Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Spanish Jo-Lo-Ar Pistol. It seemed like a good idea at the time.


On September 12, 1919 a Spanish gun dealer, Jose de Lopez Arnaiz, received a patent for a new invention. Arnaiz invented a cocking lever, or a palanca, as any self respecting Spaniard would call it, for semi automatic pistols. It allows the user to chamber a round and cock the pistol, all with the firing hand. Therefore the pistol could be carried with an empty chamber, but readied for use in a very short time.


Arnaiz was already a gun dealer of some reputation in his hometown and that paved the way for an interview with the Spanish gunmaking company of Hijo de Calixto Arrizabalaga. The management at Arrizabalaga liked the idea of the cocking lever and immediately decided to put it to use. Rather than design a new pistol around the palanca, they would add it to an existing one.


The pistol chosen was one that had sagging sales and was due to be upgraded already. The Sharp-Shooter pistol had been in production for 4 years but never sold very well; it's features made it and the cocking lever a perfect match. The new pistol would be called the Jo-Lo-Ar (JOse de LOpez ARnaiz)

Jo. Lo3.jpg
Arniaz, being the shrewd businessman that he was, didn't want to sell his patent for the lever, nor did he want to license it. Arniaz wanted to produce pistols bearing his name, or at least initials. To this end he set up a paper company, Fabrica de Armas y Dispositivos, to manufacture and sell Jo-Lo-Ars. Arrizabalaga would build the basic pistol and then Arniaz's 'company' would install palancas on them. 

Jo. Lo4.jpg

The largest overseas purchaser of the Jo-Lo-Ar was Peru, for use by the Peruvian Mounted Police. The palanca was real handy for a man on horseback, he could cock his pistol with one hand or even by snagging the palanca on his pants leg or saddle. The only other overseas purchaser of note was Portugal who purchased a small quantity for their use.

Spanish Antifascists with a JoLoAr pistol, July 1938.jpg
Spanish Antifascists with a JoLoAr pistol, July 1938

In 1969 Interarms Corporation found a cache of Jo-Lo-Ars languishing in Peru, bought them and shipped them back to the United States for sale on the surplus market. It is unknown how many pistols were in this cache. Many of the Jo-Lo-Ars in the United States today probably come from this Peruvian stock.

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