Assault Rifle of the Week

(Top) The Type 97 QBZ97 is the 5.56x45mm NATO version…

(Top) The Type 97 QBZ97 is the 5.56x45mm NATO version of the PRC’s new family of bullpup configured assault rifles, intended for export. (Bottom) The 5.8x42mm QBZ Type 95 rifle, mounting the QLG91B 35mm under-barrel grenade launcher Photo: M Tokoi/T. Jimbo, via Strzal Magazine.

China’s first foray into the field of arms design was the Type 63 assault rifle. More than a million were made for the PLA, and they were exported to trading partners in Albania and Africa, so it would have to be considered a successful design, but it was not a satisfactory design, and it was replaced by the Type 81 series, which drew China even further from the USSR as a client of small-arms design.

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Type 63 rifle. Image: NDU.edu

The most recent indigenous Chinese assault rifle design is the Type 95, an advanced design that is unusual in many respects. It is China’s first standard-issue bullpup design, and it features the indigenous and unique new 5.8x42mm Type 87 cartridge of Chinese design, which was first introduced with their Type 87 rifle.

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The three main small caliber, high velocity (SCHV) rounds are the 5.56x45mm NATO, left, the 5.45x39mm USSR, and the 5.8x42mm Chinese DPB87 round.

The type 95 bullpup assault rifle was first introduced in 1995 as a “vastly improved Type 87.” According to the PLA, it shares similarities with two other bullpup assault rifles—the French Giat FAMAS bullpup, and the British L85, from which it has adapted features of the operating system. This design is gas operated, with a two-lug rotary-locking bolt.

The Type 95 weapons family includes a number of bullpup rifles and carbines such as a short-barreled rifle and a squad machine gun. The Type 97 is a parallel design in 5.56x45mm NATO offered to the export market.

The new Type 87 (DBP87) round is in service with all branches of the PLA, the People’s Armed Police, and Chinese Police forces, in various weapon platforms. The cartridge features a lacquered steel case, which comes in two basic loadings; a 64-grain projectile, and a “heavy load” firing a 77-grain projectile intended for use in a sniper rifle and machine guns.

(Adapted with permission from The World’s Assault Rifles [Johnston/Nelson, 1200 pages, © 2010 Ironside International Publishers], available at: www.worlds-assault-rifles.net

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