More Photos of The Elusive QBZ-03 Rifle In Action

The QBZ-03 is the mysterious conventional-layout younger brother of the more well-known Chinese QBZ-95 rifle. While the QBZ-95 uses a novel hybrid mechanism, the 03 uses the mechanism of the older 7.62mm Type 81 and 5.8mm Type 87, but marries this to architecture similar to the QBZ-95. Kurtis sends along a whole whopping set of photos of the QBZ-03 in use with PLA troops, most of which I’ve never seen before (WARNING: PIC HEAVY):

7zPt4Hr 9xEGO5R a86c491777439bb8d3c7b53263202a1d b75d3Zf cJzeUG7 cwTJObO ehOUz4s jeGI5yT JuEabv7 Kr6XLLy mA1yoZN MZJ7CJL OV5jUfK p1dPpn0 QBZ-03_Type_03_rifle_1 qLl43uO qYvUj6S wGEj0IY XsMANW8 XX6PNEk Zs7nkJu 8386d57bee16fd7dc95fa43e954a3d8e a7a5a2dcf388536e8086b53963bddab5 b424536ae1ef2ca70b2a67251ec5cfa5 c85db78009e33c9a61ab0bb485f69379 f015ce53327f27de11ed0015733044de fd8920ddb431863faf0684b23bd5186b gB7rpp8 pBEM2tu fcd1a722-3e17-4004-8d0d-f5c19ea6ac1e

Thanks, Kurtis!



  • Azril @ Alex Vostox

    This brings us a question :- WHAT IS WRONG WITH QBZ-95 SERIES?

    • The 03 is a modest derivative of the QBZ-95A, which was designed around the same time as the QBZ-95.

      I don’t know why they have both, but it’s unlikely that it’s because there’s anything fatally wrong with the QBZ-95.

      • Esh325

        It seems a bit silly to have two basic infantry rifles. A theory I heard is that there are some soldiers who are too use to the Type 81 layout, and couldn’t deal with the bullup layout of the QBZ 95 so they made the QBZ–03.

        • Riot

          A few of this lot in the images look young enough to not have gotten used to any rifle. That theory is just recycled from when the Israelis introduced the tavor, which said it phased + prioritized to new recruits.

        • Wetcoaster

          Check out Thailand’s list of service rifles some day.

          I wonder how many of those photos are of People’s Armed Police (analogous to Russian Ministry of the Interior troops) instead of PLA soldiers.

          • Esh325

            True, they could do worst.

        • The vast majority of PLA troops use the 95; the 03 is a much more limited use item.

      • Darren Hruska

        To be fair, the USA, Russia, and many European countries have introduced more select-fire rifles in the last six years than China has in the last sixty years. What does China have? Type 56, Type 63, Type 81, QBZ-95, QBZ-03, the CS/LR14, a few nearly-undocumented prototypes, and that’s about it? The first two are pretty much Chinese-modified Russian designs, and the QBZ-03 and CS/LR14 can really be considered Type 81 derivatives. So, China only has like two original, in-house select-fire rifle designs.

      • john huscio

        I read somewhere that the northern troops (north of the Yangtze) retained the QBZ-95 while those in the south got the QBZ-03 because they disliked the bullpup….

      • It was to reduce the risk of something being wrong with the QBZ-95. That way, they had a plan in the can, and a proven production line, ready to be expanded, should something turn up horribly wrong with the bullpup. They were already taking a flyer on the new round, doing a new design in a bullpup at the same time was a higher technical and schedule risk than merely updating and modifying the Type 81 in a new caliber. A two-track program might be pricey (although, you can offset cost, if you can sell the backup program stuff to someone), but seriously reduces risk.

        I doubt they intended to build as many of the 03 as they have, but production tends to have a life of its own, and production line management will fight like cornered rats to preserve *their* production (and jobs).

    • micmac80

      Probably nothing wrong with QBZ-95 even tough bulpups are not every mans cup of tea. In recent Military games in Russia some chinese teams used only QBZ-95 but at least as many used QBZ-03 or a mix of both. All of the mechanized units used only OBZ-95

      interesting was that one of the teams used the SVDs without the optics

    • Darren Hruska

      I’m thinking ergonomics. Left-handed people and those of a not-so-average stature may appreciate a conventional-style rifle more than a bullpup. Then again, the stock doesn’t seem that adjustable.
      Also, the Type 81 was deemed to be a pretty rugged and accurate design. So, the QBZ-03 should likely resonate well with many people that grew fond of that rifle.

      • Matrix3692

        Lefties are not an issue in PLA, their drill sergeant’s boot took care of that.

        And no, that’s not a joke, but a fact.

        • iksnilol

          But what about shooting from the left side of buildings? Still need to shoot leftie.

          Also, where did you hear this “fact”?

          Sometimes I get the impression that you guys haven’t been to China and then go regurgigating hearsay and rumors.

          • Matrix3692

            ” You guys haven’t been to China” I’ll take personal offense on that.

            This is from me, who is currently a foreign student studying in China for 4 years(Although I spent my holidays back in home country), and spends the same amount of time on Chinese military and firearms themed forums as their western counterpart.

            And I’ve heard many all too many lefties curiously asking what would they be a problem if they joined the armed forces or get a different gun, and the answer is also almost the same: you will be “adjusted” by your drill sergeant’s boot. No leftie shooting are permited in boot camp.

            And for shooting on corners on the right side of buildings, lets just say that they had other postures in shooting around the corner.

          • Many nations ascribe to the “train everyone to shoot right handed” school of thought.

          • iksnilol

            But… that’s retarded. You don’t always have the opportunity to shoot from your right shoulder.

            I gotta find out more about it… when I have the time.

          • Given that the US Army and Marine Corps were teaching “chicken winging” with a rifle and “tea cupping” with handguns at least as late as the 1990s, and we tend to be more proactive than most nations in shooting techniques, it’s really not so surprising. 😉

    • Brendan G

      In my opinion the QBZ-95 is not a top-notch bullpup rifle when compared to similar designs such as the Tavor-21 or the FN F2000, especially due to the ergonomic flaws of the safety switch on the earlier models. Since being trained first with Type 56 or Type 81 rifles, Chinese soldiers are usually more comfortable with the traditional layout of the QBZ-03. I guess the PLA just don’t want to admit that their main assault rifle is somewhat imperfect.

      • Esh325

        I have seen a video of a Canadian user of the rifle and he said that he much prefered the Tavor as he said the same thing that the controls are not very good. They are coming out with a newer version of the QBZ so hopefully they’ll fix the controls.

        • Brendan G

          The QBZ-95-1 (改) is a vastly improved version that fixes many issues including the safety switch by having it repositioned above the pistol grip. The modified rifle is also claimed to be able to eject spent casings at a 45º angle so that it is in theory ambidextrous.

    • Peter L

      The QBZ-03 were designed with the more outskirt perimeter border units to the west in mind, in which their genetic body type are broader and closer to that of Caucasians than the western Chinese race of smaller bones structure and shorter heights. Basically. larger taller people from the plans and the north are issued QBZ-03 and the smaller people along the coast with urban fighting and beach landing style fighting are issued QBZ-95.

    • G.K.

      Nothing is considered wrong with it, as it’s still more commonly used then the 03, If anything, the real question is “What role does the QBZ-03 actually fill?” I’ve heard lots of theories, from the simpler theories of training with a more familiar design, to rather far fetched conspiraces I take with a grain of salt involving corrupt generals not liking the bullpup layout of the QBZ-95 and paying to keep the QBZ-03 in production, not quite sure I buy that one though.

      Needless to say, the 03 hasn’t been really touched aside from some export variants since it was introduced, the 95 on the other hand was given the 95-1 (or “G” upgrade, with G stading for “Gai” or “Modified” in translation) introduced around 2010 that, from every reliable account I’ve heard, is a significant improvement over the older model 95s and fixed some of the complained about isses such as the much complained about Ergonomics among other things.

  • Esh325

    It’s an interesting design. Probably reliable and durable. I wonder is the receiver aluminum alloy or stamped sheet metal? Also, I wonder will they eventually upgrade with pictianny rails on for a scope and handguard? Or a telescoping stock?

    • whodywei

      Upper is stamped sheet metal, the lower is made of forged aluminum. Picatinny rail and telescoping stock are currently available on the export models.

  • iksnilol

    It does look like a “generic” assault rifle. I like it.

  • TVOrZ6dw

    Nice pictures.
    I feel we have a weapons testing gap with China- Do we don’t have a ring of fire test that our military weapons have to pass?

    • Kivaari

      Real circus of them.

  • eriky

    The whole trigger discipline thing isn’t that big with the chinese now is it?

    • Mark

      Neither are civil liberties ?

      • eriky

        Yes, but they’re all about shooting people on purpose not by accident.

    • Cornelius Carroll

      Not even just this photo set. It seems every small arms photo I see from China involves a trigger on the finger.

      • Giolli Joker

        Five triggers per hand?

      • Friend of Tibet

        Well, I just blow your mind……

      • iksnilol

        Finger on the trigger looks better on pictures. It portrays the troops as being more “ready”.

    • Joe Schmoe

      To be honest, there is an unreasonable level of the whole “finger off trigger” here on this forum to be honest.

      Yes, yes, I know the whole reason behind it, but this is not the civilian world where you can put a gun away for days and forget if it may be loaded or not. During my time in the military we were forced to check the chamber empty every entrance/exit from base (several times a day), after each briefing (again, several times a day), before cleaning the weapon (at least once or twice a week), etc., etc.

      I knew with 100% certainty when my gun was loaded or empty, and I would bet my life on it, so excuse me if I don’t feel worried about my finger wandering to the trigger (especially for photos) sometimes….

      • eriky

        Yes I understand what you mean. But keeping your finger of the trigger when it is loaded is not something you should have to think about. So teaching yourself the habit of just always keeping it of the trigger is not that bad of a habit.

      • Bill

        I’m guessing that everyone who has had an ND or tried to clean a loaded gun was %100 certain it was unleaded. OK, maybe it’s only 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999.

        • CZFan

          Exactly, I cant agree more, no one ever fired an empty gun, and those other .00000000001% of other gun accidents are some sort of actual mechanical failures like a stuck firing pin or a sear failure, And thats when Muzzle discipline will save you from killing yourself or someone else.

          Muzzle discipline, trigger finger discipline are IMO the most important safety rules for general gun handling, obviously knowing what is in your bullets path is important too but I consider that part of muzzle discipline.

          You dont keep your gun pointed in a safe direction and your finger off the trigger, so you dont shoot anything when you know its empty, you do it every single time you hold a gun so when you have to use it for real, your gun handling is an unconscious act.

          I have had one unintentional discharge and even calling it that is a bit of a technicality , I had intended to shoot what I hit I just had sloppy trigger finger discipline and pulled a split second sooner than I had planned,it was during a competition, and it was completely safe. But, I did pull my trigger before I had intended to so it was an unintentional/accidental discharge in the strictest sense even though I hit what I planned on shooting anyway.

          It was a club level IDPA style match, I shot through one window at two half size IDPA targets 5 and 7 yds away, then took a side step maybe two, a few feet to the other window and didnt bother taking my finger off the trigger,, I pushed the gun back out into position and got a a really sloppy sight picture, it was low, I intended to wait a split second to adjust my aim and score better points but as I reached full extension the gun went off because I had my finger on the trigger and a real light single action pull. I ended up shooting the line between scoring zones, and didnt lose any points because of it.
          I did lose a little time because I was stunned that had just happened to me, but it was a good lesson learned.

          All of these soldiers, especially the idiot jumping through the ring of fire with his finger on the trigger are just creating training scars and unsafe gun handling habits. I have no doubt that that guy knows his gun is empty and its probably not even cocked, but he is still conducting training that you are supposed to fall back to when your adrenaline is at maximum, so if he trains with his finger on the trigger all the time, even though its “safe” during training, in combat he will be doing the same thing with a loaded gun and end up at best just putting a hole in some car or something and at worst killing someone or getting his whole squad killed trying to sneak up on an enemy position because he was too lazy and arrogant to train properly.

        • iksnilol

          Only thing that is unleaded is fuel… and leadfree ammo.

          • Bill

            Damn spellcheck, but I’m still waiting to accidentally fill something with diesel when it should be gasoline, or vice versa.

      • Ove Toranger

        If you keep your booger-hook OFF the trigger until you’re aiming at something you’re willing to kill or destroy…the for instance it won’t accidentally go off when you stumble and discover you have your friends rifle – that he left loaded. Same as when people are downrange you don’t fiddle with the boom-stick. No touchie = no boomie.

        Is really a matter/question of safety and ingraining good and useful mental locks.

        • iksnilol

          Finger on trigger looks better on pictures, that’s why you see it so often. It portrays the troops as more “ready” to the layman.

    • TDog

      Trigger discipline – what every expert brings up when they have nothing else they can bring up.

      • eriky

        I’m not calling myself an expert I’m expressing my opinion on the subject.

        • TDog

          Hey, man, so am I.

          • eriky

            oh snap

  • MPWS

    If I suggest to question anything it would be two items:
    – why the muzzle booster; with distance from gas block it should be unnecessary
    – location of rear sight block; it is dangerously close to the eye
    Layout resembles SIG550 albeit with short stroke piston. It looks it has all what it needs to have. This gun is more versatile than QBZ95; many soldiers were not comfortable with.
    Forget “trigger discipline”; what is good for you may not be for someone else. I never heard of it during my military service.

    • Paul Epstein

      You’ve never heard of, in military service, the advisability of keeping your finger off of the trigger unless you are prepared to fire the weapon?

      What military?

      • Joe

        He won’t respond. If he ever was in a Military it wasn’t one of any renown.

        • Or it was decades ago. People often forget, our current emphasis on the Four Rules is a rather modern thing.

      • Kivaari

        While in the navy it wasn’t a big deal. We were handed M1 rifles with no instruction. We just put the bayonet on and did stomp and drag riot control moves. It was a huge waste of time. While doing quarter deck duty, we were given a loaded M1911A1, again with no instruction in its use. I came to the navy with more firearm instruction in the civilian world. We had M1A1 .45 SMGs and BARs, also without instruction. They were more worried about our missiles and nuke depth charges

        • iksnilol

          Hope I am not intruding but when was that? I presume the American millitary doesn’t use BARs and M1s anymore.

          • Kivaari

            That was in ’67-’70. We envied those ships with M14s and SeaBees with M16A1s.

    • whodywei

      – why the muzzle booster: according to the designer, the booster type muzzle device offers better performance compare to birdcage type muzzle device in reducing muzzle blast. She also said it was cheaper/easier to manufacture compare to the muzzle device of QBZ-95.

  • SP mclaughlin

    I guess this is the army you’d want to join if you were a circus performer.

  • SirOliverHumperdink

    So this is who’s coming to collect their debt for all of the crap they’ve sold us over the years?

    • Grindstone50k

      And we own a ton of their debt, too. Our hands are so deep in each other’s pockets that we might as well be allies.

      • Rooster Cogburn

        You say “WE” like “WE” had something to do with it. Our government represents themselves. So when they come to collect, they need to take the politicians and leave if they’re smart, or “WE” will do what “WE” have to do. The debt is the governments, not the people’s.

        • Mike H

          NEGATIVE! It is your debt as much as its the American governments debt and no matter how you try and characterize it. It is your debt. In fact, when you were born into society and were provided with certain benefits; such as, state funded education, health care, law and order (the rule of law), infrastructure, and the ability to maintain a livelihood free from external coercion, etc. You became indebted to YOUR government and it is therefore YOUR debt because YOUR government represents YOU and spent, or in YOUR case, wasted money on you!

          • crackedlenses

            Your post shows exactly why our government is in such a crap-hole. Once it crossed the line of providing mere “law and order (the rule of law)” and “the ability to maintain a livelihood free from external coercion” it overstepped its bounds. This is why we are in debt over our heads and our politicians are skunks in suits and people like you have an over-inflated sense of entitlement.

          • Lets drop the politics guys—–

          • Mike H

            Is that the best you can do? Seriously? Come on, give me something to work with instead of the self-insisting and pretentious assertion of the how and why big government is bad.

            In addition, did you seriously like your own comment? LOL!

      • It seems we are rather dependent on each other. Economically neither country can afford a showdown over anything.

  • Steven Meyer

    Boy I’m going to try and get one when and or if we’re invaded….I hope they take AK mags

    • G.K.

      Unfortunately for you in this case, they don’t accept magazines from the Kalashnikov family of rifles. Sorry.

  • Matrix3692

    Since I’ve spent more time on Chinese forums, I feel like wanting to clear up some misunderstanding in western forums……

    1.The QBZ-03 is a parallel research path to the QBZ-95 when the Chinese decide they want a next-gen assault rifle.
    2.The QBZ-03 is also considered a fall back option should anything catastrophic happened to the QBZ-95 project.
    3.In the early days when the QBZ-03 enter service it was mostly equiped to airborne forces and PAP.
    4.After they seriously compare the 95 and 03, they discovered for them, 03 didn’t really have too much an edge over the 95, and despite 95’s flaws they decide to improve the 95 platform.
    5.They like the fact that the 95 platform offered a more much compact size and have a longer barrel than the 03.
    6.New recruits that are not too attached to the conventional layout of the rifles perform better on 95.
    7.The 03 platform has not even had so much as a improved version or get a family of variants, which the 95 had both.
    8.The 03 trail has gone cold in the Chinese firearm industry, they are not even getting any success in export.
    9.The 03 platform has largely been phased-out in the main battle elements of the PLA, and also much of the PAP.
    10. Now most of the phased-out 03 were given to border guards to replace their Type-81 rifles.
    11.After the current 03 had been worn-out, they will be replaced by 95 series or the rumored new platform.

    And lastly and most shocking……
    After participating in recent international military competitions and exercises, the Higher-ups are obviously not happy at both the 95 and 03 platform. And recent news had confirmed a existence of a new conventional-layout 5.8x42mm caliber select-fire automatic rifle (with fixed telescopic stock and adjustable cheek-plate) project is on the way, and might be revealed soon.

    • John

      I get the feeling that the Chinese were chuckling at the Canadians buying their exported QBZ-95s, only to be dismayed when the Canadians home-built and commercialized an integrated rail system that gave the rifle a LOT more capability. A few jobs were probably lost at Norinco R&D over that one.

      • Wetcoaster

        Seems like a budget winner R&D plan to me – see what a bunch of bored Canadians come up with during their long winter and develop further from there. And they’d get more honest feedback than paid testers or regular user feedback – these are issues that customers are concerned enough about to conduct their own R&D and fabrication to correct. That’s far more interesting than some 20 year old scribbling random crap down for the LT so that he can go on leave

      • Friend of Tibet

        Actually Canadian FTU (t97 flat top modification part) is never a good option as it needs to permanently cut off the iron sight base off from the rifle. That is a big NO to PLA military forces. China has its own modification variants and those design IMO are much better than the Canadian design since they are all drop in kits.

        And Norinco is the exporter, not the maker of the rifles. EMEI is handling the QBZ-97 rifles. Since my friend works in EMEI R&D, I don’t think any of them are that impressed with Canada’s permanent modification…. 🙂

        • Joshua

          maybe not the modification, but given that they have replicated the effect, if not the modification, they took notice.

          • Friend of Tibet

            Yep, they figured for a export rifle the flat top might be more popular.

    • hikerguy

      I had read that the 03 was also for taller minorities to use who found the 95 too small to use. Any truth to that?

      • Matrix3692

        Negative, never heard anything about that, just some complains about the lack of adjustable stock. Which is somewhat bothersome for people of different body sizes and with full body armor.

  • Lance

    I did read that QZB-03 was issued to special forces and airborne troops while the regular bullpup QZB-95 was issued to infantry. SO that why you see the special troops in the pick that have Type-03 rifles.

    • Matrix3692

      Then you were poorly informed.

  • Rooftop Voter

    Is it just me or do most of the shooters have their eye “really close” to the rear sight? Also, check the dude using the scope. Not much eye relief there.

    • iksnilol

      The scope is made like that. Chinese and Eastern block scopes (also the British SUIT scope) have an extended eye piece to work as a cushion and to ensure correct eye relief.

      It is a pretty smart design, I am surprised the Western world hasn’t adopted it. Since it does have several advantages.

    • Rock or Something

      It’s because they are squinting all the time.

      Kidding, I’m ethnically Chinese so i can say that. 🙂

      As a side note, when I first trained on the M16a2 rifle, I had the tendency to place the rear sight too close to my face. It would constantly hit my (thick) BCGs, so I learned the hard way not to do that.

      • MichaelZWilliamson

        But wouldn’t that make you…


        • Daisuke0222

          Ba dum bum!

          He’s here all week folks!

      • How froggn’ close were you? I’ve been shooting “nose on charging handle” since Fort Benning taught me to do it that way in 1987, and I’ve never hit my glasses in recoil with any variation of the AR15 family.

        Of course, I might have a bigger nose than you, but I’m not Jimmy Durante.

  • And while you call it “elusive”, a semiauto-only civilian version in 5,56mm/.223 with STANAG magazine feeding is available for civilian sales in Italy as the SDM M90.

  • Kivaari

    That’s a good looking rifle. I wouldn’t mind having one, if the ammo were available, like 5.56mm.

    • G.K.

      China doesn’t export their 5.8x42mm round, however they do make a 5.56mm version of the rifle for the export market in the same vein the QBZ-95 has a 5.56mm variant (the QBZ-97)

  • Uniform223

    I never understood why jumping through a flaming hoop would impress anyone. I’ll admit its a great circus trick. Bored Soldiers and Marines CONUS or OCONUS do more stupid stuff than that just on a dare.

    • Matrix3692

      You mean this?

      • Uniform223

        I wasn’t gonna go that far but more stuff along the lines of…

  • Indexing and firearm safety is an afterthought in China I guess.

    • Grindstone50k

      Too many flaming hoops to worry about first.

  • Friend of Tibet

    Here is the 5.56 version with magpul stock(a cheek riser would be great)

    • Hank Seiter

      If it had a full buttstock it would look a lot like Beretta’s AR-70. What kind of bolt/bolt carrier does this version sport?

  • Bill

    Let alone trigger finger discipline (I guess they can alway make more troops, they’ve never seemed to have a shortage) what about eye & ear pro? And apparently they have the same camo-selection cluster copulations that we do.

    • G.K.

      In all fairness, some of these photos are significantly older then others and feature many different units, some of the uniforms in the photo are no longer in service for what It’s worth.

  • Billy M. Rhodes

    A couple of observations on the above. No one is ever wearing ear and eye protection. One photo shows troops lined up in a prone position on what looks like a beach and another line standing unarmed behind them clapping? Also one guy with his eye much too close to the scope.

  • JimBob

    Poor trigger discipline. Poor trigger discipline everywhere…

  • MrEllis

    Well there goes my plan to sell the US Military flaming rings for $370,000.00 per copy.

  • MichaelZWilliamson

    Is that a S&W AR bayonet mounted on one?

  • davidio

    Why did they use the same 10 people in all the photos?

  • Rooster Cogburn

    So I guess in this forum, you’re allowed to be attacked, but not allowed to defend yourself? You remove my civil comment to Mike H saying that the governments debt to China is it’s own, not the peoples, but leave his nasty little retort up?

    Nice to see that the freedoms I fought for are being honored. Just another site that will go on my “do not click” list. Have fun.

    • Bill

      Get a fresh maxi-pad – I’m only saying that to see if the software allows “maxi-pad” in, and because I hate when people think they have “rights” on someone else’s privately maintained forum.

    • Since you joined 70 days ago you haven’t posted even one comment that was not negative or an attack on someone else. Enough—-

      • Rooster Cogburn

        So, if my opinion differs from the rest of the posters, it’s a negative comment? And for the record, I haven’t attacked anyone who didn’t attack me first. That’s called defense BTW. But hey, I never expected anything different from all the far left leaning around here.

  • eriky

    To be honest, those numbers are nowhere near what I would have expected. I will shut up now.

    • Bill

      Uh, that’s assuming that those figures are “honest.” NDs have a habit of disappearing into the mist, particularly if there is discipline involved. I can’t tell you how many firearms training facilities I’ve been at where there is a picture or outdated calendar mounted about waist height, or if you look at the walls, ceiling or floor in the right light at the right angle you’ll notice a small spackle-spot, or a large one if a shotgun was involved, or one acoustical tiles the ceiling that’s a slightly different shade than the others.

  • Sam Pensive

    you give a million PROC military types any weapon and they’ll hit something
    i only saw -1- ? photo of live fire…
    did anyone see a lot more?
    or were they just posing airming?