Type Semi-automatic pistol
Place of origin Argentina
Wars World War II, Falklands War
Manufacturer Hispano Argentina de Automotives SA
Weight 1,130 g (2 lb 8 oz)1,075(unloaded) g
Length 288 mm (9 in)
Barrel length 127 mm (5 in)
Cartridge .45 ACP, .22 LR
Action recoil operated, blowback (.22 LR variant)
Rate of fire Semi-automatic
Feed system 7-round magazine
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 Spanish 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 recoil-operated short semi-automatic lock-breech pistol. The locking system is a near identical copy to the Colt M1911A1, with the swinging lock that is 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 pistol that while is actually more a copy of a Spanish Star pistol rather than a 1911 Colt, was manufactured in .45 Caliber and has a few parts, mainly barrel, magazine, recoil spring, that are interchangeable with Colt 1911 parts. The Ballester Molina is a very well made and very accurate pistol. And can successfully compete with any .45 manufactured in those times. The Ballester Molinas were manufactured in Buenos Aires Argentina by HAFDASA (Hispano Argentina Fábrica de Automotores Sociedad Anonima) between 1938 and 1953. A very desirable Ballester Molina is the one manufactured for the British Government between 1942-43, Gun writer and collector George E. Arbones, who is an expert on the Argentine Ballester Molina .45 Cal. pistols, has recently donated one of those scarce British marked Ballester Molinas to the National Firearms Museum that the National Rifle Association operates at their headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. Arbones' gun related articles appear regularly in a gun magazine titled “Magnum” that is published monthly in Buenos Aires, Argentina. While the magazine is written entirely in Spanish, it is a great source of information on rare and hard to find Argentine made firearms. It is also a good source of information on other guns, both antique and modern, and publishes many historical tales, many from the Old West.
In an article published by Magnum in September 2007, about the British ordered and purchased Ballester Molinas pistols, Arbones research and collection data seems to indicate that the legend that the British bought Ballester Molinas might actually have been manufactured using steel that was salvaged from the German pocket battleship, Admiral Graf Spee after she was blown up and scuttled in the River Plate, across from Buenos Aires, is true. Another specialist, Alejandro Gherovici, dissmised instead the use of steel from the Graf Spee. The steel was likely supplied by the US to Argentina under the Lend-Lease program. Arbones article also details the use of those pistols by the British 8th Army and the SOE, and how he came about his own British marked Ballester Molinas. About 10 to 15,000 of the Ballester Molinas were manufactured specially for Britain during WW II. As mentioned above, a number of pistols was issued to agents of the SOE, in order to avoid the use of British designed weapons for undercover operations in occupied Europe and behind enemy lines. Arbones' article also shows the actual pistols that were manufactured during the Peron presidency and that carry President Perón and his wife Eva Perón names, and the ‘secret’ pistols issued to Peron’s private police force. The September 2007 issue of “Magnum” and other issues that contain Mr. Arbones articles are a must for or owners or collectors of almost any gun, but specially for owners or collectors of Argentine made Ballester Molinas, or the Argentine made Colt Sistema Model of 1927 (an exact copy of the 1911A1 Colt manufactured on Colt machinery and under Colt patents) because every know detail or markings found on those pistols is explained and pictured from time to time on the pages of the magazine.
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.