Early Chinese 7.62x39mm hst & box

I know very little about 7.62x39mm but this seems to me to be a pretty early cartridge headstamped 71 56. I thought I’d pass it on and see what the experts think. What is the earliest date on Chinese 7.62x39mm?

Lew, I have an identical box, did it come from RSA?

Lew - nice box. In my records, which admittedly are the files of someone who has never collected this caliber (other than East German), 1956 is the first year of production for this caliber in the People’s Republic of China. This squares with the fact that their SKS and AK47 are both designated Type 56. Both Arsenals 31 and 71 produced these rounds in 1956, while no other arsenal numbers from China encountered on this caliber seem to date from that early.

It will be interesting, especially in light of the fact that the weapons systems for this caliber were adopted by China in 1956, if anyone has an earlier round. The Chinese call the Makarov Pistol the Type 59, but the earliest known Chinese headstamp in that caliber is, to my knowledge, dated “60.”


I collected Chinese AK for decades (huh…!) and I never saw any earlier than 1956, neither in literature nor in any collection. And since the cartridge is of model 56 we need not expect to get any of those made during machine commissioning runs made in 1955.
Plant 31 and 71 head stamps out of 56 were my earliest, all other producers must have got later into that business, starting from around 1960 and mostly even much later.

It is the first box I get to see by the way, it is (or would have been at my time) a real goody!


Very nice box! 1956 seems to be the earliest date this cartridge was made in China, as has been mentioned. This is also the first box I’ve seen from China for this cartridge, excepting of course the commercial exports from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The vast majority of the packaging for this caliber is simple, paper wrapped bundles with no markings. Some of the earlier bundles have markings similar to your box, but this too only seemed to be in practice for a few years. The extra markings with the rubber stamped numbers is especially nice and seem to refer to packing information, not seen on the marked paper bundles. While the “71 56” cartridge itself is not especially rare, this box is in my opinion quite a find.


Lew - how about getting a complete translation of that box. I have some Chinese auto pistol boxes, and maybe a translation of your box will let me read some of what is on my boxes!!!???

John Moss

According to an article in the Chinese magazine QBQ, 1956 was the first batch imported into the US because it was expired from Chinese service.

This one showed up recently overseas. I had never seen this box before. Maybe others have seen it on the US or Canada, but it was new to me.