Norinco CQ

Norinco CQ
Norinco CQ 5.56
NORINCO Type CQ 5'56x45mm assault rifle.jpg
NORINCO Type CQ 5'56x45mm assault rifle, right side
Type Assault Rifle
Place of origin  People's Republic of China
Service history
Used by Users
Wars Soviet War in Afghanistan
Production history
Designer Norinco
Manufacturer Norinco
Produced 1980s - Present
Variants CQ M311 (Select-fire assault rifle); CQ M311-1 (Semi-automatic sporter rifle) [1]; CQ 5.56mm Type A (Select-fire carbine); DIO S-5.56 (License-manufactured Iranian model); MIC "Terab" (Clone manufactured in Sudan, license status unknown at this time); S.A.M. "Armada" and "Trailblazer" (Clones manufactured in the Philippines)
Weight 2.9 kg (Empty)
Length 986 mm
Barrel length 508 mm

Cartridge 5.56x45mm NATO (only non-NATO standard 55-grain M193 "Ball" cartridge), .223 Remington (Semi-automatic sporter model)
Action Gas operated, rotating bolt - Semi-automatic or select-fire operation
Rate of fire 900 RPM (Select-fire version only)
Muzzle velocity 990m/s
Maximum range 460m
Feed system 20/30-round magazine (STANAG 4179)
Sights Iron sights

The CQ is a copy of the Colt M16 rifle. It is currently being manufactured by Norinco. According to the Norinco website, the rifle is officially known as CQ 5.56.



The CQ was first introduced in the early 1980s. This weapon is chambered for 5.56x45mm cartridges and never entered service with the People's Liberation Army and appears to be intended for sale as an export [2]. Two variants of the CQ rifle are made: the CQ 5.56, also known as the CQ-311 or CQ M-311, the select-fire variant for Military/LE sales; and the CQ M311-1, the semiautomatic version for the civilian market. Later, a carbine variant has been introduced, called the CQ 5.56mm Type A. Like Chinese copies of the US M-14 Rifle the CQ never saw much Military use. However semi-auto sporter copies have made much success in civilian sales.

As a military rifle, however, the Type CQ was unsuccessful. It was never adopted by the Chinese military or even unofficially distributed within Chinese troops, with the only significant use of this weapon in war during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s,[1] when it was sold to Mujaheddin forces in a Chinese attempt to thwart Soviet influence in the Far East. The most likely reason of this sale is the US backing of the Mujaheddin, who Chinese officials might have thought would supply Afghan fighters with 5.56x45mm ammunition. By the time Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in 2001, however, the use of Type CQ rifles by Afghan fighters' was rare.[citation needed] Other military uses of the Type CQ assault rifle have been reported within guerrilla and insurgent movements in the South-East Asian area. Iran has bought a few shipments of M-331 rifles for certain elite units in the Iranian Military. Rumors of shipments of quantities of Type CQ rifles to countries like North Korea and Cuba have been around for years, yet remain unconfirmed.[citation needed]

Media Appearance

British Police had seized what is believed to be a CQ rifle after arresting a teenager during a police operation in Islington, North London on August 7, 2001.[3]


Though it has the same look as the M16 rifle, there are some modifications to various parts. The most immediately recognizable distinguishing features that tell the Type CQ apart from an M16 rifle are its peculiarly-shaped handguard and stock, curved pistol grip, and hooded front sight.

The Type CQ rifle, in both its Military/LE and Civilian variants, has a 1:12 rifling pitch which allows it to properly stabilize the M193 "Ball" variant of the 5.56mm ammunition or the Type CJ Chinese clone, as well as any .223 Remington commercial cartridge variant that can be stabilized by the 1:12 pitch rifling barrel (normally Varmint or other simple sporter cartridges, up to a maximum bullet weight of 55 Grains). The M193 "Ball" 5.56mm cartridge was never a NATO standard until the adoption of this weapon system by other nations. Type CQ is chambered in "5.56x45mm NATO", but it will not properly stabilize the NATO standard 5.56mm ammunition (the SS109, M855 in US service), which requires a 1:9 or 1:7 pitch rifling barrel due to a bullet weight of 62 Grains. However in an emergency situation these barrels will fire safely the heavier rounds, just the aggregate group size will be much larger and a greater amount of tumbling and "key holing" (the bullet arriving at target sideways due to instability from improper spin rate).


Norinco Type CQ M311-1 .223-Remington semi-automatic rifle - Italian civilian market model, with 5-rounds DPMS clear plastic magazine

Type CQ assault rifle

Also known as the CQ 5'56, the CQ-311 or the CQ M-311, this is the select-fire assault rifle version intended for military and police use. It is a gas-operated, rotating-bolt full-automatic firearm that feeds from factory-made 20 or 30 round magazines (STANAG magazine clones), firing the M193 "Ball" 5.56x45mm cartridge (manufactured in China by Norinco as the Type CJ cartridge). The Type CQ rifle has a three-position fire selector: Safe, Single Shot, and Full-Automatic fire. The weapon sports a 508mm (19.9 inches) barrel with a 1:12 rifling twist. The main differences within this weapon and the original American-made M16 are in the shape of some metal and plastic parts (namely the stock, the grip, the handguard, and the flash suppressor), and in the type of metal the rifle is made of. While the American AR-15/M16 rifles are built in T70-74 aluminum, the Chinese Type CQ is built in T60-60 aluminum, used to allow the process of Metal Injection Molding to be used instead of forging. According to the manufacturer's website, the Type CQ assault rifle can be equipped with an under-carried grenade launcher. Norinco manufactures several models of grenade launchers in different calibers, generally clones of the American M203 (known as the LG2-I and LG2-II) or to the Russian GP-25/GP-30 (known as the LG-1, seen mated to the QBZ-95 assault rifle), and a wide array of anti-riot underbarrel launchers. However, seen the lack on the Type CQ assault rifle of a quick-attachment/detachment design hand guard as instead present on the American M16A2 assault rifle and M4 carbine, the installation of an underbarrel grenade launcher on the Type CQ assault rifle requires partial replacement of the handguard.[4]

Type CQ semi-automatic rifle

Also known as the CQ 311-1 or the CQ M311-1, this rifle is the civilian version of the above-mentioned Military model. Nothing changes from the select-fire version, except that the CQ M311-1 rifle is not capable of fully automatic fire, and that the most recently-manufactured models shift from the distinctive Type CQ curved pistol grip and hooded front sight to more standard parts, similar to the ones found on other AR-15 rifles. It is manufactured with a semi-automatic only trigger group, and the selector switch only has two positions, for Safety and Fire. The 1:12 barrel rifling allows the rifle to properly shoot and stabilize all .223 Remington commercial cartridges and the military surplus 5.56x45mm M193 "Ball" ammunition widely available on the market. The CQ M311-1 was first available in the North American market in 1987, when only 500 units were sold before the import was halted [1]; reasons for this halt are stated to be several by many sources: the restrictions applied in the United States since the year 1989 (an import ban signed by George H. W. Bush on 41 types of military-style firearms in the aftermath of the Stockton massacre), a copyright infringement lawsuit from Colt against Norinco or an agreement between the two companies; however none of these assumptions can be supported by official confirms. The CQ M311-1 semiautomatic rifle is today available in Canada, while any further import into the United States still remains impossible due to restrictions that apply since the year 1986 and after other pieces of legislation passed in the 1990s and in the early 2000s. The gun is also available in Europe (particularly Italy), where it is sold with a 10-rounds detachable clear plastic magazine manufactured in the USA by DPMS Panther Arms (this because the Norinco CQ M311-1 rifles and the DPMS Panther Arms products are imported in Italy by the company NUOVA JAGER srl).[5]

CQ 5.56mm Type A assault carbine

This variant introduced in the year 2006 in several Defense expos worldwide, including the MILIPOL, is a copy of the American M4A1 assault carbine.[6] It features a telescoping stock, a removable carrying handle mounted on a Picatinny rail, and a 368.3mm (14.5 inche) barrel. The CQ Type A carbine variant is claimed to be able to stabilize both M193 "Ball" and SS109/M885 variants of the 5.56mm cartridge, as would be expected from a rifle with a 1:9 barrel rifling twist. It will quickly accept the installation of grenade launchers due to the quick attachment/detachment handguard design and to the step-cut barrel. The CQ 5.56mm Type A assault carbine is the only Type CQ variant to be acknowledged of official uses with a regular Armed force, having been purchased in significant quantities by the DECEI (Destacamento Conjunto de Empleo Inmediato "Joint Quick Deployment Detachment") of the Paraguayan Army.[7] A semi-automatic version of this carbine is available on the civilian market for sports shooters in Canada[8] and in Italy.[9]

DIO Model S-5.56 assault rifle

In the year 2003, the Defense Industries Organization of Iran began marketing the S-5.56 rifle, a clone of the Type CQ [10], that had been first unveiled in the West in the year 2001 by the authoritative Jane's Information Group [11]. The rifle itself is offered in two variants: the S-5.56 A1 with a 19.9-inch barrel and 1:12 pitch rifling (1 turn in 305mm), optimized for the use of the M193 Ball cartridge; and the S-5.56 A3 with a 20-inch barrel and a 1:7 pitch rifling (1 turn in 177, 8mm), optimized for the use of the SS109 cartridge [12].

TERAB rifle

The "Terab" rifle is a clone of the Norinco CQ manufactured by the MIC (Military Industry Corporation) of Sudan.[13] The manufacturer's website lists it as a 7.62×51 NATO which would make it more of a copy of the AR-10.[14] The Sudan has a background in military usage of the AR-10, having employed it as its standard service rifle from 1957 to 1989.

ARMADA rifle and TRAILBLAZER carbine

The "Armada" rifle is a clone of the Norinco CQ manufactured by S.A.M. - Shooter's Arms Manufacturing, a.k.a. Shooter's Arms Guns & Ammo Corporation, headquartered in Metro Cebu, Republic of the Philippines. S.A.M. launched the Armada rifle in 2009, making it available to local government units and/or active law enforcement and military agencies in the Philippines and abroad. The Armada is a select-fire rifle composed of two receivers (upper and lower) manufactured in forged aluminum, uses a 22-inch barrel with a 1:9 right-hand twist (able to stabilize both M193 "Ball" and SS109/M885 variants of the 5.56mm cartridge), Norinco CQ-style plastic parts (grip, stock, handguard), flip-up rear sight adjustable for windage, front post sight adjustable for elevation, and feeds by STANAG magazines. The total weight of the weapon unloaded is claimed to reach 3,3 kilograms, with an overall length of 38.5 inches[15].
A carbine version of the Armada rifle, similar to the Norinco CQ 5'56mm Type A, has also been launched under the name of "Trailblazer"[16].



  • Flag of Taliban.svg Taliban Used by the anti-Soviet Mujaheddin force in 1980s. Few found in Taliban service today.
  •  China - Used by the Sichuan Police Department [17]
  •  Iran - Used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Infantry.
  •  Paraguay - Norinco CQ-5.56mm Type A adopted by the Special Forces [18]


  1. ^ a b c Sino Defense's CQ Page. Retrieved on August 10, 2007.
  2. ^ Modern Firearms' CQ-311 Page. Like Chinese copies of the US M-14 Rifle the CQ never saw wide Military use. However semi-auto sporter copies have made much success in civilian sales. Retrieved on August 10, 2007.
  3. ^ Ian Burrel. Teenager arrested after Yard seize hi-tech assault rifle, The Independent, 7 August 2007. Retrieved on August 10, 2007.
  4. ^ Chinese 40mm LG2-I grenade launcher underslung on Norinco Type CQ assault rifle Retrieved on April 27, 2008.
  5. ^ Norinco Type CQ M-311 semi-automatic rifle equipped with 5-rounds translucent plastic magazine manufactured in the United States by DPMS Panther Arms Retrieved on October 8, 2007.
  6. ^ Norinco CQ 5'56mm Type A assault carbine Retrieved on October 7, 2007.
  7. ^ Paraguay soldiers using Chinese M4 (CQ 5.56) carbines Retrieved on October 18, 2008.
  8. ^ Norinco CQ 5'56mm M4 semiautomatic sporter carbine Retrieved on March 14, 2009.
  9. ^ Norinco M4 sporter carbine as imported by Nuova Jager S.r.l. Retrieved on October 8, 2010.
  10. ^ Iranian Defense Industries Organization - Armament Industries Group. Retrieved on October 7, 2007.
  11. ^ The 5.56 X 45mm: 2000-2001 Retrieved on October 7, 2007.
  12. ^ S-5.56 rifle technical specifics table. Retrieved on October 7, 2007.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ S.A.M. "Armada" assault rifle on the manufacturer's website Retrieved on November 7, 2009.
  16. ^ S.A.M. "Trailblazer" assault carbine on the manufacturer's website Retrieved on November 7, 2009.
  17. ^ Pengzhou police offers gun salute for policemen that died during Sichuan earthquake Retrieved on April 4, 2009.
  18. ^ Chinese Norinco CQ 5'56mm Type A carbine in use with Special Forces of Paraguay Retrieved on October 18, 2008.

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