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I Have This Old Gun: Chinese JW-9 Target Rifle

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Rimfire bolt-action rifles are often used to teach marksmanship skills and encourage participation in competitive shooting. The rifle pictured is an example from a place we don’t often associate with civilian marksmanship: China. In the 1950s, the communist Chinese government initiated an effort to encourage fitness and competitive sports. This included developing competition rifles for activities such as biathlon and running target shooting. The series of rifles was designated “jianwei,” a shortened version of “jiànkang wèishì.” The two Chinese words translate literally as “healthy guard,” and the term is presumed to mean that the Chinese state would stay strong through encouraging sporting competitions like rifle shooting. To designate individual models, jianwei was shortened to “JW.”

When they needed a .22 rimfire, the Chinese looked to the Czech ZKM-452, itself derived from a training rifle produced for the occupying German forces during World War II. The Chinese had imported Czechoslovakian-made firearms for decades by the 1950s, and the little Eastern Bloc rimfire was ideal. The resulting rifle was designated JW-8, and it followed the lines of the CZ rifle very closely. Manufacture of the Chinese JW rimfire series of rifles began in the early 1960s: each rifle has the year of manufacture marked on the receiver, along with a logo of an arrow striking the center of a target.

Chinese JW-9 Target Rifle features

The rifle pictured is the target version of the JW series that was designated “JW-9.” It uses the CZ-based, magazine-fed bolt-action of the JW-8 and mates it to a heavy barrel and target-style stock with a full pistol grip, a raised cheekpiece, a wide, flat fore-end that houses a handstop rail and a hard-plastic buttplate with a spacer system to adjust length of pull. The rifle has a 22.8″ barrel that has a slight taper, weighted muzzle and target crown. The front and rear sights are mounted into dovetails. Though they mimic the sights on the JW-8, the rear is also adjustable for windage. Also differing from the JW-8, the upper surface of the JW-9’s receiver is checkered to reduce glare. It has an overall length of 41.9″, weighs 6 lbs., 14 ozs., and feeds from the same five-round magazine as the JW-8.

First manufactured for domestic competitive shooting, JW-9 rifles were later marketed internationally. They were produced between 1978 and 1983, with approximately 55,000 made; the rifle pictured was made in 1979. Both JW-8s and JW-9s were imported in surplus condition by Century Arms in the early 1990s.

Approximately 15 different rimfire models have been made in the JW series. Before the importation of Chinese-made rifles was banned in 1993, newly manufactured .22 JW sporting rifles were sold in the U.S. by Clayco, Interarms and Navy Arms. These included the JW-15 (sold by Clayco as the Model 4) and JW-27 bolt-actions, the JW-20 (a copy of the Browning SA-22, marketed by Interarms as the ATD), the JW-21 (a lever-action based on the Winchester 9422 that was listed in Interarms catalogs but possibly never imported), as well as the JW-25, a Mauser 98-style rifle (sold in two barrel lengths as the TU-KKW and TU-33/40). All are sturdy and serviceable rifles, though the JW-9 and JW-25 are the only models that have generated serious interest from collectors.

Following the U.S. ban, JW rifles have continued to be imported into Canada, Australia, New Zealand and western Europe, and they represent an important budget rimfire rifle for gun owners in those countries. It seems JW rifles are continuing to help shooters around the world keep their marksmanship skills “healthy.”

Gun: JW-9
Manufacturer: China North Industries Group Corp.(Norinco—State Factory 396)
Chambering: .22 Long Rifle
Serial No.: 91405
Manufactured: 1979
Condition: Fair (Modern Gun Standards)
Value: $350

Article by JEREMIAH KNUPP

 

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