The General Liu rifle (named for its designer – it never received an official designation that we know of) was China’s closest approach to an indigenous self-loading infantry rifle before World War II. Mechanically it used the same principles as the Danish Bang rifle – a muzzle cup captured some of the gases from firing and was pulled forward, moving a cam and lever that cycled the bolt.

The Pratt & Whitney company of Hartford was contracted to supply the machinery to mass-produce the rifle, and about a dozen sample rifles were built in Connecticut. They were tested in China and met with general approval, and the machinery was loaded up and shipped to Shanghai. Unfortunately, General Liu died before the tooling arrived, and it ended up sitting on the docks for about 2 years, as the rifle project foundered and never cam to fruition without Liu’s supervision. The tools were eventually sent to an arsenal and repurposed for producing other guns.



(1916) Hanyang Arsenal report on the General Liu rifle (Chinese)

(1916) Hanyang Arsenal report on the General Liu rifle (English translation)


These photos are provided courtesy of Bin Shih. Click to download high resolution copies: General Liu photos

Resources – An article on the General Liu rifle written Bin Shih

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