PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 October, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 October, 1993, 12:00am

IT'S enough to make the trigger fingers of every red-blooded man itch with anticipation for the end of the year. Yes, it's the 1994 Famous Guns with Beauties calendar.

Up to now the only sleek lines known to China's defence industry were those belonging to the cold blue steel of an assault rifle or a Silkworm missile. But following paramount leader Deng Xiaoping's advocacy of capitalism with socialist characteristics, the National Defence Industry Press in Beijing has produced a calendar in which almond-eyed young ladies cradle the latest sub-machine-guns and assault rifles from some of the finest arms manufacturers.

It appears to be catering for non-quiche eating guys whose idea of great night out is to blast off a few rounds as his moist-lipped lovely in her clinging, silk evening gown snuggles up to his flak jacket.

Like a meeting between Barbarella, Suzy Wong and Annie Oakley, the girls who grace the calendar manage to combine coyness and suggestiveness with mildly threatening undertones. They grip a hunting rifle's long tapering barrel or lovingly wrap their manicured fingers around the collapsible stock of a nine millimetre sub-machine-gun.

'The girls are good-looking,' grunted one putative he-man as he flipped the pages of the calendar in front of the publishing house's booth at a book fair near the Forbidden City - 'and so are the guns.' Miss January sets the pace - almond eyes and carmine-streaked lips pursed just centimetres away from a 5.56 mm rifle with adjustable sniper sight. Clearly a girl to die for.

The recent Israeli-Palestinian accord notwithstanding, Miss February looks as if she is designed to appeal to the lucrative Middle Eastern market. With her tousled hennaed hair, and her un-Chinese features, Miss February wears a sort of pseudo-Occidental ensemble of a veil, headband and a bikini top over a flowing strawberry-hued dress. And, of course, she carries that essential extra for those wild nights under the desert stars, a 5.45 mm AK74 assault rifle.

Want to know what well-dressed Chinese ladies are wearing for evenings out in Beijing these days? The hot fashion tip, according to Miss August, are drop earrings, a black choker with matching black, elbow-length gloves, a shimmering, grey silk wraparound evening dress gathered at the bust, lilac high heels and, of course, a matt black MAT 49 9 mm sub-machine-gun. Fashion hint: don't forget the lightweight stock is not collapsed this season - no one would wish to make a fashion faux pas at the People's Liberation Army Christmas drinks party.

Miss September, with her intimidating, superior sort of glower and her American-made M16A2, 5.56 mm automatic rifle resting on her hip, is not the sort of girl to take a sleight lightly. But is that any reason to dress her in black zip-up boots which were already out of fashion in 1975, and a wraparound dress made of fabric more commonly associated with third-rate hotel curtains? In fact if you wanted to be nit-picking about this novel product, you could say the calendar's styling standards are low. Not the gleaming, well-oiled rifles - but the clothes. Take Miss October. She carries what is for gun-lovers a classic bit of engineering, the 7.62 mm AK 47 assault rifle.

Whereas an imaginative stylist would have dressed her in an equally classic number - a Chanel suit, for example - she has to make do with a camouflage jacket and dark red tights, with red and green suede shoes.

Whatever local style warriors may make of this rifle-toting trifle, in China at least,1994 is set to start with a bang.