New combat optics from both side of the Taiwan Strait

The Taiwan Strait, an 180km-wide body of water that separates two sides that both claim to be the legitimate government of China. Mainland’s PRC government labels Taiwan as the renegade island province. While the ROC government in Taiwan often calls the mainland as our country that’s occupied by Communist bandits.

The recent news feeds have been showing the ROCA (Republic of China Army) is putting some new small arms and optics into service.



Those all tactical up ROCA troopers are part of a sniper platoon showcased in a recent New Years training exercise. The big rifle that the front two troopers are carrying is the American made Barrett M107A1. However, the ROCA didn’t choose the Leupold optic package to go with the Barrett semi-automatic .50 BMG rifle.

Instead, ROCA have selected the Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50mm first-focal plane scope for the Barrett. The Viper PST series is made by Light Optic Works in Japan for Vortex Optics. The Viper PST models are available in a number of reticles and adjustment turrets. Not sure what the ROCA selected for theirs.



Photo credit: Youth Daily News

The other ROCA troopers in the photos carry the T91 carbine and a new AR-10 style precision rifle. From the look of the location of the forward-assist, the adjustable gas system, the DPMS flash hider and the use of the Magpul PRS stock, the full-caliber rifle seems to be a variant of the Remington Defense R11 chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO. The optic on the R11 is the smaller Vortex Viper PST 4-16x50mm first-focal plane tactical scope.


Interestingly, the optic on the T91 carbine is not a red-dot sight, but it’s the Leupold Prismatic 1x14mm illuminated prism sight. The Prismatic features a etched reticle, height adjustable base and a removable illumination module.



I have tried the earlier version of the Leupold Prismatic sight. While I like the relatively lightweight and modular design, but it’s expensive and not a true 1x, plus the terrible battery life, non-standard battery size and its etched reticle layout is rather simplistic.




While, on the other side of the Taiwan Strait, the mainland’s military is sticking with the Euro optic. Btw, the Chinese military have officially changed its name to just China Armed Forces a few years back. But no one is really using that, and everyone including the Chinese themselves are still calling their military’s old name: the PLA or People’s Liberation Army.


The new scope mounted on the QBU-88 DMR is the Austrian made Kahles K312II 3-12x50mm tactical scope. The Chinese military and law enforcement agencies have been using a small number of Swarovski and Kahles scopes on their semi-auto and bolt-action precision rifles. The difference is that the Kahles they have been using were the Helica series of hunting scopes. The scope in the image is from Kahles’ K-series which is designed for tactical application.10506.tag.0

The Kahles is a premium Euro optic with a cost that’s 2-1/2 times of the Japanese made Viper PST. The history of the PLA using Euro optics traces back to the 1990s. In fact, the 3-9x40mm FFP scope on the QBU-88 is based on a Swarovski optical design from the 1990s. although, the QBU-88’s scope is no longer being made since its manufacturer, Pearl River Optronic, went out of business couple years back. I think that could be the reason that the PLA is looking for a replacement.



With actually a snowy background,  the pictures were taken nowhere near the Taiwan Strait, which is subtropical. The PLA unit with the new Kahles optics is in fact based in Jilin province right next to the North Korea border.

Writer and gear editor with articles published in major gun publications. A five year combat veteran of the US Marine Corps, Tim is also part of Point & Shoot Media Works, a producer of photography, video and web media for the firearms and shooting sport industry. Tim’s direct contact: Tyan.TFB -at-


  • Gunnutmegger

    The Leupold works perfectly without batteries. Unlike reddot scopes.

  • West

    I am dismayed by the lack of any visible throwing stars.

    • Anonymoose

      Needs moar butterfly sword.

  • Riot

    The vortex optics look intriguing

    • Don

      I’ve got two vortex scopes and they are incredible. I have the Vortex Viper PST 6-24×50 and then Vortex Viper PST 1-4×24. The glass is just as clear as any scope twice the cost and it is loaded with great features… You can’t go wrong with any of their scopes.

      • micmac80

        I think you have not looked trough optic twice the cost, PST glass is not great even in its own class Sightron for example is better,plus PST doesn’t have a stellar reliability record in Civilian hands so i have my doubts about military use.

        • Johannes

          I’ll second that; the 30mm Sightrons are way better optics as their scope is all Japanese mfg. On the other hand the PST series are full Philipinnes Mfg. and even the glass is from there and not Japan as stated! The PST’s also lack drastically on limited FOV, compared to the Leupold 30mm LR series which are made at the same plant, yes you r reading this right! In fact: most other 1″ tube models, will beat them on FOV and Light-emission.factors, so why bother wuith these heavyweight beer-bottles? Just my two cents worth in the trade!

          • Timothy G. Yan

            Tube size has little to do with optical performance, but it’s essential for turret adjustment. The larger the tube size, the more elevation and windage it has.


    Interesting. Re: Vortex PST being issued – I’d love to see a write up on the durability testing etc.. Thanks Tim

    • micmac80

      I suspect they were buying Razors then some blue envelopes switched hands and they ended with PST for Razor price.LOL

      • Timothy G. Yan

        Dude! I did included something like that in my draft! But I removed so it won’t be sounding too political according to TFB’s guideline.

  • robert

    Is it just me, or do those rifles look extra big on them….

    • tim

      anyone of them can take you down easily, who cares about the size

      • billyoblivion

        Dude, do you really want to throw a straight line like that out there? It’s just BEGGING for someone to reference your maternal parent.

    • Wetcoaster

      .50 BMG rifles tend to look big on everybody

      • Andre the Giant used them as coffee stirrers.

    • noguncontrol

      well duh, they are taiwanese, they are small compared to Americans and Euros.

  • cboyd

    The Vortex PST scopes are made in the Philippines. The more expensive Razor line are made in Japan.

    • Timothy G. Yan

      I stand corrected.

    • M

      IIRC for the PST, the glass is from japan but the assembly is done in the Phillipines

  • Ed

    Taiwan makes close to spec military scope, normal. PRC make cheap commie crap for a worthless Bullpup, same as usual. No new news here.

    • iksnilol

      I dunno, the Canadians seem to like the “worthless bullpup”. Seems to me like a case of “it isn’t ours so I have to hate it”. No shame in admitting that the other side has some cool stuff.

  • Mutenri

    China is a large country with a huge military budget per GDP. Taiwan is a small island with small spending in the military. Basically every significant military spending bill in Taiwan gets flak in the Legislative Yuan. Vortex optics work and are value for money even in the US, and many shooters wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

    Besides, our military strategy can largely be summarised by “hold out until the Americans arrive”, so it’s not like those optics would be used that much anyways.

    • noguncontrol

      get nukes, problem solved. even mainland china isnt stupid enough to attack an island armed with nukes.

      • Ominae

        IIIRC, Taiwan is not willing to use nukes. Any fallout can harm East/Southeast Asia.

        • Timothy G. Yan

          TW is not allow to have nuke as part of the US nuke umbrella protection. The ML also stated that the minute the TW aquired a nuke…..they will get nuked. The typical ‘Mericans are too ignorant to know that and all they care is to destabilize the region.

  • DW

    The AR-10 in question is LWRC’s REPR with 20″ barrel

    • Timothy G. Yan

      The official source said it’s an LMT.

  • Surprised they didn’t go with the Vortex Spitfire 1x for like half the cost. Maybe because it’s made in China?

    • Timothy G. Yan

      Yes….the Vortex 1x prism sight is made in PRC. I actually have one for T&E, it’s vastly superior to the Prismatic (at least the older ones that I tried) for half the price. However, the Vortex is a bit bigger and 2x the weight.

      • 2x the weight? MidwayUSA claims it’s 8.7oz, basically the same as the Leupold Prismatic (8.3oz). Now, the Spitfire 3x is like 12.2oz, which is admittedly something of a big difference. The real knock against the Spitfire is that it’s got a proprietary mounting system with no native quick release option. Vortex really needs to work with ADM to fix that.

        But, as you said, it’s otherwise a much better optic than the Prismatic. Huge objective, slightly better eye relief, and it just feels like it was engineered to be tough as nails. Battery life could be better, but I guess you’ve got to sacrifice something to meet a price point.

        I run with a Spitfire 1x on a 9mm PCC, and it’s a great choice for it.

        • Timothy G. Yan

          It’s 12.3 ounce for my T&E Spitfire 1x sample.

  • Core

    Its good to see ROC troops optics are not relying on electronics.

  • insertjjs

    T91 Carbine Red Tip? BFA or Airsoft gun.

  • SD

    That’s a weird version of camo. Similar to multicam. What is it with Russia and China copying everything.

  • Johannes

    Got that right!

  • Ergo

    pearl river used to make a cheap little tlr camera back in the days before the internets and mall ninjas