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-