among the first flintlocks
continuing a recognized hmoob design
Reviving a Tradition
Li Siab Nyiam
Custom Requests and Commissions
Have a specific piece of wood you want to use? A piece of ntoo thwj suab you want to impregnate with synthetic resins so it can be hard enough to serve as the stock? Certain caliber, barrel length, or taub txhaj khaum shape? We've heard it all—let's talk, kom ua tau li qhov koj lub siab yuav nyiam.
19th century Hmong flintlock from Houaphanh Province, ແຂວງ ຫົວພັນ, Laos
18th century Hmong priming flask from Guizhou 贵州, China
18th century Hmong powder horn from Guizhou 贵州, China
National Geographic January 1974, Laos, likely Teu La Village
Li poj ua cia yawm ua tseg
Li peb HMoob ib txwm tau ntaus thiab
sib tim ntau niaj ntau xyoo los lawm:
Thee ntoo zes qaib / ntoo xab kum tsab (三脚架)
Sign-up for limited spots
at our next public meet-up:
8 phom HMoob available for use.
Lasts approximately 2 hours.
Each meet-up limited to 24 people.
Safety equipment (PPE) provided.
Dates & Places:
TBD: St. Paul, MN.
TBD: Milwaukee, WI.
TBD: Fresno, CA.
TBD: Sacramento, CA.
TBD: Charlotte, NC.
General Vang Pao gifts a HMoob flintlock
to a commanding American officer of the
Secret War, circa 1980, USA
Peb Hmoob Rab Phom
Zaj Keeb Kwm
History of the Hmong flintlock
As one of the first cultures to discover gunpowder, Hmong (HMoob) people have been talented gunsmiths for a very long time. Starting in the 18th century, the Hmong were one of the first cultures to adopt flintlock technology, and one of the very few to do so in East Asia. While the vast majority of East Asian cultures, including even the Han Chinese, the largest culture, largely never made the transition from matchlock technology, Hmong blacksmiths and gunsmiths innovated, creating a unique design that they sold all around the world. Today, centuries later, Hmong flintlocks remain in many collections, including even one in The U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson Library. These flintlocks were one of the many different goods that Hmong people sold, making them lucrative and vital business men and women who formed the primary trade network connecting China to Southeast Asia through the treacherous mountains separating the two—the Hmong knew that terrain best, hence why the CIA enlisted the Hmong to help the USA fight in the Vietnam war above all the many other ethnic groups in that area. The Hmong were innovative blacksmiths and gunsmiths who created simple yet elegantly designed guns, lucrative business men and women who influenced trade throughout Southeast Asia, and extremely talented musicians who created the only musical whistled language in the world today—something that linguistics and neuroscience is only beginning to unravel. The Hmong have a long history, rich in tradition—today, that tradition continues at Gaur, where our flintlocks continue to serve as a symbol of Hmong resiliency.
A highly prized game animal by
HMong hunters is our namesake
"Nyuj qus yog tus zoo li cas?"
Nyuj qus, literally translating as "wild cattle" from Hmong, is known as the "gaur" in English. Gaur are the fourth largest land animal—only elephants, rhinos, hippopotamus, and giraffe consistently grow heavier. Talented Hmong hunters with seemingly supernatural hunting powers are called "maum pha," and typically viewed only three animals to be of higher value than the gaur: the rhinoceros, the elephant, and the tiger. Gaur were hunted in part, due to the desire for their extremely large and beautiful horns, which Hmong people crafted into exquisite powder horns. Stories are told of maum pha who had coj neem tua nqaij and used khawv koob to be able to find consistent hunting success. Today, due to over-hunting and habitat destruction, the gaur is considered a vulnerable species, and thus is legally protected. Therefore, it is no longer ethical (nor legal) to harvest gaur horns—all our newly-made powder horns are created from ethically sourced domesticated buffalo/cattle horns. However, we occasionally do find and can add genuine antique gaur powder horns to our collection for sale (intrastate only)—these are exceptionally rare.
Brothers Nchaiv Yias Yaj (left) and Paj Lis Yaj (right), Laos, early 1950s
frequently asked questions
"Are these firearms functional?"
—Yes. We have used them hunting with great success—in fact Hmong people have for many generations ;) Any nonfunctional antique will be described as such in its description.
"Can I use modern smokeless powder in these guns?"
—NO. Absolutely not. And doing so, can and will seriously hurt, and even kill you. Flintlock guns are designed for black powder ONLY—absolutely no exceptions whatsoever. NONE. No amount of modern smokeless powder is ever safe–EVER–no matter how small that amount might be. We cannot repeat it enough: NEVER ever ever EVER use modern smokeless gunpowder in these firearms. EVER. Black powder is the only safe powder to use. DO NOT USE SMOKELESS POWDER–EVER–YOU WILL GET SERIOUSLY HURT. The vast majority of antique firearm injuries result form this very unsafe practice. Black powder only—no exceptions.
Are these guns legal, or are they considered "ghost guns?"
—They are legal in the United States: flintlocks are considered "Antique Firearms," and not "Guns," by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and under the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968, and thus are federally unregulated. Therefore, you do not need any paperwork nor background checks for purchase. However, this does NOT apply in the jurisdictions of New Jersey, Illinois, Washington D.C. and New York City, where flintlocks are, per local law, considered "Guns" and thus must be registered. Therefore, we cannot ship to you if you live in New Jersey, Illinois, Washington D.C. or NYC—any orders to a home address in these jurisdictions will automatically be cancelled and refunded. As a disclaimer, please check your local ordinances and statutes to ensure compliance with all laws. We do not sell outside of the United States—all international orders will be automatically cancelled and refunded.
Why are they so expensive?
—Every piece we sell is either a genuine Hmong antique and/or handcrafted and/or restored over the course of many hours. As such, each piece demands a price-point that reflects its rarity. With all that said, every firearm we sell is also a work of art and we are confident that you will find each piece more than worth its asking price.
What is your return policy?
—Because of the nature of firearms, we cannot accept returns except in cases of damage/lost due to shipping and handling. In such instances, issues must be addressed within 48 hours of package arrival. All packages are shipped signature required in order to ensure delivery.