Ballester-Molina Semi-Automatic Service Pistol
The Ballester-Molina represented a localized Argentine attempt to produce an effective .45-caliber manstopper with reduced costs.
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The Ballester-Molina was a locally-produced Argentine offshoot of the hugely successful American Colt M1911 semi-automatic service pistol. The M1911 - copied the world over through both legal and illegal means - formed the basis for many-a-pistol design after its inception prior to World War 1 (1914-1918) and Argentina became just one of many nations to also find value in the proven system. The sidearm was manufactured by Hispano Argentina Fabrica de Automoviles SA (HAFDASA) of Buenos Aires, Argentina and around 113,000 examples were produced from the period spanning 1938 to 1953. One of the more notable operators of the product became the British whose special forces employed the type in World War 2 (1939-1945).
Only a few internal differences mark the Ballester-Molina from its American cousin.
Prior to the adoption of the Ballester-Molina, the Argentine Army relied on the Mannlicher M1905. After introduction of the Colt M1911, the Argentine government moved in to secure the new semi-automatic pistol in 1916 and designated the weapon as "Pistola Automatica Modelo 1916" ("Pistol, Automatic, Model 1916"). Similarly in 1927, once the improved M1911A1 had become available, the government purchased versions of this newer model under the designation of "Pistola Automatica Modelo 1927". Such was the success of the Modelo 1916 and Modelo 1927 that, with help from the Colt concern, Argentine officials secured the rights for local production of the M1911 out of Buenos Aires and set up a manufacturing facility soon after. This allowed the Argentine Army access to a legitimate man-stopper with reduced procurement costs.
Within time, there was thought given to devising a more localized form of the M1911A1 to better suite Argentine military needs. The resulting weapon was a close copy of the Colt though with a few varying details. The weapon came to be known as the "Ballester-Rigaud" and, after 1940, was regarded as the "Ballester-Molina". It could also be identified as the "HAFDASA" after the initials of the manufacturer ("Hispano Argentine Fabrica de Automoviles SA"). Both the Ballester and HAFDASA names could be found printed along the slide.