Albanian Type 56 Versions

Notes: Albania was never really a part of the Soviet sphere of influence, and early on after World War 2, it isolated itself from the West as well. For a long time, the only country with whom it really maintained friendly relations was China; China, in fact, supplied virtually all of Albania’s weapons and even some military training for some 50 years, until Albania decided to "reintroduced herself to the world," so to speak, in 1997.

One of the infantry weapon that Albania received tons of was the Chinese copy of the AKM, the Type 56. At first, the Albanians used the Type 56s as they were, but they gradually made modifications to suit local manufacturing methods and perceived needs, creating essentially a new set of AKM variants. The Albanian military refers to these rifles as the Type I, Type II, and Type III Assault Rifles; however, the troops generally call all three of them AK-47s (and even call the unmodified Type 56s by the name of AK-47 as well).

The Type I is more or less a direct copy of the Type 56, with only a very few modifications to suit local manufacturing conditions, and a different finish to help the rifles cope with the generally abysmal weather conditions in Albania. There is a also a slight weight difference, as well as a stock with a longer length of pull to suit the typical somewhat larger-statured Albanian soldier.

Since the Albanians still use a number of the older-style Soviet-type rifle grenades, they came up with the Type II; this is a Type I with a grenade-launcher spigot attached to the end of the muzzle. There is a gas cutoff lever on the right side of the gas port, allowing the Type II to use both older Soviet, Polish, and Chinese-type rifle grenades as well as the newer BTU rifle grenades. The rear sight is moved to central location on the upper receiver cover, and is designed to be used with both the rifle and for firing rifle grenades. The upper receiver cover has had hinges added at the front instead of coming completely off when stripping the weapon. The Type II is not able to mount a bayonet, due to the design of the grenade launcher spigot.

The Type III is also quite similar to the Type 56, but is modified for use as sort of a designated marksman/squad support weapon. It has a grenade launching spigot at the end of a slightly-longer barrel than the standard Type 56, but there is no gas cutoff provision, which means that the use of ballistite cartridges is essential for firing rifle grenades and the choice of rifle grenades for the Type III is much more limited. The front sight block has a special extension with a partial collar, and along with a slight modification in the grenade launcher spigot, this allows the Type III to mount a bayonet. The rear sights are also modified to match the extra range afforded by the longer barrel.

Manufacture of these rifles continued until 1997, when they began to be replaced with more modern rifles of Russian origin; however, Albania is reportedly shopping around for even better rifles, though they are severely limited by the poor condition of the Albanian economy.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

Type I

7.62mm Kalashnikov

4.22 kg

30

$797

Type II

7.62mm Kalashnikov

4.13 kg

30

$827

Type III

7.62mm Kalashnikov

4.4 kg

30

$870

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

Type I

5

4

2-Nil

6

3

8

46

Type II

5

4

2-Nil

7

3

8

46

Type III

5

4

2-3-Nil

7

3

9

62