Exclusive: Taiwan’s Latest Type XT Prototype Rifle

The Taiwanese military have been developing a modern assault rifle since 2008. Four years ago they unveiled their first prototype, named the Type XT97. The latest prototype has just been unveiled and we were lucky enough to have been sent detailed photos of the new rifle. It bears a superficial resemblance to the original prototype but looking closely a lot has changed both externally and internally. The new prototype is a lot more polished and looks production ready.

TFB Taiwan Type XT Rifle 2

The upper receiver is a one piece aluminum extrusion. The lower will be polymer but the prototype lower is metal.

The the stock folds and has an adjustable cheek rest. The stock has holes to hold the rifle’s takedown pins during field stripping, like some of the H&K rifles. In fact, the takedown pins themselves look H&K inspired.

TFB Taiwan Type XT TFB 3


The bolt head is based on the AK design, rather than the Stoner design featured in so many of the new assault and semi-automatic rifles on the market. It has a short stroke gas system similar to the FN SCAR. The charging handle is ambidextrous and can be locked forward so that it does not reciprocate when the action cycles. The gas system is not adjustable.

TFB Taiwan Type XT TFB 4

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The compensator / flash hider is designed for use with a quick detach suppressor. Multiple barrel lengths were on display.

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This rifle looks very promising. It merges many of the features from the AR-15, AK, SCAR and Bushmaster ACR. The current Taiwanese service rifle, the T91, based on the AR-15 and AR-18 designs, has only been in service for a decade so this rifle is probably not intended to replace it. I suspect this rifle will be issued to Special Forces, vehicle crews, airborne and mechanized infantry who require a more compact rifle or a rifle that has more customization options.

Many thanks to Sam Cheng for the photos and information.

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.


  • Joe Schmoe

    I’m not sure I can put my finger on it, but something about that rifle just screams at me, “Designed by Committee”.

    • TaterSaladinator

      Combine the best parts of 4 different rifles, why not?

      Kalashnikov Bolt
      G36 foregrip and short stroke piston
      SCAR stock and bolt handle
      AR lower and controls

      Although if it were me I would have made it an H&K style selector, but I’m biased.

      • Anonymoose

        Personally I like the HK selectors over AR ones.

      • Rick Randall

        More like “AR18 short stroke piston”, given the G36 gas piston is nothing but a copy of the AR18. . .

    • 306_AD

      Not designed by committee. But, best of everything in one package.

  • Eddie

    Interesting! Looks better than SCAR. Maybe USSOCOM will adapt it! 😀

  • Mike F Di

    TAIWANESE SCAR!!!!!!!!!

    • 306_AD

      Nope. Taiwanese XCR.

  • Guest

    Name is AR-SCAR-AK-ACR!

    • Boo

      Or the RAACKSAACR

  • phuzz

    I can imagine why they have camo netting down the back of their booth, but it does make it quite hard to make out the gun which has pretty much the same camouflage on it.
    Possibly that’s the point.

    • 306_AD

      Ya think?

  • Drew

    Its my four favorite assault rifles in a single package!

  • Frosty_The_White_Man

    When a SCAR and an ARX love each other very much….

    • 1leggeddog

      So daddy put his bolt into mommy’s receiver?

  • LRB

    Externals of the SCAR, Internals on an AK, only in Asia.

    • Esh325

      Is that a bad thing?

    • Suburban

      AK bolt lugs are a lot beefier than AR bolt lugs. I’m a little puzzled why the ACR and SCAR both have AR-type bolts.

    • 306_AD

      Actually it’s closer to the Robinson XCR than it is to the AK or the SCAR.

  • mechamaster

    love that ambidextrous non-reciprocating charging handle.
    Need more a picture with underbarrel grenade launcher installed.

  • hami

    It looks like a well made, well though out rifle. The Taiwanese should be proud.

  • Big Daddy

    It looks like it was designed by a committee that is true – But it also looks like one guy tweaked it for 4 years to make it work before they invested in mass production. I think this is the type of weapon I would want to go to war with. Now only if it were in 6.8mm.

  • Jack

    XCR-L has been doing this since 2006, and in 6.8, 7.62×39 and 5.45. Made in the USA!! It’s a shame the customer service is….. below average.

    • Cornelius Carroll

      I think they’re simply understaffed

      • 306_AD

        That is part of it. The other part is they never took the civilian market seriously enough.

  • Clint Notestine

    looks like a chinese airsoft copy of a SCAR

  • Esh325

    I wonder what their intention is with this rifle? Replace their piston AR15? Export?

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      I don’t think it is designed by export since it is being designed by the military itself (not to say that a private manufacturer won’t export it in the future).

      • Esh325

        Maybe perhaps they thought that designing a new rifle all together would be more reliable than their piston adapted M4? Similar to FN Herstal’s claims “When compared to a direct gas impingement system that has been adapted
        to use a gas piston or operating rod, the FN SCAR® gas system proves to
        be more simple, robust and reliable. The first position on the gas
        regulator is for normal operation, while the second position ensures
        there is no increase in the cyclic rate of fire when using a sound
        suppressor.” http://www.fnhusa.com/l/products/military/scar-family/system-overview/

        • Christopher

          Careful Esh325, you might anger the masturbatory DI fanboy who just figured how how to use Disqus a month ago.

    • 朝花夕拾

      To replace the worn-out T65 and M16A1 rifles, obviously.
      Export isn’t an option because few countries recognize Taiwan these days(sigh)

  • Mike Knox

    About that second photo: Why photograph something camouflaged against a camouflage backdrop?

    • 306_AD

      To show how well the camouflaged finish works? Maybe?

      • Mike Knox

        Actually, if you look closer, they might be trying to hide the white string it’s hanging on..

  • Lance

    I agree its another Spec Ops rifle. Taiwan makes good rifles and accessories. They make very good M-14 rifles and there own designs are good. ALOT better quality than Red Chinese weapons.

  • vitor roma

    That is one massive op-rod, a short stroke that looks long stroke.

  • Tony Williams

    Why are so many modern 5.56mm military rifles so bulky? The distance between the trigger and the top rail seems enormous compared with an M4, say.

    • 306_AD

      Clue: look at the gas system, op-rod and carrier.

  • Andrew

    Oh look, a bootleg Chinatown SCAR

    • 朝花夕拾

      Taiwan is not China my friend… You won’t see too many Taiwanese people who identify themselves as “Chinese”.

      • Anonymoose

        Taiwan is China. They’re just not *Red* China.

        • 朝花夕拾

          Yes, the country is officially the Republic of China, and 98% of the population is of Han Chinese descent. But a large segment of the people support a distinct Taiwanese identity separate from that of China. There are also those who identify themselves as Chinese and seek cordial relations with the mainland.

    • 306_AD

      Grasshopper, you know very little. Look at the gas system, op-rod and bolt. It’s nothing like a SCAR.

  • John

    Bolt and carrier are very AK like… but it’s short stroke??? Certainly a departure of Kalashnikov’s motto of heavily gassing the piston for the sake of reliability

    • 306_AD

      You don’t necessarily need heavy gassing when you have enough mass (momentum) to cycle the action.

  • 朝花夕拾

    Taiwan is definitely going to need good rifles, with the Chinese threatening to bomb the island should it declare independence. The new rifles look pretty sexy.

    • 306_AD

      It’s not in China’s interest to take over (or back) Taiwan by force. Too costly, militarily and financially. Taiwan has a lot of money invested in China and employ a lot of mainlanders.

      • Avery

        This true. I worked for a Taiwanese company that had a factories in Shanghai. Our Taiwanese manager did frequent business trips between the island and the mainland before being assigned to America.

  • Cornelius Carroll

    It looks like this rifle was designed for ease of manufacture to a large degree.

    Not a fan of the short stroke piston design. Never have been. Long stroke makes more sense to me though it can actually make manufacturing more difficult depending on how one sets up the process. One feature I’m surprised more haven’t copied is LWRCI’s self-regulating piston concept. I’m a DI guy myself but when I saw said piston concept I said “that flat out makes sense”.

    Extruded receiver is straight off the ACR but it makes sense. Again, ease of manufacture.

    Polymer lower is a BOLD move. If it was polymer with metal enforcements (ala Glock et al) I’d say “sure” but straight polymer for a service rifle is dicey IMO.

    Kind of a strange design when you think about it. Polymer lower saves weight but then basically everything else more than counteracts that gain. Meh…

    • 306_AD

      “One feature I’m surprised more haven’t copied is LWRCI’s self-regulating piston concept”

      Obvious reason is LWRC has a patent on it.

  • Avery

    I’m surprised no one is throwing in the CZ805 in along with the SCAR and ACR comparisons. It looks much more like that than the SCAR, especially that upper receiver.

  • John184

    A lot of new service rifles are the same generic ACR/ARX/SCAR/AR/AK love child, which is just fine. This rifle has all the features a modern assault rifle needs.

  • mig1nc

    Any word on how much this thing weighs? It doesn’t look too bad.

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    An excellent idea, combining the best and proven characteristics of already established rifles into a single weapon. However, the old saying that a weapon is only as good as the sum of its parts, and that the best is often the enemy of good, still holds true here. What is even more important than incorporating the best mechanical features of those other weapons is how they are integrated and how well they work in conjunction with one another. It is of no use to have the best of the best when there are integration issues that result in a less-than-satisfactory and unbalanced overall package, regardless of the individual components’ merits.

    Hopefully, the Taiwanese were able to strike up that rare and often-elusive balance of factors with this rifle while giving up little in the way of durability and reliability. If they have actually succeeded in achieving this balance, we might have a potential world beater on our hands. But that remains to be seen with the passage of time.

  • hue

    I have absolutely no idea that the ROC army actually created such a weapon, Used to be a conscript of the ROC army 10 years ago and the rifle i used is T65K1 straight from the vietnam war era. The barrel looked like it was rusted inside out. Since the ROC government doesn’t treat us local taiwanese good, and the military abuse scandal that happened recently, I wonder how such a pathetic army to protect the people