Before the QJC-88 HMG, there was the W85 HMG. The “W” in its designation indicates that it’s made for export. Not to be confused with the Type 85 HMG which is based on the earlier Type 77 design with a direct-gas impingement action. The Chinese military never adapted the W85, other than very small numbers which were acquired for the paramilitary and People’s Militia. The QJC-88 was developed from the W85 for vehicle installation and is in wide service with the Chinese Armor Corp.
While the W85 HMG has been in service with many foreign users of Chinese weaponry for years, it really came into focus in the recent Civil Wars in Syria and Iraq where all sides are using it.
The W85 and the QJC-88 share the same basic design. Both are considered as modernized DShK derivatives with many improvements including being half the weight of the DShK. The best analogy would be that it’s similar to how FN developed the AN/M2 and AN/M3 models from the basic design of the well-know M2 Browning .50-cal heavy machine gun. There are some difference in the receiver between the W85 and the QJC-88, and I am unsure how many parts are compatible between the two models.
This Syrian rebel’s W85 looks brand new. Thanks to the CIA and Golf States’ money, a lot of modern Chinese weapons found their way to the Syrian Civil War. The cone-shaped optic mounted on the rear of the receiver is the W85’s wide-angle anti-aircraft sight. The gunner control is completely different than that of the QJC-88 model’s. The W85 has a dual-spade handle with twin triggers that is activated by pulling with index finger. A removable shoulder stock is added to the recoil buffer tube, ane the shoulder stock is for assisting aiming as most of the recoil will be absorbed by the tripod. To cock the W85, there’s a DShK style shovel-handle shaped charging handle under the receiver. The tripod is a carry-over from the Chinese Type 85 HMG.
Technical with a .50 cal heavy machine gun mounted on a white color Toyota pickup truck seems to be a favorite among rebel groups world wide.
This Syrian rebel had even bothered to fabricated a pintle mount with gun shield for his W85 HMG. Since the W85 and QJC-88 both feature gravity assisted downward ejection, the empty cartridge case in the picture must have been hitting and bouncing off the center column of his ghetto gun mount.
Homie is getting tired with all this anti-aircraft business. Just getting comfy on this ghetto lawn chair. Now where’re my mint-tea and falafils?
The widespread use of the 12.7mm heavy machine guns such as the Chinese W85 by the Rebel forces in the Syrian Civil War has greatly reduced the effectiveness of close-air support by the Syrian government military. Most of the ground attack aircraft flew above the 12.7mm heavy machine gun’s engagement range. Unlike the Manpad, the 12.7mm machine gun round is impervious to jamming or bad weather conditions. Compared to the heavier 14.5mm or 23mm anti-aircraft guns, the .50 cal heavy machine guns are available in greater quantity, have better portability and can be fired from a simple tripod.
Close up of the W85 employed in an urban defense by the Free Syrian Army:
This FSA rebel couldn’t hit the broadside of a factory building with his W85 HMG. I guess they haven’t discovered how the T&E mechanism works yet over there:
In this clip, the rebels were trying to shoot down a Syrian military MI-17 transport helicopter. Notice how portable the W85 HMG is? And also this shows the use of the cone-shaped wide-angle anti-aircraft optical sight in use with the W85.
The rare Chinese Type 77 12.7mm heavy machine gun (also not a DShK) is in use by the rebels in the Syrian Civil War. The Type 77 and the later Type 85 models are both operated by gas direct-impingement. The large steel gas tube is clearly visible under its heavy barrel. A large number of Type 77 12.7mm HMGs were supplied by the Chinese to the Afghan Mujahideens during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan between 1979-1989. The Type 77 is quite common in Afghanistan today but are much more difficult to find in Syria. The Syrian Type 77s most likely came from Africa by way of Sudan.
Oh My! This guy actually locked down the gun before firing. He must be like the Chris Costa of Syria!