It is intriguing to look deeper at historic arms, as it not only shows you where current arms come from but also allows you to see with what our forefathers had to work. Technology has in many respects undergone expansion and has preserved its initial shape in others (with some new flourishes). Ian McCollum tells the story of a variety of Chinese mystery pistols in this video. Forgotten Weapons: Chinese Mystery Pistols.

Ian McCollum, Forgotten Weapons, discussing Chinese mystery pistols.
Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons talks about a selection of Chinese mystery pistols. (Photo credit: Forgotten Weapons)

Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons talks about a selection of Chinese mystery pistols. (Photo credit: Forgotten Weapons)

From Forgotten Weapons:

During the 1920s and 1930s, a mixture of civil wars and international arms embargoes led to a lot of domestic guns production in China. The size and quality of industrial facilities varied significantly — ranging from enormous factories constructed with European technological aid to one-man shops merely a step or two above being blacksmiths. The weaponry created vary in quality to match.

The firearms manufactured during this period included handguns based mechanically on numerous European designs (namely Browning 1900, Mauser C96 and Mauser 1910/14). The arms display a wide range of aesthetic designs, nonsensical markings and phony evidence marks. It is almost all one-stop, simple blowback designs, chambers for .32ACP or 7.63 Mauser.

Why 32 Auto?

Fiocchi 32 auto ammunition
32 Auto is often called 32 ACP today. It was designed by John Browning and has been in production since 1899. (Photo credit: Fiocchi)

Apparently, the 32 Auto, known now as 32 ACP, is a popular chamber in these guns. While progress in ballistics today has made the 32 ACP more fun than a functional round, you can find modern pistols. Forgotten Weapons: Chinese Mystery Pistols.

None but John Browning designed the 32 ACP and it began manufacture in 1899. Originally intended for semi-automatic pistol blowbacks, it has a somewhat interesting history in use. Adolf Hitler committed the suicide of a Walther PPK chambered in 32 ACP countries, as well as Heckler and Koch’s first handgun, The HK 4, in this small round (that was back in 1967).

The round is still in use, so try one chambered in 32 ACP if you are interested in broadening your handgun experience.

Chinese mystery pistol
The pictured gun was likely inspired at least in part by the Broomhandle Mauser. (Photo credit: Forgotten Weapons)

Interesting Chinese Mystery Pistol Details

There are some special design elements on these weapons, including one used with an arm — something that Ian said was popular at the time because of rifle shipping and embargo concerns — and a second was chambered with 7.63 Mauser.

Another fascinating aspect of Ian’s discussion in the movie is that the whole absurdity of the arms frames and slides is mostly the same as the tattooing of the strange words that many people do not truly read. In essence, the Chinese handgun makers possessed a collection of English prints that were used to imitate the appearance of a modern firearm in that day. Forgotten Weapons: Chinese Mystery Pistols.

Chinese mystery pistol details
Ian McCollum points out unique features on one of the handguns he covers in this video. (Photo credit: Forgotten Weapons)

Why is history important?

Apart from the common response of history – because producers regularly try to imitate old guns – the narrative of guns is simply fun. Learning about the methods taken can be both pleasurable and enlightening, and I highly recommend watching the Forgotten Weapons YouTube channel from Ian McCollum.

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