Did China Hit a Home Run With New Rifle Designs?

chinese norinco-nar-556

The Norinco/Chongqing Jianshe Industry Group NAR-556 full size and compact rifle. (Photo: TFB/@Weaponsmagazine)

The Chinese arms market has a long history of imitation in all forms. Chinese manufacturers and gunsmiths have produced everything from high-quality copies of foreign-pattern guns to entertainingly bad black market knockoffs.

Many popular and successful Chinese-made guns are based on Soviet-era Russian designs, like the AK-pattern Type 56. These rifles and their derivatives are still in production today, over 50 years later, largely for export. They’re popular because they’re inexpensive to produce in quantity even as the basic design starts to show its age.

Chinese manufacturers are perfectly capable of making fresh designs — and Norinco is doing just that. In cooperation with the Chongqing Jianshe Industry Group, Norinco is working on a truly modern-looking set of rifles chambered for 5.56 and 7.62 NATO.

There are also photos of a 7.62x39mm version over at the Firearm Blog, all intended for commercial sale, not in-state adoption.


The 7.62x51mm version, top, and 7.62x39mm version, bottom. (Photo: TFB/@Weaponmagazine)

“These rifles are going to give Kalashnikov and IWI stiff competition for rifle contracts in the developing world, especially in Africa where IWI has had a lot of success selling the Galil ACE,” writes TFB’s Steve Johnson. “China is in a good position to leverage the large amount of aid and development they do in the region and turn that into defense sales.”

“It will be interesting to see what Jianshe Industry does with these guns.” For now the rifles are being called the NAR-556, NAR-762 and NAR-751.

Both China and Russia are big players in developing markets. Both have been major producers of AK-based guns sold around the world for decades. While these guns are serviceable and durable it’s clear that there’s enough interest in more flexible rifle designs.

These rifles sport a handful of must-have features for today’s military, security and private users, most importantly, a flattop rail. As magnified optics and red dot sights become more affordable and widespread the flattop rail has become a hallmark of modern firearms.

While many AK-pattern rifles have provisions for optics, they’re usually side rails which can be clunky. Other improvements include a push-button or enlarged paddle magazine release, a modular handguard system and an adjustable gas piston action.

The handguard continues the flattop rail all the way to the front for use with infrared adapters, weapon lights and pointers while the rest of the rail has keyholes which look similar to the open-source KeyMod system. This should let users add other accessories to the handguard like foregrips, tape switches and grip panels.

See Also: The Chinese Norinco SKS

Like a few other tactical rifles in production today they appear to be built on an extruded metal upper receiver with a molded polymer lower. The upper contains the bulk of the action while the lower houses the fire control group and provides the grip and magwell.

Other nice touches include a side-folding stock and flip-up iron sights. Overall the pattern looks on-par with many recent Western designs and could be a real winner for Norinco and the Jianshe Group. It still needs to compete in terms of reliability and durability, but Norinco has a solid reputation there.

Russia has been working on a replacement for their own AK-based rifles used nationwide for several years with the often-teased AK-12. These Chinese manufacturers are eying a much larger market: the rest of the world. Or at least wherever Chinese rifles are sold.

About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. Like Thomas Paine, he’s a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

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  • dogman 197 November 13, 2016, 1:03 pm

    Hell, I got a wife made in China . Never had a minutes problem with her. You just have to know your product.

    • GTL November 17, 2016, 12:50 pm

      Good answer

  • rleue November 12, 2016, 8:02 am

    Good is good and bad is bad…no matter where it comes from. We need to stop all of the aggression/anger/hostility and build good relationships with everyone. Work with all and fight with none. We need to bring our jobs and troops home. Let them build whatever they want, if we like it, we buy it. If we don’t we won’t. They will build up to the quality standards we demand…simple economics.

  • Christian November 12, 2016, 6:02 am

    I am shocked by many of these comments, thinking it is from China it must be bad. China is not an evil country guys and their products are not all crap. The problem is that western companies go to China because they want to create cheaper products, due to the fact that the salaries in China are lower than in western countries. The fault is in the western companies; the ones Trump wants to bring back to their homeland and hopefully he will be successful in doing so. But okay, these guns are made by the Chinese completely alone, so let’s take a look on it a different way:

    These are new guns introduced here and none of you guys had a hold on these yet, so how can you already be sure that they are bad? What about an AR-15 rifle constructed by a bad American manufacturer? Would you then automatically blame all of America? I don’t think that Chinese guns can be that bad because the Chinese military today is one of the most powerful in the world, not just by numbers. I am sorry to say this now guys, but even the US had to learn this the hard way during the Korea war in the 1950s. But China also changed a lot over the past decades generally, so to say “It’s all commie stuff, they don’t issue body armor to their regular troops because they have no shortage of men” or something like that is nonsense, looking on it from today’s perspective. And remember, many things that you are using every day were originally been invented in China. Especially interesting for us gun fanatics would be the fact that explosives and therefore also the powder for your guns have been invented by the Chinese, together with rockets, noodles, paper, barrows, Chess and so many other things. Yes, they copy a lot today but I tell you, German companies for instance copy a lot of good designs from other countries as well. Hell, even the famous AK47 was in fact just an improved copy of the German Stg 43/44.

    I would say, give it a try before mocking on it, just because it comes from a certain country. That is just my opinion though.

  • Bernie Weldon November 12, 2016, 12:09 am

    I don’t know about others but I try not buy anything from the Peoples Democratic Republic ; at some point they’ll try to bury us with with the money we’ve sent them !

  • Charles Brossow November 11, 2016, 7:27 pm

    Why not bring our lend lease rifles home, m-1 carbine, m-1 garland and others they where made here and still have a use.

  • Dan November 11, 2016, 1:51 pm

    Seems a little less chunky than a SCAR, but i wouldn’t knowingly buy anything from the PRC.

  • Larry November 11, 2016, 1:27 pm

    While they look good, I don’t think I want anything I am using to protect my family or myself to say “made in China”.

  • AK November 11, 2016, 10:01 am

    Not a copy of the SCAR….nope, not at all….

    • Charles Kimberl November 11, 2016, 12:31 pm

      If the Chicoms could not steal ideas and technology, they would be dead in the water.

    • kenneth kaplan November 12, 2016, 5:46 pm

      When I read your question about bringing the M-1 carbine rifle home. It struck me about an article that I read about the M-1 Garand Rifle the south Koreans were sending back to the U.S. The article stated that the M-1 rifle was to go a couple of companies. One of the companies had to close and lay off all of there employees.The other company CMP I believe was also to receive the M-1 rifles.The article went on to state that President Obama ordered the navy to throw all of the rifles overboard into the sea.

  • Leighton Cavendish November 11, 2016, 9:42 am

    I might not buy a Chinese gun…but cheap Chinese ammo would be nice.
    Imagine 22LR at a penny a round or less?

  • Steve Warren November 11, 2016, 9:31 am

    Interesting… but a side folding stock? With body armor, doesn’t a telescoping stock make more sense? What am I missing here?

    • Steve November 11, 2016, 10:25 am

      Most of the targeted chinese market doesn’t issue body armor to line troops, only their equivalent of special forces or SWAT. A folding stock makes sense and is easier to manufacture if body armor isn’t an issue.

      • Cyrus November 11, 2016, 11:58 am

        They don’t issue Body Armor because there is no shortage of expendable men!

  • Infidel7.62 November 11, 2016, 9:23 am

    Remember the 80s when the Chinese sent over copies of the M1A. The receivers were not hardened properly and they streched to the point of case separation in about 100 rounds. By the time you had them repaired and properly hardened you wound up spending more than if you had just bought a Springfield M1A. Just say to to Chinese junk, unless you like the idea of the receiver possibly blowing up in your face.

    • Alan November 11, 2016, 11:50 am

      Yet the Norinco 1911 was actually made with a high quality steel, to very good specs and was very popular for economy builds.
      One negative example does NOT make an overall negative.

      • scott November 11, 2016, 5:22 pm

        nice, short and relevevant reply

    • singleshotcajun November 11, 2016, 5:27 pm

      Sorry but that line was put out by Springfield inc. . The Norinco “M14” was and is a great rifle, it pains me to say that but it is true.

      • DrJon November 13, 2016, 8:16 am

        It was constructed on US machinery in Taiwan that was originally used in America. Foolish decision to ever sell the machinery s there is still a need for a Battle Rifle that works and requires minimal care in all climates MADE OF STEEL!

    • Scott May 26, 2017, 12:07 am

      No I don’t remember that, actually just the opposite. I remember norinco have some of the best Hammer forged receivers made. in fact even today Springfield’s receivers are NOT hardened, only LRB truly manufactures a slam forged M1A , M25 etc receiver. I remember many people buying norinco’s just for their receivers

  • DonB November 11, 2016, 8:26 am

    I would not financially support the Chinese or Russian governments through the purchase of their guns. I’m going to support the American economy and American workers by purchasing only the fine quality arms made in “Merica”. I’m surprised that with a patriotic name like GunsAmerica you would be promoting the purchase of Chinese goods. 😔

  • Marcel November 11, 2016, 8:15 am

    It’s time to end the import ban on Russian made handguns another clinton accomplishment if I’m not mistaken

  • SteveK November 11, 2016, 7:38 am

    I couldn’t get past the “baby poop” color.

    • rev_dave November 11, 2016, 9:04 am

      I believe that may be ‘long march’ brown. Or ‘cultural revolution’ tan. Basically, it’s commie-khaki.

    • Martin Massinger November 11, 2016, 11:39 am

      Do a search for Flat Dark Earth—Magpul or otherwise. It’s the same color. Me thinks you’re jaded… 🙂

  • Ken W. November 11, 2016, 6:44 am

    Pres. Trump needs to nullify that ridiculous bans implemented by Bush Sr. in 89 and Clinton’s garbage in 94 so we can start getting these and other goodies like we used to. I very much would love to get an SVT-40 and an affordable M14.

    • Steve November 12, 2016, 3:55 am

      Affordable HKs too. In 1984 (IIRC) I bought an HK94 for $450!

  • Cary Kieffer November 11, 2016, 5:56 am

    I liked this article, back in the day I had a Norinco M14. That thing with a few tweaks from a knowledgeable smith was pretty good. He said he was surprised at the quality of the receiver and most of the parts, he did replace some stuff though that he felt was “soft metal”. Anyway, it filled in for a time in my younger life when I couldn’t afford anything else for the 30 cal Service Rifle league. An M14 for 375$ was best I could do to shoot the league. Now thankfully I have more cash and am a “supergun owner x’s 3” I guess is what you’d call me according to that other article on number of guns people own. Still always fun to see what’s new out there. Good piece.

    • Cary Kieffer November 11, 2016, 10:55 am

      Come to think of it….I misspoke. That rifle I had back then was a Polytech…still a Chinese company though.

      • DrJon November 13, 2016, 8:44 am

        Those are the rifles made in Taiwan on US M14 Machinery. The receivers were well made from forged steel, it was some of the small parts that were so so.

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