In 400 BC the Chinese invented what is believed to be the first ever repeating weapon, a crossbow known as the Chu Ko Nu. It didn’t need to be reloaded between each shot. Some 2400 years later, Morris Models is offering the first known simple-to-build kit version – although ours is demilitarized and fun-sized. What we have created is an easy to build kit for about a 1/3 sized model that fires harmless paper coffee stirrers. The body is laser cut from Baltic birch and the bow is made from bamboo – the same material historically used. With a range around 30 ft, our model can provide hours of fun, both indoors and outdoors.
I became aware of this weapon several years ago when my son became heavily involved in “Age of Empires 2” – a real-time strategy game that lets you direct and replay historic battles across most of civilization. One day he asked if the ancient Chinese really invented and built “machine gun crossbows” hundreds of years before the time of Christ. Like most people, I had never heard of the device. I was fascinated, and began researching. I found that this semi-automatic repeating crossbow was in use from around 400 BC until as recently as the so-called Boxer rebellion. The device, they claimed, allowed even scholars or women to defend their own homes. Using drawings, descriptions, and photographs, I designed and built my first Chu-ko-nu within days. It was as amazing as it sounds, and many cardboard boxes fell victim to its rapid-fire capabilities. (See the bottom of this section for free plans and videos of construction of my earlier full sized versions.)
Since that first creation several years ago, I have concentrated on simplifying the design and on miniaturizing it enough to make it into something that can safely be considered a toy and used indoors. This kit is my third generation model. It is about one third the size of our more historically accurate prototypes. Featuring easy and reliable construction, it fires readily available and relatively harmless paper ammunition. As far as I know, this is the only readily available Chu-ko-nu kit ever offered.
The 24 minute video below shows the entire construction process from start to finish, with a couple of 15 minute breaks to allow the glue to set. Please watch enough of the video to verify that the construction process is within your comfort zone before you buy.
MEDIA for kit:
- Plans Download
- Promo Video from Kickstarter (see above)
- Construction Video (see above)
Media from Original Version
- Plans – Note: Free plans provided with no liability accepted. Use of plans is waiver of liability.
- Construction Video