[ 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.