Beistigui Hermanos is probably the least known of the Spanish machine pistol manufacturers, despite being the first to actually make such pistols. Beistigui was founded in 1910 in Eibar, and was one of the initial subcontractors chosen to make Ruby pistols for the French military during World War One. The discovered a substantial market for C96 Broomhandle type pistols in China during the 1920s, and introduced their own similar looking pistol in 1926 – the Model H.
This pistol was popular, but Beistigui realized that a fully automatic version would probably be much more desirable – and they were right. They introduced such a machine pistol in 1927 or 1928, and sold 22,000 of them in China by the end of 1929. These early pistol still used the same 10-round fixed magazine as the Mauser C96, however, and were seriously limited in practicality as a result.
In 1930, Beistigui introduced an improved version of the gun as the MM31 – the Modelo Military 1931. Despite being a C96 Mauser lookalike (and deliberately trying to make Chinese customers confuse it with actual Mausers), it was a legitimately very good gun, and included a number of improvements over the Mauser. A 20-round fixed magazine version was quickly introduced, followed by a detachable magazine version, to address the issues inherent to a gun with a 10-round magazine and a 900 round/minute rate of fire. Shortly after Beistigui introduced they detachable magazine gun, Mauser began to sell the Schnellfeuer. In an excellent marketing decision, Beistigui changed their guns to use copies of the Mauser magazine, allowing interchangeability with the most respected and desirable model of the pistol in China. The gun we are looking at today is one of these last pattern MM31 machine pistols, using Mauser magazines.
By the mid 1930s, the market for these guns had pretty much collapsed. In Spain, the abdication of the king in 1931 and growing civil unrest led to much increased government regulation of arms manufacture and the Japanese invasion of China limited the ability of Japanese traders to bring the guns to Chinese markets. Beistigui made one last unsuccessful effort to market a Broomhandle type gun (the MM34) to the Spanish Guardia Civil, and then transitioned to manufacturing bicycles instead of guns.