China’s CF-98 Modular Service Pistol

China adopted this pistol in 1998 in a domestic 5.8x21mm cartridge, and also manufactured examples like this one in 9x19mm Parabellum for export. It is a design built around a sheet metal skeleton holding the fire control parts, with a polymer grip assembly that can be changed out. A rotating barrel locking system like the Steyr-Hahn and Beretta PX4 is used, and the magazine is a double feed type, unusual to find in handguns.

Overall, the gun is functional and reliable, but otherwise uninspiring. The trigger in particular is not very good by American or European standards. As with their recently developed bullpup rifle, it seems the Chinese military was looking for a weapon that was economical and functional…and not much more.

Many thanks to the anonymous collector who let me take a look at this piece and bring you a video on it!


  1. Trigger reliability aside, this looks okay. Is this gun able to accept third-party components like custom made slides or different barrels and recoil springs to match? And why can’t customers tune up the trigger group on their own? I could be wrong…

      • You did read the full description, right? There are export versions of this product, so that explains how we got to look at an example here without anyone getting shot first. But you’re right in that there aren’t any aftermarket products to go with it. Maybe we should wait a while for surplus to happen…

  2. I am really happy to see this part – it was missing. This is in a category of pistols which were/ still are in centre of my interest for some time. As I have gone in detail thru major known designs of this kind I feel that this Chinese creation is unique and actually not bad at all. One missing unknown is quality of material, its treatment and workmanship (some reports are not exactly raving). They are mainstay for Chinese military and also as I believe Burma, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Other than that these pistols were (still may be) available in Canada thru Marstar.

    • Picking on 2 details Ian mentioned – the star on grip which can be interpreted in several ways (I proposed in one discussion for Cdn military to adopt it 🙂 ). The other is that “it will not take over Glock any time soon”. That may be the case but, I have seen recently new version of Glock with – rotary barrel locking. Now you tell me what’s up.

      I know one thing; Beretta stopped making rotary action pistols some time ago and relegated their production to Turkey; I understand the price was a factor (and they had their design well rationalised). Is it that Chinese can afford to make presumably costlier gun because their labour is ‘cheap’? Lots of unanswered/ unanswerable questions 🙂

      Again, thanks for showing this unique arm.

  3. The part identified as a “buffer” on the recoil spring guide rod is actually the spring loaded detent that retains the slide lock lever for takedown. It operates similarly to the same piece in the North Korean type 70 pistol.

    • lt seems too weak functioning as a buffer and also the guide itself could be used as a retainer. lf noticed there it seems a screw head at the back as if working like a compression adjuster through the back of rear guide section. lt seems giving back and forth movement to a separate piece inside the guide tube for adjusting the stress of whole recoil spring for some attachments like supprassor. lMHO.

      • I expect the screw head you see is the screw to capture the small spring. I also expect that the screw is fully tightened and bottomed out and not any sort of adjustment.

        • I also do not think it is for adjustment. There should be nothing to adjust on pistol except sight, otherwise it will go loose and out of whack. What you think is screw is probably rivet head or peened end of shaft/ rod.

          • Some Chinese pistols have supprassor support like variable strenght recoil springs. Heavier for normal, weaker for supprassor mounted. This adjustment should be such a construction. Also notice the little hole at mid section of recoil spring guide. This should be the pass for mounting pin for retainer plug for adjustment screw carrying the reciprocaly moving tension block. Besides, this adjustment should not be permanent and could be held demanded power for the time when the supprassor to be used. Whereas, stationary retaining needs more secure fixing elements than screws.

  4. I would’ve liked to glance at the breach end of the barrel. Typically dual feed guns have two feed ramps at the chamber mouth. This adds complexity to a pistol, especially one with a rotating barrel. If the Chinese opted to simply chamfer the entire chamber mouth does it leave the cartridge base unsupported?

  5. The idea behind the new Glock rotary locking is to better withstand high pressure loads (higher than 9 mm NATO standard) compared to a tilting barrel that uses part of the ejection port as locking surface.

    • That would add up. If you look and typical ‘flapper’ (my name for Browning action), it has miniscule of contact surface to lean on.

          • Locking surfaces in autoloding pistols seem more or less being equal at either systems. ln fact, Glock’s new rotary barrel handgun’s inventor, Friedrich Dechant’s first statement in the related patent application is about the rotating barrel tendency in lessening the mechanical noise when gun cycling is occured. Comparations among durability comes afterward. However, since a camming leverage being more present in this kind of locking, there should be more momentum converting between the connected parts and the slide should get slowed when the rotating barrel’s helicaly movement getting fastened. On the other hand, this new Glock seems more complicated take down and cutting processes in the slide which should be expected costs rising and reluctancy in manufacture. lMHO.

          • Interesting information, Strongarm. When comes to stripping rotary barrel pistol it is not that complicated, I think. Look at the Berettas Lorenzo mentioned. They are about on par with any other pistol. Return spring is under barrel as usual.

  6. CF98 is the export version of QSZ92-9, and the 5.8mm one is introduced in 2000. It is common sense that PLA only adopted QSZ92-5.8, in actually some units such as PLAN marine brigades are still using QSZ92-9 at present.
    Also, more than different calibers, QSZ92-5.8 is different from QSZ92-9 in action. Although both of them have rotary locking action, QSZ92-9 is short recoil automatic, while QSZ92-5.8 is delayed blowback automatic.

    By the way, there’s a modified version of QSZ92-9 for Ministry of Public Security and People’s Armed Police since 2016, because the QSZ92-9 pistols provided for police and armed police are in poor quality. The modified version uses single feed magazine.

    • Maker of these pistols is not a state owned company as far as I understand it. It is either private of semi-private. Is it true? Also, I understand that Norinco is large conglomerate composed of many different makers/ shops. It is in fact kind of loose name/ description.

        • Good info Zhang; than you. The “Changfeng” in not the name of owner then. Same time, Chongqing in mid-south-western part of China, far from main area where Norinco is located. Afaik that city is center of China’s motorcycle industry.

          • Yes, ChangFeng belongs to China South Industries Group Corporation(中国南方工业集团公司,CSGC)and in 2014 it merged with Chongqing Jianshe Industry (Group) Co., Ltd. (重庆建设工业(集团)有限公司)which also belongs to CSGC.

      • Norinco (North China Industrial Co.) is actually the export arm of the Red Chinese People’s Liberation Army ordnance manufacturing system. When you buy a Norinco product, it was made by the PLA and the money for it goes right back to them. Just FYI.



        • It sounds like the People’s Liberation Army has embraced commercial exportation of its toys as a valid revenue-earning approach. This also allows the manufacturers to learn how to make their guns better by having the products compete on foreign markets against other guns. Having non-state-affiliated user feedback gives Norinco a politically unbiased performance assessment, which could be used to make the issued weapons of the PLA much better in the future. This could be why America officially refuses to import Chinese guns. “Don’t let the other team know how to make their guns better!!”

          Did I mess up?

          • Actually, there was an “agreement” between Bill Clinton and the Chinese government not to sell any commercial arms in the U.S. after 1994, as part of Bill’s Assault Weapon Ban.

            This is why all AK variants and etc. sold in the U.S. since then have been either imported from places like Romania or Bulgaria or Egypt, or else made domestically- like right here in Ohio.

            And why even in Canada, with its Draconian and often deliberately deceptive gun laws, it’s possible to buy Chinese made arms not available in the U.S.

            The main result has been to increase the MSRP in the U.S. Meanwhile the criminals the “progressives” affect to worry about continue to get real military arms the same way they get drugs- through the cartels.



          • PLA has NOTHING to do with the weapon exportation of China since PLA doesn’t own any company. The defense industries have their own international trading branches.
            PLA has long been banned from doing any business, domestic and abroad. This prohibition was lately enhanced by a direct order from Central Military Commission to quit all military-provided paid service.

            Also, there’s NO necessary connection between the quality of weapons for export and the quality of weapons for PLA. Weapons for PLA are ONLY designed and produced to meet PLA’s requirements and PLA is somehow stingy with the cost of small arms. The quality of the military versions can be much lower than the export versions’.

        • Norinco is a state-owned company instead of army-owned company. PLA has been forbidden from doing business or production activities since 1998.
          So, “it was made by the PLA and the money for it goes right back to them” is really wrong.

        • eon
          The weaponry exportation in China does not work that way. The export action doesn’t go through the process of PLA,in fact,PLA or Army themself has no rights to control the weaponry export,that is MoD and Department of Defence Industries’s job.

  7. Funny, the first thing I thought of when I saw this gun, appearance-wise, was “Ruger 85”, the second was “Colt Double Eagle”.

    • “appearance-wise”
      I think that all feasible forms for automatic pistol already appeared, so all (or almost all) current automatic pistol, might be seem as repeat of existing form (or combination of existing forms)

      • That is true, although this pistol has some novel features, I mean internally. For one that metal stamped frame is smart; in fact the cuts for trigger bar are ingenious. Is saves space and permits double stack magazine.

    • With that frame setup, the first thing I thought of was the Grendel P-30;

      Followed by the Kel-Tec PMR-30;

      And of course, the 5.8 x 21 cartridge bears a striking resemblance to the 5.7 x 28mm;

      5.8 x 21;

      Case type Rimless, Bottleneck
      Bullet diameter 6.00 mm (0.236 in)
      Neck diameter 6.57 mm (0.259 in)
      Shoulder diameter 7.77 mm (0.306 in)
      Base diameter 7.95 mm (0.313 in)
      Rim diameter 7.97 mm (0.314 in)
      Rim thickness 1.13 mm (0.044 in)
      Case length 21.00 mm (0.827 in)
      Overall length 32.50 mm (1.280 in)

      5.7 x 28;

      Case type Rimless, bottleneck
      Bullet diameter 5.70 mm (0.224 in)
      Neck diameter 6.38 mm (0.251 in)
      Shoulder diameter 7.95 mm (0.313 in)
      Base diameter 7.95 mm (0.313 in)
      Rim diameter 7.80 mm (0.307 in)
      Rim thickness 1.14 mm (0.045 in)
      Case length 28.90 mm (1.138 in)
      Overall length 40.50 mm (1.594 in)
      Case capacity 0.90 cm3 (13.9 gr H2O)
      Rifling twist 228.6 mm ( 1 in 9 inch)
      Primer type Boxer Small Rifle
      Maximum pressure 440.00 MPa (63,817 psi)

      There really is nothing new under the sun.



  8. I think that’s very cool and would like to have one depending on the materials quality. As you were showing it Ian I saw bits and parts of the 92FS/M9 and 1911 in certain places in addition to the Styer/Hahn.

  9. Spent a couple of years working in Mexico and a lot of free time looking for an Obregon. Not only did I not find one, but did not find any shooters who even knew of their existence. Not a good Sihlouetas Metallicas pistol obviously. Question is – where did all the Obregon’s go?

  10. Thanks for your interest Denny. US Patent.9891014 and US Patent Application US20170198993 might be interesting. lt seems take down requires more parts and more application than usual. Take down plate after operation seems cumbersome and even funny. All amountly produced rotary barrel pistols after Steyr Hahn somewhat follow Nickl’s way used in Cz24 excepting Slovak GP100 and Rusian GSh18 which having need of breecbolt take off for barrel getting out.lMHO.

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