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NORINCO QLZ87 (Type 87)

Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL)

China | 1987

"The QLZ87 Automatic Grenade Launcher uses a unique 35mm grenade and has been adopted by several fighting forces of the world to date."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/15/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
NORINCO of China has amassed a long history of arms-making since the brand was established in during the tail-end of the Cold War in 1980. Its first projects were local production copies of Soviet-era arms including the famous TT-33 semi-automatic pistol (as the Type 54) and the Kalashnikov AK-47 (as the Type 56). Today, the company has branched out into design, development and production of many indigenous Chinese weapon types including whole combat tanks, armored and unarmored fighting vehicles and even unmanned aircraft while managing to keep a hand in the small arms business.

In the late-1980s, the company unveiled a new Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL) for its armed forces as the "Type 87" (also known as the "QLZ87"). The weapon is a complete suppression system utilizing a gas-operated, fully-automatic self-loading action (with direct impingement process) feeding from a six- or fifteen-round hard drum magazine. A bipod assembly is optionally fitted under the long-running, fluted barrel (capped by a large slotted muzzle brake). Over the receiver is a carrying handle and under it is the drum feed. The rear of the receiver features the charging handle, trigger section and shoulder support. The weapon can be mounted atop a heavy-duty tripod assembly for use as a fixed defensive weapon or similarly mounted on a trainable pintle, the latter for vehicle / helicopter door gunner usage. While traditional iron sights are used for ranged fire, optics are also supported. Overall weight is 26lb (44lb with the scope fitted and drum loaded).

The Type 87 relies on a rather unique grenade projectile offered in 35mm caliber (35x32mm). This ammunition arrives in several available flavors to suit mission requirements (Armor-Piercing, High-Explosive, anti-infantry, smoke, etc). This sort of versatility provides multiple tactical uses for the weapon and puts it on par with Russian and Western design offerings of similar mission form and function.

The weapon can reach a rate-of-fire of 120 to 500 rounds-per-minute and outgoing projectiles are rated at a muzzle velocity of 620 feet-per-second. Effective range is out to 600 meters with a maximum range of 1,750 meters being possible (though with reduced accuracy).

The Type 87 grenade launcher is currently (2017) in service with the army branches of Bolivia, China, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
The physical qualities of the NORINCO QLZ87 (Type 87). Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
970 mm
38.19 in
O/A Length
560 mm
22.05 in
Barrel Length
26.46 lb
12.00 kg
Gas-Operated; Direct Impingement
6- or 15-round drum magazine.
Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the NORINCO QLZ87 (Type 87). Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
2,000 ft
609.6 m | 666.7 yds
620 ft/sec
189 m/sec
Muzzle Velocity
Notable series variants as part of the NORINCO QLZ87 (Type 87) Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL) family line.
QLZ87 - Base Series Designation.
Type 87 - Alternative designation.
QLZ87B (QLB-06) - 20lb semi-automatic variant with 4-round drum; aluminum receiver; modernized action and bipod support assembly; sans tripod.
MIC "ABBA" - Local Sudanese variant.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the NORINCO QLZ87 (Type 87). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national small arms listing.

Contractor(s): China NORth INdustires COrporation (NORINCO) - China
National flag of Bolivia National flag of China National flag of Ethiopia National flag of Iraq National flag of Namibia National flag of Niger National flag of Pakistan National flag of Sudan National flag of Somalia National flag of Syria National flag of Tanzania National flag of Uganda

[ Bolivia; China; Ethiopia; Iraq; Namibia; Niger; Pakistan; Somalia; Sudan; Syria; Tanzania; Uganda ]
1 / 1
Image of the NORINCO QLZ87 (Type 87)
Image from the Chinese Ministry of Defense; Public Release.

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The NORINCO QLZ87 (Type 87) Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL) appears in the following collections:
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