Chinese Counter-Terrorism Unit using M4 Clone (Norinco CQ-A)

These images were taken from a Chinese TV program about the Snow Leopard Commando Unit (SLCU, 雪豹突击队) training program. The Snow Leopards are a special police unit officially known as 3rd Group, 13th Detachment, People’s Armed Police Beijing General Corp. They are trained to respond to counter-terrorism, riots, bombs and hijacking.

The Norinco CQ-A, also known as the Norinco CQ 5.56mm Type A, is Norinco’s M4A1 clone. It is produced for use internally as well as export.







Hat Tip: Raptor937 @ Arfcom. Thanks to Jay for the link. 

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.


  • Evan V

    Either they’re going for modularity or maybe the QBZ-95isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    • Matt Shermer

      The QBZ is definately in that odd firearm category, it handles like a FAMAS, which takes some getting used to when you used an AK for most of your life, but it’s probably more of an issue of the QBZ being earmarked for the military, I don’t know if they’ve produced enough to arm everyone with it…

    • DW

      My guess is that the M4 platform is better suited for optics. Mounting any optic on QBZ-95 places optics too high relative to the bore, due to the built-in carry handle.

      • Esh325 That’s a possibility, but the Chinese had other rifles they could have chose from that had a rail on top with that didn’t mount scopes too much. I imagine they had a choice of choosing this over the M4 but didn’t for some reason.

        • DW

          The ergo on the QBZ-03 is just bad, look at where the non-reciprocating charging handle is situated. And their habit of gripping the magwell doesn’t bode well for the 03.

          • Esh325

            How do you know? Have you fired it? It’s difficult to say the ergonomics are good or bad from a picture.

      • gallan

        More like better ergonomics with the adjustable stock, easily add rails in the future, can fire on both shoulders, more accurate. In other words same reason why everyone else uses it.

      • ildirtydevin 288

        The QBZ95 is a “fad gun”, something that makes the PLA feel they are a “modern army”, its an awkard design, and their are better platforms that the chonese have copied or have at home( akm derivatives) that are better performers.

    • Guest

      They make a QBZ-03 (non bullpup rife) in 5.56×45 with a M1913 rail on top and they could have chose that, but didn’t.

    • whodywei

      They are just getting familiar with the AR system, because they will be training with the Jordanian counter terrorism unit.

  • Alex

    Is it a true M4A1 clone with the SOPMOD barrel profile?

    • Esh325

      What’s a SOPMOD barrel profile? Just a heavy barrel?

      • Alex

        The portion of the barrel underneath the hand guard is a medium profile, thicker than the one found in the M4 carbine. It also retains the M203 flats as well.

  • ahil925

    I find it more interesting that they’re not using their native 5.8x42mm cartridge.

    • Anonymoose

      Their police forces seem to use a lot of 5.56×45 and 9×19 “export” weapons and 7.62×39 AK and SKS variants rather than the 5.8s. For example:

      I don’t think 5.8×42 would work in a STANAG mag, so they’d have to change the magwell to use QBZ-95 mags, which would then render those useless for export purposes because they’re trying their damnedest to never export their 5.8mm cartridges.
      I also suspect they’re passing these “export” clones of NATO weapons onto the PAP and local police in order to save money since they produce tons of them but not enough countries buy them.

  • Now, there is a Chinese scope I’d like to try.

  • gallan

    They probably have western instructors, who use the m4 weapon system.

    • Anonymoose

      lolno. They’d be lucky to have Russian or other ex-Soviet instructors.

      • snmp

        Israelian instructors,

  • legersois

    In France, we have some of these Norinco M-4. Some lot are quite good, but others are natural corner shot …. You have to be lucky. Retail price at about 800 € (1050 $). It’s cheap when “real” AR cost double of that. But i would never buy one. Better stay with my Zastava M70ab2 low “budget shooting” before buying a Tavor when i’ll have the money.

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      Legersole, to be perfectly frank with you, your Zastava M70 is probably better than the Tavor, M-4, M-16 or most equivalents given the exigencies of the modern battlefield. The M70 was, and still is, one of the most outstanding assault rifles in terms of all-around performance and sheer reliability, not to mention quality of workmanship. At the cost of sounding like a Dutch uncle ( with sincerest apologies to all my friends from the Netherlands ), I think you should always keep your M70 regardless of what else comes along.

      • Legersois

        For sure i’ll keep it ! I love AK’s, and even more this one. The rolls royces of AKM. Nothing can’t be reach from 0 to 200 yards under my sight. With a better shooter, i don’t want to think of it ^^
        I just want a new 223 rifle, and Tavor catches my eyes =D

    • DinoMP5

      Living in Switzerland, I have one of these and I am more than happy with it. The finish isn’t probably the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, but it is at least as accurate as my SIG 551 SB; at less than half of the cost. Frankly speaking, I really love it.

  • dp

    Now, how about to pay license fees on your spankin’ fresh ‘buqiang’, comrades? That probably never happens. Chine is exempt – most ‘favored’ trading partner, right.
    To those who point out ergonomy deficiencies on other rifles – look at AR/M4 first: the charging handle location is absolutely anti-ergo. If you want to charge the gun (why would you have it at first place) you have to take it off your shoulder and loose line of sight. Other option is just to knock-off your teeth in process.

    • 2wheels

      Because of the location of the bolt release the AR/M4 charging handle isn’t used nearly as often as the charging handles on other rifles, so IMHO it’s not as important that it be in an “ergonomic” location.

      • dp

        I respect that opinion and there is value to it. At the same time, there is a mental ‘momentum’ by which when you got used to something you just consider it ‘normal’ without second thought.
        When I saw original M16 before mods, I thought: this is smart!

    • Esh325

      They don’t have to pay any licensing fees on these rifles as the patient expired for the AR/M4 about 25 years ago.

      • dp

        Yeah, true, I just forgot the time is moving on.

      • Blastattack

        I’m pretty sure they don’t pay licensing fees (ever, on anything) because they are China. Since when have western legalities stood in the way of the Chinese industrial machine? Whether or not something is patent protected is irrelevant, If China has a market for it, they’ll build them and sell them regardless.

        • snmp

          In say way of you speach, world need paid fees to china for gunpowder, bank note, coin, ceramic, compass ….

          • Yoyo Ma

            ….and paper, printing, ephredrine

  • Lance

    Good to see the M-4 being used by friend and foe alike shows popular it is.

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    I suspect the SLCU’s status lies somewhere between a very well-equipped and financed metropolitan SWAT team and say, Germany’s GSG-5. Given that assumption, they would still be subject to certain budgetary limitations and probably arrived at the NORINCO M-4 solution as the most cost-efficient one they could presently subscribe to, especially considering that M-4 platform upgrades are generally the most diverse and readily-accessible ones on the market. There are better weapons available, but none have the plethora of modular add-ons vis-vis the M-4/M-16/AR-15 system that can fulfill multiple user needs as well in a standardized system. That is where the M-4/M-16/AR weapons platform really excels — in providing a versatile, well-balanced, all-around reliable rifle/carbine ( not the best, but still very good by any standards in its present form ) that can be adapted without excessive expense or technical effort to suit widely-differing roles. No other comparative basic infantry weapons platform ( read, assault rifle/carbine ) currently possesses this characteristic at this particular cost level.

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    Has anyone noticed that the handguard shrouds in the uppermost picture of this article differ between the soldier on the left and the one on the right? The latter appears to have only the upper shroud in place, exposing the lower handguard and its cooling slots, whereas the former has a completely enclosed upper/lower shroud assembly intact.

    If you look closely at Pictures #2 and #4, the handguards appear to be of the standard short synthetic type sans Picatinny rails, yet Picture #5 features a different one with upper cooling slots and upper and lower Picatinny rails.

    Obviously, these variations are pretty much in line with the different configurations available for this particular weapons platform here in the United States, but it is nevertheless surprising to see the same in Beijing.

    Or, perhaps, it is indicative that the Chinese have kept up with the latest individual weapons trends in their own way.

  • Mikenz

    I Had an 11.5″ Norinco. Would shoot 1.5″ groups at 100 meters but in an almost straight line horizontally. I tried 50 grain federals in it and couldn’t reliable hit the target at 100 m. I sold it and got a Rock River instead.

  • Mikenz

    Sorry forgot to mention it shot 1.5″ groups with 55 grain M193

  • Richardson Basa Sim

    I own one and the rifle is superb and is at par with it’s American made cousins in terms of functionality and dependability, quality of finishing on the other hand on the BCG and lower receiver is not as good though, tool marks are all over the place.