A Selection of Chinese Mystery Pistols at RIA

During the 1920s and 1930s, a combination of civil wars and international arms embargoes led to a lot of domestic firearms production in China. The size and quality of manufacturing facilities varied widely – everything from massive factories established with European technical assistance to one-man shops only a step or two above being blacksmiths. The weapons produced varied in quality to match. Among other weapons made during this period were handguns mechanically based on several European designs (the Browning 1900, Mauser C96, and Mauser 1910/14, primarily). These handguns show a huge variety of aesthetic designs, gibberish markings, and fake proof marks. They are virtually all single action, simple blowback designs, chambered for .32ACP or 7.63 Mauser. This auction at RIA includes a whole bunch of these pistols, so I picked out a handful of good examples to show some of the elements often seem among them.

You can see the RIA catalog pages for the guns in this video here:

Smaller frame with round butt
Square butt, short barrel, lightening cuts in slide
The one with the “bayonet lug”
The one that locks open on an empty mag
Square butt with ivory-colored grips
Huge & narrow 1900 copy with really long grip
Nicely made Browning 1900 copy