Chinese PLA Ground Forces and Marines to Replace QBZ-95-1 with Completely New NON-BULLPUP Rifle?

One of the rifles from the first program, which has reportedly been cancelled. A second follow-on program has reportedly produced another conventional rifle, which may already been in troop trials.

Is the People’s Republic of China about to be the latest nation to abandon the bullpup configuration in favor of the “traditional” rifle layout? That seems to be the word on the street since about September of last year, when Chinese news outlets and blogs online began publishing articles claiming the PLA had already selected a new rifle, which was set for “practical training” (troop trials) and service with the PLA Special Operations Forces before going on to replace the bullpup QBZ-95 and conventional QBZ-03 in both the PLA Ground Forces and the PLA Marines. The news articles themselves – some of which appear to be related to state-controlled media – included the header image of this article and the image below, suggesting that is the rifle that the PLA is set to adopt.

The two rifles in this image don’t appear to be identical to the rifle in the header image, however, an observation supported by the comments made by one of TFB’s sources. Both rifles are evidently chambered in the standard Chinese 5.8x42mm round.

 

The reported reasons for replacing the QBZ-95 after such a modest service life (barely 20 years) are that the rifle’s modularity and ergonomics are limited by its design. The integral carry handle and charging handle design complicate the mounting of optics, and the bullpup layout does not allow for a collapsing or folding buttstock. In the event of a case or chamber failure, the shooter’s face is right next to the explosion, where in a conventional rifle the face is removed to a usually safe distance.

A Chinese source gave TFB an alternate narrative: The two different rifles shown in the photos were a part of an older program (dating to 2014) which sought to develop a new conventional layout rifle (bullpups were not considered). As part of this program, the rifle shown in the image directly above was allegedly cancelled due to a breach of secrecy when an employee of the company leaked that and other images online. This program as a whole was reportedly also cancelled, and was superseded by a new program which, the source said, resulted in the development of an entirely new rifle that visually resembles the Magpul Masada/Remington ACR, chambered for the standard Chinese 5.8x42mm round. No images of this new rifle have yet been released, but it is supposed to already be a finished design that has passed some degree of the selection process with the Equipment Development Department of the Central Military Commission and may even be in troop trials now.

 

Thanks to Kurtis and Akula for the tip!



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Ed

    Who knows. Commie propaganda is not a reliable source. This a nation who’s civil militia and equivalent national guard still use Type 56 and Type 81 still. So even if it’s true the Type 95 may still be around for years to come. This source also said the replacement programs in the past get cancelled slot. This maybe more hype.

    • Henry

      Eh, Type 56 and Type 81 are perfectly adequate for police work in China, just like all those old MP-5s and M16s were perfectly adequate for police work in America, considering that for the vast, vast majority of cops using long guns IRL is a once in a lifetime thing, if even that. I’d rather my local government use the money to hire more officers, than buying the latest tactilol operator gear.

      • James Kachman

        Or, heck, use the funding for training, which would get you more of an improvement than new tacticool stuff.

        • you mean… maybe spend four hours at the range every year instead of two???

          • roguetechie

            Maybe even….

            Dare I say it?

            FIVE HOURS!!!!

    • No one

      There isn’t a single fighting military branch that still uses the Type 56 at all (some honor guards use them for ceremonial reasons, some guards at maximum security prisons use them….that’s pretty much it), only a small amount of reservists use the 81.

      The first first program got cancelled, the second didn’t and lead to a rifle that’s likely going under further trials right now.

      • john huscio

        The type 56 has seen huge amounts of combat around the planet, battle proven and effective, still in use today from Bolivia to cambodia.

  • LCON

    “The integral carry handle and charging handle design complicate the mounting of optics, “Norinco has Flat top retrofits that can be used but these
    “the bullpup layout does not allow for a collapsing or folding buttstock”. well only for a small amount of of Collapsing but generally accurate.
    “In the event of a case or chamber failure,” absolutely!
    The Chinese Adopted the QBZ95 in a bit of a rush they wanted a propaganda piece when they took back Hong Kong. so the end product was rushed They have refurbished it, adding with a Selector above the pistol grip, changing the chambering, redesigning the scope mount. but still they have most of the same design issues.

  • JSIII

    Heh Chinese steel the design for something else, news at 11.

    • No one

      What exactly is “steeling” a design?

      Also, you must be psyic to predict that a rifle that hasn’t been released yet is a stolen design, and if you’re referring to the NAR, wow, it looks like the Masada externally in some areas (only not nearly as heavy) but doesn’t internally.

      The MSBS is more of a “ripoff” then the NAR was of the Masada, does that make the Polish design thieves now? oh wait I forgot, western counties and western aligned countries never copy designs!

      • Every country west of Moscow could spend the next century making nothing but exact copies of earlier designs and it still wouldn’t equal one month’s worth of blatantly stolen IP output from the fascist-controlled PRC.

        • No one

          “Oh wait, He’s actually making a point that’s going against my cognitive biases against anything Chinese, I better make some s—t post that proves that I have nothing unbiased or worth saying on the matter.”

          At least you outed yourself early so I know now to waste my time.

          • If you’re trying to make some kind of “products made for the Chinese domestic market aren’t mostly ripoffs and stolen IP” argument here (in all these replies you’re not wasting your time on), I’m afraid Google still exists and the results it provides aren’t very sympathetic to your viewpoint.

          • No one

            I’m also afraid you’re talking to someone who’s actually been to China multiple times and not someone who doesn’t know what “fascism” is.

            But good job on completely failing to get my point that, despite pretty much all evidence pointing to the NAR and whatever gun will come of this program being mostly domestic, people with severe cognitive dissonance issues will claim it’s a stolen copy of something just because it’s Chinese because evidence is just not needed.

            (Hint, the QBZ87, QBZ95, QBZ03, and the NAR are pretty much fully domestic designs and not copies of anything, we haven’t even seen the rifle yet, but clearly we already know it’s a copy of…..well…..SOMETHING western because we just do ok?!)

            I’m also about 10000% certain I know more about the modern Chinese military then you do so…. GLHF even trying to debate me there.

    • TDog

      Misspelled AND premature. There’s so many jokes in there I can hardly think of which one to begin with…

    • Tom

      To be honest until someone comes up with the fabled plasma rifle in the 40 watt range we have pretty much reached a technological plateau and all new rifles are going to ‘look’ and to a larger extent operate the same way.

      Sure you can argue about fixed vs non-reciprocating charging handles and long stroke vs short stroke pistons and the right number of bolt lugs but going forward pretty much all infantry rifles are going to be gas operated rotating bolt affairs with monolithic upper receivers made from polymer or aluminium.

      How often is a new semi auto pistol released which does not use the JMB designed swinging link mechanism and the chamber to lock the barrel and slide together? Not often because its simple the best all round design for cost, accuracy, reliability and safety.

      • b0x3r0ck

        Really big thing that could happen to the gun market is adding electric to them. My gun needs to be on the same level as a IPhone.

        • You mean “including the capability to be disabled remotely by either the company that built it or any law enforcement agencies that company shares the killswitch code with”? Noooooo thank you.

          • b0x3r0ck

            As much as you have a point the facts are facts. As soon as someone comes out with a trackpoint system normal people can afford people are going to buy it. Besides why would they need to write in a kill switch when an EMP will just as fine.

          • USMC_grunt2009-2013

            Because then they can turn off everybody’s guns without ruining the electrical infrastructure of the country.

          • USMC_grunt2009-2013

            ^Yup. What he said.

      • Kivaari

        Not many swinging link pistols anymore. JMB cams prevail.

        • Tom

          Very true my bad.

    • Warren Ellis

      I’d say they more steal tech than they do designs. There’s a point where you can figure out how something is affected by design.

      There’s a reason why so many jets with stealth features look similar for example. People have already figured out the design aspect but it’s the coatings and such which are often stolen I presume.

  • Logic

    With bottleneck cartridges, bullpups just aren’t optimum. The whole thing of course radically changes wit CT cartridges, (this is why saying bullpups will die is just retarded).

    • John Smart

      CT cartridges?

      • Risky

        Cased telescoped ammunition

      • Paul Epstein

        There’s still a case which has to be ejected but it’s mostly plastic with some brass or aluminum at the base. The bullet is seated in the center of the case rather than out front held by the neck so it’s a bit wider but much shorter for a given bullet/propellant envelope.

        The US LSAT rifle/MG program was started mainly to develop caseless cartridges and firearms to shoot them, but they worked in parallel on CT and the CT system ended up working much more reliably than the caseless so that’s the main focus moving forwards.

        • Robert Blake

          Unfortunately the LSAT program is currently in its 12th year, and has yet to produce much beyond the technology development phase and a handful of prototypes for IOT&E. It is currently on “slow burn”, with only sustainment monies being spent on it since 2015, waiting on a milestone developmental decision.

  • TDog

    A few questions:

    1. Why would a bullpup, which is already short to begin with, need a folding or collapsing stock?

    2. Has anyone ever seen or experienced an explosion with a bullpup in its chamber due to a malfunction of either the weapon or the cartridge?

    A news piece about a bullpup being possibly replaced is fine, but keep the personal biases to yourself, please.

    • ostiariusalpha

      1. Body armor favors telescoping stocks.
      2. Yes, people have had KBs with bullpups. I’m not aware of a single case where any fragmentation breached the receiver and harmed the shooter.

      • Tom

        Regarding point 1 its not just body armour that one should consider but soldiers of differing heights as well.

        As to point 2 I think its more an theoretical/academic concern than a real world problem.

      • Alexandru Ianu

        There are bullpups with telescoping stocks: VHS-2, and the RDB Tactical and Survival. Granted, the VHS-2 has 2 positions: long and very long.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Absolutely true, I’m guessing VHS actually stands for Very Humorous Sh*t, because that adjustment is a joke. The RDB models aren’t as bad, but they’re not really helpful for they majority of shorter limbed people; and forget being useful with a plate. You would have to more radically change the internals of the feeding and bolt mechanism, such as was done to the TKB-022 series of prototypes, to get a decent adjustment range on your buttstock.

          • iksnilol

            Not our fault you actually arm the short monsters.

            IT’S THEM YOU NEED ARMS AGAINST!

        • FulMetlJakit

          Dugan himself noted that the internals of the RDB seem laid out to satisfy NFA overall length requirements with “normal” length barrels.
          Cram it in as intended and add a stock with even 4″ of adjustment, and…
          Bob’s your uncle.

      • TDog

        Neither am I, which is my point. Writers always talk about these head-busting case failures with bullpups, yet not a single example can be found.

        Just because it can be imagined does not mean it will happen.

    • Where did you feel I expressed personal bias?

      • MSG1000

        The whole “no collapsing stocks and kabooms in your face” is what I think they mean. But I took that as what the chineese sources said.

        • Yeah, I had hoped it would be obvious from the “reported reasons” bit…

          • Jess

            Yea, I’m a fan of bullpups myself …and I saw no personal bias, just the reasons the Chinese gave. Actually had to reread it a couple times to try and see where the “personal bias” was..

      • TDog

        Given your past screeds against bullpups and the fact that no one here has ever heard or seen of the mythical “catastrophic” and face-destroying failure with a bullpup, it was a bit of a given. ;-D

    • Tritro29

      Not everyone is of the same size…

    • John

      > Why would a bullpup, which is already short to begin with, need a folding or collapsing stock?

      Accommodation for length of pull. The VHS-2 has a collapsible stock.

      • PK

        Yes, it goes from “absurdly long” up to “comedy prop”, I believe.

        • John

          Yep. And yet, they have one.

        • FulMetlJakit

          I find it funny that most seem to find it funny that a culture which survived and thrived from horsemanship and bowmanship(?) is still mocked for a slightly longer domestic produced weapon.

  • tony

    To those making fun of things they don’t know, the two rifles in the second picture are the final design to replace QBZ-95.
    Bullups are “tactical” but not ergonomic.

    • No one

      This isn’t exactly true particularly speaking, allow me to elaborate.

      Those COULD have been rifles that replaced the QBZ95 and QBZ03 (note the Chinese don’t actually space the designations, much like the US doesn’t space M16 or M4A1 etc etc for example.) Those are “Second generation” NAR rifles revealed earlier in Paris last year with some modifications and a black coating over the yellow/tan one chambered in 5.8x42mm which wasn’t seen at Paris, for unknown reasons these didn’t meet up to standards (one news reporter who was fired later, possibly over it, reported on them being quite heavy, which could’ve been a reason.) The second rifle was the one that got axed because an employee leaked it and they couldn’t contain the leak in time.

      The actual rifle that was accepted in the next program has yet to be seen outside of the Equipment Department and selected soldiers trialing it and photos are still classified.

      Hope that clarifies it for you.

  • b0x3r0ck

    Looks like a reworked AK5 but designed to use different magazines.

  • Audie Bakerson

    Note they import their current bullpup is imported for sale in Canada in 5.56+STANAG magazines (Canadian gun laws are horrible, but they don’t have import restrictions like we do). That is a pretty good source of accessible (for us) feedback. The Canadian sources I’ve seen say it’s an meh rifle, but it’s very cheap (From the “Made in China” thing than design being cheap to make) for a non-restricted “black rifle” and, like other STANAG mag guns, can take “pistol” magazines that give it a higher capacity than typically allowed for long guns.

  • Major Tom

    China: Original rifle design. Do not steal.

    • No one

      By all means, tell me which design this is a clone of, and then show me western designs which are clearly just “clever derivatives” of other designs but totally not copies.

      I do love the massive cognitive dissonance westerners have towards what is and isn’t a clone or copy.

      • Major Tom

        The pictured rifles bear many resemblances to the Swiss SG-550 series and the FN FNC/Ak5.

        • Anonymoose

          It’s looks like a modernized AK stuck inside a Bushmaster ACR. It’s probably short-stroke too, so that would be more like an SKS/AK/ACR hybrid.

          • No one

            If it’s anything like the NAR, alot of the internals are likely Type 87 or QBZ03 inspired.

            The gas system is not QBZ03 however.

        • Friend of Tibet

          Oh,sure, looks a little bit like it, must be a copy. In that case M16 is a direct copy of AK47 because they shares the same overall layout……

          • Major Tom

            > All US WW2 weapons are German copies

            Oh that’s precious, are you always this silly?

          • Friend of Tibet

            That is based on your own logic, did you miss the sarcasm? awwwwwww……

          • iksnilol

            You didn’t catch the sarcasm, did you ?

          • Major Tom

            Sometimes you can never tell.

          • No one

            Hey, just because you missed it doesn’t mean everyone is so oblivious.

      • I cannot possibly imagine where Westerners might get the idea that everything coming out of China can safely be considered a ripoff based on stolen IP until proven otherwise.

        • No one

          And I can’t possibly imagine that everyone here so far would fail to answer my question and just go by dumb stereotypes to try and dodge what I’m saying.

          Even he failed mostly, It does bear some similarities to the Ak5 (a SHAMELESS SWEDISH RIPOFF of the FNC….oh wait, I mean “clever derivative”, sorry I forgot Sweden is western) and bears like no resemblance to the 550 aside from the stock sort of.

          I love it how people are posting that it’s like….8 designs it’s supposedly copying because it doesn’t matter what it is, this is a western gun site and we just HAVE to find a gun to pin to it that it’s a copy of because clearly everything Chinese is a copy, who needs proof or evidence to the contrary?

          This site is truly amazing sometimes.

          • Friend of Tibet

            That’s why these people are commenting in the comment section instead of writing an rational article.

          • Um, the Ak5 is a licensed modified copy of the FNC. Not a ripoff. I don;t know any “Westerner” who has tried to present it as a new rifle, or a wholly Swedish invention. They tested the FNC, modified it in very minor ways (mostly optimization for Arctic conditions), and adopted it as the Ak5. And they PAID FN for the rights to do so.
            See, that’s the difference between STEALING designs, and BUYING the rights to produce the designs.

        • Friend of Tibet

          lol I bet China steal the original technologies for chopstick from CIA database?

        • The Brigadier

          It might be because we all have experience now that everything China makes is substandard in materials and execution. Like all communists they are more interested in quantity and not quality. Hopefully if our new President keeps his promise and brings back manufacturing to America, we can start building better stuff. I look forward to shoes and boots with welts again and not elaborate tennis shoes that only last six to eight months.

          • Presumably you’re a defender of capitalism and an enemy of Communism? If so, then you understand how capitalist markets work, right?

            There’s an old American saying, “You get what you pay for”.

            The reason that so much “MIC” merchandise is shoddy, is American consumers. They prefer a cheaper product at a cheaper price over a better product at a higher price.

            When US companies seek out manufacturing plants in China, the Chinese plant managers usually show the US company reps several grades of products.

            A Grade A product for the most dollars. A Grade B product for fewer dollars. A Grade C product for the least dollars.

            The US company reps usually say “I’ll take the Grade C product for the least dollars in labor and overhead costs”.

            These are the products that wind up in Walmart and Harbor Freight. These are the products that plants in China make, because these are the products that US consumers are willing to pay for.

            If US consumers didn’t buy these products, they would sit on store shelves unsold, and plants in China would stop making them. US consumers, not Chinese plants, determine what grade of product plants in China crank out.

            The world’s seven fastest supercomputers are currently made in China. The number one fastest supercomputer in the world uses Chinese invented and manufactured chips, not imported US chips.

            “… everything China makes is substandard in materials and execution”

            Really?

      • CavScout

        China has copyright and patent infringement written into their constitution as a plan, and it’s very much government sponsored. They can straight up hack into Bushmaster’s, LMT’s, and that MSBS company; steel the info, and make their own, and they WILL say it’s original.

  • Raptor Fred
    • Reportedly the NAR-556/739/751 are related to the development of the rifles from the first program.

  • ReadyOrNot

    I wonder if their optics are also being made in the same plant as the Holosun, Primary Arms, Bushnell, Vortex, Lucid, Sig, etc. ones are.

    • Maybe not the same plant per se, but probably in the same industrial city which didn’t exist ten years ago, with a name that translates as “Opticsgrad”.

  • john huscio
    • iksnilol

      Don’t those have a shortened receiver?

  • EC

    Really it’s unlikely. The QBZ-95-1 was only developed in 2010-2011… it would be a large expenditure of money to ditch such a weapon.

    The only known existing model that could replace the QBZs, the NARs, are not even chambered for 5.8mm… they are only meant for export.

    I could be wrong of course, but the idea that the Chinese might just throw away their current, relatively modern, rifles seems a bit farfetched. I have no doubts that they are researching and producing other rifles, but given how difficult it has been for us to get away from the M4/M16 weapons despite various programs attempting to do so… seeing the much larger Chinese army pull it off would be surprising.

    • PLArealtalk

      Based on my observations I don’t think the QBZ-95-1 ever really took off as a full replacement for the QBZ-95 for all frontline units. Even photos today still show QBZ-95s in service for Army personnel.

      It really shouldn’t be a surprise for the Army and possibly even the military overall to move away from the QBZ-95 platform. It just isn’t as modular and ergonomic as service rifles in say the US military are, let alone new rifles entering service in Europe and elsewhere. More importantly, the Chinese military now probably has more money to buy sights and optics for rifles as a more standard fit for their infantry rather than only relying on iron sights, and looking at the QBZ-95 it’s pretty obvious fielding different sights atop the carrying handle wasn’t a big consideration.

      If the QBZ-95 family were as modular and ergonomic as the M4/M16 family were for the US then I imagine they would not be as interested in replacing them. A big reason why the Individual Carbine competition didn’t proceed is because the newer M4 variants could fulfill the US Army’s present requirements at decent cost. OTOH the QBZ-95 is probably not able to fulfill Chinese modern requirements.

      As for the NARs — specifically the CS/LR-17 families shown last year at Zhuhai Airshow — I think it doesn’t take much of a leap of faith to consider the CS/LR-17 variants to have been informed by the PLA’s service rifle requirements and may even have been a derivative of a failed competitor for the competition if there was one. In fact, the CS/LR-17 comes in three different calibres or something with a handful of different variants for each calibre. Even if the Chinese military decided to adopt CS/LR-17 (which they probably won’t) as their new service rifle, it would be quite easy to develop a 5.8mm variant of it.

  • aaron

    those guns in pictures are canceled. some internal sources said the new gun will be a Chinese modified Remington ACR

  • PLArealtalk

    I’m surprised you didn’t include this picture in your write up.
    Of course we don’t know exactly how official it is or how closely the real project may follow the diagram, but I think given what we saw of CS/LR-17 (which I doubt was the result of a purely self funded R&D process), the Army seems quite interested in a modular rifle family with barrel change, handguard change and potentially calibre change as well.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fa8c00337204dd4e1949956d28489d5c3faa6fafe33d64749e61eb2db7fd2c26.jpg

    • Hadn’t seen that image before, thanks!

    • ArcherIDN

      Hmmm interetsing but it does use CS/LR moniker which means it has been approved for Export. I think the PLA rejected it and delegated to export instead (Not a new thing. Reason why you see so many types of chinese weapons is that the corporation tend to sell it to export market rather than confined it to history)

      • PLArealtalk

        CS/LR? I assume you’re talking about CS/LR-17 rather than the image I posted? And yes, of course CS/LR-17 is intended for export and likely a branch off from norinco’s R&D for a similar official requirement.

        What I was getting at is that such a weapon of the extensive characteristics of CS/LR-17 is being offered for export means there is most likely an equivalent weapon family for domestic use with similar or superior parameters.

        • EC

          I think most people who follow PLA military developments view the CS/LR series as an export-only model. It’s the same family as the NAR series, which was also not meant for domestic use.

          There are a few things that the Chinese make which have no domestic equivalent use by the PLA (though it may find itself with the PAP or local police). The VT tank series, although using technology from China’s domestic MBTs, are based on entirely different designs.

          Some of these are programs that failed to find traction within the PLA, so get made for export. Others are derivatives from Chinese technology. But not everything Norinco makes for export has a direct PLA analogue.

          • PLArealtalk

            It goes without saying that the CS/LR series as they were presented, are an export only model, that’s not really a matter of contention.
            The VT tank series is made up of different types. VT-4 is thought to derive some of its core technologies for ZTZ99/A, VT-5 corresponds with the new light tank that the Army is fielding (sometimes called ZTQ-105), VT-2 is basically just a ZTZ96A.

            I think that it is the rule rather than the exception that exported weapons usually have a domestic counterpart that the export model is either a derivative of, or where the export model may have been a competitor against. Sometimes there are weapons put up for export without the trace of the govt or military’s fingerprints, and it is growing slightly over the last few years, but it’s still comparatively rare.

            In this case of the specific rifle family CS/LR-17, I think one would have to be hard pressed to argue that Norinco spontaneously came up with such a flexible design with the kind of characteristics CS/LR-17 has, without being incentivized by the government/military to investigate a similar design in the first place. That’s why I see CS/LR-17 as likely a derivative based off a failed or rejected design that was offered for the Army’s new service rifle competition.

  • So are Chinese Marines the People’s Army’s Navy’s Army?

    • LCON

      Peoples Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps

  • Friend of Tibet

    The rifles shown in the pictures are failed candidate for the next gen rifle most likely.

  • ‘Is the People’s Republic of China about to be the latest nation to abandon the bullpup configuration in favor of the “traditional” rifle layout?’

    If so, then it is further confirmation that the bullpup is better in theory than it is in practice.

    Bullpups are ergonomic nightmares. Pick up a bullpup. Heft it. Point it. Shoulder it. No matter what you do, it never feels balanced, it always feels “off”. That’s because the weight is concentrated in too small an area and the center of gravity is too far back.

    The optimum form factor for a military shoulder weapon is the carbine. No longer than yardstick, with its weight distributed more evenly along its entire length, the carbine shoulders and points naturally, intuitively. Its shorter length makes maneuvering in hallways, doorways, and vehicles much more convenient than a full length battle rifle.

    The PLA. like other militaries that have abandoned bullpups, has probably seen the light.

  • HobgoblinTruth

    Those are Cambodian soldiers, take a look at that guys patch.