Side view of a Type 77 heavy machine gun with tripod in the anti-aircraft position.
Source: Chinese internet - © Copyright lies with original owner
The Type 77 is a heavy machine gun of Chinese origin. It was developed in the mid-1970's to replace the Type 54 (DShK) as a crew served weapon. As an infantry weapon on tripod mount it was to be as light as possible, at the cost of volume of fire. With its new tripod the Type 77 weight half as much as the old Type 54, making it much easier to carry in the field. The original Type 77 did not perform as well as expected, but the later Type 85 improved the performance.
In order to save weight the Type 77 has a very unusual design. It is gas operated and uses a direct impingement gas system. The long tubular receiver houses the bolt with its flapper locking system. This results in very few moving parts and a long and slim receiver. Iron sights are fitted. A mount for day and night optics or special anti-aircraft sights is standard. For infantry use the Type 77 is fitted with spade grips and a shoulder stock and is mounted on a tripod. The low profile tripod can be put in an elevated position for anti-aircraft use.
The Type 77 fires the 12.7x108mm Soviet round from 50, 60 or 80 round belts. It is able to fire the standard Chinese Type 54 round as well as more modern armor piercing ammunition. The cyclic rate of fire is quite high at 650 to 700 rounds per minute. There is no semi-automatic fire mode. As the barrel is thinner it heats up faster than the old Type 54 (DShK) it replaced. This makes the Type 77 not that suitable for sustained fire.
The Type 77 and the Type 85 are the were adopted for use as tripod mounted heavy machine gun for use by several types of Chinese infantry units. These are mostly light or specialist units like mountain troops. Since most 12.7mm machine guns in Chinese service are vehicle mounted, the Type 54 and QJC88 far more common in Chinese service. In Chinese service the even lighter QJC89 is the replacement for these weapons. The Type 77 and Type 85 have been exported and are still available for export. In various African conflicts these weapons are used by both government and irregular forces.
The Type 77 is the original model of the lightweight 12.7mm heavy machine gun. It can be distinguished by its pepperpot muzzle brake and large charging handle below the receiver. The Type 77 was in production for only several years until it was replaced by the Type 85.
The Type 85 is the improved version of the Type 77. It has a more conventional muzzle brake and the charging handle has been removed. To cock the weapon the entire trigger unit is moved forward and back. The Type 85 is available for export in the standard version using the 12.7x108mm Soviet round and as the W95 using the 12.7x99mm NATO round.
The Type 77 was developed as a lighter alternative for the Type 54 (Chinese DShKM) for use by infantry.
The QJC88 was developed at the same time as the product improved Type 85. After trials it was decided that a heavy barrel weapon was required for vehicle use.
The QJZ89, also known as QJG89, was developed as a much lighter alternative to the Type 77 and 85. This model is far easier to move in the field by infantry.
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