JoLoAr .45 ACP One-Hand-Cocking Pistol (Video)

The JoLoAr pistol was a combination of a poor-selling and unremarkable Spanish blowback semiauto pistol called the Sharpshooter and an idea by a man named Jose Lopez Arnaiz (whose name is the source of the pistol’s name). Arnaiz conceived the idea of mounting a lever (palanca in Spanish) onto a pistol slide, to allow the pistol to be charged one-handed. There is a rumor (unsubstantiated) that he was inspired by the one-armed commander of the Spanish Foreign Legion, Colonel José Millán-Astray. But whatever the inspiration, Arnaiz patented his idea, and went looking for a manufacturer.

The company he found was Hijos de Calixto Arrizabalaga, who were making the rather mundane Sharpshooter. This was a blowback pistol, which was designed without an extractor. Instead, it was equipped with a tip-up barrel for clearing malfunctions and unloading the chamber. This feature carried over to the JoLoAr, although an extractor had also been added to the design by that time. Wanting to maintain control over his idea, Arnaiz opened his own small shop where his employees would add his patented palanca to otherwise-complete JoLoAr pistols made by Arrizabalaga.

Arrizabalaga’s experiment with the Arnaiz idea worked out fairly well, really. About 30,000 JoLoAr pistols were made between the mid 1920s and early 1930s, which is probably a lot more than would have been sold as plain Sharpshooters. This example is in .45ACP; quite scarce in the United States today.


  1. Can anyone pull a quick Israeli draw with this? I remember that Chinese officers with Type 77 pistols were advised to dual wield and rack on the draw… or am I wrong?

    • I don’t know about the two-gun bit but most armies still mandate Condition Three carry (empty chamber) which pretty much requires an “Israeli draw”. (Where I come from, it was called an “MP draw”. 😉 )

      The Jo-Lo-Ar’s popularity mainly stemmed from a combination of most people having a (well-justified) mistrust of the safeties on a lot of self-loaders back then, plus the Spanish Army’s continued belief in horse cavalry.

      Like the U.S. Army in the 1905-10 pistol trials, they still wanted a pistol that could be handled entirely one-handed by a man on a horse so he could keep the reins in his other hand. In the U.S., the result was the 1907 White-Merrill automatic with a ratcheted cocking lever under the trigger guard; yank it back twice like a hand-exerciser to rack the action all the way.

      In Spain, the result was a folding lever on a blowback pistol with no trigger guard. I guess they wanted absolutely nothing getting in the way of getting the first shot off.

      Of course, a Condition Three carry with something like that would tend to reduce the chances of “beating yourself to the draw” and putting a round in your foot, too.



    • The biggest problem I’ve always thought of with that lever is that if it doesn’t lock up out of the way properly, it could give you a sharp rap across the knuckles every time you pull the trigger.

      Needless to say, this would tend to adversely affect accuracy.



  2. “About 30,000 JoLoAr pistols were made between the mid 1920s and early 1930s (…)” I think such figure is mentioned in Spanish sources in what refers only to the 9mm Largo variant and must comprise the batch in that caliber sold to Peru (the Peruvians also bought the .380 version).

  3. .32ACP was made.

    I used to have one, but the Palanka had been removed. I was going to make a replacement one myself, but a collector from Cali wanted it more than I did. Otherwise I’d have pictures. The finish was mostly gone, but the markings and grips were still there, along with the original mag.

    It actually shot pretty well, especially for its age!

  4. Years ago I saw a holster for 1911 Colt that could be used to cock the pistol carried with an empty chamber. The gun was pushed down into the holster, which held the slide back. Much cheaper and easier than designing and manufacturing a gun.

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