Type 13 Manchurian Mauser – A WW1 Legacy in China

This rifle sold for $5,750 at Rock Island on December 2, 2018.

The Liao Type 13 was produced at what would become known as the Mukden Arsenal in Manchuria starting in 1924, with production facilitated by the Steyr company of Austria. Late in World War One, Steyr developed an improved pattern of Mauser rifle, with a shrouded firing pin, shrouded striker, gas vent holes, detachable box magazines, and receiver dust cover. The rifle was not put into production because of cost and time constraints, and after the war Steyr was prohibited from building military arms by the Treaty of Versailles. However, they were able to license the design to Zhang Zuolin, the ruler of Manchuria. About 140,000 were made in total, know today as the Liao Type 13 or simply the Manchurian Mauser. The Manchurian version incorporated most of the Steyr design elements with the exception of the detachable magazines. Unfortunately, virtually all of these rifle today are missing their dust covers, which also served to prevent the rear of the bolt from rotating while being cycled. Owners today need to be careful of this, as we can see from the gouge in this particular one.


  1. I suppose some idiots tossed the bolt cover because they thought it was useless. “There’s no need for some stupid thing that blocks the bolt, throw it away.”

    • The Arisaka Type 99 had a bolt cover as well that reciprocated with the bolt. There’s a myth that Japanese soldiers discarded it because it rattled. Actually, the covers were fitted and serial-numbered to each individual rifle and only rattled if you put them on a different one.

      I’d say that considering the environment of Manchuria (which sits right between North Korea and Eastern Siberia…), a bolt cover to keep said environment out of the workings would be a good idea.



      • Yup. The reason for most “trophy” Arisaka rifles losing their bolt covers is because someone ripped out the bolts and the bolt covers before shipping the rifles to America (after which many gun collectors tossed the bolt covers). To American gun-makers, all weapons of a particular series which have interchangeable parts should be mixed and matched without problems at all (they’re supposedly all the same). To Japanese gun-makers of the 1930’s, each weapon was unique and must never have been given parts from other weapons, since each weapon was hand-finished at the end of the production line (even the last ditch rifles were hand finished and given a proper urushi coating on the stock to prevent wood rot).

      • Eon:

        I agree. Discipline in the Japanese Army was fierce to say the least. I cannot imagine many Japanese soldiers would have had the nerve to discard any part of their rifle. It would have led to a severe beating if not worse.

        • The Imperial chrysanthemum over the chamber wasn’t just there for looks. It designated the rifle as the Emperor’s property, just like the chrysanthemum on the prow of every Imperial Japanese Navy warship up to and including battleships and aircraft carriers designated them as the property of the “Living God”.

          A Japanese soldier did not disrespect the Emperor in any way, and certainly did not disrespect His Highness’ weapon, which had been entrusted to said soldier.



          • Sadly, many people out there don’t do their homework about “the other team” and make stupid assumptions. Some even believed that the Japanese were literally a breed of yellow monkeys. Then they got beheaded after losing THEIR ENTIRE BASE to the Imperial Japanese Army in one hour’s worth of battle. Before that they actually mutilated a few Japanese scouts to death and used their desecrated remains as photo subjects, posing with them like hunters would pose with a dead deer.

          • “Some even believed that the Japanese were literally a breed of yellow monkeys”
            Ok, but it must be remembered that enemy depreciation was one of basic tools of 1940s propaganda, surely U.S. artists often depicted Japanese caricaturally, just one example: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2mzyap
            but then it also true for other powers/adversaries see:
            https://vimeo.com/104018771 for caricature of Duce (at 1:55) or second image from bottom here: https://warspot.ru/12071-vesyolye-kartinki-warspot-tsvetnye-chernila-artura-shika too see caricature of Reichsmarschall Göring

            “photo subjects, posing with them like hunters would pose with a dead deer.”
            This might shows lack of respect to enemy or someone thinking “that would be funny” without thinking of consequences or both.
            Something photos are published, which you later wish to never happen. Modern example might be “Scout Snipers with SS flag” and from 1940s see The Ideal German Soldier: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_Goldberg
            so to say it short: mischling was face of one of Nazi recruitment poster.

  2. Whatever the State created by Zhang Zuolin was, I doubt anyone ever called it a republic. There appears to be no name give to it in Wikipedia (Manchuria is a Western name for the area), but he is defined as a ‘warlord’ and ‘fiercely anti-Republican’.

    The fact over 100,000 of these guns were built shows his State had an industrial base, and Zhang Zuolin’s had some notable achievements, but his economy collapsed and he was assented by the Japanese Army (by being blown up) in 1928.

    It’s a fascinating story, and one where the interplay of modern weapons and state power and collapse is much sharper than it usually seems.


    • The story of his son and successor Zhang Xueliang is equally interesting. Much to the surprise of the Japanese, he switched sides to the Chinese Republic (Kuomingtan) and even had two Japanese-leaning officers executed in a mobster movie style dinner party event. In 1936 he forced Chiang Kai-shek to an agreement with the Chinese Communists by arresting him in Xi’an until he agreed to work with the Communists against the Japanese. He then freed Chiang, who put him under house arrest for 50 years, first in mainland China and then in Taiwan! In 1994 he emigrated to Honolulu, where he died in 2001 at 100 years of age.

      Zhang Xueliang is considered a national hero by the PRC for his actions during the Xi’an incident. Nevertheless, he refused to visit mainland China even at old age, despite pleas, due to his association with the Kuomingtan.

  3. This is surprisingly well made rifle, I’d say quite “un-Chinese”. Even very recent production rifles coming from that land – such as pattern 81 (basically AK with short stroke piston) are rather crude.

    • If this sounds like a generalization, I’d like to take an exception since I did not see enough of Chinese made rifles. For example, the civilian version of QBZ95 sold in Canada is not bad when comes to workmanship (although the layout/ ergonomy is odd).

  4. The treaty which ended the First World War for Austria was St Germain, not Versailles, but I am sure the terms were equally onerous.

    I find it interesting that Steyr were working on an improved Mauser design, given that it was not an Austrian military rifle. Would they have sold it to the Germans? I assume it is chambered for 7.92mm, which again, was not the Austrian standard round.

    I was struck by how tiny the notch in the rear sight was. Given that the design was meant to be combat improved, I am surprised that they did not go for an aperture sight instead, but perhaps the configuration of the bolt precluded that.

    I am not surprised that this rather fine rifle was produced in Manchuria, as that was one of the more economically advanced areas of China, which was no doubt why the Japan decided to annex it. It shows the high standards which Manchuria could produce at the time.

    Another fascinating insight into a truly forgotten weapon.

    • Steyr produced Mauser rifles for Mexiko, Columbia and Chile in 1913/14. A big number was confiscated in 1914 and used bye the Austro-hungarian Army in the war.

    • “Steyr were working on an improved Mauser design, given that it was not an Austrian military rifle. Would they have sold it to the Germans”
      According to http://hungariae.com/Maus14.htm
      After the turn of the Century the Steyr factory started to turn out new designs with more effective modern cartridges for export purposes. These rifles included the 6.5mm Greek Mannlicher-Schönauer M1903, the 7mm Serbian Mauser M1910 and the 7mm Chilean and Mexican Mausers. During rifle testings at Steyr they found various advantages over the Monarchy’s then currently used M95 rifles, including better ballistics with the new cartridges. Early in 1914 the Viennese Technisches Militärisches Komitee was researching for a modern cartridge with a new rifle for the Monarchy….

    • The round aperture type rear sight is traditionally NOT in use in Central Europe. They used instead notch, be it v-type or parallel slot. I believe same applies for current CZ assault rifles production.

    • St Germaine left the state sector army of the newly shorne Austria, with fewer arms (especially heavy arms) than the thugs of the Austrian social democratic party had.

      The joint Kingdom of Hungary actually briefly ended up under a Soviet, that lasted for a few days before it collapsed.

      Otto Bauer, leader of the Austrian social Democrats (don’t confuse Bauer’s social democrats with the likes of modern day west European social Democrats, Bauer’s sort believed that once the democratic vote had happened, the killing fields of marx’s “war communism” would begin, and Soviet size mass graves would be dug and populated)

      Bauer got talked out of going for a power grab by his friend from Eugen von Böhm-Barwerk’s seminar, Ludwig von Mises. Bauer never forgave Mises for persuading him.

      Mises also enjoyed the coffee houses of Vienna with the father of modern sociology, Max Weber.

      Weber had been sent by the Hungarian Soviet to negotiate trade with Austria (with von Mises). Both men knew that the Soviet would collapse after a few days, and spent their time talking philosophy economics and sociology over good coffee while they waited for that inevitable collapse.

      Bauer fled from the anschluss with the party funds

      And iirc was assassinated in Paris.

      His little sister is probably better known. She was Freud’s “Dora”
      Freud had previously successfully and secretly treated the Bauer’s father for syphilis.

      Back to Austria itself

      The newly shorne Austria experienced an inflationary boom under the interview was “gold exchange standard”

      von Mises recognised what was happening and managed to stop it before it became a crack up boom (“hyper inflation” like Hungary and Weimaraner experienced).

      He then nursed the insolvent banks on for another decade, and later (after fleeing to America ahead of the Nsdap invasion of France) wished that he hadn’t wasted his efforts.

  5. I’ll see if I can get a friend who’s from Northern China to fill in some of the history

    At least from a PRC state sector school history perspective.

    My current understanding is that imperial Japan was used by The united state and the british iperial powers as a regional proxy force to keep the Russian imperial Project largely to the North side of the Amur River.

    The demonisation of the imperial Japanese project came later, when standard oil was greedily eying the British controlled oil production from Burma.

    Incidentally, Mao began his political thuggery as a koumintan nationalist

    And Shek’s son was aeay at school in Moscow (where Stalin used him as a hostage)

    There are fewer differences between the Maoist and Chekist dynasties than there might appear to be in the lame stream histories.

  6. The lack of and bolt sleeve detent is interesting.

    The detent comes into its own when the safety is in the mid position
    The nose of the cooking cam is cammed back clear of the holding notch and something is needed to positively index the bolt sleeve, as the bolt can still be opened and cycled with the safety in the mid position.

    Fortunately the bolt sleeve retains the gas deflecting flange, and it blocks the bolt from going home if the bolt Sleeve is miss aligned.

    Early versions of the howa bolt action sporting rifles, had a bolt sleeve without any flanges. If the bolt sleeve was accidentally rotated with the bolt open

    Pushing the bolt handle forward to feed a round, could result in the cocking piece catching on the safety catch lever
    That could cause the striker to be pulled far enough back before releasing it, for it to fire the round that was entering the chamber before the bolt was locked

    At least one person lost their thumb with an out of battery firing Of a howa. Howa now offer a bolt sleeve with external lugs to prevent that happening as a free replacement. The Manchu Mauser already has the flanges, but far better to have the detent as well.

    The flange attachment of the bolt sleeve and firing mechanism is interesting. Both the Krag and Jorgensen and it’s (their) predecessor, the Jarman, used flange attachment rather than threads at an earlier date.

    I’m going to have to get a better look at the protective vented sleeve over the striker spring

    It’s also interesting that the striker doesn’t have the lusual ahead Of the mainspring flange, that prevent a mauser 98 striker from going forward if the bolt is unlocked
    Even if the striker has broken (usually due to repeated dry firing).

    All in all, anot incredibly interesting rifle.

    • I detest autoincorrect!

      I think that the price realised at auction is about right. What anumber interesting rifle!

      I’m looking at it again

      The cut out at 12 o’clock on the receiver ring to allow the Hungarian round plus its mannlicher clip to enter the magazine…

      Suggests that the tooling was already set up, before this variant.

      The cutout in the ring is beautifully executed, it blends in perfectly with the left receiver wall.

      All in all a beautiful gun.

      Well done to whomever the new owner is.

  7. Is there any reference that describes the breeching sethe up of this rifle?

    Does it use a flat faced breech end of the barrel (with or without the Mauser 98 inner collar) of a mauser design?

    Or a counterbored barrel like an arisaka type 38?

    I forgot to mention the type 38 having an annular lug to retain its bolt plug and the striker and striker spring as well

  8. I actually have one of these with a broken stock and missing the bolt. I did not know what it was until I watched this video. Can I use a standard 98 bolt? What caliber were these available in? Any help would be greatly appreciated keep up the great work Ian!

    • From what I’ve read, most were made in 8x57mm IS.
      Following the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, some were made new and others re barrelled for 6.5 x 50mm Japanese and perhaps also for 7.7mm Japanese.

      There may also have been some that had the magazine shortened and got re barrelled by the Chinese Communists for 7.62x39mm

      The link to the post in the “world war 2 after world war 2” blog that one of the crew linked to earlier in the comments, gives a good run down of the work which was done on these rifles during their long service life with the various invaders and occupation forces in Manchuria.

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