Chinese Warlord Pistols: Shanghai Model 1900 Pistol-Carbine

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Not all of the handguns made in China during the Warlord Era were made one at a time by individual artisan gunsmiths. A few models were produced on proper Western-style production lines. Almost all of these production pistols were direct copies of the FN 1900 and Mauser C96, except for this fascinating exception: the Shanghai Arsenal Model 1900 Pistol-Carbine (a collector designation and not an original name – we don’t know what the original designation was).

This pistol is essentially a hybrid of the two common Chinese copies. It uses the mechanical basis of the FN 1900, with that design’s unique breechblock and striker mechanism, plus the recoil spring above the barrel and the .32 ACP chambering. This is blended with a grip slotted for a Mauser-type stock, a 10-round magazine, a 500m fully functional tangent rear sight, and an extended (5.5 inch) barrel. Several thousand of these were made by the Shanghai Arsenal between 1916 and 1921, just as the height of the Warlord Era was about to begin.

These guns were well made and reliable, and have legitimate serial numbers and dates. However, there were also small-scale knockoffs of this domestic Chinese design made, and we have one such example to look at today along with the originals!

15 Comments

  1. 1) 500 meters for 32 ACP? Seriously? Didn’t anyone in China have `any practical experience with shooting pistols?

    2) What’s the deal between Colt and Browning? Money, I would assume, but what are the details?

  2. I have a Chinese War Lord broom handle Mauser in 7.63 from one of the batches Navy Arms brought in a couple of decades ago. The writing is nonsensical and is more akin to the phonetic spelling of a female name in Arabic. The stripper clip feed lips are too shallow to accept a stripper clip, so I load it with single rounds into the mag, while holding the bolt to the rear. A hassle, but it does shoot. I just have to feed original rounds which have the power to operate the action bc they are powerful enough. Oddly, the front site which is a milled part of the barrel; iis canted to the right and there is no groove to speak of in the rear sight. Evidently no one planned to aim; maybe the pistol was a status symbol(?). I did two tours in South Asia and saw many tribal-made guns (semiauto AK in .303 British and in 7.62x25mm using Russian sky stick mags!).

  3. My respect goes to Ian for paying attention to this ‘amusing’ (would ‘curious’ be a better word?) Chinese production. This is where true researcher’s mind comes to forefront. I do not consider myself a snob, but I’d scoff at it outright.

  4. Given that it was effectively mechanically the same as the Browning 1900 copies and fired the same round (+ presumably you could also adapt these for a shoulder stock). What was the advantage of beefing it up / making it larger ?

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