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Argentine Pistol Info

Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 9:29 am
by RWS
Here is some basic but often asked info about Ballester Rigauds, Ballester Molinas, and Sistemas, particularly with regard to dates of manufacture and serial number locations. I'm making it a sticky for the use of the masses. -Bob

Ballester Rigauds and Ballester Molinas:
Information concerning dates of manufacture is sparse. The chart below from Alex Gherovici’s excellent book, Military Pistols of Argentina provides what little is generally known and the dates given should be considered approximations only:

Serial Number Range-------Date Range
1-12,000---------------------1938-1942 (mostly Ballester-Rigauds)
23,000-108,000------------- 1944-1953

Early Ballester-Rigauds will have “Modelo 1938” stamped on the slide. They also have checkered grips, checkered backstraps, and twenty fine retraction grooves on the slide similar to those on the Sistema. Later Ballester-Rigauds have grips with vertical grooves, horizontally grooved backstraps, and interrupted retraction grooves on the slide as do all Ballester-Molinas. The early Ballester-Rigauds are seldom encountered.

It should be noted that the serial number on Ballesters is located in two places only. One location is the left side of the arched mainspring housing and the other is the underside of the slide. This is a significant point of confusion because military issued Ballesters were assigned a “rack” or issue number in three places on the pistol. This would normally appear on the right side of the frame, top of the slide, and on the barrel hood, but they are not serial numbers. In fact, these three locations are where the serial numbers are generally located on the Sistema, but not on a Ballester-Rigaud or Ballester-Molina.

Sistema 1911A1
Sistema is shorthand for "Sistema Colt", or "Colt System". The full title is actually Semiautomatic Pistol Colt "System" Argentine Model 1927, Caliber 11.25 m/m.

As noted above, serial numbers for Sistema 1911A1's are located on the right side of the frame, top of the slide, and on the barrel hood. Use the serial number in conjunction with the chart below to find the date of manufacture which, like the above chart for Ballesters, is still estimated/extrapolated production dates, albeit a much closer approximation:

Year Made--------Number Produced-----Serial Number Range
1945---------------6,000------------------24.001 - 30.000
1946------------- -7,628------------------30.001 - 37.628
1947 --------------5,000------------------37.629 - 42.628
1948 --------------7,000----------------- 42.629 - 49.628
1949 --------------5,000----------------- 49.629 - 54.628
1950 --------------8,000----------------- 54.629 - 62.628
1951 --------------8,011----------------- 62.629 - 70.639
1952 --------------7,016----------------- 70.640 - 77.655
1953 --------------2,500----------------- 77.656 - 80.155
1954 --------------5,000----------------- 80.156 - 85.155
1955 --------------2,500----------------- 85.156 - 87.655
1956 --------------2,500----------------- 87.656 - 90.155
1957 --------------5,626----------------- 90.156 - 95.781
1958 --------------5,547----------------- 95.782 - 101.328
1959 --------------5,000-----------------101.329 - 106.328
1960 --------------2,066-----------------106.329 - 108.394
1961 --------------1,000-----------------108.395 - 109.394
1962 -------------------0
1963 ----------------600-----------------109.395 - 109.994
1964 ----------------750-----------------109.995 - 110.744
1965 --------------1,250-----------------110.745 - 111.994
1966 ----------------500-----------------111.995 - 112.494
Total: 88,494 units

Re: Argentine Pistol Info

Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 3:29 pm
by nmcollektor
Very good info. Thanks for sharing.

Re: Argentine Pistol Info

Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:05 am
by Don357
What? No info on FM Hi-Powers?

Re: Argentine Pistol Info

Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 7:38 am
by RWS
Sorry, but no. My intent was to provide info on Sistemas and Ballester Molina & Rigaud .45's exclusively.

Info on FM Hi-Powers is sometimes vague and/or conflicting and I don't know enough about them to be pontificating about their pedigree. Someone with more knowledge than me can post about the 9mm's.


Ballester Rigaud

Posted: Wed May 27, 2020 12:39 pm
by ozarkmac
I have a Ballester Rigaud that is marked for the Gendarmeria Nacional (National Security Force or Border Force, same-same I think). It may be an exception to the description provided by the OP in that although the MSH, slide, and grips contain the lines of a LATER Rigaud and it does NOT state Modelo 38, the issue number (1098) is on the left side of the MSH, the underside of the slide, and on the barrel hood.

This does not follow the location of issue numbers for military issued Ballesters as stated by the OP (right side of frame, top of slide, and barrel hood.)

I suppose it could have started as a NON military issued pistol and then the NS/Border Force added the serial/issue number to the barrel hood.

As a side note, due to the lack of Modelo 38 and the line differences, this must be a 1939 or later. Unless the changes to "later" models occurred in 1938, the first year of production. 1098 is a pretty low serial/issue number, so I'm assuming it was produced early on. Only 12,000 produced from 1938-42. I always thought it was most likely a 1938 until I read this post. Thanks for posting it.

Curious to see some thoughts on this.