Chinese Special Forces Competing With AR-15 Rifles

We recently blogged about an elite Chinese counter-terrorism force armed with China-made AR-15 rifles. It turns out that Chinese Special Forces are also using the AR-15. These photos were taken at the 5th annual Warrior Competition held in Jordan where Special Forces from 18 countries competed against each other. Chinese teams came in first and second place. The Chinese teams were armed with Norinco AR-15 rifles, some of them customized with aftermarket stocks and other accessories.

China Special Forces with AR-15

China Special Forces with AR-15 1


More information and photos at Chinese Military Review.

Many thanks to Peter for the tip.

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.


  • TracerTong

    Curious as to why they keep the mags rightside-up in their mag pouches. My guess is that their TTPs are still a good decade or two behind us.

    • Esh325

      If they were so behind, then why did they win first and second place out of 18 countries?

      • bucherm

        Which countries participated?

        • Esh325

          Palestine (Special Police)

          Lebanon (Black Panthers- Team 1)

          Lebanon (Black Panthers – Team 2)

          Jordan (Gendarmerie)

          Canada (Canadian Special Operations Regiment)

          Iraq (CT)

          Kazakhstan (SF)

          Jordan (Public Security Directorate)

          Netherlands (Royal Netherlands Marine Corp)

          Russia (Global Body Guard Service – Redut Bezopasnost Global

          Palestine (Presidential Guards)

          Algeria (SF)

          Bahrain (Defense Force)

          Netherlands (104 SFCOY)

          USA (IDS-private company)

          USA (ARCENT – Team 1)

          USA (ARCENT – Team 2)

          Lebanon (Information Department Special Forces)

          China (Snow Leopard)

          China (SF)

          Switzerland (Skorpions)

          Saudi Arabia (SF Navy)

          Jordan (Royal Guards)

          Greece (SF)

          USA (1-22IN, 1st BDE, 4th IN DIV)

          Jordan (Special Ops)

          Malaysia (SF)

          Lebanon (Armed Forces – Team 1)

          Lebanon (Armed Forces – Team 2)

          France (CPA10)

          Jordan (GID)

          Palestine (National Security Forces – SF)

          Kuwait (SF)

          US (Marines – Team 1)

          Iraq (Federal Police)

          • bucherm

            (1)None of the American Teams look like they are actual “special forces”.

            (2)The competition is run by the Jordanians, which probably means a lot of whiz-bang visually impressive stuff for the Royals to watch…but not necessarily things that most SF train for.

          • Esh325

            Fair enough. I just think people ought to swallow their pride when it comes to that their country didn’t win first place.

          • halland

            Chinese routinely cheat to win competitions, the government needs yo impress it’s citizens or else.

          • hailexiao

            It’s not cheating if you game the rules while abiding strictly by every letter. And nobody games the rules like the Chinese.

          • Jim Nanban

            I’d agree, except most of the comments I’ve seen that would be “prideful Americans” were posted AFTER the counter-arguments to them praising the Chinese and “responding” to a straw man that hadn’t been pulled out yet. So… yeah. Sinophilia, alive and well.

          • john huscio

            dont see DEVGRU or SFOD-D on there

      • John

        “TRG” in the post below gives an interesting insight to how competitions actually go. In short, I wonder who funded the competition

        • TracerTong

          This needs to be upvoted to the top. The Chinese cheated at the sniper competition. Wouldn’t surprise me if they cheated here as well.

          • whodywei

            By cheating you mean they didn’t use any magpul products, HK guns, and the latest/greatest Mall Ninja gears ???

      • Mike F Di

        competition is fine….wonder how they’d fare dicking around in a hot LZ..

        • DiverEngrSL17K

          While I certainly second your opinion, it is still unwise to underestimate your enemies, or even your friends for that matter. Just because there appears to be no formal, publicized record of PLA Special Forces having carried out operations under difficult and challenging circumstances, it does not mean that they haven’t actually done so.

          Another thing we all need to remember is that the majority of actual SF operations and their true capabilities ( this applies to any nation ) are usually not publicized for obvious reasons. So the answer to your question is that, in reality, they would probably give a pretty good account of themselves in a hot LZ, regardless of any pundit’s opinions.

      • TracerTong

        Competition != Combat.

      • Robert Bruce

        You act like this competition means anything. The US is FIGHTING a war. We didn’t send our best units. Delta force, DEVGRU, FBI HRT, etc. We still could have lost, that does’t mean they ones who beat us are better.

        I would take the US military, battle hardened after 10 years, and go up against china who hasn’t fought a war since Vietnam.

  • Griff

    IS that Chambered in the Chinese 5.8 or in 5.56?

    • Esh325

      5.56×45. They don’t make a 5.8mm model to my knowledge.

  • jamezb

    Are their rifles in 5.56 NATO, or 5.45×39? ..It may just be my old eyes, but the loaded mag on the table looks…small…although the one in the pouch looks about right…

  • Nicholas Mew

    Well the AR-15 is more of a completion rifle than a combat rifle to begin with so nothing special here.

  • Vermin.308Winchester

    This is interesting because their m4 clones not clones of match rifles with free float barrels and various other accurizeing features. However you have to consider their alternatives barring something whipped up custom they have the obviouse QBZ-97 the “type 81” or other AK derivative or the Chinese SKS. or for that matter another rip off brought to you bye norinco. At any rate I find this telling in many ways to name a few deductions I will say that I personally doubt their haveing much success with their pseudo domestically designed QBZ-97 particularly in relation to accuracy as barring some major failing a propagandist will generally insist the “new” military rifle be shown worthy of the people’s army. Also I cannot imagine these men where given ANY custom options and therefore went with the most inherently accurate option being the rip of AR-10 derivative in reach of their limited burcratic clout.

    • Anonymoose

      I personally just say “.308 AR.” Considering that the SR-25 revived the DI .308 concept I prefer to call them .308 ARs, but since a revived Armalite introduced the AR-10B (actually an AR-15A2 clone scaled up for .308, not simply a modernized AR-10, and then everyone had to copy them) most people refer to .308 ARs as “AR-10s,” just as most people call non-Colt/Armalite AR-15 clones “AR-15s” or “M4s.”

    • Lance

      They also make a awesome and excellent M-14 clone imported by Polytech only for a few years. Then Bush banned them.

      • Michel_T

        Which are still readily available in Canada 😉

        Thank god, because it’s our only option, as the US State dept. will not authorize the export of US made M14… 🙁

  • Zach

    Has anyone considered that the chinese gov’t might not like showing 5.8 outside of china? That was a thought that came into my mind when I considered how secretive the Russians originally were with every variant of the AK platform. When the first milled AKs were rolling out of Izhmash, they were carried with covers on and every fired casing was hunted down. Perhaps the Chinese are treating their 5.8 rifles with the same absurd level of secrecy.

    • noob

      that makes a lot of sense.

      Are the QBZ-03s that the UWSA got in 5.56 or in 5.8? china makes QBZ-03s in both calibers.

      • whodywei

        UWSA doesn’t have QBZ 03. Those are rubber guns.

    • whodywei

      I don’t think this has anything to do with secrecy. KASOTC requires all competitors to use NATO standard 5.56 ammunition.

    • Wei Jonathan Zheng

      The US Marines have had more than one opportunities to test handle and SHOOT the QBZ-95 during joint military exercises between the two nations. Also, i believe armed forces from Russia, Pakistan, Thailand and Australia, along with maybe a couple other countries have shot the 5.8 mm rifles as well. The Australians had a chance to shoot the recently issued QBZ-95-1 variant with the new optic designed specifically for 5.8 mm DBP10 rounds’ ballistics during a competition just this month. The PLA actually have a tradition of exchanging standard issued rifles with foreign troops during joint exercise; that’s if anyone can get a chance to work with them.

    • Rick Randall

      China is offering the 5.8 for export sale, IIRC.

  • Andrew

    Hey at least they aren’t Bushmaster or Tapco.

  • Vermin.308Winchester

    They cheated i now it I am sure of It i witnessed such histrocal documentaries as rocky 4 and the like commies never win fair like. even if they only used communism as a bait and switch designed to create the perfect society which allways seems to be perfect for the creators and champions of its premise but now one else and after the “proletariat” falls Into the grand new way of things said premise gives way to practicality namingly hyper chronyist capitalism

    • noob


  • Vermin.308Winchester

    Dose the cartridge on the table look bent to anyone else? first photo to the lower right of the shooter who is gripping the mag well and monopoding on a mag with a large white dot.

  • Gidge

    I can see China and Canada legitimately finishing at the the pointy end of the field, but Palestinian, Lebanese and Jordanian teams finishing that far ahead of the Marine’s? I call Bullshit!!

    The Palestinians in particularly are little more than a bunch poorly trained gun toting thugs who make easy target practice for the IDF. If they’re coming in 4th spot then it can’t be much of a competition.

    • Lolinski

      You just have to live with the fact that you aren’t the best. Seriously I have seen first graders that arent such sore losers.

      • Vermin.308Winchester

        This competiton says nothing about who is the “best” at this sort competition nationally it merely demonstrates how good the men each nation put into the competiton are. If it even accurately measures that! My previous humor aside the Chinese do like to win a hell of allot

      • hailexiao

        Same reason the US Army looks rather pathetic when goosestepping with other ex-Allied militaries at Victory Day parades in Red Square; they’re too busy doing actual fighting and training to bother.

    • Vermin.308Winchester

      Everyone has their natural talents and if you merge that with reasearch and practice funded bye a motivated government obsessed with proving soverenty and you get the best shooters they could possibly muster. Which probly isn’t what the U.S military did

      • Robert Bruce

        Best shooting is the US. Kids in the US grow up shooting. No country has us beat on that.

    • Victor

      The Marines are to busy now doing some actual fighting, so they don’t have any time to compete.

  • Mike F Di

    well…the camo their using sucks about as bad as ACU…mixed with a smattering of brit woodland…badly mixed I might add.
    cant say, I’d be impressed with their abilities shooting BETTER made rifles and ammo, versus the home grown dreck, in Jordan’s competition.

  • got_wood?

    these norinco clones are actually decent. the only thing you need to replace are the buffer weight, tube and the horrific magazines. other than that, they’re good to go. it’s got chrome lined 1:9 twist ratio barrel. heck, the trigger can even outlast some US made ones. as for accuracy, it’s a decent shooting rifle within 200 meters. some of it’s parts can even outlast US made parts.

  • Shawn


    Seems like a few of you have forgotten this websites creed.

    As far as competitions, go, no one always wins all of them.

    All it takes for one team member to be having a bad day and its over.

  • simon

    They are not military special. They are more like national guard or armed LE.

  • dp

    So here you have it volks: less sex, less boozing, less counterproductive ego and more REAL training including athletics and you get results. And on top of it with your own rifles; cannot be much more disgrace – huh! I am sorry for you and Congratulations to Chinese teams!

    Well, of some the soothing can be the fact it was ordered by Communist party of China – you win or you go to Gobi ! ))))
    (For those who do not know, Gobi is dessert in western China; who goes in, rarely returns.)

    • Vermin.308Winchester

      The gobi is a cold enormous desert not a death camp their political prisons are wherever they want them to be. Secondfedyou cannot compare the too because the Chinese care about this competion more than the United States military and therefore put their best into it. Weather or not there best was honest or not is unknown! And lastly the Olympics turns into a super athletic bone fest after the events end so

      • dp

        Exactly, so I would not take it too seriously; its just a sport, right. Actually, by taking U.S. originated equipment seriously is good sign. On the other hand China has its presence, like it or not. Actually, in North America without such common products from there like socks, shirts and underwear we would be soon stuck. This is NOT done too us by ‘bad’ Chinese but by international trade people.

    • Robert Bruce

      Own rifles? They are norinco copies They use the rifle themselves, not just on this day. says more to how the AR system is better. They copied and used the Remington 700 and Schmidt and bender short dot optics too. The Chinese sponsored the event and allegations of cheating has been posted to this blog. Not by Americans. they docked points from a chech team so the Chinese would win. The Chinese team got the entire course ahead of time and practiced it for two months. They fired thousands of rounds during that two month time period. Knowing china this “SF” unit specialized in these competitions.

      People where so pissed because of the blatant shooting no one clapped during the ceremony and the Chinese just left right after it.

  • Tom Gerace

    Other than perhaps picking off fleeing Nepalese civilians what is their operational record?

  • Zamfir

    The Chinks are physically fit, can shoot well, and don’t believe their own bullshit. They won. Its that simple. Eat it.

    • ….So whats your excuse Call of Duty wannabe?

      • Kevinberger

        Well, I don’t know for Zamfir,but, personally, my excuse is Freudian… Say, did I ever tell you about my mother?

    • Robert Bruce

      They cheated it looks like.

  • SnJohnson

    Here’s the score if you were interested as I was. Sadly, the best the US guys could do was 20th out of 32. They need to step up their game! Even France beat us…

    • Kevinberger

      “Even France”… On one hand, I was going to comment about the special place my country seems to hold in a certain kind of American collective psyche, but, on the other, you seem butthurt enough (that the exact, absolutely context-appropriate word, isn’t it?) for me to skip that, and just… enjoy. “Even France”. Oh, my.

  • Lance

    I agree with got wood. I read good reviews from Canadians who buy cheap Norinco CQ A1 rifles and M-4 style carbines and like them. Im joking and serious to say be cool to see China dump the lousy Type 56 rifles carbines and Type 95 family of commie guns and go for ARs, LOL. As the Army’s killing of ICC shows if you want a very very very good 5.56mm rifle a good AR based weapon is the way to go. Wish we dump the 1989 Bush ban and get cheap Chinese ARs in.

  • Vermin.308Winchester

    What gets me about the QBZ is its styling its just so deliberately Asian looking something you rarely see outside of the few domestic japanese submachineguns

  • Nathaniel

    But the Internet said the AR-15 is the worst rifle in the world!

  • Freedoooom

    Its simple. Create a team for these competitions, teach them to over expose themselves for single dead center headshots for scoring and profit.

    Whereas the US teams were probably not over exposing themselves double tapping to the exposed shoulder first and then doing a double tap to center mass because its combat training they do, not competition.

  • Forrest

    Americans too frequently underestimate China in every way. The “made in China” stereotype tells you nothing about the kind of warrior culture that has existed here for 3000+ years. I’m living in China now — and yes, it is dirty and crazy and crowded, but when a Chinese person says “This is MY house” they use the character 我 to say “me”. The left-hand side of the character comes from an ancient word (shou) meaning hand, and the right-hand side of the character comes from a word (ge) meaning “dagger-axe” — that is one of those pike-ish weapons you see in period piece kunfu movies. So if you’re Chinese and you’re talking about your private property, then you point at what is yours and you do it by referring to the weapon in your hand: “this is mine”. And for those of you who still think this has anything to do with cold war politics: China is a capitalist paradise. Just ask Steve Jobs. These people have a warrior culture that exceeds whatever goofy stereotypes and chest-thumping you grew up with back in the states. And for the record I grew up in the farms of Oregon. Love my country. If you really honor the warrior society in the US then you have to honor the achievements of warriors everywhere. Full stop.

    • Yellow Devil

      As an American with Chinese ethnicity, I don’t “underestimate” the individual Chinese warrior spirit, but I have no patience for the top-down collectivist authoritarian government that can undermine individual property rights through rampant imminent domain. Unfortunately, that warrior culture you so admire is nothing without
      individual free-will, otherwise China probable wouldn’t have had the self-inflicted genocide known as the “The Great Leap Forward” and “Cultural Revolution”. For the record, China doesn’t have a capitalist economy in the conventional sense, it is more of a Fascist-leaning economic system, with Communism thrown on the top as a rallying cry. And yes I have been to 中國, aka the Middle Kingdom.

      • PlsGetReal

        Another one of those bananas… “yellow outside, white inside”

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      Well said, Forrest. We tend to forget that the Chinese have endured incredible travails that would have destroyed many other cultures throughout their long and storied ( and often tortured ) history that often boggles the mind, yet they have managed to not only survive but also thrive in spite of the odds ( including the self-inflicted problems of Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” and the so-called “Cultural Revolution” that Yellow Devil refers to. To make it clear, we are talking about the Chinese people here, and not the political or neo-cultural system that has been imposed upon them. The same can be said of the Vietnamese and the Russians in the face of similar historical and socio-political-economic odds.

      As I have said before, it is unwise to underestimate one’s ( potential ) enemies and even friends, regardless of the circumstances of their being.

    • Mark

      I have no idea where you are living but during the 2 years I lived there I didn’t share the experience. What I saw was an authoritarian system of abuse that caused people to restrict their own thoughts in order to keep from being frustrated at how powerless they were. Maybe it was because my province(Jilin) was exceptionally corrupt. I did see a real warrior spirit in the beatings the police handed out to people on the street, though it was no worse than LA.

    • Jud Cargile

      Norinco is still a cheap attempt at a rifle.The barrels are rumored to be rather good.I live in the PH and I know that more than a few Chinese companies will do a little more than just cut corners and to hell with everyone else. China has a decent warrior history and all, but,if the majority of exports are not bare minimum standards, it is a new development and If they come to MY house, somebody is getting their butt whooped. I will sell them Obama and call it balance paid in full,.Obviously the record reflects that I am from the heart of Dixie.

    • Robert Bruce

      what chest thumping? This competition is a competition. The US doesn’t send our best units, we are in a war. tier 1 units are deployed. This things don’t really matter. So what? the Chinese won. china would be a country that has a unit that just trains for this. They haven’t been in a war since Vietnam. The US is the most battle hardened country right now.

      Warrior culture is some bull shit. Chinese martial arts are bullshit throwback. mma is real fighting and that’s what US troops learn. Yeah, china stole and steals it’s technology from the US and we still for some reason let them into our universities while denying a spot to an american. This country is fucked up.

      luckily china is imploding on itself with is massive need for growth. You know the ghost cities. It’s polluting itself out of being habitable. The smog which is like smoking a cigarette 24/7. luckily i live in the US where we will always be able to feed ourselves and if we could get off of oil and fix the debt we are fine. And separated by two oceans thank God.

      • lewl

        MMA is sports martial arts compromising of a few forms of watered down styles you idiot where the most obvious places to hurt someone are completely ignored, if you were a soldier you’d know this but assuming from what you said you’re not a soldier. Another arrogantly ignorant American.

        • Robert Bruce

          A few forms of watered down styles? Man you are not a soldier nor a have any form of combat training. You are clueless. National champions of different martial arts have fought in the MMA. Nothing is watered down. Muay thai is real, BJJ is real, wrestling is real. All those beat kung fu bull shit. You know why? Because they are more effective.

          Most obvious places to hurt someone are ignored… Yes, because they are not trying to kill people in competitive MMA. The US military learns to stomp your head until their is nothing left.

          When i said learn MMA, I mean you moron different types of martial arts. Grappling, striking, ETC. Far more effective than the Japanese and Chinese bullshit martial arts. Some are actually not bullshit and are used. Most are ineffective in a real fight.

          Nothing i said was arrogant or ignorant. you are worse than ignorant you are stupid. your comment about MMA tells me you cant comprehend what i was saying.

          Ohh yeah, norinco sponsored this event. The Chinese team not only cheated at the event, but trained on the course three months in advance. the fired 3k rounds.

          See if you think this competition means ones special forces is better than another you are foolish. It means nothing. The only fighting this Chinese unit has done is shoot some Tibetan monks walking across the border.

  • gallannd

    OK this what the Chinese almost certainly do in every competition they enter, at the very least. They try to find out what the competition involves ahead of schedule, then handpick a group and make them train hard in whatever the competition involves.
    That is basically cheating. The competition is meant to foster goodwill between militaries and also compare the training of the average soldier in each military. Preparing a team beforehand harms this goodwill and distorts training effectiveness.

  • warriorway3080

    I think its a smart move on their part from a logistical stand point. If and when we ever meet them on the battlefield they can simply use our weapons and ammo! they will have the training. What I try and explain to ppl is that they are the new evil empire but one with money and a strong production base!

    • PlsGetReal

      evil ? Who is bombing the brown people ? These are the really evil ones !

  • Robert Bruce

    So we find out the Chinese cheated sounds about right. Who cheats in a competition that does’t mean anything?