The ChiCom Type 56 chest rig has a long history, going back to the Vietnam War and continuing up to the present day. Built of heavy duty canvas and carrying three AK-47 magazines, it has seen service with both US Special Operations Forces and those they have hunted.
Classic Type 56
The standard Type 56 has 3 magazine pouches and 4 ancillary pouches. For most of us today, those 4 ancillary pouches are of somewhat limited use. Originally sized for oil bottles and similar, they can carry smaller items such as a compass, batteries, or other admin items. They really aren’t even that useful for a radio larger than a Walmart FRS/GMRS. The magazine pouches will fit a single AK mag and allow you to close and secure the flap, or two AK mags without securing the flap. The downside to the magazine pouches are the wooden toggles, which are difficult to manipulate, especially when rushed.
Because these chest rigs are available all over the internet, there is an entire cottage industry of modifications, most of which center around the substitution of webbing for the ancillary pouches and the addition of hook and loop to the magazine pouches.
Parashooter Gear Type 56M
Parashooter Gear, a veteran-owned company out of Texas, has taken the Type 56 and brought it into the modern era. Called the Type 56M, it is built from modern materials and is significantly more modular than its namesake. Gone are the ancillary pockets, replaced by two columns of PALS webbing on each side of the magazine pockets.
Also gone are the obnoxious wooden toggles. Instead, Parashooter Gear went with bar buttons and a piece of shock cord with a webbing tab. This provides several advantages. First, it keeps opening nearly silent. Second, opening is much faster and smoother than with the toggles. Third, if the shock cord is too tight or begins to wear out, it is easily user-adjustable and replaceable.
While the rig I’m reviewing has the straps attached, you can order it with no harness. This option allows you to choose between an H-harness or an X-harness that you can purchase from Parashooter Gear, or you can use one of your own.
A final feature of the rig is the hook panel on the back. This allows you to add whatever hanger pouches you desire, whether just a TQ or a full on dangler.
If you’re looking for a basic AK chest rig, this is really an excellent option. Plus, for those of you with a nostalgic bent, it offers that nostalgia with a modern twist and multiple options. While it is significantly more pricey than the original ($125 versus $20), it’s also significantly more functional. Plus, you’d be supporting a vet and not the Chinese…
If a Type 56 chest rig isn’t your jam, Parashooter Gear also makes AK placards for plate carriers (called the Volk), Type 81 chest rigs with 4 AK mag pouches, a subgun rig called the Type 79, plate carriers, and other placards. They’ve really got the AK crowd covered!
If you enjoyed, give us a follow and a share. Social media really limits our ability to advertise, and organic shares always have the biggest impact. If you think I missed something or have a question, drop a comment below. Alternatively, you can contact me via my Facebook page, Google Hangout, or email at guntoter.official (at) gmail.com. We also have a Patreon page where you can help offset some of the expenses that we incur buying gear to review.
Thanks for reading!