From the time I was first getting into guns and how they worked, I had a certain attraction to the weapons that the Chinese employ in their military. Most of this interest was sparked by seeing them in certain video games where people preferred to outfit their character with Chinese military weapons. The weapon that I became most interested in was the Chinese QBZ-95/Type 95, which is a very unique bullpup design, first fielded in 1997. It is chambered in the Chinese 5.8x42mm cartridge, which China boasts to be the most ballistically effective cartridge from their testing.
This rifle really drew in my attention for its odd looking silhouette and just the fact that the Chinese military used it primarily as their standard issue rifle for their military. The design was further upgraded in later years, with a chambering in 5.56×45 NATO, and was designed to accept STANAG magazines. This upgraded variant was called the Type 97 or QBZ-97. This variant was further modified to sell on the commercial market for sporting purposes. Canada seems to be the biggest buyers of this rifle through Norinco. But unfortunately, America has not allowed importation of these rifles, which saddens me because I would love to get my hands on one and add it to my bullpup collection.
Recently, a Canadian manufacturer, T97.ca has released modified versions of the Type 97 with a full length flat top rail, instead of the carry handle. These rifles are modified with this as an aftermarket option, or as a stock setting. But recently, the Type 97 has seen a couple of extra upgrades in its Gen 2 rifles. The magazine release, which used to be on the right side of the rifle only, now has been made ambidextrious. The charging handle that used to be reciprocating and required you to reach into the carry handle, now protrudes out to the side and is reversible but non-reciprocating. One of the other additions to this list is the addition of KeyMods under the rail, on both sides. There looks to be three variations for you to choose from out of the box, or aftermarket, as shown below. For me, I would take the bottom one since I like stock, original designs.
Going for about $1000, this rifle is not cheap, but I think that these upgrades definitely make it a more competitive option for those looking for a cool bullpup rifle with the ability to be modified to suit the shooters needs. I am certainly envious.