The Vault

Spanish Eibar/Ruby Pistols

Back at the beginning of the 20th century, Spain had a significant number of relatively small gunmaking shops throughout its northern Basque area. The area has been known for its metalworking resources and prowess for literally two thousand years, and it is little surprise that firearms manufacture would thrive there. In addition, a loophole in Spanish patent law gave these small shops an international advantage: a Spanish patent was only valid if the device in question was actually manufactured in Spain within three years of patent being granted. The major arms designers of the time had their factories in France, Germany, Great Britain, and elsewhere, but not in Spain. So new firearms developments were, practically speaking, not patented in Spain and could be copied there without legal penalty.

One of the more successful early automatic pistol designs of the turn of the century was John Browning’s Colt and FN 1903 (which were different guns, but used the same basic design). Spanish shops quickly began making their own copies of this very popular pistol, and one of them hit the proverbial jackpot. In 1914, the company of Gabilondo y Urresti (later to become known as Llama) built a better-than-average 1903 copy called the Ruby, chambered for .32ACP and with a 9-round magazine (larger than most of these types of pistols). Gabilondo sent a sample to France, whose government was in need of a huge number of pistols for the recently-begun First World War. The French found the pistol to be well-suited to their needs (cheap and effective), and proceeded to place a standing order in May 1915 for 10,000 of them per month.

Three Spanish Ruby/Eibar pistols from various makers

Three Eibar Ruby clones – “Martian”, “Brunswig”, and “Modelo 1916″. Note differences in frame shape, sights, slide serrations, etc.

One can only imagine the Gabilondo shop receiving news of this staggering order – because at that time they had less than 10 employees (between 5 and 8, depending on which source you read). There is no conceivable way they could have produced anywhere near this quantity of firearms, but now they had a contract for them. Talk about the right kind of problem to have! In order to meet the order, Gabilondo contracted with four other gunmakers in the city of Eibar: Armeria Elgobaressa y Cia, Echealasa y Vincinai y Cia, Hijos de Angel Echeverria y Cia, and Iraola Salaverria y Cia (the “y Cia” means “and Company”). Each of these subcontractors was to produce 5000 pistols per month for Gabilondo, who would control overall QC and deliver the guns to France.By this time (August 1915) the French contract had increased to 30,000 pistols per months, and would later jump again to 50,000 per month.

The contract terms specified that the subcontractors would be fined for any failure to meet the monthly quota, and any pistols over the required 5000 would be purchased by Gabilondo at the standard rate. The early shipments of guns from Gabilondo were satisfactory to the French Army, but not surprisingly the contract terms led to a degradation of quality as shops pushed quantity over quality to maximize their profit. Still, France continued to demand more and more pistols, and the situation grew out of Gabilondo’s control. Shops around Eibar in need of work saw the French as a golden opportunity, and jumped into the fray. Some worked with Gabilondo, while many others negotiated their own deals directly with French purchasing agents. The resulting pistols had the same general configuration – .32ACP, short barrels, 9-round magazines, shrouded hammers, and safeties mounted above the trigger. None of them shared interchangeable parts (or magazines), though, and each manufacturer used its own trademark name.

For the obsessive dedicated collector, these trade names make Eibar-type pistols a virtually bottomless well. At least 45 different small companies made these pistols, sometimes marked with a company name and sometimes with names like “Liberty”, “Destroyer”, “Venus”, “Modelo 1916″, “Trust”, and others. In addition to French sales, many were also sold to the Italian Army, as that country struggled to keep up with domestic production of military pistols. Some companies manufactured the guns from scratch, while others subcontractor some or even all of the component parts to other suppliers. Production of the guns continued into the 1920s, and all in all about a million guns of the Ruby/Eibar type were made in Spain. There are a few ways to determine if a particular one was made for French WWI contract (and thus likely saw military use).

Manufacturer's code on a Spanish Eibar/Ruby pistol

Manufacturer’s code on an Eibar/Ruby pistol

Pistols made for the French Army typically had a one- or two-letter mark in an oval on the rear left of the frame. These letters identified the manufacturer, irrespective of trademark name (see below for a list of these markings). In addition, pistols were supposed to be marked with a star or pair of stars on the bottom of the frame alongside the magazine well when they were formally accepted for French service. Not all of them received this depending on how urgent the need for guns was when a shipment arrived, but it is a useful marking to look for.

French acceptance marks on an Eibar/Ruby pistol

Star markings on magazine well indicating French Army acceptance

 

The Eibar/Ruby pistols’ most distinctive identifying features are:

  • Shrouded hammer
  • Lumpy-looking safety lever above trigger
  • Longitudinal grooves around the muzzle for disassembly
  • Long 9-round magazine with heel release

Any two different makers’ version will vary in the details of other features, including slide length, slide serrations, lanyard loop, sights, magazine release, grip panels, and exact frame profile. Mechanically, they are all straight blowback and lack a last-round holdopen feature or grip safety.

One feature that can be tied to wartime service is the addition of a large rivet-looking knob on the left side of the slide. This was added to address the reported problem of tight French military holsters catching and disengaging the safety lever when the guns were drawn, and this was blamed for a number of accidental discharges. The added knob held the holster material up away from the side of the gun, and prevented it from catching on the safety. The knob was clearly added after manufacture, as it will typically cover part of the serial number or other markings on the slide.

Holster safety knob on a military Eibar/Ruby pistol

Knob added after manufacture to prevent a tight holster from catching the safety lever.

Eibar Manufacturers and Codes

Please note: We are unable to verify much of this list, as we found it copied from a since-deleted web page and we have no source for the information. It does check out when compared to the handful of Eibar pistols in our reference collection, so we provide it here to be considered suggestive but not definitive.

Military manufacturers, with associated trade names:

A: Gaspar Arizaga, Eibar – “Arizaga”, “Misdial”, “Pinkerton”, “Warwinch”, sometimes the trade names were not used
AA: Azanza y Arrizabalaga, Eibar * – “A.A. Reims”, “Modelo 1916″
AE: La Armeria Elgoibaresa, Eligobar – “Lusitania”
AG: Francisco Arizmendi y Goenaga, Eibar – “Ideal”, “Roland”, “Brunswig”
AH and AR: Acha Hermanos, Eibar or Ermunda – “Looking Glass”, sometimes the trade name was not used *Pistols marked “Looking Glass” seem to be post-WWI made*
AK: Fabrica de Armas Alkartasuna, SA, Guernica – “Alkar”, “Kapitan”
AL: Aldazabal, Leturiondo Y Cia, Eibar * – “Aldazabal”, sometimes the trade name was not used
AZ: Arizmendi, Zulaica y Cia, Eibar – “Cebra”, some may be over stamped “Beistegui Hermanos”
BA: Fab. de Bersaluzze Arieto-Aurena Y Cia, Eibar – “Allies”
BC: Victor Bernedo y Cia, Eibar – “B.C.”, “Bernedo”, sometimes the trade names were not used
BH: Beistegui Hermanos, Eibar – “Beistegui”, “B.H.”, “Bulwark”, “Libia”, “Paramount”, “1914 Model Automatic Pistol”
CU: unknown
CZ: unknown
EA: Arostegui Eulogio, Eibar – “Azul”, “E.A.”, “Oscillant-Azu”
EC: Ergulaga y Cia, Eibar – “Fiel”
EU: Esperanza y Unceta, Guernica – “Model 1915″ ( or 1916 ), “Astra Patent”, “Brunswig Model 1916″, “Victory”
GB: Gregorio Bolumburo, Eibar – “Deluxe”, “Gloria”, “Giralda”, “Marina”, “Regent”, “Regina”, “Rex”
GN: Garate, Anitua y Cia, Eibar – “Danton”, “El Lunar”, “Express”, “GAC”, “Garate”, “G.N.”, “La Lira”, “L’Eclair”, “Sprinter”, “Tigre”, “Triumph”
GU: Gabilondo y Urresti, Eibar or Elgoibar – “Bufalo”, “Gabilondos”, “Radium”, “Ruby”, “Ruby Extra”, “Tauler”
HE: Hijos de A. Echeverria, Eibar – “Vesta” (code may also be marked on slide), “Izarro”
I: Bonifacio Echeverria, Eibar – “Estrella”, “Izarra”, “Star”, “Vesta”
IG: Isidrio Gatzanaga, Eibar – “Destroyer”, “Gazantanaga”, “Horse Destroyer”, “Indian”, “Sureté”
IO: La Industria Obrea, Eibar – No trade names used
IS: Iraola y Salaverria y Cia – No trade names used
JE: Javier Echaniz, Eibar – “Defender”
LC: Laplana y Capdevila – Trade names are unknown
LH: Lasangabaster Hermanos, Eibar – “Douglas”
MA: Martin Bascaran, Eibar – “Martian”, “Thunder M1919″
MB: Fa de Martin A. Bascaran, Eibar – “Martian”
MS: Modesto Santos, Eibar … “Action”, “M.S.”
RG: unknown
RH: Retolaza Hermanos, Eibar – “Brompetier”, “Gallus”, “Liberty”, “Military”, “Paramount”, “Puppy”, “Retolaza M1914″, “Stosel”, “Titan”, “Titanic”, “Titanic M1914″, “Velo-Brom”, “1914 Model Automatic Pistol”
TM: unknown
UC: Urrejola y Cia, Eibar – “U.C.”, “Urrejola”
VD: unknown
VB: Victor Bernado y Cia, Eibar. No trade names used. *Some may have extended barrels*
ZC: Zulaica y Compania or Cia, Eibar – “Royal”, “Victory”, “Vincitor M1914″, “Vincitor M1914 No.2″, “Zulaica M1914″

Other companies making Eiber-type pistols:

Acha y Cia, Eibar … “Acha”
A. Aldazabal, Eibar * … “A.A.A.”
A. Errasti, Eibar – “Broncho”
Aguirre y Cia, Eibar – “Basculant”, “Le Dragon”
Antonio Errasti, Eibar – “Dreadnought”, “Errasti”, “Oicet”, “Smith Americano”
Apaoloza Hermanos, Zumorraga – “Apaoloza”, “Triomphe”
Apaolozo Hermanos, Eibar – “Paramount”
Arana y Cia, Eibar – “El Cano”
Ariola Hermanos, Eibar – “Ariola”
Arizmendi y Goenaga, Eibar – “F.A.”, “F.A.G.”, “Teuf-Teuf”, “Waldman”
Armas de Fuego, Guernica – “Alkartasuna”
Armero Espacialitas Reunidos, Eibar – “Alfa”, “Omega”
Aspiri y Cia, Eibar – “Avion”, “Colon”
Astra Unceta y Cia, Guernica – “Astra”, “Cadix”, “Camper”
Barrenechea y Gallastegui, Eibar – “Barrenechea”
Casimir Santos, Eibar – “El Cid”, “Vencedor”
Cooperativa Obrera, Eibar – “Longines”
Crucelegui Hermanos, Eibar – “Brong Petit”, “Bron-Sport”, “C.H.”, “Le Brong”, “Puppy”
Domingo Acha, Eibar – “Triplex”
Echave y Arizmendi, Eibar – “Basque”, “Bronco”, “E.A.”, “Echasa”, “Lightning”, “Lur-Panzer”, “Pathfinder”, “Protector”, “Renard”, “Selecta M1918″, “Selecta M1919″, “Vite M1913″, “Vite M1914″, “Vite M1915″
Erquiaga Muguruzu y Cia, Eibar – “Diane”, “Fiel”
Esperanza y Cia, Guernica – “Astra”
Esperanza y Unceta, Eibar – “Astra:, “Campo Giro”
Esprin Hermanos, Eibar – “Euskaro”
F. Arizmendi, Eibar – “Boltun”, “Guerre”, “Kaba Special”
F. Ormachea, Eibar – “Bron-Grand”, “Duan”, “Merke”
Fab. d’armes de Grande Précision, Eibar – “Bulwark”, “Colonial”, “Grande Précision”, “Helvece”, “Jupiter”, “Minerve”, “Trust”
Fab. de Armas Garantizada, Eibar – “Apache”, “Garantizada”, “Rural”
Francisco Arizmendi, Eibar – “Arizmendi”, “Roland”, “Singer”, “Victor”, “Ydeal”
G. Bolumburu, Eibar – “Bolumburo”, “Bristol”
Gabilondo y Cia, Eibar or Elgoibar – “Danton”, “Guisasola”, “Mugica”, “Perfect”, “Plus Extra”
Garate Hermanos, Eibar or Ermua – “Cantabria”, “Velostark”
Gastanaga, Trocaola y Cia, Eibar – “T.A.C.”, “Trocaola”
Guisasola Hermanos, Eibar – “G.H.”, “Guisasola”
Hijos de C. Arrizabalaga, Eibar – “Arrizabalaga”, “Campeon”, “Especial”
Hijos de Calixto Arrizabamaga, Eibar – “Sharpshooter”, “Terrible”
Hijos de Jorge Bascaran, Eibar – “Marke”, “Martigny”
Iraola Salaverria y Cia, Eibar – “Destructor”, “Iraola”, “Salaverria”
J. Arrizabalaga, Eibar – “Esmi”
José Aldazabal, Eibar * – “Imperial”
Larranaga y Elartza, Eibar – “Jubala”, “L.E.”
Lascauren y Olasola, Eibar – “El Perro”
Manuel Escodin, Eibar – “Escodin”
Manufactura de Armas “Demon”, Eibar – “Demon”
Mendiola, Eibar – “Vainquer”
Obrea Hermanos, Eibar – “Colon”, “Iris”, “La Industrial”, “O.H.”, “Orbea”, “Perfecto”
Ojanguren y Marcaido, Eibar – “Brow”, “O.M.”
Ojanguren y Vidosa, Eibar – “Apache”, “Crucero”, “Furia”, “Militar Y Policia”, “Ojanguren”, “Puppet”, “Salvaje”, “Tanque”
Onandia Hermanos, Eibar – “Onandia”
Orueta Hermanos, Eibar – “Oculto”, “Tanker”
S. Arostegui, Eibar – “Browreduit”
S.E.A.M., Eibar – “Praga”, “Regent”, “Silesia”, “Sivispacem”, “Waco”
Santiago Salaberrin, Eibar – “Etna”, “Invicta”, “Protector”, “Tisan”, “Unis”
Suinaga y Aramperri, Eibar – “S&A”
Tomas de Urizar, Eibar or Barcelona – “Continental”, “Dek-Du”, “Express”, “Imperial”, “La Basque”, “Le Secours”, “Phoenix”, “Premier”, “Princeps”, “Puma”, “Union”, “Venus”
Unceta y Cia, Guernica – “Brunswig”, “Fortuna”, “Leston”, “Liégeoise”, “Museum”, “Salso”, “Union”, “Victoria”
Union Armera Eibaressa, Eibar – “U.A.E.”
Union Fab. de Armas, Eibar – “Rival M1913″
Unknown Makers – “Aurora”, “Boix”, “Burgham Superior”, “Ca-Si”, “Cobra”, “Mosser”, “Muxi”, “Oyez”, “Peerless”, “Rayon”, “R.E.”, “Reform”, “Republic”, “Rex”, “S.M.”, “Tatra”, “Velo-Mith”, “Velosmith”, “Vilar”, “Vulcain”, “Zwylacka”
Urquiaga y Muguruzu, Eibar – “Marte”
V. Fabrica De Armas, Durango – “Vencedor”
Zuloga y Cia, Eibar – “Volontaire”
Zumorraga y Cia, Eibar – “Paramount”

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