MANUFACTURER(S): 205th Armory of Combined Service Forces - Taiwan
OPERATORS: Jordan; Taiwan
ACTION: Gas-Operated; Rotating Bolt
CALIBER(S)*: 5.56x45mm NATO
SIGHTS: Adjustable Iron; Optional Optics
Detailing the development and operational history of the T86 (Type 86) Assault Rifle / Carbine / Light Machine Gun.
Entry last updated on 8/1/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
For decades, Taiwanese Army and Marine forces relied on their Armalite-inspired T65 assault rifles. The T65 debuted in 1976 and served in a frontline capacity for some time before was given to a more modern alternative. The T65 also proved significant in Taiwanese military history for it became the first indigenous assault rifle design undertaken by Taiwanese industry. The second would become the T86 which saw origins in 1992 and a public prototype following in 1996. The T86 formally replaced the T65 in 1997 and entered service in 2000.
Based on the T65, the T85 retained many of the features that have made Armalite/M16 rifles successful. The T85 was, therefore, a refinement of the T65 which, by this time, was beginning to show its age. The T85 brought along a new telescoping polymer shoulder stock (as in the American M4 Carbine) with an aluminum receiver. Plastics were used as a weight saving measure throughout. The weapon was chambered for the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge and fed from a 30-round curved detachable box magazine (other STANAG magazines also supported including a 100-round C-Mag drum). The action remained the tried-and-true rotating bolt function with gas-operation, the gas cylinder situated over the barrel as in the M16/M4. Rate of fire was 700 to 800rpm and overall weight was 3.17 kilograms unloaded. The T86 sported a four-position fire selector to include a safety, single-shot, burst and full-automatic mode. Sights were adjustable iron and optics were optional. Charging was through the M16-style T-handle at the rear of the upper receiver. The T86 also supported an underslung, single-shot 40mm grenade launcher.
A carbine version of the T86 with shortened hand guard, gas cylinder and barrel was also available. If outfitted with the optional bipod and 100-round C-Mag drum magazine, the T86 could be utilized in-the-field as a squad support light machine gun.
The T86 was never accepted in large numbers by the Taiwanese military as fewer than 5,000 units were ever produced. Production spanned two short years from 2000 to 2002 (from 205th Armory of Combined Service Forces). However, the T86 served as a launch point for the new Taiwanese Army standard service rifle, the T91, which entered service in 2003 and has seen production reach over 140,000 units as of this writing (2013). The T91 makes good on the successful qualities of the T65 and T86 rifles while incorporating all-new qualities to follow tactical and production changes experienced elsewhere in the world. Overall, the T91 retains the same M16-style layout as its predecessors.
Beyond Taiwan, the only other global operator of the T86 is Jordan.