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China's 5.8x42mm Rifle Cartridge - How Good Is It?

Adopted over 30 years ago, China's 5.8x42mm Universal cartridge was developed to be a one cartridge solution for assault rifles, DMRs and machine guns, here is where it stands today.

China's 5.8x42mm Rifle Cartridge - How Good Is It?
China’s 5.8x42mm had big shoes to fill when it adopted. It eventually replaced both the 7.62x54mmR and 7.62x39mm in a PLA infantry platoon. L to R: 7.62x54mmR, 5.8x42mm, 7.62x39mm, 7.62x25mm. Photo by David M. Fortier

The Chinese 5.8x42mm intermediate cartridge was introduced exactly 30 years ago in 1987. I first wrote about this mysterious Chinese cartridge in 2006. Back then there was very little information on the caliber, even after 19 years in Chinese military service. The 5.8x42mm was initially developed as an intermediate infantry rifle cartridge to replace the Soviet designed 7.62x39mm M43 cartridge then in PLA service. Over time it has evolved into a universal round for replacing not only the 7.62x39mm but also the full-power 7.62x54mmR in use with rifles, carbines, Designated Marksman Rifles (DMR) and general-purpose machine guns (GPMG).

The Chinese 5.8x42mm is the youngest of the trio...

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