The Ballester-Molina was designed to be a more economical pistol to produce than the 1911A1, which had been adopted by Argentina as the Pistola Sistema Colt Modelo 1927. It was produced by a company called HAFDASA, an Argentine franchise of the Hispano-Suiza firm created by Arturo Ballester and Eugenio Molina in 1929. The pistol was finalized in 1937, and production ran from 1938 until 1955. At that point, it was supplanted by new domestic Argentine production of the 1927 Colt.
Until 1940, the pistols were actually marked “Ballester-Rigaud”, named after Rorice Rigaud, the French engineer who headed the design program at HAFDASA. After he left the company, the name was changed to “Ballester-Molina”. The guns were used by a wide variety of Argentine military and police organizations, and 8,000 were purchased by the UK for use by Special Operations Executive during World War Two. These British contract guns fall between serials 12,000 and 21,000, and have a B-prefix additional serial number on the right side of the frame.