China’s new Type 79 submachine gun, or S79, is a domestically-produced firearm that is based on the Soviet AK-47 rifle. Developed by the People’s Liberation Army’s Research Institute of Military Equipment, it was unveiled in 2016 and is intended to replace the Type 56 assault rifle. Photos of the S79 appeared online in January 2017, and many online users were impressed with the weapon, which they said was a step up from the AK-47, and would be a great addition to the PLAs infantry force.

The Type 79 is one of the most popular and most versatile weapons used by the Chinese People Liberation Army (PLA). The PLA’s largest and most powerful assault rifle in service, it has a wide range of ammunition—steel core, high-explosive, and armor-piercing—that can be fired at various ranges. The Type 79 is also a multipurpose weapon, and it can be modified to fire different types of grenade, rocket, and mortar rounds.

With the PLA still in the process of moving onto more modern and advanced weaponry, the Chinese military has been forced to rely on aging support weapons, such as the Type 81 12.7mm heavy machine gun and the Type 65 20mm heavy machine gun. The Type 79 is a simple and reliable support weapon that has been used by various branches of the PLA during the last 70 years.

The wars in Indochina were fought with a dizzying array of international weaponry, ranging from homemade Viet Cong pistols and rifles to mammoth U.S. “Daisy Cutter” bombs capable of creating widespread destruction. Among the weapons to see combat in Vietnam was the Chinese Type 79 submachine gun, unfamiliar to most Americans because it was fought in a different Vietnam war—one waged between erstwhile allies Vietnam and China after U.S. forces left.

On Feb. 17, 1979, the Chinese sent some 200,000 troops into Vietnam in response to the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia to overthrow Pol Pot’s Chinese-allied Khmer Rouge government. Another sore spot was the Vietnamese seizure of the Spratly Islands, a contested archipelago.

That war was the first test for the Chinese 1979 Nianshi Chongfeng Qiang (1979 year type submachine gun). The gun’s introduction also coincided with a falling out between China and the Soviet Union, which traditionally licensed weapons for Chinese production.

Seeking to create a submachine gun for military and police use, the 208th Research Institute of China Ordnance Industry began development of the weapon in 1970. Torture tests in 1971 and 1975 necessitated complete redesigns, largely because the chamber could not handle the pressure of its steel-cored 7.62 mm Tokarev Type 51 bullet. Ultimately the committee produced a compact, lightweight gas-operated weapon adjustable for semiautomatic or burst fire, with a folding stamped metal stock. Type-classified in 1978, the weapon entered preliminary production in 1979.

The Type 79 was intended for jungle operations. The first guns were used during the incursion into Vietnam, which ended with China’s withdrawal on March 16. The limited numbers of Type 79s were used primarily on reconnaissance patrols. The 1979 war and intermittent border clashes with Vietnam until 1989 provided ample combat evaluations. A series of improvements led to mass production in 1981. More than 200,000 were produced before cessation in 1992. V

This article appeared in the June 2023 issue of Vietnam magazine. For more stories from Vietnam magazine, subscribe here and visit us on Facebook:

China’s Type 79 Submachine GunThe Type 79 is a popular Chinese general-purpose machine gun. Its development started in the late 1950s by the Chengdu Machine Factory, which is now the Chengdu OEM Research Institute. The development continued with the Shenyang Machine Factory which had started development of the Type 59 machine gun in 1958. The Type 79 is a selective-fire, air-cooled, gas-operated machine gun. It fires the 7.62x54mmR (.308 Winchester) cartridge from a 60-round box magazine. The Type 79 was manufactured in two versions, the Type 79-1 (with a telescopic buttstock) and the Type 79-2 (with a fixed stock).. Read more about norinco type 79 svd and let us know what you think.

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