The 5.8mm QJB-201 light machine gun (Chinese designation is QJB201 5.8毫米班用机枪) is a relatively new squad automatic weapon, designed and manufactured by Chinese factories for the PLA. The QJS-161 light machine gun is a shorter and somewhat lighter version, intended for use by the Airborne and Special Forces units. Both weapons complement the new 5.8mm QBZ-191 assault rifles in the new Chinese army small arms system. The QJB designation stands for Qingwuqi Jiqiang Banyong – light weapon, machine gun, squad, while the QJS is for Qingwuqi Jiqiang Sanbing – light weapon, machine gun, paratroop.
The QJB-201 light machine gun uses a gas operated action with a short stroke gas piston and a manual gas regulator. The gas cylinder is located below the removable barrel. The barrel locking is achieved by a rotary bolt, and the gun fires from an open bolt position, only in full automatic mode.
Both the QJB-201 light machine gun and the QJS-161 light machine gun use dual feed system. The primary feed option is the belt feed unit, which is located at the top of the receiver. Both guns use same disintegrating steel belts. Belt feed direction is from left to right. Normally, belts are supplied from detachable containers that can be attached below the receiver. Alternate feed option is to use standard 30-round plastic box magazines from the QBZ-191 assault rifle. The magazine housing is located at the bottom of the receiver. Standard furniture includes a folding bipod, and a side-folding adjustable shoulder stock. Both versions of the gun are equipped with folding iron sights, and a short length of a Picatinny rail at the rear of the receiver, which can be used to mount telescopic or night sights.
It is interesting to note that while the QJB-201 light machine gun is similar in the general layout and capabilities to the Israeli 5.56mm Negev machine gun, the Chinese gun is claimed to be noticeably lighter. Same can be noted when comparing the QJB-201 light machine gun to the most famous squad automatic weapon of the last decades, the 5.56mm FN Minimi light machine gun.
The QJB-201 light machine gun, basic specifications