I’m sure everyone has heard a second or third hand story about someone finding a total steal on a gun at an estate sale or auction. Heck, I’ve had a few great moments that start to get close to that myself – but I’ve not yet actually found a gun at a yard sale, much less a really neat gun at one.
Well, I got an email from reader Tim looking for information about a weird pistol. That he had gotten at a yard sale. For $40. That rotten SOB.
It is apparently Chinese, and chambered for 7.63mm Mauser. It’s not a design I know anything about, so I looked it up in Bin Shih’s book on Chinese small arms, where I found photos of two very similar looking pieces, both listed as “unknown”.
The best I can do is some speculation, so let’s consider what we can tell from these photos (Tim didn’t send any pictures of the internals). First off, I think it’s a save assumption that this was a very limited production piece, if not outright handmade. The crude shaping of the trigger guard, the not-quite-parallel serrations on the slide, and the non-symmetrical grooves in the grip panels suggest that. The gun does have a 5-digit serial number, but that is not necessarily indicative of mass production, particularly in China.
The grip panels bear a lot of resemblance to those of a Mauser C96, which was a very popular pistol in China, and it is chambered for the same 7.63×25 cartridge. This chambering would have been because of the Mauser’s popularity, and it would definitely not be the more powerful 7.62×25 Tokarev. The Tokarev round would be used by the Chinese Communists later on, but this pistol most likely dates from the 1920s or early 1930s, before the Tokarev was in use anywhere.
The barrel and frame layout bear some similarity to the Mauser 1910/1914/1934 (which was also imported and known in China), and the firing mechanism is probably based on the Eibar/Ruby design (which was another very popular type of pistol in China). Those pistols have concealed hammers, but it would be a simple and desirable change to expose them, as on this design. The round-bottomed magazine, of course, if distinctive and quite unusual, probably being made simply to match the contour of the C96 style grip.
If anyone else has more information on this pistol or designs like it, we’d love to hear it!