The General Liu rifle (named for its designer – it never received an official designation that we know of) was China’s closest approach to an indigenous self-loading infantry rifle before World War II. Mechanically it used the same principles as the Danish Bang rifle – a muzzle cup captured some of the gases from firing and was pulled forward, moving a cam and lever that cycled the bolt.

The Pratt & Whitney company of Hartford was contracted to supply the machinery to mass-produce the rifle, and about a dozen sample rifles were built in Connecticut. They were tested in China and met with general approval, and the machinery was loaded up and shipped to Shanghai. Unfortunately, General Liu died before the tooling arrived, and it ended up sitting on the docks for about 2 years, as the rifle project foundered and never cam to fruition without Liu’s supervision. The tools were eventually sent to an arsenal and repurposed for producing other guns.



(1916) Hanyang Arsenal report on the General Liu rifle (Chinese)

(1916) Hanyang Arsenal report on the General Liu rifle (English translation)


These photos are provided courtesy of Bin Shih. Click to download high resolution copies: General Liu photos

Resources – An article on the General Liu rifle written Bin Shih


  1. I was under impression the machinery never made it to China and the General died soon after the ship sank? I could be wrong however.

  2. My grandfather had a Lui rifle that I sent to the NRA Museum in Fairfax Va. They have it on display. How many of these rifles are still in existence? Sincerely Tom Harriss

    • I believe there are less than a dozen of them, possibly only 4 or 5. Only about 30 were originally made, and most of those were sent back to China.

  3. I believe the rifle they are looking at is the one I sold to Bin Shih about 6 years ago.

    My grandfather (William Kirk) worked at Lockheed Martin and got this rifle and my mother ended up with it.
    I got it when my father died and found Mr Shih and sold it to him.

    I am not sure where he keeps it or ever did with it but would be interested in knowing

    William Kirk who I believe worked on these prototypes with Gen Liu originally had this rifle.

    Berkeley Bidgood

  4. Hi Just a little update about how many rifles there are. I have just been too stockholm, and they have a Liu rifle on display there.
    I took some Pictures of the Rifle, if it could be of any intrest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.