63 can be loaded in four different ways because of its system:
-1 Using an empty 20-round magazine, cocking the action holds the bolt to the rear; a 10-round SKS-type charger can then be put into the feed guides and the rounds forced down. A second charger can be used to fully load the magazine.
-2 20 rounds can be forced down, one after the other, into the magazine.
-3 A 20-round magazine can be pre-loaded off the gun and then placed in position.
-4 If the bolt stop has been removed or ground down, a 30-round magazine can be used. But, it must be pre-filled off the gun as the bolt will automatically close on the empty chamber and close off the top feed opening.
- Afghanistan: Used by the Mujahideen.
- Vietnam: In Vietnamese service the rifle is designated K63. It saw very little service in North Vietnam, and was withdrawn from front-line service after the Vietnam War ended. It is still in use by the DQTV.
- Vietnam War
- Cambodian Civil War
- Sino-Vietnamese War
- Soviet–Afghan War
- Kosovo War
PRC government arsenals
Gas-operated, rotating bolt
7.62 X 39 mm
3.8 kg (8.38 lb)
1,033 mm (40.7 in)
531 mm (20.9 in)
Detachable box magazine
In service dates:
Hooded front post, rear U-notch on sliding tangent
Rate of fire:
100–800 m sight adjustments
735 m/s (2,411 ft/s)