Forgotten Weapons Finds A Rifle Few Even Knew About – Chinese Liu WWII-Era Semi-Auto

    I like to think of myself as one learned in many things guns. In my “day job” role I get to interact with many designs, both new and old. Occasionally, one drops a knowledge bomb on a platform I know little about, but rarely does one drop the equivalent of a nuclear one on something I did not know existed.

    Alas, Forgotten Weapons seems to have a plethora of nukes at its disposal.

    Enter the Chinese “Liu” semi-automatic rifle, so-called as it was not formally designated, “simply referred to as the ‘self-loading rifle,'” per Ian. The General Liu moniker was applied after the designer of the rifle, who had his own interesting history. Born in the late 1800’s, General Liu had a technical inclination and moved up through the ranks to become commanding officer of a Government arsenal.

    Writing to Pratt & Whitney and seeing potential to work together, General Liu traveled to the United States and worked with Pratt & Whitney. Starting in 1914 and with a working production line in 1916, prototypes are sent to China for testing, which seemed to work well. The tooling was then packaged and shipped to China.

    Where it stalled.

    Sadly, General Liu was otherwise incapacitated and without him leading the charge, the Liu rifle was not put into production domestically. After sitting in a warehouse for years, the tooling was re purposed into other firearms.

    Those interested in learning more can check out Forgotten Weapons, their Full30 page, and if you want to own the rifle the video is on, check our Rock Island Auctions. 


    It would be amazing to see what would have happened to small arms if the semi-auto rifle was deployed in an army prior to World War I. Think of it, the Garand would be far from the revolutionary tool it is today.

    Nathan S

    One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

    The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.