Infantry Weapons

More details emerge about PLA’s new assault rifle

14 November 2019

Carbine iteration of the new Chinese assault rifle seen here during testing in 2019. Source: Via CGTN video footage

More details have emerged about the new assault rifle for China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) that was displayed during the 1 October parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

The design of the new rifle seen being carried by motorised infantry troops during the parade appears to have been heavily influenced by the German HK416 and the earlier Chinese QBZ-81 and QBZ-03 assault rifles. The HK416 can in many ways trace its lineage back to the US AR-15 assault rifle series, while the Chinese QBZ-81 and QBZ-03 mostly employ the design features of the Russian AK and SKS rifles.

Although the designation for the new rifle has not been officially confirmed, it is also likely to include the standard 'QBZ' prefix when transliterated from Chinese, followed by several digits. The 'QBZ' acronym stands for 'Qīngwǔqì Bùqiāng Zìdòng', literally meaning 'light weapon, rifle, automatic'. The digits usually denote the final year of a weapon's development.

Jane's has observed three variants of the new QBZ. A carbine model, fitted with an approximately 318 mm (12.5 inch) long barrel; a standard barrel model, with an approximately 368 mm (14.5 inch) long barrel; and a designated marksman rifle (DMR) model fitted with an approximately 457 cm (18 inch) long barrel.

The DMR prototype, spotted in a Chinese TV report broadcast in early October, seems to be fitted with an aluminium forend featuring the M-LOCK-type interface system, in addition to the monolithic MIL-STD-1913-type ancillary rail that runs along its topside, as per the other two models in the family.

One interesting feature on the carbine and standard models, albeit by no means unique, is that the polymer handguard piece appears to be fitted to an aluminium sleeve that envelops the barrel, rather than being directly attached to the barrel itself.

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