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China's New Rifle the QBZ-95

Posted 12/12/2014

Without gathering much attention, China has been introducing a new assault rifle for its infantry. The QBZ-95 is unusual in several respects. It's a Bullpup design, meaning the 30 round magazine is behind the trigger and overall length is 30 inches (compared to 34.2 inches for the AK-47 and 38.8 inches for the M-16). But even more unusual is the cartridge, it's a 5.8mm round developed in China. The Chinese experimented a lot during the 1980s, with new cartridges of different calibers (from 5.5mm to 6mm) and settled on the 5.8mm round in 1989. The QBZ-95 weighs 8.3 pounds loaded. There is a light machine-gun version that uses a longer barrel and a drum magazine. This weapon weighs 11 pounds loaded, but is awkward to use because of the heavy ammo drum sitting behind the trigger. There is also a "carbine" version with a shorter barrel. The QBZ-95 is also a complicated piece of machinery, with, as some users have reported, "too many parts" (especially compared to the AK-47.) The 30 round magazine, sitting behind the trigger, makes it awkward to fire from the prone position. The new 5.8mm cartridge does not appear to be much more effective than the short 7.62mm used in the AK-47, or the 5.56 round used in the M-16. So why is China creating an enormous problem of shifting from it's current arsenal of AK-47s to a new caliber? The Chinese aren't saying. There is an export version of the QBZ-95 (the QBZ-97) that uses the same ammunition as the M-16. But the QBZ-97 is not selling well.

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