North Korean Small Arms

North Korean Small Arms

– – Bolt Action Rifles – –

There have been a variety of bolt action rifles used by the North Koreans, including French manufacture, but mostly Chinese and Russian variants of the Mosin Nagant Rifle.

– – Semi-Automatic Rifles – –

Type 63 SKS
North Korea began their manufacture of the SKS rifle five years after they began building AK-47s.  The North Korean version of the SKS, the Type 63, was started in 1963.  Many people believed it was to arm second-line militias, and in fact, almost from the beginning the Type 63 SKS went to “Labour-Farming Red Guard” (The North Korean Home Guard), while the Type 58 AK-47s went to the main military units.

SVD Dragunov
The 7.62x54R caliber SVD Dragunov rifle as made by the Soviets and then the Chinese as the Chinese Type 79 are sniper rifles used in the North Korean military.

JeoByeokBoChong M76 type
The 8mm M76 type rifle used by the North Koreans is the Serbian (Zastava) M76 sniper rifle.  This is reportedly manufactured in North Korea as Zastava insists that they never sold or licensed manufacture to the North Koreans.

Assault Rifles
Type 58 AK Third Model fixed stock style -1 is underfolder.  North Korea decided not to manufacture any other submachine guns, and starting in1958, they began manufacturing the AK-47 under license from the Soviets.  The North Korean version of AK-47 is called the Type 58 with a milled receiver, and reliable information says that approximately 800,000 Type 58s were built.  The under-folding stock version, the Type 58-1, is included in that estimate.  These are not very different from the Soviet original AK-47, only with Korean markings.

In the beginning of manufacturing the Type 58, the rifles appear to have had the receivers made in North Korea, but parts appear to be Soviet.  Within a few years all parts appear to be of North Korean origin.  The engineers had learned through Soviet consultants, how to build all of the AK parts by themselves.  It also became obvious that the milled receiver of AK-47 (Type 58) is too labor intensive.  While cost of labor itself wasn’t a major problem in a communist economy, it was too time consuming to make and North Korea wanted solution for it. The Soviets had already experienced the same thing and had a solution: the AKM with its stamped sheet metal receiver.

TOP: Type 58 AK47 milled receiver. BOTTOM: Type 68 AKM stamped receiver.

Type 68 AKM
In 1968, North Korea began their production of the AKM, the Type 68.  Unlike the Type 58, which is basically the same gun as the Soviet AK-47 Type 3, the Type 68 is based upon the AKM but has some differences.  For example, no rate reducer is used on the trigger mechanism, and the muzzle compensator of an AKM isn’t used.  The Type 68-1 (under-folding stock version) stock has many holes, which helps reduce weight but also weakens the stock itself.  After the Type 68’s introduction, most Type 58s went to the rear echelon units or Home Guard units.  There were also some significant exports of the Type 58 to other Communist countries in Africa and South/Central America, as well as to North Vietnam.

Type 88 and 98 AK74
Type 58 and 68s were used as North Korea’s main rifles for a long type, but starting in the late 1980s, North Korea began to make new small caliber rifle, the Type 88; this is basically a 5.45x39mm version of the Kalashnikov AK-74.  There’s no evidence that North Korea obtained a license from Soviet Russia; rather, it’s believed that North Korea received technical support from China to make the Type 88.  In fact, the North Korean Type 88 is very similar to the Chinese copy of AK-74, the Type 88.  For example, the Chinese Type 88 has a sheet metal magazine, and the North Korean Type 88 has a very similar magazine.  There’s no data regarding how many Type 68 and Type 88 rifles were manufactured and fielded.  While Type 68s were also exported in large numbers (in Central and South American countries like Peru, North Korean made Type 68s are called “AK Corea” (Korea).  The Type 88 had no known export orders (or maybe North Korea isn’t willing to sell these overseas), and to this point, actual samples in Western hands are very rare though there are some known in Japan who salvaged a few of them from a spy ship which they destroyed during 2002.

Chinese CQA M4 carbine copy.

Chinese CQ and CQA M16 variants
North Korea is also using the M16A1 for special operations.  In 1996, a North Korean spy submarine was grounded on a South Korean beach and a few M16A1s were found.  They were unmarked weapons, completely without anything to identify them.  Nobody really knows where they’re built.  Neither of the authors have been able to examine these to determine the genealogy.  However, from glimpses seen, these appear to be the Chinese M16 copies.  In the photo is a Chinese CQA M4 carbine copy with markings.

– – Machine Guns – –

Maxim 1910 Russian or 1924 Chinese
During the Korean War of the 1950s, the Russians and Chinese supplied many weapons into the theatre on the communist side.  The belt feds were primarily Maxims and the Russians supplied the 1910 on Sokolov mount while the Chinese supplied the Type 1924 on standard tripod.  Much of this equipment trickled down from North Vietnam to the Viet Minh and NVA armies in the late 1950s to 1960s.

DP-28 machine gun.

The DP-28 machine gun was a Soviet designed 7.62x54R caliber machine gun, fed with a top mounted 47-round pan magazine.  The modernized version called a DPM was exported for manufacturing to China as the Type 53 machine gun.  Both the Soviet and Chinese versions were used by North Korea, but primarily the Chinese one.  These were replaced by the Type 62 RPD.

Type 62 RPD
The Soviet designed RPD machine gun is a belt fed 7.62x39mm machine gun that has seen service all over the world.  It has been manufactured in China, Poland, and numerous other countries, as well as North Korea.  The North Koreans exported their Type 62 to North Vietnam during the “American War” as well as Africa and South America.  The example shown was captured from Viet Cong in the late 1960s.

‘Gun 2:’ an unidentified Gatling-like, electrically-powered machine gun.

Gun-2 Minigun
In 1995, an arms dealer sold 6 here-to-for unheard of “Miniguns” to a Southeast Asian country.  These were made in North Korea, and are an indigenous design in 7.62x54R caliber using forward stripping on the links.  The links have a built in “ramp” on them to facilitate the heavy rim of the cartridge in forward feed.  We obtained a copy of an English language manual for the “Gun 2” but still have been unable to examine a sample of this.  This is a basic Gatling design, electrically powered, and the barrels spin while firing.

DShK heavy machine gun.

The heavy machine gun favored by the Combloc countries for many decades was the “Dooshka” or “Dishka.”  The North Koreans used Russian or Chinese made DShK in 12.7x108mm in many of their installations.

The newest heavy machine gun to spring from Mother Russia was the NSV, a 12.7x108mm machine gun that was tank mounted but adapted to infantry use with a tripod and buttstock.  This high rate of fire machine gun is in use with North Korean units today, but is not made in North Korea to our knowledge.

14.5x114mm KPV.

The 14.5x114mm heavy machine gun on its various mounts called “ZPU” is a staple in the North Korean inventory.  Recently, two rounds from a ZPU-2 were fired across the DMZ.  While there was international speculation that this was done on purpose to create an incident, it is far more likely that the operators were clearing the weapon and popped two rounds, one from each barrel, as they improperly performed their jobs.  Both Russian and Chinese KPVs are observed in North Korea, and this twin is from a ship mount from the spy ship sunk by the Japanese.

– – Grenade and Rocket launchers – –

B-10 82mm
The B-10 Recoilless Rifle system has been the workhorse of the Combloc countries for over 50 years.  It is still encountered around the world, and with the sinking of the North Korean spy ship by the Japanese, an example of the Russian B-10 still in NK service was found.

Type 68 RPG-7
The RPG-7 recoilless rifle system has been around since the mid-1960s, and it replaced the RPG-2 in North Korean service at that time.  North Korea manufactures and exports the Type 68.  This example was taken from the sunken spy ship off the Japanese coast.

AGS-17 30mm automatic grenade machine gun.

AGS-17 30mm
North Korea advertises the AGS-17 30mm automatic grenade machine gun as manufactured indigenously.  We haven’t seen any North Korean model in action, nor been able to examine a North Korean manufactured one, but North Korean arms dealers issue a brochure showing it made there.  The AGS series has a range of 1700 meters and is a lightweight, effective area weapon.

North Korean MANPAD (Man Portable Air Defense System).

This Manpad (Man Portable Air Defense system) IGLA-S 9K38 series was taken from the wreckage of the sunken North Korean spy vessel and is deactivated in Japanese possession.