Chinese Warlord Pistols: The Huge Shanxi .45 ACP Broomhandle

The “Pistols of the Warlords Kickstarter ends Friday night; don’t miss out!

The best known and most highly valued of the Warlord Era Chinese pistols is undoubtedly the .45 ACP copy of the C96 Mauser. These were made at the Taiyuan Arsenal in Shanxi Province between 1928 and 1931, with more than 8,000 made in total. They were the product of a proper Western-style production line, and Taiyuan Arsenal actually made standard C96 copies in 7.63mm Mauser before scaling up to the .45 ACP version. This change was made because the Arsenal was also making Thompson submachine guns, and it made sense to have caliber compatibility with their C96-style pistols. The result was a truly massive hand cannon, holding 10 rounds of ammunition in its fixed magazine, and fitted with an equally large combination shoulder stock and holster.

In the 1980s, a run of copies of these pistols were made in China and imported into the United States under the guise of being refinished originals. In actuality, they are poorly made imitations – the original Shanxi .45 Broomhandles are quite high quality pistols.


  1. Thanks for these. The thought occurred to me today that I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard about Chinese Mystery revolvers. Were there any, or many? I would think that, given the primitive manufacturing conditions, there’d be more of them than automatics.

  2. I’m sure Ian will cover this, but while most Chinese production seemed focused on semi-auto pistols, they did make some rather boring low-quality revolvers in this time period, mostly based on conventional US or Japanese designs.

  3. Looks like they have good surface finish on them. I wonder where the machinery and steel came from. I’d say make that receiver out of pre-heat treated 4130 with carbide bits and you will be fine 🙂

    • The first thing I thought of. Sable’s gun was supposedly a Shanxi upper on a Mauser M1932 (M712 Schnellfeuer) lower. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t work due to the Shanxi upper’s rails being further apart than the M1932’s frame rails.

      However, remachining a Shanxi frame to accommodate the Westinger-type selector plus the M1932’s detachable box magazines would probably be no problem.

      Of course, simply acquiring a Star Model M would have been still simpler and considerably easier for him to conceal, too. In the later issues, Sable did in fact retire the Broomhandle in favor of a compensated .45 1911 “race gun” and a S&W 657 with PPC mods.



      • Yup. I have the issues where he got the .45 and the revolver. The Fan Pts I and II, as I recall. Ends with a bomb in a doll. For those of you who’ve never read Mike Grell’s Sable books, you’re missing out.

        I even got Grell to do a custom inked print for me several years ago, with Jon holding the Mauser and the .375 revolver. One of my prize possessions.

        cheers yourself, Eon!

  4. It will be interesting to see your video on the 1980s renditions, because of those I’ve seen and owned, like all things, some were very well done looking as if they came out of Mauser itself with only nominal difference in finish, possibly made on finely set-up CNC machinery, while others I’ve seen – and would not even consider buying – look like they were made by a wholly different company and process by way of vise, bench-grinder, and a hammer.

    The examples I’ve seen of them were so vastly different in quality, I have to suspect different companies were making them, and the company making the lousy specimen may have been claiming to be the company making the well-made examples.

    I have one of the former, and not only is it nearly as nicely made as any of my several original Mauser C96 examples (whether commercial or military) it also ran flawlessly on several types of over-the counter brass-cased .45ACP.

    Hopefully your video will have a wide range of the 1980s examples, because I suspect it’s possible there were different companies and different sources knocking them out from examples I’ve seen of them over the past 40 years.

  5. I’m a Chink. Interesting. I first saw the video of this pistol on the Chinese website yesterday(20210617). I saw this pistol on this website today.
    In 1917, the warlord Yan Xishan became the governor of Shanxi Province. In 1922, Yan Xishan began to build an arsenal in Shanxi Province, China, and began to purchase various machine tools from foreign countries. In 1927, this arsenal was renamed Taiyuan (a city in Shanxi, China) arsenal. Started manufacturing M1896 Mauser 7.63mm pistol. Started manufacturing M1921Thompson 11.25mm submachine gun. In 1929, the enlarged M1896 Mauser pistol was manufactured, called the Type-17-years .45ACP pistol.
    In 1930, Chiang Kai-shek defeated Yan Xishan in the civil war. Taiyuan Arms Factory is difficult to maintain production. In March 1931, the arsenal could only produce 40 6.5mm rifles and 20 Hotchkiss machine guns per day. 80,000 bullets per day. There are 8,000 workers in total. In 1936, Yan Xishan handed over the arsenal to the Chiang Kai-shek government.
    The article comes from the website of Huoqitang.
    I’m just an ordinary Chink, not a gun expert. I just saw the introduction of this arsenal by accident.

  6. Looking forward to seeing the video on the ’89s imports. Think I have a genuine remaned gun. Frame and barrel look to have the right amount of wear and patina. Hammer doesn’t have the hold open notch. Needs a bolt locking block. Know of a supplier or who can make one? Thanks!!

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