The Guns of The Royal Army of Sulu




Yesterday I blogged about the weapons used by the Malaysian military and police during the Lahad Datu Standoff. These photos show a group of men believed to be members of the Royal Army of Sulu. They were taken during peace talks between another rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and Philippines government in October of last year. The man (center left in the above photo and dressed in a plain olive drab uniform) is thought to be Raja Muda (Crown Prince) Datu Azzimudin Kiram.

Many of the militia are carrying either M16 or M14 rifles. One of them (front, left) is carrying a bullpup rifle I cannot identify. The gun was probably made in a backyard workshop. The man next to him is carrying what looks like a FN FNC Para Carbine.

Royal_Sulu Army_002

Royal_Sulu Army_Bodyguard_001


Below of some photos of the Malaysia’s elite VAT69 commandoes maintaining a cordon around the village being held by the Royal Army. The photos are from

A special police force guards the area near the location where armed men are holding off in Lahad Datu

Many thanks to Azril for the info and photos.

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.


  • the bullpup rifle in question is a chinese qbz 97 rifle.

    • Drew Nelson

      It could in fact be a qbz 95. The difference between the 97 and the 95 is that the 97 is chambered for the 5.56mm NATO cartridge, as opposed to the 95, which is chambered in the chinese 5.8mm cartridge…. honestly, it could be either one. aesthetically, they are the same.

      • a

        The Norinco QBZ97 is available for commercial sale in the Philippines (and yes with the happy switch). 5.56mm is abundant in the country as opposed to the Chinese 5.8 cartridge which is almost non-existent even during gun shows.

        • Drew Nelson

          Thank you for clearing that matter up….and it makes so much sense to use weapons with readily available ammunition (I should have realized this before…)

    • shilka

      The stock looks all wrong for a type 95/97 it looks like its shorter then a Type 95/97 it looks a bit like a А-91 but it not that either

  • The rifle to the right of the bullpup looked like a Beretta AR70.

  • GD

    Ohhhhhhhh my…

  • Manny Fal

    Why do they wear black? It absorbs more heat so it’s hotter, and it doesn’t help them camouflage. It’s not cost that’s the issue cause their weapons are state of the art. I wager it’s because they think it looks more intimidating.

    • Raven

      Rule of Cool.

    • Anonymoose

      Shock value.

      • Man pippy

        Arguable admittedly, but being well camouflaged (including ones weapon and face) would probably have more shock value shock value as it would demonstrate a degree of competence exceeding the norm. But the main reason they are wearing black now is for the media, who probably would find black more intimidating even though tactically it’s less intimidating.

    • pat

      its for intimidation

  • Filemon from Manila

    I wonder if they have enough ammo. It would seem that the majority use 5.56×45 with only a few using 7.62×51. Supply can be difficult when you are blockaded. At any rate, it would be interesting to have a more thorough review of the weapons picked up from the field after an encounter.

  • a

    Photo above is not of The Royal Army of Sulu. It is of Usdaz Khabir Malik of the Moro National Liberation Front

  • kuba

    MILF – hahahhaha!

  • Tyler Richards

    The M203 on the far right of the top picture looks like it is pointing right at the guy’s arm… That might hurt a little if it was accidentally discharged…

  • jabrauwnie

    HMMPFT ..I WOULD LIKE to try to go on a gunfight with my blue slippers too..

  • jabrauwnie

    This guys don’t like Magpul Products lol..!!!

  • jabrauwnie

    some of them look Airsofters too…wahahahaha

  • jabrauwnie

    they’ll just wear anything that looks tactical to them….without keeping in mind the science of camouflage…

  • William

    The gun you refer to as an FN FNC is actually a Pindad SS1, its manufactured in Indonesia so its presence in the Philippines is highly more likely

  • LCON

    The Bullpup in Question is A QBZ97B sub carbine.

    • Drew Nelson

      The 97B model is too short. Its definitely just a plain ol’ QBZ97.

  • then again the bullpup looks like the SVU-A too?

  • that 2 policeman commando used Bushmaster Carbon-15

  • i can see alot of american hardware within the militia. The camo is not the most up to date but it is still good effective camo nonetheless

  • zags

    bunch of newbies on blacks.. guerrilla warfare never been defeated on any war! for many centuries until now we sill fight! the Spanish,Americans even the Japanese knows that we never did surrender to any of them.. good thing the Americans offered friendship to us just to end bloodshed! Malaysians don’t ever underestimate us Filipinos! were all natural born warriors… that’s just the sulok, causing you problems its not yet the entire Filipino tribes and clans..

  • The bullpup rifle in question is a Type 97A Variant by Norinco, uses 556 NATO, been around in the Philippines for 2 years now and are selling preety well because of pricing. (What can you expect from China? lower prices!)