QBZ-03: China’s latest assault rifle

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For reasons unknown in the West the Chinese are experimenting with a conventional/non-bullpup conversion of their QBZ-95 rifle. It is called the Type 03 / QBZ-03. Information is scarce but it appears to be currently being used by PAP (Peoples Armed Police).

Here are some photos of the rifle in action (From Ronguild and ShanghaiExpress @ MP.net):

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Close ups of the rifle disassembled (click to expand):

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Picture 15-14

It has been said that the reason the QBZ-03 is being developed is that the conventional design is better suited to certain mission requirements. I don’t buy that reason. While there are many reasons to love/hate bullpups it is proven that they fulfill the exact same role as conventional rifles. I am not sure what the reason is but maybe the QBZ-95 is just not performing as expected.

The rifle chambers the Chinese 5.8x42mm DBP87 round and the export version, introduced last year, chambers the 5.56mm NATO.

  Aboutus  Product  5.56Mm-Folding-Butt-Automatic-Rifle

Specifications for the 5.56mm export version:

Caliber: 5.56 x 45mm
Overall length:960mm/710mm with butt unfolded/folded
Total weight:3.8kg / 8.4 lbs with empty magazine
Firing model: Single shot, continuous firing, 3-rounds burst
Sight: Mechanical sight or optical sight

There does not appear to be a “Canadian” version yet (Sorry, I am just jealous of those lucky Canadians and their QBZ-97 imports ;) ).

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/ Sven Ortmann

    The flash hider has three rings. What’s the purpose?

    It looked like a flash hider/muzzle brake combo at first, but zoom in tells me there are merely rings around it.

    Maybe it’s somehow related to rifle grenades?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Sven, you are correct. The flash hider is also the attachment for rifle grenades.

  • R.A.W.

    I guess the Chinese army has always been a fan of rifle grenades. The type 81 had the front sight post conspicuously moved back to allow their use.

  • http://heartlesslibertarian.blogspot.com Heartless Libertarian

    If it’s just for the police, maybe it has something to do with bayonet and/or riot control.

    I can’t imagine bayonetting or buttstroking peasants with a bullpup being all that ergonomic.

    Or maybe it’s mostly just an export thing. Many armies (Anarachangel has a lengthy post on the subject) dislike bullpup for perfectly legitimate reasons.

  • http://gunblobber.wordpress.com Gun Blobber

    How interesting. Looks like the lovechild of an FAL and an AK. Would love to have more info on these.

  • jdun1911

    I have to disagree with you.

    The bullpup are very bad design. The negatives outweighed any positives that is gain in a bullpup design by a large margin.

    Every Special Force units that I know off use the conventional rifle design instead of their standard issued bullpup.

    I have not seen any contractors in Iraq or Afghanistan that prefer the bullpup design.

    http://anarchangel.blogspot.com/2005/03/why-bullpups-are-persistently-bad-idea.html

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      jdun1911, I know we disagree on the bullpup ;) But that is not what I said in the article. The Chinese are claiming that bullpups and conventional rifles are better suited in different roles. That doesn’t sound true to me. Why the MPs would need a conventional rifle but the Army needs a bullpups is beyond me. I think their bullpup did not work out all that well and they are trialing the QBZ-03.

      • frost

        okay you can argue all you want but the truth is it is a matter of opinion, while it makes sense to me to have the range and power of a full length rifle in a carbine size some say that modern combat makes this irrelevant? Anyway first thing to get people to understand is that SPFs do use bullpups just not the british americans ect. Check the fn 200 or the styr aug they all are used just not by the major SPF and since the two largest military powers still use conventional rifles it doesnt say much. The main reason for the whole SPF thing is that most and I say most not all, bullpups lack rail systems to put attachments on and special forces love their gadgets.so conventional rifles they choose but what ever works will do thats why theyr Special. Back to the real topic its interesting that they went towards the 95 then the 03 id like to find out the reason, cause sorry but i dont think that the army would get 2 weapons beacuse the soldiers feel uncomfortable when firing it why not get the one that works for both, beacuse while there are advantages for BP rifles its better to have one than 2 rifles this just far outways the advantages but if the whole north south rifle things is true sorry just cant trust what people say on blogs tiz all and make sure u check before printinf facts

  • John

    Well, at least you get a better sight radius on the QBZ-03 than the QBZ-95. More accuracy, plus faster mag reloads.

  • andrew

    Ive been told that apparently the reason for the Type 03 is that the compact design of the Type 95 was disliked by many northern troops because their taller builds made shooting a bullpup uncomfortable and awkward. Thus a larger conventional design was deemed appropriate to address this issue.

    The Type 03 and Type 95 are being produced at the same rates. Which means China has two main assault rifles, the Type 95 for the south and Type 03 for the north.

  • Dave

    Isn’t the QBZ-95 a direct-impingement design? This new ’03 appears to use a short stroke piston.

  • V.I.P.

    hey guys, go to http://www.enemyforces.net/firearms/type86s.htm
    it the prototype of QBZ-95

    and the QBZ-95 and 03 are chinese designs. the ammo is chinese design too

  • Spy

    Interesting picture of chinese soldiers with QBZ-03′s in their hands. Only two are carrying their type-95 bullpup.
    http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showpost.php?p=4662140&postcount=1069

  • mechamaster

    Bullpup rifle best in CQB role and Standard rifle design in open field operation

  • John

    The QBZ03 was a backup plan for the QBZ95 rifle.

  • Alvar
  • ali

    this is not chinese rifle it is copycat from the AMERICAN NAVY RIFLE M-16

  • ivorfyzel

    The thing is that the bullpup design, while it may look cool and sleek, is essentially a pile of crap unless it’s equipped with some sort of contraption to eject spent cartridges from the front, plus in most of these designs the balance is totally off. This essentially means that while you get a more compact weapon, it’s often not very comfortable to shoot, and if you’re a lefty you may be totally screwed as is the case with the British L85 which only ejects spent cartridges to the right.
    If you need a simple and rugged design that will operate reliably under the most adverse conditions, you can’t go wrong with the traditional arrangement in which the pistol grip and trigger are behind the magazine.
    From what I can see QBZ-03 seems to be based on an older design the Chinese toyed with in the 1980′s, which was in turn ultimately an update of the venerable soviet SKS carbine