Kahles scope for the Chinese QBU-88 Designated Marksman Rifle

[ This guest post is the first in a series of articles written by Timothy Yan ]

During a recent police open house in one of the Chinese municipality, the SWAT team’s QBU-88 5.8mm designated marksman rifles had what seems to be the Austrian made Kahles Helia 3-12x56mm rifle scope in an elaborate mount. While it may not be well know in the US, Kahles riflescopes are among the best optics in the world. Actually this is not the first time that I had saw images of the QBU-88 with the Kahles riflescope. There were pictures from over a year ago shown the Chinese paramilitary CAPF (China Armed Police Force) was testing a similar combination at the range.

Before continuing with the Kahles, lets look at what it is replacing. The original standard issued optic for the QBU-88 is the 3-9x40mm illuminated reticle model made by the Pearl River Optronic (aka the State Arsenal 338) in Chengdu, China. The optic design was based on a Swarovski design from the early 1990s. It has three very advanced features at the time. First of those is the Constant Eye-relief through out the zoom range. The second is the First Focal Plane (FFP) reticle, which the reticle size changes according to the magnification. The third is the Bullet Drop Compensation (BDC) reticle in form of a series of small chevrons reticles all the way to 800 meters. The horizontal stadia consist of bracketed line segments in various lengths. Each of those is calibrated for shoulder width human size target at a given distant. Together with the FFP, the shooter can use the reticle for range estimation at any magnification. By design, once the Chinese 3-9x40mm DMR scope is properly zero to the QBU-88, the designated marksman can use it to engage targets at any range up to
800 meters without the need to touch the windage or elevation turret.

While the design concept sounded good on the paper, however, there are a lot of issues on the actual production model. The state owned Chinese optic manufacturer was just couldn’t maintain the quality control on large-scale production. There were reports of canted reticle, lens clarity issues and out of spec QD scope mount. Then, there is also the logistic problem due to the Pearl River Optronic went bankrupt in late 2006.

In the following year and during the preparation of the 2008 Olympic, another shortcoming of the QBU-88’s optic had surfaced. Being designed as a DMR scope, the 3-9x40mm is not suitable for the counter-terrorism role. It lacks the magnification and the optical performance to positively identify a target at the rifle’s effective range. The temporary solution was to purchase a small number of 6-24x44mm scope build by a privately owned small Chinese optic company based in Shenzhen, China. More interestingly, some Swarovski scopes were also imported for use on the QBU-88.

The most interesting part of new configuration with the Kahles scope on the QBU-88 is actually the elaborate optic mount. My good friend and IMO writer, David Fortier, had pointed out the significance of the top rail, its forward location and the box-like support structure around it. While it can be use for a small red-dot sight or a laser designator, the true purpose of the top rail is for mounting a night vision device in front of the Kahles day optic. Most likely they got the idea from LaRue Tactical’s S.T.O.M.P. system and its method of hanging a PVS-22 or 24 in front of the objective lens of the riflescope.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • DW

    I remember reading a review written by a Chinese Spec op. In the review he says the QBU88 is a POS for its inferior accuracy, fragile bipod, and the scope mount that shoots loose very quickly. Wonder why the Chinese would put a high end scope on a rifle that does not shoot well…

    • erwos

      Because if they’ve married the QBU-88, they may as well make the best of it?

      • Tiberius

        Unfortunately,you are damn right!Chinese police have no right to choose their weapons,they can only use what the military use.Based on the current PLA doctrane, accurate weapon system such as M24 SWS is not required by all means. Thus, the military won’t need any bolt action high-accuracy rifle, and since the military wont have it, the police wont be getting any either.

      • ragnarok220

        To Tiberius,

        Chinese police can choose their weapons (I have seen Chinese SWAT carrying locally produced AR15s and MP5s), however when they need something like M24 SWS, they can’t go to the General Armament Department (it’s a part of the Ministry of Defense, and Police are under the Ministry of Ministry of Public Security) directly. Instead, they approach the factory quietly and ask factory to design and produce such weapon in the name of “export”.



      • Tiberius

        To ragnarok220

        High-accuracy performance (1moa or sub-moa) was never a police/military operation consideration of chinese officials. nowadays as the chinese police force merging into a new era of law enforcement actions, certain things are being taken into consideration. still, though the police force has showed certain interest in testing a couple high-end bolt action rifles, it is rather a promo from the manufacturer than the desire from within.
        The initiative of all, of course, is about profit, a true business adventure. one thing worth noticing is that despite all the arsenals and workshops being state-owned, they are now more free to do their business in a market model instead of the old every-thing-based-on-plan way. however these ideas of new weapon systems, prototypes, testing and modeling are not back by the state, the risk goes straight back to the arsenals or the workshops. that is to say if the entity put into a huge invest into something that will eventually be rejected by the military and could not go with the current law enforcement fire arm purchase regulation, it would be the end of the adventure and its future, too.

      • El Duderino

        Here, if a hostage or bystander gets shot, it’s front page news. In China, my guess it’s a nod and a shrug.

      • mosinman

        or maybe nothing at all

      • Tim F

        When I’ve seen police end hostage situations on Chinese TV, it is often with a pistol at close range. I’ve only seen one sniper/DMR shot, and it was to a knife wielding assailant. The guy was holding a knife on a little kid. The crowd clapped after the shot– and this was shown on TV.

    • Doesitmatter?

      In my view. I’d look at (very possibly) future opponent’s weapons with degree of curiosity and respect. The issues mentioned (bipod and sight rail design) are not major and since they are purely of mechanical nature can be easily fixed. Scope is quite a bit more sofisticated part and there is obviously something to learn. At the same time I’d wary of unwaranted statement of one individual.
      Thanks to Editor for keeping us up to date about development behind Great Wall.

      • DW

        Sorry if my first comment seemed rude. That source I read was written by a current Chinese Specop (at least tthe article claims so), written in Chinese and published on a Chinese magazine. To be fair, one report of the weapon will never do it justice, but it’ll have to do when not much else can be found…

  • Andrew Racek

    Take a look at the third image, TRIGGER DISCIPLINE.

    • Doug

      Yeah. Civilian. 🙂

      • Andrew Racek

        It was a joke. :(.

    • hojo

      he’s getting ready to pwn the sidewalk.

  • Gage

    Is it possible that we could get David Fortier to do a post while Steve is on vacation?

    • El Duderino

      That would be great IMO. He’s one of the key reasons I keep my subscription to Shotgun News. It sure ain’t for ads in the last third of the magazine.

  • Max

    So who is manufacturing the scope mounts?

    On Kahles homepage there is no sign of them?

    • ragnarok220

      The original design is from LaRue Tactical. The ones you see in the pictures
      are made locally.


      • Max


        But seriously, 600 bucks for a mount?

        And what about the wheight that now pulls on the rail the scope is mounted on?

        I’d be worried about the attachment of that rail to the receiver.

      • ragnarok220

        This product is for military and police only. $600 is like a drop in the bucket for them.

      • fw226

        Rag: True, it’s cheap for the military, but a lot of police departments can’t afford ammo or officers, and I’ve had to buy my own shotgun, rifle, and kit to go with em. SWAT is furnished guns, but I’ve never seen them with thermal optics.

  • Lance

    This must be for both Chinese Police and Special Forces I thought they already had a DMR in the QZB-95 rifle system for regular forces. There is many guns in irregular Chinese service from older Type 56s to this new toy they get alot more choice in police service than the military dose.

  • ragnarok220

    Pearl River Optronic is no longer state owned, but it’s still in Business, and doing quite well (their products are sold under NcSTAR brand in US).

    • JMD

      Well, that explains the quality issues.

    • hojo

      I love my NcStar red dot open reflex… cheap and Effective!

      • JMD

        Run it in a carbine course some time. See what happens.

      • mosinman

        lol ^

      • ragnarok220

        I have a Lucid HD7 that is made in China, and it’s very good sight.

  • TangledThorns

    The QBU-88 is my current favorite sniper rifle in BF3 🙂

    • mosinman

      really? i cant stand the thing lol i wonder why they have Chinese weapons in the game in the 1st place , if theres no Chinese troops?

      • Mr.Karkand

        Chinese weapons were released in the Back to Karkand expansion. The expansion features weapons and maps from Battlefield 2 which had Middle Eastern Coalition, Chinese, European Union, and US forces.

  • W

    I have always been curious about the chinese bullpups for some while now. A bullpup designated marksman rifle with a bipod and optic is a interesting concept.

  • Lance

    Not BIG new China mad copy of every US NATO and Russian scope made. they made copies of EO techs Trijicon ACOGS Aimpoint ML-2s and ML-4s. Russian Kobra and SVD scopes. So coping a Austrian scope is not BIG and is it as good who knows.

    • hojo

      punctuation could make all that mess intelligible…. maybe.

      • Lance

        Some one is defensive when there no attack I just say they copy everything not most but many are good scopes. Hojo don’t get your panties in a bunch.

    • JMD

      Lance….please just stop.

    • W

      I can assure you the chinese copies of these optics are not “just as good”. There are many key variables and benefits to spending the money on the real thing. In my optics, the ones I prefer are American made.

      I believe one of the reasons why chinese copies of optics became popular in the US is because airsofters are reluctant to spend 500 bucks on a real EOtech.

  • Domestic Squirrel

    Steve, that dude in the 3rd pic is like your Chinese twin.

  • SL

    Bi-pod on the sniper rifle barrel…Good job!

  • Bob

    I’m thinking the guest posts aren’t automagically posting like they should 🙁

  • GE

    Does anyone know if the mount is actually a direct copy of the STOMP?