QBZ-97 flat-top Keymod Model and Custom Color Variant

In my previous two TFB articles on the latest development of the Chinese QBZ-95 family of bullpup rifles, I mentioned that there’s a flat-top model in the work as part of the QBZ 95-1 Plus. Recently, the information on that flat-top model was reveled on the Emei Firearms website.

Emei, named after the Emei Mountain in Northern China, is a brand name use by Norinco for sporting firearms. From the images on the Emei Firarms website, the flat-top model has a continuous picatinny top rail and what looks like Keymode slots on the side, and reversible side charge handle instead of the center-mounted one.



Besides being one of the few striker-fired military rifle in service, the QBZ-95 also has a uncommon layout with its barrel as the center mounting point for many of its components. On the original, the polymer outer shell really can’t support any attachment. On the 95-1 model, there are two short accessory mounting rail as part of the fixed front sight. The rear sight and the short optic mounting rail is on a “L” shaped bracket as part of the barrel trunnion.



On the Chiense bullpup, both the front and rear sights are pinned directly on to the barrel. Those are not easily removable from the barrel. The Canadian aftermarket flat-top rail replace the top polymer cover. However, it also requires the cutting of both the front and rear sights for the installation. The new Emei flat-top model looks to me that it has different front and rear piece from the factory. The Emei flat-top half attached to the new front-sight unit and trunnion piece by two large screws.

It was bought to my attention that there may be an issue with the keymod interface on the Emei flat-top. I was told that those are not true Keymod slots because they lack the chamfer or taper cut inside of the smaller elongated forward part of the Keymod slot.



That inside chamfer cut is probably the most expensive part of manufacturing the Keymod. It’s function is to make the Keymod attachment hardware self-aligning to the Keymod slot. That also enlarges the contact area between the attachment hardware and the Keymod slot for strength.

Not sure if the Chinese factory is too cheap to implement that critical part of the Keymod specification, or they just don’t have a complete understanding of the design.

Keymod Information from Wikipedia 


Diagram of the Keymod slot Specification. The inside taper or chamfer cut is shown of the right side.



Th Emei “Keymod” slots seems to have straight cut inside and missing the internal chamfer cut (in red) from the Keymod specification. The standard Keymod mounting hardware would probably still fit in it, however, it won’t be self-aligning and the contact would be much weaker.

It is not know if the Chinese military would be interested in this flat-top design for their QBZ-95 bullpup. As of now it is only for commercial sale to oversea customers. The real drivers behind the developing the flat-top is most likely by the Chinese police, paramilitary and certain special forces unit in the Chinese military. For years those end users of the QBZ-95 have been trying to mount optics on the bullpup rifle with limited success.


Finally here are some images of custom painted QBZ-97s:

qbz97_color1 qbz97_color2 qbz97_color3


Writer and gear editor with articles published in major gun publications. A five year combat veteran of the US Marine Corps, Tim is also part of Point & Shoot Media Works, a producer of photography, video and web media for the firearms and shooting sport industry. Tim’s direct contact: Tyan.TFB -at- gmail.com


  • MR

    What? No MLOK? Not that I’d be allowed to by it anyway, due to sanctions.

    • sanctions? US firms can’t sell military arms to China (and a great many other countries for that matter) mostly because of ITAR restrictions but there arent any “sanctions” against china

      • Nick

        True, but what stops this from
        Import is 922R, not ITAR. It could be done (like many others do) by having some us made parts. Not likely though.

        • Sam Schifo

          922R isn’t what stops the QBZ-95 from import into the US, it’s the Norinco import ban.

          • Timothy G. Yan

            The only Chinese firearms that are allowed to be import into the USA are shotgun, black powder and classic center-fire (mostly reproduction of lever-action designs from the late 1800s).

          • Adam

            If that was the case, Id fly over and say Jiang, dude, ship the tooling and some technicians over too the Trade free Zone on Mactan island, Cebu, And build a few thousand in my mates factory there… Put MAD arms on them, and ship them too the USA from the Philippines… But i can tell you this, three years agi i spoke to Jiang about doing this with the 305 (M14) copy…. And BATFE said NoNoNo….. 922R……….. And i gave up arguing with them after 18 months… As they say a semi auto M14 copy isnt sporting… The End….

      • ARCNA442

        Actually, there are sanctions against several Chinese arms manufacturers (including Norinco, the maker of the QBZ-95) that have prevented the import of various Chinese weapons into the US.

  • Matrix3692

    I see, and it seems that one of my friends guessed right, it DOES LACK THE INSIDE CHAMFER CUT!!!

  • Martin Grønsdal

    China and Iran wouldn’t be happy if they didn’t steal technology.

    • micmac80

      Stolen what Keymod – that has been open so that accesories can be mady by anyone.

    • Guest

      Keymod is open source.

  • Some guy in VA

    So when’s a Canadian company going to clone these so we can import the in the US of A?

    • Never.

      • Darkpr0

        According to one of our fine Canadian firearms distributors, these can be imported into the USA under certain circumstances: How long they’ve been in Canada, who has owned them, a bunch of other stuff plays a part. It does not sound like a simple thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for them to leak in via legal channels. Probably not for a while though if they have to be on Canadian soil for a certain number of years. The T97 is not exactly an old firearm, especially with the glacial rate at which the RCMP certifies new designs.

        • It used to be so that if a firearm banned from import was in an allied country for 25 years of more, it could then be imported. Obama saw fit to change that.

          • Darkpr0

            Damn. If only some weapons weren’t evil from the moment they were born. I guess that explains the $50 Danish-used/Italian-made Garand receivers that are currently rolling around Canada in crates though. Nicest M1s ever made and they can’t go home.

          • Joshua

            where would a northern gun-nut find such an piece of hardware? because I would really like an M1, but the going rate for one in Canada is somewhat prohibitive

          • Darkpr0

            Ammosource has them, most in excellent shape. Finding the parts to complete is the puzzle you will have to deal with. Many suppliers have handfuls of parts, you may need to make some phone calls.

            Apologies in advance if advertising for a specific company is not kosher on the TFB boards.

          • Joshua

            thank you very much sir, now as you say, to find the rest of the parts…. gunshows here I come!

          • Adam

            Isnt there still a BATFE/US State Dept law on the books that a certain number of parts in imported Semi Auto rifles must be USA manufactured?

          • Adam

            And as far as I’m aware, Norinco is still on the naughty list….

          • They will be forever. They tried to sell RPGs and APCs to Oakland gangs.

          • iksnilol

            Well, if they didn’t then somebody else would. Capitalism, baby!

            Seriously though, they really did that? I thought they were a legit company?

          • They really did. A bunch of undercover agents set up a sting operation and caught executives red-handed.

          • Adam

            Last time i saw Jiang in Beijing, he said that was a misunderstanding…..

    • Adam


  • Darkpr0

    Canada has at least one manufacturer building aluminum flat-top uppers for the T97. The real strength of the rifle there is that it is a modern bullpup with everything you need to go out and shoot for a price tag under 1k Canadian dollars. If people like the rifle enough to go out and try to pimp one out, options are already out there.

    It doesn’t surprise me that they’ve gone cheap on the factory attachments, though. Their strength has always been making good guns for ridiculously good prices, and for them to try to move up in the market would step on the toes of the higher-tier products with accordingly higher numbers on the tag. I don’t think that a gussied-up T97 will be able to compete toe-to-toe with the Tavor or FS2000, so it makes sense that they’re keeping away from implementing the more expensive features.

  • Matrix3692

    I’ve heard some interesting new theory about that key-mod.
    Some friend of mine said that the lack of the chamfer cut is due to the fact that the designers at EMEI didn’t have experience on these type of interface, so they brought a bunch of aftermarket Airsoft components and measured the “Key-mod”s dimension, which also lack the chamfer cut……
    It’s likely they don’t even know that Key-mod is an open source info……

    • Adam

      That wouldnt surprise me in the slightest

  • I wish we could get these built in or imported to the US

  • Phil Hsueh

    Here’s the custom version that they forgot to show.

    • Lee

      Man, you didn’t post the “Hello Kitty” special. Disappointed.

  • Esh325

    So I assume this civilian model will also be the basis for the military model? It took the Chinese a while to get around to the conlusion that a flat top is a lot better than a useless carry handle with a chin weld scope.

  • Vitor Roma

    I would like to know how this rifle feels, the recoil impulse and such. If anyone wants to give their 2 cents, please do it.

    • HobgoblinTruth

      There are several reviews in youtube.

  • Friend of Tibet

    I told my friend who works in EMEI yesterday about this, he said he will direct this information to the design department in factory.

    • Adam

      Your mate works at EMEI??? Well can you please ask him too reply too the EMAILS…..

  • Daisuke0222

    Looks like an interesting rifle design, especially in its flat-top configuration. It suffers from the usual bullpup weakness of right-side case ejection. The comment in the article about the polymer shell not being strong enough to support attachments doesn’t fill me with confidence about its durability under rough conditions, though.