Norinco Type 81 Review: Almost but Not Quite an AK

Guest Reviewer: Shaun Arntsen’s take on the Type 81

Words By: Shaun Arntsen          Photos By: Shaun Arntsen / Wally F.

……….I had the opportunity to review Tactical Imports new Norinco Type 81 the last week. Over all I was impressed by the over all function and design of the rifle…

………..When I got the rifle the pistol grip was loose. This was easily corrected by disassembling the rifle and moving the nut that it screws into. The stamped receiver is in good shape with a better finish than you see on most Norinco rifles. Folding stock is easily folded to the right and easily folded back out, great cheek weld on the stock for sight picture alignment. Also a convenient cleaning kit is located in the “butt” of the rifle. Trigger was surprisingly good. Feels pretty standard weighing in I would guess at 7 lbs.(7.5 lbs on a trigger gauge), the reset is clean and short making follows ups a joy to shoot.

……….Sights are interesting. They have a T style iron sights. The rear looking like a T and the front a standard full hood AK. This front sight is designed to be used in CQB with both eyes open. I find the rear T allows for slightly better alignment of that sight picture. Accuracy is to be expected for a Chinese surplus service rifle. I was using Czech 124 grain surplus ammo and was getting 1 ½- 2 inch groups from a modified supported kneeling at 25m. I have been unable to take it out to a 100m distance to really get a gauge on the accuracy but I’m gonna put it around 4-6 MOA. For what’s its designed for, close in engagement distances inside 100m that will do just fine. You wont be winning awards in a 3 gun match with it that’s for certain. But for a fun plinking sporting rifle for Canadian use this thing is perfect and a lot of fun to shoot.

……….Safety is sort of like a AR in that it can be reached with the thumb however it was awkward and backwards from the AR so it takes some brain rewiring when running drills on it, but once you got it down its no issue. Function. The Type 81 Is a short stroke gas piston. It has 3 gas settings: 0) for using rifle grenade. This setting doesn’t allow gas to cycle the action. 1 or normal is the standard setting and 2 Adverse is for use during or after heavy fouling or use. The bolt carrier is similar to an AK. The rifle breaks down in the same format as an AK and in most aspects is the same. The mags have a follower and there is bolt catch to hold the bolt back on the last round. Performance. I conducted so drills, emergency reloads, tact reloads, transitions etc at a range of 10 meters on standard IDPA/IPSC targets. I was using iron sights and was able to effectively reload from A (HSGI) taco in 3 seconds making emergency reloads and placing well aimed shots COM with both eyes open. I test fired 2 different rifles firing approximately 300 rounds through both without a single malfunction.

……….Manipulation wise the rifle is handled virtually exactly the same as other AK variants with the biggest difference being the bolt staying open on the last round. Price point is $999.00 CDN at the time of the article and I feel it’s a great value for what you get. The type 81 Isn’t going to win any awards for accuracy any time soon however for a reliable plinker that shoots cheap ammo it’s a great purchase and I would recommend it. Even as a camp/ Bush gun it has a great place. And well if the zombies rise and walk the earth you defiantly have a great self defense rifle that I’m sure will last a long time if maintained.

……….Shaun Arntsen is an Afghanistan combat Veteran where he served with 3 PPCLI.  He is now an accomplished photographer and firearms enthusiast.  You can contact him at Athena Media Group and view his body of work on Instagram HERE.

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Reporting for TV-PressPass

Wally F.

Staff Writer and Reporter for TVPP. Background in Broadcast News Operations, Journalism, Criminology, and Firearms. An Infantry NCO for over fifteen years in the Canadian Army and still counting. Spent 8 months in Iraq working on my tan. I love my country, family, brother-in-arms, shooting sports, and positive responsible promotion of firearms and everything that surrounds it in Canada and beyond.