La Lira: A Spanish Copy of the Mannlicher 1901

The Spanish firm of Garate Anitua y Cia manufactured this copy of the Mannlicher 1901/1905 pistol for just a brief period around 1910. It is not a straight copy, as the Mannlicher was chambered for its own 7.63mm Mannlicher cartridge and fed using stripper clips and a fixed internal magazine while the La Lira design was chambered for the more common .32 ACP (7.65mm Browning) and used a typical type of detachable magazine. In addition, the La Lira was a simple blowback action, not including the slight delaying mechanism built into the original Mannlicher.

In addition to two standard La Lira pistols, we also have one gold damascened example to take a look at. These are quite rare today – no documented production records are known, but it is estimated that only 500-1000 were made total.


  1. How this did not make any difference on the pistol market is almost beyond me. Then again, we should consider that detachable magazines were not exactly cheap to make back then. Plus, one has to consider the production costs for the parts. I could be wrong.

      • That is fair answer, I’d think. Although Spain lost most of its colonies to U.S. thru treaty of Paris in 1898, it was still sovereign nation-state with local industries promoted and sanctioned by monarchy. Actually, since in previous period Spain was flush with gold but little industrial production, it was welcome change.

  2. “How this did not make any difference on the pistol market is almost beyond me.”
    Why it would have to? What it offered beyond distinctive look? Judging from other automatic pistol produced at that time in Spain “Browning-style” was more popular (sought after by customers?)

    • Browning type pistols (the classic “Eibar” cheap knockoffs and etc.) were easier and cheaper to make than even a blowback pseudo-Mannlicher, hence could be sold for lower prices and still show a profit.

      Also, to be brutally honest, pretty much nobody liked the Mannlicher. Quite aside from its stripper-clip feed magazine, it had a lousy grip, a terrible trigger, only indifferent sights, and was about as “sleek” and “snag-free” on the draw as a handful of barbed fish-hooks. there were much better and more “ergonomic” pistols available, like the various FN-made Browning types, most of which were, again, less expensive.

      This pistol basically puts a Browning-type blowback action, firing Browning-deigned .32 ACP ammunition, inside a faked Mannlicher “shell”. Other than (by our standards) exotic looks, it had nothing in particular to recommend it back in the day. It can only be defined as an historically bad “marketing decision” by its makers.

      Today, it’s a colletor’s item by virtue of the very shortcomings which caused its scarcity, i.e. that it was a failure in the marketplace. Funny how that works out.



      • Sadly Ferdinand von Mannlicher did not live long enough to respond to “automatic pistol boom” at dawn of 20th century. Anyway, Mannlicher cartridge was never used in any other automatic pistol and 7,65 mm Browning [.32 Auto] chambered automatic pistol soon appeared into production into Austria-Hungary namely Steyr Kipplauf Pistole (produced in Zisleithanien part of Austria-Hungary) and Frommer Stop (produced in Transleithanien part).

        “nobody liked the Mannlicher”
        According to R.K.Wilson wrote that It is an extremely easy pistol to shoot with–light, accurate, handy and shapes well to the hand. It is said that the grip is possibly a little too square to the barrel, but I have not found this so. which imply he had hands-on experience and was content with this particular automatic pistol.

        • Text in reference in certainly favorable. I like these early non-Browning semi-automatics, if for anything else than variety. I would be boring world if they all looked the same.

      • “as “sleek” and “snag-free” on the draw as a handful of barbed fish-hooks”
        My understanding is that Steyr if not von Mannlicher himself, supposed it to be store inside holster and used as military side-arm:
        Used cartridge was more potent than then used 7,65 mm Browning according to STANDARD BALLISTICS OF KYNOCH CENTRAL-FIRE METALLIC CARTRIDGES
        7·63 mm. Mannlicher Automatic Pistol throws 85 gr. Metal-covered BULLET at 1,050 Ft. per sec.
        7·65 m/m or ·32 Automatic Pistol throws 72 gr. Metal-covered BULLET at 875 Ft. per sec.
        As I said before von Mannlicher did not live long enough to respond with own pocket automatic pistol, but Steyr factory responded – with so called Steyr Kipplauf Pistole:

  3. That strange marking on the serialized gun looks strangely like the writing seen often in the Somalia/Djibouti/Ethiopia/Egypt area. The gun’s condition is typical for a gun that has seen African service

  4. I have seen one with a number stamped on the bottom of the frame, only visible after you slide the sideplate piece off. Wonder if any of the ones in the video had this? Could this be a serial number?

  5. From my reading it seems the other big draw for the Mannlicher pistol, even now, was the remarkable quality of its manufacture: Hogg describes it as handling like a fine watch. I am told that a number of Argentine contract pistols from Steyr were converted to .32 ACP and make fine plinkers. In retrospect I think Mannlicher was quite spoiled by the quality of machining and manufacture available to him; hardly anything he designed was simple. (Fewer but more complicated parts seem to be a European, thing: see Schwarzlose, Steyr-Hahn, etc.) J.M. Browning, with a do-it-yourself shop, leaned toward simplicity of build until he too was somewhat spoiled by the facilities that Winchester, Colt, and FN offered him.

  6. Just came across one out here in Washington, serial number SYL63xx. I did not have hands-on, but the serial number was relayed to me. Quite surprising to see how old it was and its origins. Thank you for the video on this interesting piece of history.

    • That’s a very odd serial number for a Spanish pistol – mostly they’re just numbers, not letters, especially on the ones from the La Lira time frame. Can you find out where the SN was found on the pistol?

      • Unfortunately no. It was momentarily stated on a radio, during an aid call. I was listening to local 911 traffic. SYL refers to the mfr and I looked it up. Maybe it is a USA import marking to denote mfr.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.