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Chinese snipers use questionable Type 88 rifle

While Russia still continues to use the SVD as the primary “sniper” rifle, China developed a replacement in the QBU-88 in the 1990s. Development started around the early 1990s, with the rifle completing trials in 1996 and first reaching service with the PLA’s Hong Kong garrison in 1997. Charlie Gao reports on The National Interest.

Chinese snipers use questionable Type 88 rifle
Chinese sniper with QB-88 rifle (Picture source: Chinese MoD)

The real root of the project was in the development of the 5.8mm cartridge for machine guns. A 5.8mm round was developed that was found to perform better or the same as existing 7.62x54R rounds in Chinese inventory, so a specialized rifle was developed in that caliber for sniping purposes.

The QBU-88 or Type 88 is a relatively modern design, utilizing the bullpup layout to gain additional barrel length. Chinese sources state that the penetration and accuracy are higher than the Type 85. Modern techniques were used to manufacture the Type 88, including CNC milling and extensive use of polymer. A new phosphating process was used to apply the black finish to the metal.

The design itself has some questionable aspects. The bipod is attached directly to the barrel, which causes point of impact shift when the bipod is used. The safety is also in a hard to reach spot behind the magazine well, requiring the shooter to move his support hand under the mag well to activate and deactivate the safety (with a 180-degree throw). Most western precision and marksman rifles use a thumb safety or trigger guard safety of some variety, allowing for faster actuation without moving the hand from the firing position. In an upgrade from the fixed 4x of the SVD, the QBU-88 utilizes a 3-9x variable zoom scope with a built-in bullet-drop compensator in the reticle.

Chinese snipers use questionable Type 88 rifle 2
QBU-88 sniper rifle (Picture source: Wikipedia)


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