The original HMoob flintlock design.
Uniquely HMoob. Recognizable tradition.
among the first flintlocks
continuing a recognizably and uniquely hmoob design
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 are still recognizable in many collections, including even one in The U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson Library. The Hmong word for flintlock is “phom phiaj kab," literally translating to “high carbon steel frizzen gun," or less commonly known as “phom zeb ntais," literally translating to “knapped flint gun." 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 elegant designs—including unique matchlock (phom xyab) and caplock (phom kej) guns as well, lucrative business men and women who influenced trade throughout Southeast Asia, and extremely talented musicians who created the only musical 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 each and every one of our flintlocks continue to be hand-forged just like they were hundreds of years ago.
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? I've heard it all—let's talk, kom ua tau li qhov koj lub siab yuav nyiam.
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, muaj ntau niaj ntau xyoo,
los txog niaj hnub niam no lawm
Thee ntoo zes qaib / ntoo xab kum tsab
Reviving a Tradition
A highly prized game animal by
hmoob cov maum pha
"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 largest living species of bovine on the planet, and among the largest of all living land animals—only elephants, rhinos, hippopotamus, and giraffe consistently grow heavier. The gaur was one of the two species of wild cattle Hmong hunters sought after—the other being the banteng, known as "nyuj qus liab," "nyuj qus daj," or "nyuj qus dag." Talented hunters with seemingly supernatural hunting powers are called "maum pha" in Hmong, 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. Superstitions are told of maum pha who had coj neem tua nqaij and used khawv koob to be able to find consistent hunting success in the vast virgin forests of Asia. 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 to harvest gaur horns–all our powder horns are made from ethically sourced domesticated buffalo and/or cattle horns–but the Hmong sij huam (stories) of the nyuj qus and maum pha is where our namesake "Gaur" comes from.
Brothers Nchaiv Yias Yaj (left) and Paj Lis Yaj (right), Laos, early 1950s
frequently asked questions
"Are these guns actually handmade?"
—Yes, every gun I sell is carefully handcrafted and assembled by me over the course of approximately 40 hours.
"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. I cannot repeat it enough: NEVER 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.
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. So you do not need to do any paperwork or 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, still considered "Guns" and thus must be registered. Therefore, I 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. Purchases in there jurisdictions must be done through an FFL dealer. As a disclaimer, please check your local ordinances and statutes to ensure compliance with all laws. Currently, I also cannot sell outside of the United States—all international orders will also be automatically cancelled and refunded.
Why are they so expensive?
—It takes me about 40 hours to make each gun, not counting the drying time for wood oiling and finishing. I must also account for the cost of the raw materials needed to make each gun, shipping and handling charges, additional fees for postal insurance in the case of damage or loss, etc., which all warrant the asking price. With all that said, each firearm I sell is also a work of art; I am confident that you will find each piece more than worth its asking tag.
What is your return policy?
—Within 30 days of receiving your firearm, if you are not fully satisfied, I will refund you in full minus the cost of shipping and handling, and shipping insurance. This is the cost of the gun minus $150. Example: you will receive a $1,850 refund on a purchase of $2,000.
Sign-up for very limited spots
at our next public meet-up:
Each meet-up limited to 25 people.
Lasts approximately 2 hours.
4 flintlocks available for use.
May 14: St. Paul, MN.
May 28: Milwaukee, WI.
June 21: Fresno, CA.
June 28: Sacramento, CA.
July 5: Charlotte, NC.
General Vang Pao gifts a HMoob flintlock
to a commanding American officer of the
Secret War, circa 1980, USA