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5.8x42mm QBZ-95 assault rifle, left side view

Other Pictures:
5.8x42mm QBZ-95 assault rifle, right side view; magazine is removed and a 4X telescope sight is installed

5.8x42mm QBZ-95 assault rifle, fitted with a bayonet

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In the late 1980s Chinese designers developed a 5.8 x 42 cartridge, apparently designated DBP87, which is claimed to be superior to both the 5.56 mm NATO and the 5.54 mm Soviet. This cartridge develops a muzzle velocity of 930 metres per second from a standard barrel, with a bullet weighing 4.26 gram.

As soon as the ammunition was ready, the PLA began to develop an entirely new and much more modern family of small arms based on the same action. This family, known as QBZ-95 (`Qing Buqiang Zu` = Light Rifles family, 1995), was first displayed outside the PLA in 1997, when China took over Hong Kong; it was observed that the Chinese guards were armed with a new, modern looking bullpup rifle. In fact it is one of an entirely new family of weapons, all designed around the same action and bullpup layout, which include the assault rifle, a shorter carbine, a light support weapon (with a bipod, a heavier barrel and large capacity magazine), and a sniper rifle. While being quite similar inside, these guns have different body shapes and cannot be converted from one configuration to another. The QBZ-95 line of weapons is now spreading throughout the PLA, commencing with elite units.

The Type 95 was first seen fielded by the PLA Hong Kong garrison troops in 1997, and later entered service with special operations forces (SOFs), airborne corps and marine corps. However, the PLA seems not entirely satisfied with its performance as a range of technical problems and design flaws were reported during the initial fielding. In addition, the fact that the air force and navy are given high priority in China’s defence budgets also slowed the speed of the Type 95 replacing the elder Type 81 and Type 56 rifles in service with the PLA.

The QBZ-95 is a gas operated, magazine fed, automatic weapon with a bullpup layout. It has a short stroke gas piston and a rotating bolt. The charging handle is located at the top of the receiver, under the carrying handle. The housing is made from polymer, with an integral carrying handle, which holds the rear sight base, and has mounting points for optical or night vision scopes. The ejection port is made only at the right side of the weapon, so it cannot be fired from the left shoulder. Standard sights are of the open type, graduated from 100 to 500 metres. The front part of the barrel in the standard version is left unobstructed, so the QBZ-95 rifle can be used to launch rifle grenades. It also can be fitted with an underbarrel grenade launcher or with a knife bayonet. A compact carbine version, sometimes referred to as the CAR-95, cannot use either a grenade launcher or a bayonet, because of the much shortened barrel. Fire controls of QBZ-95 rifle consist of a trigger and a safety/selector switch, located (quite inconveniently) at the rear left of the receiver, behind the magazine housing. QBZ-95 can fire single shots or bursts.

The Type 95 assault rifle adopts a bullpup layout similar to the French Giat FAMAS and the British SA80 assault rifles. The efficiency of this design has been highly controversial from the experience of its fielding in the PLA. The weapon is generally regarded great when used for close-range, hip-firing. However, when the weapon is used for long-range accurate shoulder-firing, the smoke, noise, heat and disturbance of the ejected cartridges are widely complained.

The export version, QBZ-97, which is chambered for popular 5.56 x 45 NATO ammunition, is internally similar to QBZ-95, but has a different, much deeper magazine housing, which accepts a NATO-standard (M16-type) magazines.

Automatic Rifle (Bullpup)

China North Industries Corp. (Norinco) 12A Guang An Men Nan Jie, Beijing, China. P.O.Box 2932 Beijing. Post Code: 100053, Tel: (8610)63529988 Fax: (8610)63540398 E-mail:

Gas-actuated, Rotating bolt

5.8x42mm DBP87

3.25 kg (7.16 yd)

745 mm (29.33 in)

463 mm (18.22 in)

Magazine Capacity:
30 rounds Box or 75 Rounds Drum

Feed system:
Box or Drum

In Production:

hooded post front sight and aperture rear sight

Rate of fire:
650 RPM

Effective range:
400 meters (437 yd)

Muzzle Velocity:
930 m/s (3,050 ft/s)


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