The Eibar region of Spain is known as the center of a lot of pistol production from WWI through the Spanish Civil War, typically pistols called Ruby clones. Well, the various small gunmakers there were looking to copy more than just the Ruby. They duplicated a number of American and European revolvers, and on occasion other guns: like this copy of the Savage automatic pistol.
It’s not a mechanical copy of a Savage, as the internals are the same simple blowback as the Ruby (instead of the semi-locked rotating barrel system developed by Savage). But the exterior shape is obviously intended to pass for a Savage. Note in particular the slide serrations, barrel jacket, and safety lever.
Well it appears to be no marvel that this isn’t a true Savage pistol. The rotating barrel action required more precise machining if I’m not mistaken.
There’s a *lot* of machining that goes into making a 1907. The separate breechblock alone probably requires more machining steps than an entire Glock.
Yikes. No wonder the Savage 1907 didn’t really catch on in the end–too much expensive processing. Perhaps this is why most firearm owners of the period preferred Browning action pistols and revolvers, which were a great deal simpler?
Savage constantly kept fiddling with the design, and tried to price it competitively with the Colt, despite the latter pistol being vastly simpler to produce. Colt had Browning’s patent for a “one piece slide and breechblock that enclosed the barrel”, though, and everyone on this side of the pond had to engineer around that.
Most civilian semi-auto pistols in that period were straight blowback ones in .32 and .380 ACP (although the .25 ACP ones were also widely popular as true “pocket pistols”). In the US the .380 ACP cartridge was more popular than in Europe, which favored the .32 ACP, but even there the Colt 1908 Pocket Hammerless was much more popular than the 1903 Pocket Hammer in .38 ACP.
Notice that also COLT 1903 HAMMERLESS was available on market earlier that SAVAGE 1907, this also influenced sales of other 32 or 380, early 20th century US automatic pistols – H&R .32 Caliber Self-Loading Pistol (WEBLEY look-a-like) and Remington Model 51
Has anyone studied the metals that the folks from Eibar Spain made their firearms from? I only had a Star, and it was fine. As far as patent infringements, who knows?
The place with a reputation for using dodgy metallurgy in guns is the united state;
ref low number 1903 Springfields
also P14 and low number M1917.
I need to ask because I don’t know whether the dodgy Beretta slides were made in the united state…
and dodgy steel in ships too, eg Liberty ships snapping in half in port as soon as temperatures dropped, due to excessive sulphur and phosphorus causing embrittlement. Northern Irish steel turned out to be dodgy in that respect too.
Historically many (not all) united state steel makers have been un competitive in terms of both quality and price. They’ve only continued to exist because of high tariff barriers, preventing the supposed evil of Americans buying better quality steel at lower price.
Historically the Spanish made pretty good to downright excellent steel;
eg Toledo which was THE centre of European sword making, prior to Solingen then later Shotley Bridge and later still Birmingham producing decent swords.
I have kind of an interesting Savage in its own right. It appears to be authentic, but it has a 1917 slide and striker on a 1907 frame. To complicate things further, the frame is dated to 1919. The patina is pretty uniform throughout the gun, leading me to think it’s either a factory gun or was assembled early in its life. It’s also got bakelite grips instead of metal and it has the later magazine release, despite clearly being a 1907 frame. It does not have the swollen grip frame and the grip screws of the 1917 nor the grip safety of the 1915. The whole thing fits together and, though it’s not in great condition, it shoots well. Just thought I’d mention it and see if anyone has a clue about it.
Most Eibar made Browning type blowback autopistols were made by a combination of minimal machining and a great deal of handwork, which was done in small shops in the same towns as the factories. (NB: The Condor Legion’s infamous raid on Guernica in 1937 was due to it being one such factory town.)
Most designs followed the Browning 1903 pattern, being straight blowbacks with the recoil spring below the barrel. Only a few relatively late designs used the arrangement seen here, that of the 1910 Browning with the recoil spring around the barrel.
The most obvious “signature” of Eibar-made autopistols is the curved slide retraction grooves on many types. They were done with a cutting bit in a lathe because lathes were cheaper than end-milling machines.
The amount of shaping on this pistol would almost require a milling machine, although it could have been done by hand. The fact that this is S/N 12, and is the same example as in RIA’s reference material, tells me that probably not too many were made.
If you ignore the “faux Savage” looks of the slide and safety, the internals of this pistol are pure Campo-Giro, as with the Astra line of blowback autopistols in calibers ranging from 7.65 Browning on up to 9 x 23 Largo. (While the original Modelo 1913 Campo-Giro was proposed in 11.25mm /.45 caliber, none were ever made in that chambering to the best of my knowledge.)
In fact, the stripping procedure for this pistol is exactly the same as the Astra Model 300, except for being striker-fired instead of hammer-fired. It also lacks the characteristic Browning-type grip safety of the Astras and most of the later Browning 1910-type copies, such as the Gabilondo y Cia “Bufalo”. (GyC later made the “Llama” pistols, of course.)
As for the metallurgy of Spanish pistols, the Astras, Llamas, and Stars were made of good-quality steel, mainly due to their main customers being the Spanish army and police. (General Franco didn’t like getting shortchanged.)
Other brands, especially WW1 French contract production, are questionable at best.
BTW, the Spanish makers not only supplied 7.65mm blowback automatics to the French, they also supplied the British with double-action, break-top revolvers on the Smith & Wesson “Double-Action Frontier” model, in .455in Webley. And copies of the S&W Model 10 to the French in 8 x 27R, aka the 8mm M1892 Lebel revolver cartridge. The latter are known to French collectors as the “’92 Espagnole”.
Firing any of them is probably more dicey that firing a 7.65mm Ruby. Or this critter.
Source; Ezell, E. C. Handguns of the World, Stackpole Books, 1981. Chapter 13, “Spanish Handguns Before 1938”, pp. 535-571.
Well, if you’re going to copy or license produce something, the base for your weapon had better be simple to manufacture, easy to maintain, and it had better perform well in the intended role!
Examples of other “cheaply mass-produced local copies” include the Martini-Henry rifle, the Webley revolver series, the Kalashnikov rifle family, and the Sten. Did I miss anything?
During the Indochina/Vietnam War (1945-75),the Cao Dai in Cambodia made copies of the 1911 in .45 and P-35 in 9mm. Cao Dai P-35s can be recognized by their straight-sided slides (like the Argentine commercial High Powers of the 1990s) and separate 1911/Tokarev-type barrel bushings (it being easier to make a “tunnel” clear through the front end of the slide than a blind hole for the recoil spring).
The VC mass-produced copies of U.S. weapons like the M1 carbine, Thompson M1 ans M1A1 SMGs, and M3A1 SMG. The latter was in 9mm and had a crude but effective version of the Guide Lamp sound suppressor used by the OSS during WW2. A similar 9mm suppressed M3 clone was made in both Red China and Nationalist China; the VC version may have been a copy of one or the other.
They also copied the Sten MK II, the Garand M1, and the British/American Pattern 14/M1917 Enfield. Most of their Garand and carbine copies were not semiautomatic; they were straight-pull bolt-actions sans any sort of gas system. The SMGs, being straight blowback, were easier to manufacture as fully-self-actuating arms.
Sometimes they applied SMG principles to more “emphatic” arms. For instance, a straight-blowback 12-gauge shotgun built along Bren gun lines with a Gatling or Hotchkiss revolving cannon-type hopper feed on top.
They also did a lot of modifying of existing weapons. One formidable piece began life as a Tokarev SVT-38 rifle, altered to selective fire, modified with a shorter barrel and folding stock, and altered to use 30-round Bren magazines, which feed 7.62 x 54R perfectly well. Essentially an AK-47 with the range and hitting power of a Dragunov SVD.
And of course lots of handguns, ranging from decent copies of 1911s on down to ones that were basically “pen guns”, except in 9mm with a “pistol grip” that was an outline bent from heavy-gauge wire or maybe steel rebar. Pistols like this were mainly carried as status symbols by local VC “officials”.
Another huge source of mass-produced “improvised” firearms is the Philippines. Here are a couple of articles on the subject by an expert, Maj. J. M. Ramos;
1. Philippine Underground Workshop SMGs;
2. Armscor Rimfire Battle Guns
Guns Magazine, December 1982, has a cover featured article by Ramos, with excellent full-color cutaways of various designs. (Just in case you ever had the urge to make a fully-automatic or selective-fire, box-magazine-fed 12-gauge shotgun from scratch.) Here’s what the cover looks like;
(No, nobody is getting my copy.)
The book Improvised Modified Firearms by J. David Truby & John Minnery (Paladin Press, 1975)is an excellent sourcebook for such things, plus more “typical” homemade arms. It’s OOP, but you can probably find it on Amazon.
As Truby observes, to deprive some people of arms, you pretty much have to rip out the plumbing from their houses. Not to mention not letting them have Jeeps. (The steering column tubing of the latter apparently makes a great 12-gauge barrel.)
“Did I miss anything?”
Exist so many knock-off weapons so no-one will ever know about all.
I will only add 2 examples of factory-produced weapons:
Polish ckm wz. 30 – Browning M1917 knock-off, firing 7.92×57
Estonian Tallinn arsenal submachine gun – Bergmann / Schmeisser MP.18/I knock-off, firing 9×20 Browning Long
Also many knock-off weapons were made in China during Warlord Era, for example:
Poland bought the licence to produce them. The procees involved rebarrelling it to fit Mauser 7.92 mm. The same happened with the BAR.
“Poland bought the licence to produce them”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ckm_wz._30 states that:
it was an improved although unlicensed copy of its predecessor
citing: Erenfeicht, Leszek (2013). Ckm wz.1930
You beat me to the simillarities with the Campo Giro and its Astra successors.
Interesting. I have a .32 Ruby that keyholes at 5 yds. As you’d expect, I don’t shoot it much, but it’s interesting, too. I also have a couple of Stars, a BM and a BS, that are much nicer pistols, if less interestingly handmade.
The barrels on Ruby pistols weren’t necessarily correctly “gauged”, or even necessarily properly rifled. the French wartime contract versions were even worse quality than the “commercial” ones.
Still, a bullet that is going sideways at 5 yards is probably good enough in a trench fight where the distance between “corners” in a typical traverse is about 6 yards, maximum.
It’s not a coincidence that the U.S. “doughboy’s” preferred weapon for a trench raid was a pump-action, 12-gauge “riot gun” loaded with double-ought buckshot.
One shot was equal to emptying the magazine on a .32 automatic into the target. And there were seven more where that one came from in case his friends tried to make a rebuttal.
I hope the “rebuttal” does not include a flamethrower or a sub machinegun… And supposing the target (unless he was totally dead after getting shotgun pellets dead-center-center) tried using a “last breath bullet” to take you with him once your back was turned?
That’s why you never turn your back on a serviced target until you’re sure it no longer needs further attention.
Fortunately, a load of nine double-ought in the center chest or head generally deals with that issue right then and there.
As for a flamethrower, it’s a great weapon for either (1) keeping somebody out of your trench, (2) “sanitizing” a trench you’re about to jump down into, or (3) making sure a dugout or pillbox is thoroughly “silenced”.
What it’s not good for is when you and the target are in the same trench. Firing off a Flammenwerfer in a trench when you’re in same is a good way to fry yourself along with the intended target.
Even if you don’t get cooked, the burning kerosene rapidly uses up the available oxygen to feed the combustion process, and fills the trench with fumes every bit as dangerous as the average gas attack. Said fumes being mostly carbon monoxide (CO), they’re heavier than O2, and tend to seek the lowest places, which means the hole in the ground you’re already in.
There’s a reason German FW operators were usually seen wearing gas masks, and it had little to do with gas attacks.
The only halfway-safe way to use a flamethrower when you’re in a trench and trying to “delouse” same, is to carefully fire it around a corner between two traverses. Short burst, then pull back.
Of course, unless your intended flambe’ is a complete idiot, he’ll be expecting you to do exactly that. And either try to blow your head off when you stick it around the corner, shoot the flame projector if he sees it (which can have very unpleasant results for you), or just toss a grenade or two around the corner for you to play with.
An SMG is tactically equivalent to the shotgun. It throws a spray of slugs at close range. A shotgun vs. Bergmann Muskete engagement generally went to whoever was quickest on the trigger. There was no real advantage on either side.
Yes, I had a great-uncle who was in the Great War, and who had some rather pithy things to say about politicians and etc. who thought all that “Over the top and the best of luck” stuff was just good, clean fun.
He considered himself fortunate that after a brief interlude in trench assault with the AEF, somebody up the chain of command realized they’d made a paperwork error and transferred him to Transportation, which was where his original orders said he was supposed to go to begin with.
No, nobody in the military is immune to paperwork cockups. Not even Captains who end up as Lt. Colonels commanding entire units of Mack Bulldog trucks.
The Browning blowback style lugs beneath the barrel are shared with the campo giro and campo giro derived astras.
The Browning striker is very noteworthy. It was a feature that most Spanish copies of Browning’s, even in .25, left off,
They substituted a concealed hammer.
The cylindrical slide offers no advantages in machining, note that the slide rails are above the surface of the cylinder, so that the cylinder had to be formed by milling or on a shaper or planer.
Some prototypes of what became the Browning hi power, also used the water pistol slide aesthetics.