What Guns Does The Chinese Army Use

The Chinese army can be traced back to the ancient Warring States Period, when the nation transitioned from a tribal organization to an imperial feudal system. As the nation evolved, so did its militaries, which used various types of guns, from bow and arrow to cannons. Today, the Chinese military is one of the world’s largest and most influential armed forces.
When it comes to guns, the Chinese army uses a variety of firearms, including operators with its own insignias and endorsements. In terms of handguns, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) generally uses the QBZ-03 and QSZ-92 semi-automatic pistols. The QBZ-03 pistol is classified as a submachine gun and has a detachable box magazine with a capacity of up to 30 round. Additionally, the QSZ-92 pistol has a double action revolver trigger and is equipped with a laser aiming device.
Apart from handguns, the PLA also uses a vast array of assault rifles, including the QBZ-95, QBZ-96, QBZ-97, rifle QCS-10, QSW-06 and the QSZ-92-9A series. The QBZ-95 is a bullpup rifle and is made of aluminium and polymers, that is lightweight and reliable. The QBZ-96 is the latest version of the QBZ family, which has a modular design and is designed with ambidextrous controls. The QBZ-97 is shorter than the QBZ-95 and uses a conventional layout. Moreover, the QCS-10 is a bullpup assault rifle that is equipped with a retractable stock, and has a quick-change barrel system and a fire control selector. The QSW-06 is a combination of the QBZ-95 and the QSW-87, that is equipped with a 30 round magazine and protective picatinny rail. Lastly, the QSZ-92-9A series is a semi-automatic sniper rifle that is widely used by the PLA.
The Chinese army’s secondary firearms include shotguns and grenade launchers. Shotguns such as the Typhoon H-12 pump-action shotgun and the T-98 automatic shotgun are used for up close and personal combat, while the BJ/CSJ05 is a semi-automatic, semi-automatic grenade launcher that is mainly used for neutralizing infantry and armoured vehicles.
The Chinese army also uses artillery, tanks, and other lighter armoured vehicles to support its troops on the battlefield. In terms of artillery, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army employs multiple rocket launchers, such as the WS-1A, the 240 mm self-propelled mortar and the PHL-03. Additionally, the PLA also has an abundance of armoured personnel carriers, including the Type 055 amphibious infantry fighting vehicle and the Type 021 wheeled multirole armoured vehicle. Furthermore, the Chinese army also uses the Type-99A2 main battle tank, which has an advanced fire control system, as well as an all-weather operational mechanized infantry.

Missile Systems

Missiles are a key component of the Chinese army’s arsenal, and the PLA has a large variety of both short and intermediate range missiles in its inventory. This includes the ground-based Dongfeng-15, the submarine-launched JL-2 and land-air CH-91 and CH-92 missiles. It also possesses the mobile DF-21 M-series ballistic missile and the DF-26 intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM). Additionally, the Chinese army also fields the DF-16, a ground-launched multiple-warhead medium range ballistic missile.
Apart from the short- and intermediate-range missiles, the PLA also has intercontinental nuclear-capable missiles, such as the DF-41. The DF-41 is the latest addition to the PLA’s missile fleet, and is capable of delivering multiple warheads to any part of the world. It is also equipped with advanced guidance systems that can identify and track multiple targets simultaneously.

Naval Weapons

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army also possesses a large number of naval weapons, from torpedoes to anti-ship missiles. These include the HJ-73 anti-tank missile, the C-802 missile and the YJ-83 anti-ship missile. The HJ-73 is an anti-tank missile that has a range of up to 3km and is used to destroy armoured vehicles and bunkers. Additionally, the C-802 is a high-precision anti-ship missile, with a range of up to 120km and is used to engage surface vessels. Lastly, the YJ-83 anti-ship missile is another Chinese-made missile, with a range of up to 120 km and a speed of Mach 0.8, that is primarily employed by the PLA Navy for targeting enemy ships.
Apart from these missiles, the Chinese army also employs surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft guns. These include the HQ-9A and HHQ-10 surface-to-air missiles, and the CJ-6 and the TY-90 anti-aircraft guns. The HQ-9A is a short-range, low-altitude missile, with a range of up to 120 kilometres and is capable of intercepting targets at a maximum altitude of 19,000 metres. The HHQ-10 is a medium-range, high-altitude missile, with a range of up to 250 kilometres. The CJ-6 is a 50-calibre gun, with a rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute, while the TY-90 is a 35-calibre gun and can fire up to 800 rounds per minute.


The Chinese People’s Liberation Army fields a wide range of aircraft, from fighter jets to stealth bombers. This includes the J-10, the J-11, the J-16 and the J-20 multirole fighters, the H-6K and the Xian H-20 stealth bombers, and the indigenous Zhuhai unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The J-10 is a lightweight, multirole fighter, while the J-11 is a medium-range, all-weather fighter aircraft. The J-16 is a multirole fighter, with a range of up to 4,000 kilometres, while the J-20 is a fifth-generation, stealth-capable fighter jet.
In addition to fighters, the PLA has a number of helicopters in its arsenal, such as the Changhe WZ-10 attack and the Changhe WZ-11 reconnaissance helicopters. The WZ-10 is an all-weather, attack helicopter, and is equipped with an array of advanced weapons, including laser- and infrared-guided missiles. Meanwhile, the WZ-11 is a multirole reconnaissance helicopter, that has a range of up to 200 kilometres and can conduct intelligence and surveillance operations.


Satellites provide the Chinese army with the necessary intelligence for conducting operations and the PLA employs a number of satellites for a variety of different tasks. These include the Long March-5, the Chang Zheng 7 and the Long March 2C satellites. The Long March-5 is a communications satellite, designed to provide high-speed data and video transmissions. The Chang Zheng 7 is a military satellite, that provides the PLA with weather data and imagery of enemy forces, while the Long March 2C is an Earth observation satellite, used to identify targets on the ground.

Electronic Warfare

The PLA is also equipped with a wide range of electronic warfare (EW) systems and equipment. These include the Huaying EW system, the H-6K EW pod and the UAV detector. The Huaying EW system is designed to detect, jam and disrupt enemy radar and communications systems. It is capable of operating in multiple frequencies and can target multiple wavelengths. The H-6K EW pod is an advanced airborne EW system, used for jamming and disrupting radar signals, while the UAV detector is a portable system for detecting small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
In terms of air defence, the Chinese army also has a range of systems for defending against enemy aircraft. These include the AKD-10 anti-aircraft gun, the SC1A and the ZBL-08A short-range missiles. The AKD-10 is an electronically sighted, twin-barrel automatic cannon, while the SC1A is a radar-guided, surface-to-air missile, with a range of 50 kilometres. The ZBL-08A is a medium-range missile, with a range of up to 100 kilometres.

Other Weapons

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army also has in its arsenal a number of other weapons, such as mortars, recoilless rifles, hand grenades and machine guns. These include the Type 97 82mm mortar, the Type 63 recoilless rifle and the ZBD-08 hand grenade. The Type 97 is a lightweight mortar, with a range of up to 1,500 metres, while the Type 63 is a 106mm recoilless rifle, capable of firing HEAT and HE rounds. The ZBD-08 is a fragmentation hand grenade and is used for neutralizing fortified positions.
In terms of machine guns, the PLA mostly employs the Norinco Type 7.62mm Machine Gun. This weapon can fire up to 600 rounds per minute, and has a range of up to 1,000 metres. Additionally, the Chinese army also has anti-armour weapons, such as the Type 69 rocket launcher and the Type 87 lightweight assault rifle. The Type 69 rocket launcher is a shoulder-fired rocket launcher, with an effective range of up to 500 metres and is designed to engage armoured vehicles. Meanwhile, the Type 87 is a lightweight, multi-role assault rifle, capable of firing up to 800 rounds per minute.


The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is one of the largest and most powerful militaries in the world. With a vast array of weapons in its arsenal, the PLA is capable of engaging enemy forces in air, on land and at sea. From handguns and assault rifles to missiles and air defence systems, the Chinese army is equipped with the necessary firepower for conducting military operations on a global scale.

Letha Wimmer is a military expert with more than a decade of direct experience in the U.S. Army and National Guard. She specializes in researching and writing about the world's armies and their capabilities, equipment, capabilities, strategies, organizations, and operations. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation from Middle Tennessee State University as well as an Aerial Firefighting Certificate and numerous other advanced aviation certifications. She also enjoys traveling to distant lands to gain firsthand knowledge about their military forces and has written extensively for various websites on the subject.

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