General Liu rifle

General Liu Rifle

A sample from the Swedish Army Museum, manufactured in 1915.
Type Semi-automatic / Straight-pull bolt action rifle
Place of origin  Republic of China
Production history
Designer General Qing En Liu[1][2]
Designed ca. 1914
Manufacturer Hanyang Arsenal,[1][2] Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool
Produced 1914 - 1918
Weight 4.7 kg (10 lb 6 oz) empty
Length 122.5 cm (48.2 in)
Barrel length 64.7 cm (25.5 in)

Cartridge 7.9x57mm S-Patrone[1]
Caliber 7.92 mm
Action Gas operated, rotating bolt[3]
Muzzle velocity 780 m/s (2300 ft/s)[1]
Feed system Integral magazine, 6 round capacity[1]
Sights Rear: Ladder graduated 400-2000 m[1]
Front: Blade

The General Liu rifle is named after its inventor and the first Superintendent of Hanyang Arsenal - General Qing En Liu (1869-1929),[1] as the rifle never received any other designation. It was probably the first Chinese semi-automatic rifle. The rifle used a muzzle "gas-trap" system similar to Bang rifle[3][4] (other rifles including this system were: Gewehr 41 and early production models of M1 Garand). The rifle's method of operation could be switched from gas to straight-pull bolt action by rotating counterclockwise the cylinder located on the muzzle, to revert to gas-operated reloading the cylinder had to be rotated back (clockwise). The stock had a compartment for cleaning tools.[1]


At the beginning of 1914 General Liu contacted Pratt & Whitney Tool Company, Hartford in order to purchase machinery for Hanyang Arsenal. A contract for 1,082,500 USD was signed with the company on April 11, with an expected delivery in 24 months. Later that year, on September, Liu along with his family and seven subordinates arrived at Hartford, the purpose of the visit was to familiarize with the machinery. Liu stayed at Hartford at least until June 1915.[5] On September 8, 1916 two versions of the rifle were tested at Nan Yuan Proving Ground in Beijing. The first version was made at Hanygan with a hand-made driving spring, the second was manufactured at Pratt & Whitney and had a machined spring. The test revealed that the hand-made springs proved to be too weak to properly cycle the rounds, as opposed to the ones produced in USA.[6] In 1918 two rifles were tested at Springfield Armory by Julian Hatcher.[7] In the summer of 1919 during an Army Department meeting Liu suffered a stroke which caused paralysis of one side of his body, supposedly due to the fact that the vessel with the machinery onboard sank on its way to China.[8] Later that year the machinery was recovered and arrived at Shanghai. It was kept in a warehouse until 1921, when it was diverted to Gongxian Arsenal.[1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Shih, Bin; Stan Zielinski (2004). "The First Chinese Semi-Automatic Rifle by General Liu Qing En". Military Rifle Journal. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  2. 1 2 "Hanyang Arsenal and Its Place in Chinese History". Retrieved 28 January 2014. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  3. 1 2 Hatcher, Julian S. (1948). The Book of the Garand. Washington: Infantry Journal Press. pp. 21–22.
  4. Hatcher 1966, p. 147.
  5. Shih, Bin. "e-mail from Bin Shih". Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  7. Hatcher, Julian S. (1947). Hatcher's Notebook. Harrisburg: Military Service Publishing Company. p. 383.

External links

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