The 5.8x42mm/ DBP87 ("Dàn(弹) Bùqiāng(步枪) Pŭtòng(普通),1987"), means standard rifle cartridge) riflecartridge, was developed by the Chinese. There is limited official information about this cartridge, while the Chinese claim this round is superior to 5.56x45mm NATO and the 5.45x39mm M74 Soviet cartridge as used in AK-74. Another variant called 5.8x42mm “heavy round” was specially designed for the squad automatic weapons and sniper rifles. The 5.8x42mm “heavy round” has exactly the same size as the standard 5.8 mm cartridge, but has a longer streamlined bullet with a steel core for longer range and better penetration.
China started development of the 5.8x42mm/DBP87 in 1979, and finished in 1987, so it is called as DBP87. The 5.8x42mm/DBP87 was designed to replace the 7.62x39mm cartridge used by the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The Type 95/ QBZ-95 (Chinese: 轻武器,步枪,自动, 1995; Pinyin: Qīng Bùqiāng--Zìdòng, 1995; literally "Small weapon, Rifle, Automatic, 1995") 5.8 mm caliber assault rifle, firing the 5.8x42mm/DBP87, is now the standard issue weapon in the PLA.
The 5.8x42mm/ DBP87 cartridge has a muzzle velocity of 930 m/s from a standard barrel (Type 95/QBZ-95, 463 mm barrel length), with a bullet weighing 4.26 grams. The 5.8x42mm “heavy round” cartridge has a muzzle velocity of 970 m/s from the Type 95 LSW/Type 95 SAW/ QBB-95 (557 mm barrel length) and 895m/s from the Type 88/QBU-88 (620 mm barrel length). It has an effective range of 800 m and can penetrate 3 mm steel plate at a distance of 1000 m. It is reported to have very good accuracy at 600 meters.
The Chinese claim that the 5.8x42mm DBP87 has better penetration than the 5.56x45mm NATO and the 5.45x39mm M74. However, unlike the other two cartridges, the 5.8x42 mm/DBP87 is not likely to yaw and then fragment after impact into soft tissue, giving it less stopping power. It is possible that the intended target for DBP87 is actually soft tissue behind infantry armour, although there has been no documented testing to assess this theory.