Why China’s Snipers Should Be Feared

    Charlie Gao

    Security, Asia

    New guns and new technology. 

    While the U.S. Army is concerned about next-generation Russian precision rifles and tactics, China has also been making significant advances in the field. In the 1980s, the Chinese used practically the same equipment as the Soviet Union. Nowadays, they use fairly different sets of equipment, including some rifles chambered in NATO calibers. The diverging development of Chinese precision rifles from the same base is an interesting parable of small-arms development driven by doctrine.

    In the 1980s, the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union used the same “sniper” rifles, although these rifles would be more accurately described as designated marksman rifles in the west. The Soviet Union used the SVD, a gas-operated short stroke 7.62x54R rifle that fed from a ten-round-box magazine and had an effective range of around eight hundred meters. With proper Russian sniper ammunition, the SVD could achieve accuracy from 1-2 MOA. China made its own clone of the SVD after capturing a sample during the Sino-Vietnamese war called the Type 79, later refined into the Type 85. These were produced alongside copies of the Soviet PSO-1 4x optical sight. Apparently China has problems copying the SVD as its gunsmithing industries were not quite mature. The cloned PSO-1 was not able to handle the recoil of the 7.62x54R cartridge in early versions, and issues were found with the metallurgy of the firing pin, which broke easily in the Type 79. According to sources in the CPAF, this was fixed by the Type 85.

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