• 1942-44 Ballester-Molina (HAFDASA)

    1942-44 Ballester-Molina (HAFDASA)
    “British Contract” .45 Automatic

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    1942-44 Ballester-Molina (HAFDASA) “British Contract” .45 Automatic

    Calibre: ...................... .45 ACP
    Barrel Length: ............. 5 inches (127mm)
    Action: ....................... Semi-Automatic
    Weight........................ 2.26 lbs (unloaded)
    Capacity: .................... 7 + 1 rounds.
    Qty mfg: ..................... Between 8,000 and 10,000 (estimated)

    Sources: ....................

    Cruffler.com: Historic Firearm of the Month: September 1999 (click here)

    Guns Magazine; Feb. 2001 - Argentina's BALLESTER-MOLINA PISTOL (click here)

    1942-44 Ballester-Molina (HAFDASA)
    “British Contract” .45 Automatic

    (12 picture virtual tour)

    Observations: by RangeRover (click here)
    Note: Pics provided courtesy of RangeRover –(photos taken by Bill B ....... thanks Bill)

    Created in Argentina in 1929 to build automobiles and engines, Hispano Argentina Fabrica de Automoviles Sociedad Anonima (HAFDASA), included among their staff a pair of engineers, the frenchman Rorice Rigaud, and Carlos Ballester Molina. These two ultimately became the chief design engineer and Chief Executive Officer, respectively, of the firm.

    After winning a contract with the Direccion General del Material del Ejercito (DGME), or General Directorate for Army Materiel, to supply the Argentine military with trucks, buses, and engines, the DGME later commissioned HAFDASA, in the 1930s to begin designing and building small arms.

    After building two carbines in 1936, the company was asked to produce a pistol in .45 ACP similar to the Modelo 1916 and 1927 Colt pistols then in service and to have barrels and magazines that were interchangeable with those pistols.

    Browning’s design for the .45, as well as design elements and features from the .45 calibre Star Model P were adjusted and factored into the design of the HAFDASA .45 with the main changes to the Colt design being the elimination of the grip safety, a backstrap integral to the frame, and a pivoting trigger with a side mounted sear bar and disconnector.

    As a result, though it looks a lot like the Colt M1911A1, only the barrel and magazine are interchangeable with the Colt pistol.

    The HAFDASA pistol was first adopted as the Argentine Army service pistol in 1938, evolving in name, markings and small features from "Pistola Automatica Calibre .45 Ballester-Rigaud, Modelo DGME 1938” to "Pistola Ballester-Rigaud" and some time between 1940 and 1942 to "Ballester-Molina.”

    In 1940, the British Purchasing Commission visited the Americas to buy war materials and placed an order for between 8,000 and 10,000 .45 calibre pistols.

    After the end of the of the British Contract, HAFDASA continued to produce pistols for Argentine government and commercial usage until 1953. It is believed that HAFDASA produced between 80,000 and 90,000 .45 calibre pistols.

    The “British Contract” Ballester-Molinas

    Production of the British Contract pistols started in 1942 and continued until mid-1944.

    Many of these pistols apparently wound up in the hands of England’s top-secret Special Operations Executive (SOE).

    “The Special Operations Executive (SOE) (sometimes referred to as "the Baker Street Irregulars") was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was initiated by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on July 22, 1940, to conduct warfare by means other than direct military engagement. Its mission was to encourage and facilitate espionage and sabotage behind enemy lines …It was also known as "Churchill's Secret Army" or "The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare" and was charged by Churchill to "set Europe ablaze." The SOE directly employed or controlled just over 13,000 people. It is estimated that SOE supported or supplied about 1,000,000 operatives worldwide. (source: Wikipedia: “SOE”)

    According to the Guns Magazine article, “Secret agents of the SOE, carrying Ballester-Molina pistols, were dropped behind enemy lines in occupied Europe, working closely with local resistance forces to make life tough for the Nazis and their collaborators.”

    Others were apparently issued to members of the British 8th Army fighting in the North African desert.

    British Contract pistols can be identified by the placement of a contract serial number prefixed by a "B" on the right-hand-side of the frame, above the trigger guard, while the overall production serial number on the contract pistols moved from the side of the frame to run vertically up the side of the backstrap. The British contract .45s fall between the 12,000 and 21,000 serial number range.

    Production Figures:

    “British Contract”: 8,000 –10,000 (estimated)
    Overall .45 ACP production by HAFDASA 80,000 – 90,000 (estimated)

    The Pictured Pistol:

    The depicted firearm is a typical example of a British-contract Ballester-Molina, in that it has the “B” prefix contract number along with the Ballester-Molina production serial number along the side of the backstrap.

    The pistol features a highly polished blue-black finish, and the original and distinctive hardwood stocks, which have 19 vertical separations.

    The magazines have the manufacturers stamp, an "HA" inside a diamond.

    Pistols have been found both with, and without, British Proof marks. The proof marks usually being seen on those examples sold out of military service onto the civilian market. The proof marks show up as stampings in the frame as well as in the barrel where it is visible through the ejection port. The pictured pistol does not have any proof marks.

    Collector's Comments and Feedback:

    None available as yet ......
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 1942-44 Ballester-Molina (HAFDASA) started by Badger View original post
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. gaucho9's Avatar
      Found one of the British contract type with the B serial number and the British required proof (7 tons) on the barrel. Plus the original holster with its lanyard...

      Thanks for you comments that tought me how to recognize it.
      Warning: This is a relatively older thread
      This discussion is older than 360 days. Some information contained in it may no longer be current.
    1. RangeRover's Avatar
      Congratulations, and glad the listing helped. You should post some photos of your B-M here on milsurps, as pictures of these .45s are in short supply on the Net. It would be great to see your holster and lanyard as well.
    1. alamo308's Avatar
      I could not find an exactly appropriate thread or topic to post this in, so figured I'd post this here, and then move it if someone suggests another location?

      Just today received my one and only Ballester-Molina, found on gunbroker.com, with all matching s/n, including the original magazine. I immediately disassembled it for cleaning, but - wow - there is nothing to clean!
      I mean, except for a tiny bit of feed marks on the chamber feed ramp, and a few miniscule scattered minor scratches (surface only, not gouged into the metal), it's practically mint-clean. Kind of dry throughout, so I will apply a thin film of oil where needed.
      Issue-marked "GENDARMERIA NACIONAL" next to the very strongly stamped Argentine crest. Hard-to-see, what might be a little holster wear on the very front corners of the slide. Overall, it appears to have only been fired a very few times. I suppose 'beautiful' might be too strong a word to describe it, but this really is one clean pistol! Anxious to try it at the range. Fits my M1911A-1 magazines like a glove, too.
      And, BTW, I removed the perfect-condition original grip panels for safe-keeping, and replaced them with a very nice, brand-new pair of 1911A1-style wood grips with the double-diamond pattern.
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