MANUFACTURER(S): State Factories - North Korea
OPERATORS: Cambodia; Iran; Laos; Nicaragua; North Korea; North Vietnam; Vietnam
ACTION: Gas-Operated; Rotating Bolt; Selective Fire
SIGHTS: Iron Front and Rear.
Detailing the development and operational history of the Type 58 Assault Rifle.
Entry last updated on 12/28/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
During the Cold War that followed World War 2, Korea became a divided nation after the Japanese occupation was ended. The North was governed by the communist-aligned Soviet Union with the South managed by the United States. This, naturally, influenced the stock of weapons kept in inventory for the decades that followed. When North Korea invaded the South in an attempt to force unification under the communist agenda, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and neighboring China both blessed the effort, thusly beginning the Korean War (1950-1953).
Following the end of the war, which saw a loose armistice drawn up (though the war was never fully declared over through a truce) and the Soviet influence of North Korean weapons continued. With the widespread acceptance and subsequent use of the famous Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, the North Korean began adoption of the type as the "Type 58". The Type 58 formally entered DPRK service in 1958 through localized production and continues in its defined assault rifle role today. The Type 58 has seen production reach some 50,000 units - a rather modest total for a Kalashnikov-inspired weapon system.
At its core, the Type 58 retains much of the design and function of the original AK-47. This includes the internal rotating bolt design, automatic function and gas-operation - the latter by way of a gas cylinder mounted atop the barrel assembly, tapping expelled gasses from the barrel and using this pressure to drive a piston. The receiver remained largely unchanged complete with the fire selector allowing for semi-automatic and full-automatic fire. The weapon was chambered for the Soviet 7.62x39mm rifle cartridge and fed from the same curved detachable box magazine inserted ahead of the trigger group. Spent shell casings were ejected through a port along the right frontal side of the receiver. The trigger resided in an oblong ring with the magazine release just ahead. Aft of the trigger was a standalone pistol grip. A solid stock was fitted to the end of the receiver in the usual way. The barrel protruded from the receiver and was partially shrouded by a hand guard. The under-cylinder barrel approach made the AK-47 and its derivatives one of the most identifiable guns of the Cold War. The barrel was capped by a short muzzle and front sight. The rear sight was fitted over the receiver ahead of the magazine area. The furniture (stock, upper and lower hand guard sections) were wooden and sling loops allowed a shoulder strap to be affixed and facilitate transport. A field bayonet could be fitted under the muzzle.
The Type 58 features a weight of 8.4lbs with an overall length of 890mm. The barrel is 415mm in length. Rate-of-fire is approximately 600 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 715 meters per second. Effective target range is roughly 300 to 400 meters while maximum target area range is listed at 2,500 meters.
Beyond its use by North Korea, the Type 58 has seen limited procurement across Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam (and subsequently Vietnam proper). Additionally the type was identified and used throughout Iran and Nicaragua. Its reach has ensured it a place in bloody conflicts such as the Vietnam War (1955-1975), Laotian Civil War (1953-1975), the Cambodian Civil War (1970-1975), the Cambodian-Vietnamese War (1977-1989), the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) and the Sandinista Revolution of Nicaragua (1961-1990).
The Type 58 assault rifle has since appeared to two distinct forms - the original with solid stock (Type 58A) and another with a stamped steel folding stock for a more compact form, the hinged dual-strut stock folding under the receiver (Type 58B). North Korea also produced the AKM/AKMS as the Type 68A/B and the AKS-74 as the Type 88.