In the turbulent years surrounding World War I, many nations experimented with upgrading the traditional bolt-action rifle. One such semi-automatic was the Chinese Liu rifle. While in charge of Hanyang Arsenal, General T.E. Liu developed a gas-operated rifle with a muzzle gas trap cap, utilizing a hinged block at the rear of the bolt that dropped down for locking.
General Liu came to America in 1914 and contracted with Pratt & Whitney to produce the machinery necessary for quantity manufacturing as well as prototype 8mm rifles for testing and evaluation at Springfield Armory. But after the machinery was loaded onto a boat bound for China, the vessel sank in transit. Subsequently, General Liu suffered a stroke, and while the recovered shipment eventually reached Shanghai in 1919, Liu's brainchild was never to see adoption and issue. This rifle, in the National Firearms Museum collection, was given by a donor whose ancestor received it from Lt. General Chiang Ting-Tzu, a member of the Chinese delegation that came to America.
Reprinted from America's 1st Freedom, April 2009.