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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. 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.


Thanks to Eric for letting use his beautiful example of the Obregon for this video!


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)

7 comments to Obregon

  • patrick stiles

    The Obregon is very interesting. Do you guys still have it or did you brow it from the owner? out side of the safety needing to be a little stiffer how did it handle. does it feel like a 1911?

  • Hi, I was reminded of this pistol with today’s posting of the Savage, and the note that it has a much shorter lock time, and sharper recoil, leading to less comfort, control and accuracy.
    In the detailing of this, the Obregon, I note the form of locking would appear to provide as long a “lock time” as a conventional link operated .45, and suggest this model should provide a similar feel and function, as well as accuracy meeting or surpassing the 1911.
    Can you address a comparison of the function and features common to these two similar pistols, which are clearly also with substantial differences in operating character even using similar principles?
    Semper Fidelis,
    John McClain
    GySgt, USMC, ret.

  • David

    Even though Colt 1911 .45acp mags work in the Obregon. They are not the same….the follower is different. There is a center hump in the middle of the follower….running the length of it. I have one….if anyone is interested.

  • Mike

    I believe that some Obregons were bought and used by OSS and SOE in operations in Spain and South and Central America during WWII, partly because they were deniable, being not from Allied sources.

  • Mike

    Possibly also they were going cheap after the Mexican contract didn’t materialise?

  • I could use the mag for mt Obregon if you still have it pat 509 952 1889

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