WWII British SOE HAFDASA Argentine Ballester-Molina 45 ACP, 1942-1944 C&R
SOLD FOR: $2552
Make: Hispano Argentina Fabrica de Automoviles SA (HAFDASA)
Model: Ballester-Molina Pistol, British Contract
Serial Number: 19208, the British inventory number applied to this pistol is B.5693
Year of Manufacture: 1942-1944
Caliber: .45 ACP
Action Type: Single Action Semi-Auto Pistol with Removable Magazine
Markings: The left side of the slide is marked “PISTOLA AUTOMATICA CAL. 45. FABRICADA POR “HAFDASA” / PATENTES INTERNACIONALES “BALLESTER-MOLINA” / INDUSTRIA ARGENTINA”. The left side of the backstrap and the flat on the underside of the slide are marked “19208”, the barrel’s right link lug is marked “208”. The right-rear of the slide and frame are each marked with a crowned “GP” British proof, the barrel at the chamber has British commercial proofs.
Barrel Length: 5”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a short, rounded blade fixed to the top of the slide. The rear sight is a “U” notch dovetailed into the slide.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are brown hardwood with vertical serrations. The right panel has cracks at the top and bottom edges, each extending down to the screw hole. There are a few scattered light nicks and scuffs. The serrations are well defined. Overall, the grips are in about Good-Very Good condition.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Refinished
Bore Condition: The bore is bright with sharp rifling. There is no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 96% of its current metal finish. The finish is generally strong throughout. There are a few scattered minor nicks, minor handling wear in the grip areas, and light operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to lightly tool marked with strong slots. The markings are mostly clear, some of the British proofs are shallow or poorly struck. Overall, this pistol is in Fine condition as refinished.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. This pistol is equipped with a frame mounted safety and a half-cock hammer safety. The slide is tight to the frame. The trigger pull is crisp. We did not fire this handgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This pistol comes in a two-piece cardboard craft box with a hand-written label and a single 7 round blued magazine. The magazines shows light operational wear, intact feed lips and a strong spring.
Our Assessment: In 1916, Argentina ordered 10,000 Colt 1911 pistols for their military, and liked them so much, they began building their own version under license from Colt, known as the Colt Systema Modello 1927. In 1929, a branch of the Spanish car maker Hispano-Suiza was started in Buenos Aires named Hispano Argentina Fabrica de Automoviles SA, or HAFDASA, by Arturo Ballester and Eugenio Molina. By the 1930s, Argentina was looking for a cheaper version of the Systema, and turned to HAFDASA.
Two HAFDASA engineers, Rorice Rigaud and Carlos Ballester-Molina, designed a new pistol based on the Star Model B that would use the same barrel, magazine and recoil spring as a Colt 1911, and look and handle the same, so that no new troop training would be required. The pistol was adopted by the Argentine Army in 1938, and those pistols manufactured between 1938 and 1940 were known as the “Ballester-Rigaud”. The main differences between the HAFDASA and a Colt 1911A1 were an integral mainspring housing, and the grip safety and slide stop disassembly notch were eliminated. The pistol was an immediate success and was soon adopted by not only the Army, but the Navy, police forces, and coast guard. They were also exported to Latin American countries without their own arms making plants, such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru.
In 1940 the name was changed to the Ballester-Molina, and at least 8,000 and possibly as many as 15,000 were sold to the British government for use by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during WWII. This was part of a deal between the Argentine and British governments; Argentina needed higher quality steel than they could provide domestically and the British were loath to sell their precious steel in wartime if it wasn’t going to contribute to the war effort. A deal was made to sell steel to Argentina in exchange for completed pistols being shipped back to England. While the Argentine company HAFDASA obviously was willing to sell arms to the British, the Argentine government was determined to remain neutral, only severing diplomatic ties with the Axis powers in 1944 and not declaring war until 1945.
This is one of those Ballester-Molina’s purchased by the British with a B-prefix British inventory number applied to the frame and British proofs on the frame, slide and barrel. It is in about Fine condition as refinished. The bore is bright with sharp rifling and the pistol’s mechanics are still strong. With no import marks, this pistol made it into the US sometime before 1968 and is an interesting piece of WWII history. This one also comes from the collection of author Kevin Williams, best known for his exceptional work on the topic of General Officers Pistols & Clandestine Organization Pistols of WWII. Please see our photos and good luck!