China’s Invisible-Laser Rifle Is Basically a Milelong Lightsaber for Stormtroopers

China Goes to the Dark Side With Star Wars Style Laser Rifle

Both soldiers represent an evil empire. Both have laser weapons. Neither of them can shoot. Composite photo by Coffee or Die.

Far be it from us to bring up yesterday’s mistakes. No one’s perfect. But sometimes you come across something so ridiculous that it’s worth telling the tale twice — enter the tale of China’s mythic face-melting laser rifle.

Back in 2018 China claimed to have developed a revolutionary laser rifle called the ZKZM-500 that was purportedly capable of burning a hole in a human being from half a mile away. No shit, they were serious, and it was met with heavy skepticism. No one bought it, and after taking one look at the weapon and the claims behind it, we called bullshit too.

Let’s talk about it.

Despite looking like little more than a Super Nintendo with a scope mounted on it, the ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle is reportedly capable of performing some impressive feats, including firing a “laser” that can pass through glass and melt a human target on the other side up to half a mile away, making this a strong option for anyone looking to step up their laser tag game or teach their girlfriend’s asshole cat a lesson.

Kidding! We would never hurt cats, just like the Chinese government would never misuse an invisible laser that’s essentially something like a lightsaber with a maximum effective range of about a mile.

A powerful nation exaggerating its military capabilities as a means of deterrence is a tale as old as time, but this one is special. China’s claims about this rifle’s capabilities sound a lot like a fifth grader claiming his dad isn’t around because he’s off flying jets on secret missions for the Army. Whatever you gotta tell yourself, Mikey. Drink a couple Monsters and take it out on your stepdad like everybody else.

Laser Rifle

The 15 mm, 6.6-pound ZKZM-500 is capable of firing a laser that can cut a man in half at half a mile ... and I can dunk on an NBA regulation rim and shit bacon-wrapped Twinkies on command. Screenshot from YouTube.

The ZKZM-500 is very small and stubby but insists that it packs a massive punch. You’re probably expecting a dick joke right about now, but it’s not happening. We’re better than that. It’s a small, stubby little rifle. That’s it. No penis references will be made.

Look, maybe the ZKZM-500 just looks small and stubby but is actually average sized when compared with other nation’s rifles. We weren’t able to find any reports of users complaining of this problem previously, so maybe it’s us. Maybe we just have really big hands or are just used to bigger rifles. It’s not like we’ve seen a lot of rifles or anything, BUT, of the ones we’ve seen, this is definitely the stubbiest. Some people actually prefer smaller rifles. It’s got character for sure and looks really cool. We’re sure it has a great personality. Moving on.

According to researchers behind the ZKZM-500, the rifle is capable of lighting a human being on fire from a half mile away while leaving no discernible signature so it would simply “look like an accident” to bystanders. I can’t possibly imagine why China would want an invisible laser capable of burning a person to death from a mile away while making the murder look like an accident.
“What happened to Bob?”

“Well he was asking questions about the Uyghur people, and then he just burst into flames. Cops said it was a freak accident.”

Each ZKZM-500 will cost $15,000 to produce and can fire 1,000 death rays in a single charge from a lithium-ion battery. Should the design be picked up by American manufacturers, it will no doubt cost twice as much, be able to charge phones and vape pens, and feature a small LCD screen in the back that you can play Doom and Super Mario on (not included).

The laser rifle has already caught the attention of police and counterterrorism squads in China who plan to use the rifle as a nonlethal option. Unless non means “very” in Mandarin, we think they may be confused as to what that phrase means. If you think about it, being lit on fire isn’t lethal. It’s the third-degree burns and shock that really get you.


What appears to be a tactical version of the ZKZM-500 featuring a bullpup design, a Picatinny rail on the front, and a partially glued cheek pad on the back. Screenshot from YouTube.

The ZKZM-500 is reported to be so powerful that it’s capable of cutting through a human being with surgical precision, making appendectomies in China way more exciting. It can also burn a hole through fuel storage tanks at a military airport. We call bullshit on that as well but are interested to see if it could at least be used to scorch a gigantic dick up the side of the air traffic control tower and then tag it with the words “Stubby was here!”

Proponents of the laser rifle also claim the weapon could be used in covert military operations, but we’re curious how that will work when enemy sentries spontaneously catch fire in the dead of night and scream bloody murder as they’re gently pacified by the nonlethal flames.

People are going to notice that.

Whether or not China’s new ZKZM-500 laser rifle can live up to its claims and find its way into the hands of stormtroo— uhm, soldiers remains to be seen. Frankly, we’re skeptical. We are aware that similar weapons do exist, but we are also aware that historically, people have a really hard time hitting anything with them.

Look for our next article on China’s new Falcon-class stealth jet, which they claim is capable of making the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs.

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Eric Miller is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. He served as a combat medic in the Army and hails from Parkersburg, West Virginia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and has worked with homeless populations and veteran services throughout the state. He is an avid outdoorsman and has recently become interested in woodworking.
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