|Pistol||Jo.Lo.Ar||Manufacturer||HCA , OyV|
The Jo.Lo.Ar design was applied to a family of pistols in various sizes and chamberings. They were unified, however, by their unique loading choices.
Around 1919 the Spanish firm Hijos de Calixto Arrizabalaga (HCA) released a pistol known as the “Sharp-Shooter.” This gun was an external hammer, single-action, semi-automatic pistol with a tip up barrel for loading or cleaning. Because of this it had no slide serrations. The Sharp-Shooter was also unique because it lacked an extractor and instead relied on surplus gas during firing to eject the spent case.
In 1919, Jose Lopez de Arnaiz filed patent for a cocking lever fitted to the slide of a handgun. This loose attachment allowed for at least two fingers to reach and retract the slide one-handed. In 1924 he took the design to HCA, who mated it with their Sharp-Shooter and added a more conventional extractor. The Sharp-Shooter’s traditional trigger guard sat in the way of operation and was removed. The resulting pistol was named for the inventor of the lever: Jose Lopez Arnaiz.
The Jo.Lo.Ar. was produced in the standard blowback calibers, .32, .380, and 9mm Largo, as well as a few rare pieces amazingly in .45ACP. With each chambering the pistol’s overall scale and magazine capacity was changed. Our example here is a .380 with short barrel. Another firm, Ojanguren y Vidosa, also sold the pistol but we’re currently unsure if they produced it or just from HCA. Production of the Jo.Lo.Ar. stopped in 1930 and was not resumed despite Arnaiz’s attempts to market his cocking lever to Star. If you have one of these pistols you can find the date of manufacture underneath the grip panel.
In practical use the Jo.Lo.Ar. actually has a good reputation for reliability and accuracy. Because HCA took measures to fit the frame size to the cartridge they are often fairly balanced blowbacks, although larger models like the .45 can be unwieldy. Unfortunately the original bluing was not the best and most show signs of severe wear. While a neat gimmick, the cocking bar never really caught on. In order to be both accessible at rest and out of the way when firing, it has an open hinge and tends to get in the way for holstering. Breakages of this part were not uncommon. On the plus side, clearing a basic jam might have often been a one-handed operation.
While mostly sold commercially, limited numbers were sold to Portugal. The Peruvian military did obtain a good many in 9mm Largo and their police picked up a smaller lot in .380. These served with obvious benefits in cavalry roles but were otherwise unremarkable. Spain never officially adopted the Jo.Lo.Ar. but existing stocks saw use during their civil war. It does not appear that any major features of this pistol were repeated in subsequent designs and so it represents something of a curiosity of its time. This does not mean, however, that it was not important. In a sea of Eibar Type pistols, the Jo.Lo.Ar. was truly unique.