Norinco’s M305 and T97: Cheap garbage or sweet bargain?

It’s something those damned Canucks get North of the border. Those Chinese M1A clones, ARs, a handgun or two and those funky bullpup T97 and Pumas. Are they as trash as you’ve heard? We’ll see what you think after I give a couple hands on (oh my) examples.

First, let’s learn what Norinco actually means. China North Industries Corporation is a state owned group established in the year 1980 that is quite diverse in what products it deals with, although this range is nowhere near as varied as South Korea’s Samsung.

Examples include railways, oilfield and mining equipment, as well as some civilian vehicles.

I have handled both the CQ (AR-15) and a Puma once. The Puma is essentially a 12ga T97. Pretty fun. I have heard nothing negative about either of those so far and both felt weighty, solid, and well put together. Not at all what you’d expect of something from China. I do however have both the M305 and T97 and I’ll show you what makes them great and what could use some improvement with outside and (lewd) inside pictures.

Norinco M305 – M14

First up we’ll take the M305, an M1A clone.

As M1A as it gets.

How great can it be? It’s $650-$700 CDN. That’s a quarter of something from Springfield or Fulton. To the dismay of M1A owners, they’re far better than the price difference implies. All of the parts on mine have lasted past a couple thousand rounds of whatever bargain .308 I found at the time (I’m talking Yugoslav and Russian even, real random stuff). Some claim the spring guide bends and needs to be replaced by an aftermarket one ASAP. That’s this little guy here.

Dirty but not bent.

You may be thinking, “Well there must be some problem that Rybec has run into, these are ridiculously cheap compared to the originals.” Of course, I do in fact have a glaring issue with mine. A common problem is over indexed barrels which leads to… slightly off centered front sight posts. It shoots on target but dear God is it ever ugly. This is somewhat common, so those planning to buy one, beware.

Right, Slightly.

Even though the sights are kinda funky it still has acceptable accuracy for a big boy’s caliber $700 rifle. This picture is from firing at 100 yards. From these results, you can see that I put around a one to two inch group at this distance on the paper.

Norinco T97 Bullpup

So onto the T97 because it’s such an oddball.

Is that a famas?

What in the hell is this rifle based off of? What’s funny about that is it’s entirely a Chinese creation. The T97 is the civilian export model of the QBZ-95 which is the modern Chinese standard infantryman rifle, only chambered in 5.56 and not the super secret 5.8×42 “Better than American and Russian caliber”. These go for around $900-$1000 CDN.

A better look at the disassembled cutie.

First off, you’ll see the optic (AimPoint CompM2) is not mounted anymore and there’s some arm sticking out of the rear sight post area. Well, they have a proprietary rail for an optic that if you can find it will cost you around a thousand dollars. A friend had one and it was interesting. Instead of that, I have a picatinny adapter.

The rear post rotates for smaller or larger holes.

The bolt’s grooves fit right in.

The big issue with the T97 is the magazine release and the safety/fire selector. The latter is all the way at the back of the rifle! I made a video showing how the magazine release works. Like all commie guns, it works best as a lefty shooter. You see, the QBZ95 this is based off of has its own rock-in magazines with a paddle release on the rear of the magwell. They went and took that design and said “How do we make this take STANAGs?”. This was their solution.

By far this is the biggest turnoff for most users. It’s also the only turnoff- the rifle is very solid and definitely goes against the Chinese stereotype of cheap crap.

The biggest thing to take away from Norinco products is that they do have flaws but how infrequent these issues are coupled with the amazing price tags in comparison to competition, Norinco is likely better than you’ve been told.


Rybec is a Canadian citizen who loves firearms and video games.

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12 Responses

  1. Parkourdude says:

    Those are some sick upgrades for those rifles. A pic rail on the M14 and an Aimpoint on T97. Cool shit bro.

  2. Julius says:

    That type 97 is pretty cool looking. Have you used the shotgun version?

    • Rybec says:

      I mentioned I have. It’s called the Puma.
      It was very nice to use the one time I had the chance to. What’s great about the Puma is they didn’t need to change the magazine release like how they did for stanags, It gets to keep the paddle release at the back which makes it very easy to handle while shooting right handed.

  3. Parker says:

    I want your HCLI shirt. where get?

  4. Having read this I thought it was really enlightening.
    I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this short
    article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  5. Dingus mcgingus says:

    Yea for being a lefty, made me use stupid scissors in school. I think most firearms work fine as a lefty other then face being on the danger side of things when firing. Guess that’s one problem if it goes pear shaped and stuff explodes. If I tried to use a left handed bolt gun id be confused

  6. RCEME says:

    Own a T97 and had to put flat top,T97.c, on it and a mag release leaver from There is a reason the gun is not prohibited in Canada. After 2 years of use it became apparent that the internal workings are not very resilient. In other words repairs are constant! When the gun works it works well but when something goes wrong it really goes wrong. To put it to the point, would I depend on this gun in life & death? most defiantly NOT. On the other hand good way to learn how to fix guns and have some fun after on the range.

    • ttdelta2 says:

      GEN 2 of T97 fixed most of the issues of GEN1 (flat top, mag release, feed ramp). It works flawlessly with the mags I fed it.

  7. Brian Kerr says:

    can one safly shoot 308 win in the M305 Norinco ? or can I only use 7.62 Nato ?

    • Chris says:

      You can shoot 308 or 7.62×51 it’s the same round

      • Brian Kerr says:

        The 308 is a more powerful round than the 7.62 x 51 nato. Yes they are both the same physically. sorta like the 223 and 5.56 except reversed. or somewhat similar problem where more than one cartridge has different loadings or whatever but may not be safe to fire in both guns. every modern gun should be manufactured to shoot both but who knows with the M305. Being chinese made.

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