Weapons: China Switches To The Good Stuff


July 11, 2012: China has recently enacted some unexpected and uncharacteristic military reforms with the upgrade of their new assault rifle. Two years ago a new and improved model of their QBZ-95 assault rifles (also called the Type 95) began showing up. The new QBZ-95-1 (sometimes called 95G) addressed several reliability and ease-of-use issues. Shortly after the QBZ-95-1 showed up, China also introduced greatly improved ammunition for it. The new DBP10 5.8mm round has a non-corrosive primer, clean burning propellant, and a heavier bullet with better penetration of armor and other hard substances.  

The original ammo for the QBZ-95 (DBP87 and DBP95) was built for low cost and left a lot of residue after each round was fired. Thus, unlike earlier Russian designed weapons, the QBZ-95 required more maintenance by users, and that caused some complaints from users, not to mention more inoperable weapons after a hundred or so rounds were fired. Deciding to go for more expensive ammo was a bold and costly move. But it meant the troops would be more effective in combat and morale would be improved. Nothing annoys the troops more than weapons that tend to jam quickly and require constant cleaning.

There are several other popular improvement in the 95-1. There is now a thumb operated safety selector switch and small accessory mounting rails. The trigger guard has also been modified. There is also a heavier barrel, which is almost essential with the heavier bullet used by the DBP10 ammo.

The QBZ-95 is bullpup design (the magazine is behind the trigger) that uses China’s proprietary 5.8x42mm cartridge, which is a little wider than the 5.56 NATO but shorter in overall length. The Type 95 uses a 30-round magazine, similar to the M-16. The Type 95 fires single shots or bursts. It will take until the end of the decade to replace all the older Type 81 (improved AK-47) rifles with the new rifle. The Type 95 is about ten percent lighter than the Type 81 and has apparently been well received by the troops. There are complaints about the different ergonomics of a bullpup weapon and the maintenance and reliability issues. Spending enough time with the bullpup eliminates the ergonomic complaints, especially for new troops who have never handled older rifle designs. The clearer ammo takes care of the reliability issues. Testing showed that the new 5.8mm round was less likely to cause serious wounds. This issue has not been addressed with the new DBP10 round.

The Type 95 was first seen in Hong Kong when China took over in 1997. The Type 95 comes in a variety of styles (a compact version, an automatic rifle, and a sniper rifle). An export version, using the standard 5.56mm NATO round, is called the Type 97 and Myanmar is using it. Several other countries have bought the Type 95 (like Cambodia and Sri Lanka).