Chinese Warlord Pistols: the “Horn Grip Type”

Interested in these guns? Check out the Kickstarter for my new book on the subject, “Pistols of the Warlords”!

In the course of researching Chinese domestic pistols of the Warlord Era, I sorted through several hundred examples, and was able to identify six distinct patterns of uniquely Chinese designs. Once of these I have designated the Horn Grip Type, as almost all the examples identified use horn (sometime light yellowish and sometimes dark brown) for grip panels. These pistols are simple blowback actions with open slides, external hammers, and Eibar-style safety levers above their triggers. They are chambered for the .32 ACP cartridge. They have a characteristic style of rear sight that vaguely mimics the tangent sight and bolt of a C96 Mauser, but without any separate rear sight leaf. The part we would expect to be the rear sight slider is actually an unmoving piece used to hold the extractor in place.

I cover all six different types of domestic Chinese design in “Pistols of the Warlords”, but figured we could go through a variety of different examples of this particular type today.


  1. Though in general overall form the gunmakers here seem to have been taken with the Mannlicher 1901 — open-top slide with the recoil spring below the barrel. That gun also had “horns” rather than flat ridged areas for purchase on the slide. A detachable Browning box magazine in the butt is certainly an improvement on that design. There was also an Eibar replica in .32, I believe with a detachable box magazine. I am still astounded at the lack of even the vestige of a rear sight on most of these, though from some accounts I have read, Chinese Tong members were early advocates of “spray ‘n’ pray,” making sights superfluous in most cases.

    • The problem with putting a working rear sight on a pistol such as this is that there would then be an expectation that the sight line up with where the pistol would actually shoot. That was probably a lot more than could reasonably be expected of the manufacturing methods employed.

      The alternative would be to add fully adjustable sights, but that would add cost.

  2. You are probably referring to Eibar’s G.A.C. (Garate, Anitua & Compañía) “La Lira” pistol, that Ian already showed on January 14, 2019.

  3. The print on the background curtain is sufficiently photorealistic so when it starts to flex it is very disturbing.

  4. How about a field strip video of these Chinese pistols? I would love to see several of these videos Perhaps comparing them to the original European models.

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