The Ballester-Molina was a pistol designed and built by the Argentine company Hispano Argentina Fábrica de Automotores SA (HAFDASA). The Ballester was originally called the Ballester-Rigaud (c. 1938–1940). The Ballester was designed to offer the Argentine police and military a less-expensive alternative to the Pistola Colt Modelo 1927, which was itself a licensed copy of the Colt M1911A1 (and was built under the supervison of Colt engineers). Production of the Ballester-Molina began in 1938 and ceased in 1953.
The history of the company dates back to 1929, when two Spaniard entrepreneurs, Arturo Ballester and Eugenio Molina, established a branch of the Spanish Hispano-Suiza in Buenos Aires. Some years later, HAFDASA hired two engineers, the French Rorice Rigaud and Carlos Ballester Molina, a relative of the founders. Rigaud became the chief designer of the firm, while Ballester-Molina was appointed chief executive officer. As the Ballester-Molina was designed to serve alongside the M1927 that was currently in Argentine service, it bears a striking resemblance to the Colt M1911A1. The Ballester-Molina and the M1911 share an identical 7-round magazine, barrel, recoil spring, and barrel bushing. Although many other parts appear identical at first glance, they are not. Many parts are adaptable, however. The Ballester is also known as the "Hafdasa" after the initials of the company that made it.
The Ballester-Molina was used by Argentina`s security forces. The Argentine Army adopted this weapon in 1938. The Ballester-Molina is a short recoil-operated semi-automatic locked breech pistol. The locking system is a near identical copy of the Colt M1911A1, with the swinging lock used to unlock the barrel from the slide. The trigger is single action, two stage, but pivots rather than slides like the 1911 trigger. The hammer is locked by the frame-mounted manual safety, and there is no grip safety. Overall quality is excellent. Many examples for sale on the surplus market have seen heavy use, but show little internal wear.
The Ballester Molina is a copy of a Spanish Star pistol rather than an M1911 Colt, but was manufactured in .45 ACP. It has a few parts, such as barrel, magazine, and recoil spring, interchangeable with the M1911. The Ballester Molina is a very well made and very accurate pistol, which can successfully compete with any .45 manufactured in those times.
Ballester Molinas were manufactured in Buenos Aires Argentina by HAFDASA (Hispano Argentina Fábrica de Automotores Sociedad Anonima) between 1938 and 1953.
In a September 2007 article in Argentine gun magazine Magnum about the British-ordered Ballester Molina pistols, gun writer and collector George E. Arbones` research and collection data seems to indicate the legend British-bought Ballester Molinas being manufactured using steel salvaged from the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee after she was scuttled in the River Plate, across from Buenos Aires is true. Another specialist, Alejandro Gherovici, dissmised the legend, saying the steel was likely supplied by the U.S. under Lend-Lease. Arbones article also details the use of those pistols by the British 8th Army and the SOE, and how he came to have his own British marked Ballester Molinas. About 10,000 to 15,000 of the Ballester Molinas were manufactured specially for Britain during World War II. A number of pistols was issued to agents of the SOE, in order to avoid the use of British weapons for undercover operations in occupied Europe and behind enemy lines. British contract Ballester-Molinas are identified by serial numbers in the range of 12000 to 21000, with a "B" prefix.
Arbones` article also shows the actual pistols that were manufactured during the Peron presidency and that carry the names of President Juan Perón and his wife Eva, and the `secret` pistols issued to Perón`s private police force. It also lists all known markings found on Argentine-made Ballester Molinas.
A version of the Ballester Molina chambered for .22 Long Rifle was produced for training purposes. This version was identical externally to the standard Ballester Molina, except for slide markings indicating the caliber. However, the .22 caliber version was blowback operated to accommodate the less-powerful rimfire cartridge. This version was produced in much smaller numbers, and is much rarer today. The Ballester-Molina pistol also came with an extended barrel.
- United Kingdom
- World War II
- Malvinas War
Hispano Argentina de Automotives SA
recoil operated, blowback (.22 LR variant)
.45 ACP, .22 LR
1,130 g (2 lb 8 oz), 1,075 g (unloaded)
288 mm (9 in)
127 mm (5 in)