Special Report

The Chinese Military's Small Arms, Ranked From Shortest to Longest Range

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The Chinese military, or People’s Liberation Army, has made significant strides over the past few decades, rising to prominence as a global military power. Upgrading and outfitting its aircraft and naval vessels with cutting-edge technology has been a focus in recent years, but the Chinese have also improved their infantry small arms.

Unlike many other nations, China manufactures most of its own small arms and has been doing so for a long time. With the evolution of its arms industry and the continual march forward of technology, Chinese guns have significantly improved, especially in terms of their range.

To identify China’s longest range small arms that are currently in service, we reviewed Chinese small arms cataloged by Military Factory, an online database of military vehicles, aircraft, arms, and more. We ranked these arms according to their maximum effective range. Supplemental data on each rifle’s first year of service, action, caliber, cartridge, and feed of the ammunition also came from Military Factory.

It is worth noting that a majority of these guns are produced in-house by Chinese arms manufacturers, primarily China North Industries Corporation. Even though these guns are produced domestically, they use a range of ammunition that is both domestically and internationally produced, everything from NATO to Russian rounds. (These are China’s 8 biggest weapons manufacturers and what they build.)

Manufactured by NORINCO and chambered for 5.8x42mm and 5.56x45mm rounds, the QBU-88 has been a staple in the PLA’s sniper teams since it was introduced in the late 1980s. The QBU-88 sniper rifle represents China’s advancements in long-range precision shooting during the Cold War era with a maximum effective range of 2,624 feet. While this bolt-action rifle is more than a few decades old, it still incorporates modern features, such as a detachable magazine and a bullpup design. 

Another notable small arm with exceptional range is the QBZ-95 rifle. Although it primarily serves as an assault rifle, the QBZ-95 can reach targets accurately up to 1,312 feet away. This selective-fire weapon was first issued to the PLA in 1997 and is chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO rounds. Outside of the PLA, variants of this gun have seen action across multiple special forces units in Southeast Asia. (These are guns used by the Chinese special forces.)

The CS/LR4, a domestically produced precision rifle, was specifically designed to extend the PLA’s sniper capabilities to even greater distances. This rifle was originally designed in 2008 but did not enter service until 2012. Like many other entries on this list, NORINCO manufactures this sniper rifle series. It is chambered for 7.62x51mm NATO rounds. With a maximum effective range of over 3,600 feet, the CS/LR4 has found its way into the Chinese arsenal as the next generation of sniper rifle.

Here is a look at the longest-range small arms currently in the service of China’s military.

43. Hawk Industries Type 97
> Maximum effective range: 130 ft.
> Type: Semi-automatic shotgun
> Year introduced: 1997
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 12-gauge, 5-round internal tubular magazine
> Action: Manual pump action or gas-operated semi-automatic

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42. Ceska Zbrojovka vz. 75 (CZ75 / Phantom)
> Maximum effective range: 164 ft.
> Type: Semi-automatic service pistol
> Year introduced: 1976
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 9x19mm Parabellum, 12- to 20-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Semi-automatic; short recoil

41. Makarov PM
> Maximum effective range: 164 ft.
> Type: Semi-automatic service pistol
> Year introduced: 1951
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 9x18mm Makarov, 8-, 10-, or 12-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Blowback

40. NORINCO QSZ-92
> Maximum effective range: 164 ft.
> Type: Semi-automatic service pistol
> Year introduced: 1998
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 9x19mm Parabellum, 15- or 20-round box magazine
> Action: Short-recoil; rotating barrel lock; locked breech

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39. CSIG QX-04 (CS/LP6)
> Maximum effective range: 165 ft.
> Type: Semi-automatic service pistol
> Year introduced: 2011
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 9x19mm Parabellum; .45 ACP; 7.62x25mm Tokarev, 15-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Semi-automatic; blowback

38. NORINCO QSW-06 (Weisheng Shou Qiang)
> Maximum effective range: 165 ft.
> Type: Suppressed semi-automatic pistol
> Year introduced: 2006
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 5.8x21mm (subsonic), 20-round, double-stacked detachable box magazine
> Action: Short-recoil; locked breech

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37. NORINCO Type 77
> Maximum effective range: 165 ft.
> Type: Semi-automatic service pistol
> Year introduced: 1981
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 9x19mm Parabellum, 9- or 15-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Semi-automatic; blowback

36. CSIG JS 9mm
> Maximum effective range: 410 ft.
> Type: Silenced submachine gun
> Year introduced: 2006
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 9x19mm Parabellum, 20- or 30-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Blowback; open-bolt

35. FB PM-63 RAK (Reczny Automati Komandosow)
> Maximum effective range: 492 ft.
> Type: Submachine gun
> Year introduced: 1965
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 9x18mm Makarov; 9x19mm Parabellum; 7.62x25mm Tokarev, 15- or 25-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Straight blowback; select-fire

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34. NORINCO Type 64
> Maximum effective range: 500 ft.
> Type: Suppressed submachine gun
> Year introduced: 1966
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x25mm, 30-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Blowback; select-fire

33. NORINCO Type 69
> Maximum effective range: 655 ft.
> Type: Rocket-propelled grenade launcher
> Year introduced: 1970
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 40mm, Single-shot; reusable launcher
> Action: Single-shot; reusable

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32. NORINCO Type 79
> Maximum effective range: 656 ft.
> Type: Submachine gun
> Year introduced: 1981
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x25mm Tokarev, 20-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Gas-operated; rotating bolt

31. NORINCO Type 85
> Maximum effective range: 656 ft.
> Type: Submachine gun
> Year introduced: 1985
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x25mm, 30-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Open-bolt; blowback

30. Chongquing Changfeng CF-05
> Maximum effective range: 660 ft.
> Type: Compact submachine gun
> Year introduced: 1995
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 9x19mm Parabellum, 50-round helical magazine
> Action: Blowback

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29. NORINCO Type 81
> Maximum effective range: 920 ft.
> Type: Light machine gun
> Year introduced: 1983
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x39mm, 30-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Short-stroke gas piston; rotating belt; selective-fire

28. CSIG QCW-05 (Type 05 SSMG)
> Maximum effective range: 985 ft.
> Type: Suppressed submachine gun
> Year introduced: 2005
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 5.8x21mm (DAP-02 /DCV-05), 50-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Blowback; open-bolt; selective-fire

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27. GP-25 / GP-30 GL
> Maximum effective range: 1,312 ft.
> Type: Muzzle-loaded grenade launcher
> Year introduced: 1978
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 40mm caseless, single-shot, reusable
> Action: Muzzle-loaded; single-shot

26. NORINCO QBZ-95
> Maximum effective range: 1,312 ft.
> Type: Assault rifle
> Year introduced: 1997
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 5.56x45mm NATO; 5.8x42mm, 30-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Gas-operated; rotating bolt

25. NORINCO QBZ-191
> Maximum effective range: 1,315 ft.
> Type: Modular assault rifle
> Year introduced: 2019
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 5.8x42mm DBP-191, 30-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Gas-operated;short-stroke piston; selective-fire

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24. NORINCO QBZ-03
> Maximum effective range: 1,475 ft.
> Type: Assault rifle
> Year introduced: 2003
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 5.8x42mm DBP87; 5.56x45mm NATO, 30-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Gas-operated; rotating bolt system; selective-fire

23. NORINCO Type 56
> Maximum effective range: 1,640 ft.
> Type: Assault rifle
> Year introduced: 1956
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x39mm Soviet, 30-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Gas-actuated; rotating bolt; selective-fire

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22. NORINCO QLZ87
> Maximum effective range: 2,000 ft.
> Type: Automatic grenade launcher
> Year introduced: 1987
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 35x32mm, 6- or 15-round drum magazine
> Action: Gas-operated; direct impingement

21. NORINCO QBB-95
> Maximum effective range: 2,300 ft.
> Type: Light machine gun
> Year introduced: 1997
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 5.8x42mm DBP87; 5.56x45mm NATO, 30-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Gas-operated; rotating bolt; selective-fire

20. NORINCO QBU-88
> Maximum effective range: 2,624 ft.
> Type: Sniper rifle
> Year introduced: 1988
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 5.8x42mm; 5.56x45mm, 10-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Gas-operated; rotating bolt

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19. RP-46
> Maximum effective range: 2,624 ft.
> Type: General purpose machine gun
> Year introduced: 1946
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x54mmR, 50-round belt
> Action: Gas-operated

18. Hua Qing Minigun
> Maximum effective range: 2,625 ft.
> Type: Gatling-type battlefield support weapon
> Year introduced: 2009
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x54mmR, Belt-fed
> Action: Electrically-driven; rotating barrels

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17. NORINCO NSG-85
> Maximum effective range: 2,625 ft.
> Type: Designated marksman rifle / semi-automatic sniper rifle
> Year introduced: 2014
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x54mmR, 10-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Semi-automatic; gas-operated; rotating bolt

16. SPG-9 Kopye (Spear)
> Maximum effective range: 2,630 ft.
> Type: Recoilless rifle
> Year introduced: 1962
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 73mm, Single-shot; reusable launcher
> Action: Breech-loaded; recoilless; smoothbore

15. NORINCO Type 67
> Maximum effective range: 2,952 ft.
> Type: Light machine gun
> Year introduced: 1967
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x54mmR, 100- or 250-round metal belt
> Action: Gas-operated; automatic; belt-fed; air-cooled

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14. NORINCO QJY-88
> Maximum effective range: 2,955 ft.
> Type: General purpose machine gun
> Year introduced: 1999
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 5.8x42mm HV, 100- or 200-round box
> Action: Gas-operated; belt-fed; automatic fire

13. NORINCO CS/LR4 (QBU-202/NSG-1)
> Maximum effective range: 3,610 ft.
> Type: Bolt-action sniper rifle
> Year introduced: 2012
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x51mm NATO, .308 Winchester, 5-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Manually-actuated bolt-action system

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12. NORINCO Type 80
> Maximum effective range: 4,920 ft.
> Type: General purpose machine gun
> Year introduced: 1983
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x54mmR, 100-, 200- or 250-round ammunition belt
> Action: Gas-operated; open-bolt; full-automatic fire; belt-fed

11. ORSIS T-5000
> Maximum effective range: 4,920 ft.
> Type: Bolt-action sniper rifle
> Year introduced: 2011
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x51mm NATO, .308 Winchester Magnum; .338 Lapua Magnum, 5-round detachable box magazine
> Action: Manually-actuated bolt-action system

10. SA-7 (Grail) / 9K32 Strela-2
> Maximum effective range: 4,921 ft.
> Type: Man-portable SAM system
> Year introduced: 1968
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 72mm, Single-shot; reusable launcher
> Action: Heat sensitive anti-aircraft missile system

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9. KBP AGS-17 Plamya
> Maximum effective range: 5,741 ft.
> Type: Automatic grenade launcher
> Year introduced: 1970
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 30x19mm, 30-round belted drum magazine
> Action: Blowback; automatic fire

8. Type 98 (PF-98)
> Maximum effective range: 5,905 ft.
> Type: Anti-tank rocket launcher
> Year introduced: 1998
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 120mm, Single-shot
> Action: Single-shot; reusable launch tube

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7. DShK Model 1938
> Maximum effective range: 6,500 ft.
> Type: Heavy machine gun
> Year introduced: 1938
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 12.7x108mm Soviet, 50-round belt
> Action: Gas-operated; belt-fed

6. NORINCO Type 77 HMG
> Maximum effective range: 6,500 ft.
> Type: Heavy machine gun
> Year introduced: 1977
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 12.7x108mm, 60-round metal link belt
> Action: Gas- / recoil-operated; automatic fire

5. NORINCO W-85 (QJC-88)
> Maximum effective range: 6,500 ft.
> Type: Heavy machine gun
> Year introduced: 1985
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 12.7x108mm Soviet, Belt-fed
> Action: Gas-operated; belt-fed; air-cooled; full-automatic fire only

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4. NORINCO HJ-73 (Red Arrow-73)
> Maximum effective range: 9,845 ft.
> Type: Anti-tank guided missile
> Year introduced: 1979
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 125mm, Single-shot; reusable launcher
> Action: Single-shot; reusable launch tube

3. GAM-10X
> Maximum effective range: 13,125 ft.
> Type: Anti-tank guided missile
> Year introduced: 2016
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 127mm, Single-shot, reusable launch tube
> Action: Tube-launched, reusable

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2. NORINCO HJ-8 (Honhjian-8)
> Maximum effective range: 14,760 ft.
> Type: Anti-tank guided missile
> Year introduced: 1985
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 120mm, Single-shot, reusable launch tube
> Action: SACLOS wire-guided; solid-fuel rocket

1. Type 87 (PP-87)
> Maximum effective range: 18,375 ft.
> Type: Infantry -level mortar system
> Year introduced: 1987
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 82mm, Single-shot, reusable launch tube
> Action: Impact Ignition

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