One of the more interesting (and rare!) variations on John Browning’s iconic 1911 automatic pistol is the Obregon. Developed in Mexico in the mid 1930s, this pistol uses a frame nearly identical to the stock 1911, but has a completely different locking system. It uses a rotating barrel, like a Steyr 1912, instead of Browning’s tilting barrel system. The Obregon has several other changes from the basic 1911, including a magazine safety and a combined single-piece slide stop and manual safety.
Somewhere between 800 and 1000 Obregon pistols were manufactured in the 30s. They were intended to compete for a Mexican military contract, which they failed to garner. We are much obliged to Eric for letting us take his beautiful example of the piece out to the range:
While this particular Obregon gave us some trouble (ironically, it didn’t like Aguila ammo made in Mexico), we think the design elements are overall pretty clever. In fact, the Obregon may be one of the safest pistols ever designed, at least on paper. I can’t think of any other designs that incorporate a manual thumb safety, a magazine safety, AND a grip safety.
We do also have a copy of Obregon’s US patent (granted in 1938), which unexpectedly addresses only the gun’s controls; the rotating barrel is not mentioned at all:
US Patent 2,115,041 (A. Obregon, “Automatic Loading Firearm”, April 26, 1938)