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

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.

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