When the US military introduced the M-16, with its glorified .22 round, the 5.56×45mm, the Soviets responded by introducing the AK-74, with a similar round, the 5.45×39mm — and a few decades later the Chinese introduced the Type 95 rifle, with yet another small round, the 5.8×42mm.
Now the Chinese have introduced a traditional scoped, bolt-action sniper rifle, the JS-2, in that same small caliber, which is not ideal for the kind of long-range shooting snipers take pride in:
Noting the success of large scale use of snipers by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, China is increasing marksmanship and sniper training for its troops. The Chinese analysts apparently also noted that most sniper kills were at relatively short range (even in Afghanistan). Thus there was some justification for a lighter 5.8mm sniper rifle.
Even smaller-caliber “sniper” rifles have their place:
Then in the 1990s the Russians noted that Chechen snipers were effectively using .22 LR (long rifle, them little bullets kids use to hunt squirrels and rabbits with) weapons. Inside towns and cities, the .22 LR sniper was very effective, especially since the Chechens would improvise a very workable silencer by putting a plastic bottle on the end of the rifle’s barrel, with a hole in the bottom of the barrel for the bullet to exit. Using a cheap scope, Chechen snipers were very deadly at ranges of less than a hundred meters. Such ranges were pretty common in built up areas. And since you usually did not hear the shot (to the head or face, of course), you had a hard time finding the shooter.
Having suffered from these low tech .22 caliber Chechen snipers for ten years, the Russians have come out with their own professional .22 LR sniper rifle, the SV-99. This is a little heavier (at 3.8 kg/8.3 pounds) than your usual .22 LR rifle but is built for professionals. It has a heavier barrel, a bipod, silencer, and scope. It’s a meter (39 inches) long and can accept five, eight, or ten round magazines. There is a compartment in the butt stock for two five round magazines. With the SV-99, at a hundred meters, a skilled shooter can consistently put all rounds in a 12mm (half inch) circle. This is a specialist weapon, most likely used by commandos. But any trained sniper can quickly adapt to using it. And snipers like not being heard. But while the .22 LR is quiet (because it is slower) the military .22 (5.56mm) round is louder. So the Chinese 5.8mm would be difficult to silence well. But if the JS-2 users were supplied with a low power 5.8mm round, and a silencer, well, that would be a different matter entirely.