Spanish Ruby pattern semi-autos

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by cointoss2, Mar 4, 2003.

  1. cointoss2

    cointoss2 Guest

    Bob In St Louis
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    (2/2/02 5:05:32 pm)
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    OK - twice now I have had a long dialog typed on this subject, and my computer has frozen and dumped it. I will need to type shorter segments, and save it as I go.

    The Eibar region had numerous small firearms firms prior to WWI. They had developed the Eibar pattern semi-auto in 32ACP (often identified as the 1914, 1915 or 1916 model) and pattented in Europe the Browning design. As WWI approached, the French government saw a need for more small arms, and contracted with Gabilondo y Cia to supply their "Ruby" pistol. As the need increased, the French government increased their order, and Gabilondo y Cia started subbing work to other manufacturers in the region.

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    Crusty Cruffler of Fine Spanish Pistols - Eibar Rules!

    Bob In St Louis
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    (2/2/02 5:12:42 pm)
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    Gabilondo y Cia (later to become Llama) subbed work to four other firms, including Esperanza y Unceta (later to become Astra). The French arsenals saw a need to differentiate the pistols, so letter coded the pistols on the left side of the slides (e.g., "EU" for Esperanza y Unceta). They also marked magazines on the base with these letter codes to match the pistols as there was enough variance that they were not all interchangeable. The French also proofed the pistols on the base of the grip with a star on each side of the mag well. Also, some of the pistols had knobs welded on the left side of the frame so the holster was pushed out away from contact to the safety lever when the pistol was holstered. It seems that numerous Frenchies shot themselves in the leg because they had their finger on the trigger when they holstered them, and the safety lever was brushed over to "fire".

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    Crusty Cruffler of Fine Spanish Pistols - Eibar Rules!

    Edited by: Bob In St Louis at: 2/2/02 5:38:45 pm

    Bob In St Louis
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    (2/2/02 5:20:00 pm)
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    As WWI progressed, the French government rapidly increased their orders for pistols. Before long, approximately 28 firms in the Eibar region were producing the pistols, and approximately 15 other firms were producing limited numbers or supplying parts and slides for the pistols. The quality of these pistols ranged from excellent (such as the "EU" pistols) to poorly made.

    After WWI, the French surplused out a lot of these pistols. A lot of them were pakerized at this point, and a large number were sent to the Finns (dang Finns bought guns from nearly every other country in Europe!). Many of the Eibar region firms converted production over to copies of S&W and Colt revolvers for sale to the South and North American markets. Some firms continued to make the Eibar pattern pistol for commercial sales - such as Royal, Paramount, and some that were not marked as to manufacturer. Some firms just closed their doors, and others went to making bicycles or typewriters.

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    Crusty Cruffler of Fine Spanish Pistols - Eibar Rules!

    Bob In St Louis
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    Posts: 1757
    (2/2/02 5:26:17 pm)
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    Some of the Eibar pattern pistols in my collection:

    Royal
    Ruby (4)
    Alkartasuna (6)
    Liberty
    Reistola Hermanos
    Garate Anitua
    Victor Berne
    Eibar pattern, not marked to manuf. (2)
    Paramount (4)
    Stosel
    Beistegui Hermanos (2)
    M. Zulaica y Cia
    Azanza y Arrizabalaga
    Hijos de C. Arrizabalaga
    Heco Arrizabalaga
    Princeps
    Esperanza y Unceta (3)

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    Crusty Cruffler of Fine Spanish Pistols - Eibar Rules!

    jeeper1
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    (2/2/02 5:27:49 pm)
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    You can also add to your posting by using the edit function as well as the way you have been doing.
    The Curio and Relic Firearms Forum

    Bob In St Louis
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    (2/2/02 5:30:37 pm)
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    I would have liked to go into a lot more deatil, but I was typing fast and furious, and saving quick as possible to avoid the dreaded freeze and computer dump. If you have any questions on markings, history, etc. - please ask. These are robust little pistols, and good shooters. Most of the poorer quality ones never made it into modern times, so most of the ones you find are still good shooters. I am always looking for other markings or manufacturers of these pistols, if anyone runs across them.
    Crusty Cruffler of Fine Spanish Pistols - Eibar Rules!

    Boogalou
    Member
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    (2/2/02 7:14:04 pm)
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    Thanks for the info Bob. From what I understand, the reason Spanish pistols have gotten a bad rap over the years is because of the cheap Ruby's that were made for the French by those smalltime manufacturers that thought they could make a quick buck.

    Bob In St Louis
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    (2/2/02 7:39:31 pm)
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    Another factor that gave the Spanish made firearms a bad name was the revolvers made between WWI and WWII. The majority of the Spanish market was South America. The militaries and police forces in South America specified black powder load revolvers to be compatible with their older inventories - even though smokeless powder had been around for awhile. So, a lot of these revolvers were made for 32-20 and 38 S&W in blackpowder loadings. The manufacturing process allowed the usage of softer steels for the lighter loadings - why upgrade to new machining for old style production? In later years, as these Orbeas and other revolvers trickeled into the US, people fired them with modern loadings. After a short while, they quickly wore out and shook apart. Ipso facto - crappy Spanish stuff.
    Crusty Cruffler of Fine Spanish Pistols - Eibar Rules!

    walter in florida
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    (2/3/02 10:17:45 pm)
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    To Bob in St Louis: I have a Le Basque Ruby pistol made by Eulogio Arestegui of Eibar. I plan to hold on to it because it only cost me 60.00. Also have a 32 20 revolver with GH trade make on the frame near the release could GH stand forGuisasola Hermanos? ( cost 50.00)

    procrastinator
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    (2/3/02 10:46:05 pm)
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    Welcome Walter. Where at in Florida?
    Bob is the man when it comes to Spanish Steel!!
    The Curio and Relic Firearms Forum

    Bob In St Louis
    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
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    (2/4/02 8:00:39 am)
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    I am at work right now, and don't have my references handy. I will try to look it up tonight and get back to you. Most of the time when you have an "H" as the second letter, it is a Hermanos - lots of firms started by brothers.
    Crusty Cruffler of Fine Spanish Pistols - Eibar Rules!

    Bob In St Louis
    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
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    (2/4/02 11:06:00 pm)
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    The 32-20 revolver was likely made by Garate Hermanos in Ermua Spain - next door neighbor to Eibar region. Garate Hermanos was a major revolver producer in that region prior to WWI, particularly in the Velo Dog pattern. During WWI, they joined the rest of the firms of that region producing the Ruby style semi-auto. Subsequent to WWI, they returned to the revolver manufacture, particularly the S&W patterns in 32-20 and 38 S&W. They seem to fade into obscurity in the late 1920s. It would be a safe bet your revolver was made shortly after WWI, as the revolvers produced in the 1920s normally had "Garate Hermanos" in the legend on the top of the barrel, or on the left side of the frame. The revolvers manufactured right after WWI carried over the two letter coding practice (GH) up until 1920 or 1921.
    Crusty Cruffler of Fine Spanish Pistols - Eibar Rules!

    walter in florida
    Member
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    (2/5/02 12:35:35 am)
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    Thank you Bob: The right side of the barrol says ano l924 Made in Spain. To those, what part of Florida do I live? I live about 20 miles northeast of Orlando in Seminole County. I do not have a FFL or C&R, so my collection is not too great. I was planning to sell off some of long guns but my daughter said don't. She hates guns, but she said that I enjoy them too much. Again thank Bob for the info.

    gun runner john
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    (2/5/02 9:32:46 am)
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    If you're going to collect more than a couple gun in a three year period, the C&R is a great investment! You also get trade discounts at a number of the large suppliers, Brownells and Midway to name two that you should recognize.


    velvetnsteel
    Member
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    (2/7/02 10:01:40 pm)
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    Bob, would the Star Model B like SOG has this month be an acceptable place for me to start my collection of these Spanish pistols? Thanks.

    Bob In St Louis
    *TFF Senior Staff*
    Posts: 1804
    (2/8/02 7:55:24 am)
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    Yes, I noticed they have them on sale this month - I was thinking of ordering a couple of them myself if I can swing the cash.
    Crusty Cruffler of Fine Spanish Pistols - Eibar Rules!
  2. DJForrestA

    DJForrestA New Member

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    Brand new here and my first post. I haven't lurked at all so if I cross some lines or disturb some unwritten rules I apologize. I am resurecting this thread to do some research on a project I have left idle for too long. My father just passed away and was a veteran of the US Navy in WWII. His ship took the surrenders of several Japanese islands bypassed during the war. On the island of Ponepe he disarmed a surrendering Japanese officer and along with a 7.7 rifle he also got a pistol that looks like these Ruby pistols I have seen pictures of. It is marked
    Automatic Pistol Cal 7.65 on the slide and underneath that it say ROYAL.

    It is really just sentimental but I would like to refurbish this firearm. As a young teenager I lost the magazine and broke the firing pin and lost one of the screws to the grips. Because it was my fathers it went with me on my battles VS Darth Vader, Alien and basically everywhere I could pack it as a 10 to 14 year old. I then just moved around with it and basically forgot about it until he got sick and ran across it going back through his memorabilia. I have 4 boys and would love to get it in working order and somewhat restore it so I can pass it on when the time comes. I know this isn't Japanese issue and he assumed it may have been taken off a Allied combatant earlier in the war before he took it off the officer. He snuck it off the ship by having a friend keep it and mail it to him when he was discharged in early 1946. I would love some help on this project as I have drawn a blank. Any help you could provide or parts sources would mean more than you know. I know these are not valuable to the common buyer but this one even in its sad condition could't be bought for all the money in the world from me. Thanks and Happy new year.

    Forrest
  3. Dick

    Dick New Member

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    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    I have a Spanish Ruby pistol. It is a "Martian" The marking is MB in an oval on the left side. I traded for this gun in 1955. Have never shot it much as I need to find a clip with the "MB" on the bottom. Many of these guns wouldn't fire properly unless they had a matching clip. Mine is in quite nice condition. Would appreciate any comments. Thanks.
    Dick
  4. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Gosh, I wish Bob was still around, maybe I'll see if I can contact him.

    I had the pleasure of meeting him and seeing his collection, and I have NEVER seen such a collection of Spanish cra...er PISTOLAS in one place!

    Literally HUNDREDS (plural)of Eibars.

    Astras, Rubys, Jo Alars, you name it. He was truly THE expert...
  5. Johnc60

    Johnc60 New Member

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    Marshfield, Wisconsin
    Looks like no one has entered in a long time. Just picked up a .25 auto. No name or caliber on gun. Rampant Lion marks, Crown Over Shield, P.v, and something that looks like a bug with a G or possibly and A. Stamped Spain on the bottom. My guess is some sort of Eibar Ruby from about 1926. Any ideas?
  6. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    While some Spanish handguns of that era were reasonably well made, many of the revolvers and some pistols were not made of soft steel, they were not made of steel at all. They were made of cheap cast iron, often called "pot metal" because it was also used to make cook pots. That type of iron, once cast, can be machined, but is very brittle and when overstressed will simply come apart rather than bend or warp.

    I have seen a few of the revolvers with chambers/topstraps blown from standard loads, and one that blew with a blank cartridge. Most of the auto pistols appear to be of steel, but it is soft and parts are often not hardened properly so failure of hammer notches and sears is common. The safety on the Ruby type pistol blocks only the trigger, not the sear or hammer, so the guns can fire if dropped; the revolvers have no hammer block safeties or transfer bars.

    While some folks defend the quality of Spanish work in that era, I strongly advise against firing any of those guns, especially those with no maker's name.

    Collectability is another issue. The guns were made in such a variety under so many names, some almost romantic sounding ("THE KING AT ARMS" revolver is my favorite), that a good size collection can be built up at very low cost. It will not compete in value with a Colt or S&W collection, but it will be interesting and provide a great display.

    Jim
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2010
  7. wpage

    wpage Active Member

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    Agree with Jims assessment on this gun. Be certain to use caution with these arms. Questionable metals make them dangerous.
  8. 45Auto

    45Auto Active Member

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    The Japanese did issue Spanish pistols, along with other handguns made in Germany, etc. If your Spanish pistol was issued, it will have an inspeciton stamp in the form of a rather small Japanese kanji character stamped into the side of the frame, you will need to use a glass to get a good look at it.


    Quality: Have a gunsmith examine the pistol as far as safety for shooting. Most of the Spanish pistols I have examined of this type have been heavily made of solid steel parts. I have three of them which I shoot from time to time. After I fitted them with proper springs and magazines I found my old Spanish pistols to be extremely reliable. The steel can be soft, but this is not a big deal as long as they have not been abused. When your gunsmith examines the pistol, have the sear checked for hardness. Sometimes parts have not been hardened properly and can ware out too fast.

    Parts: You will have to ask a gunsmith to make you a firing pin, it's a simple lathe turning and faster to make than to try to find a replacement. Magazines are available for these pistols, I suggest going to a large gunshow with the pistol and ask a magazine vendor to see what he has which might fit it. Be sure the mag feed lips reach the recesses in the slide so it will work. Most of these pistols held 9 shots, so your looking for a long magazine.

    The grip screw is another gunsmith item. Maybe a hardware store will have a screw which will fit. The length of the screw may have to be adjusted with a file to keep it from going into the magazine well and blocking or damaging the magazine.
  9. Jerry in M.I. Fl.

    Jerry in M.I. Fl. New Member

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    I just became the owner of a Ruby, it's a basket case. It looks like someone took it apart a long time ago and lost a few pieces. What's there is in great shape but it's missing the recoil spring (and guide), the safety lever, grips and magazine. Any idea where I might start my search for these parts, I don't think the magazine will be that hard to find at a gun show, and if I have too I can carve a set of grips, but the spring and safety, I think I will have trouble finding. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  10. 45Auto

    45Auto Active Member

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    There was alot of hand fitting of parts on these pistols, if you order a part it may or may not fit. One place to try is Jack Fist, give them a call and see what they have: http://www.jackfirstgun.com/order.php

    I checked Numric and they don't seem to have the Ruby listed.
  11. Jerry in M.I. Fl.

    Jerry in M.I. Fl. New Member

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    Thank you, I'll try that now!
    Jerry
  12. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Interesting, but I would like to make one point. I don't know how many of those Spanish revolvers went to South America or elsewhere, but they didn't "trickle" into the U.S. - they were shipped in literally by the ton. The U.S. did not (and does not) have any proof law and so it was a dumping ground for poorly made firearms of all kinds.

    The makers deliberately copied the S&W appearance (though the internal mechanism was often closer to the Colt design) and often marked the guns "FOR .38 S&W CARTRIDGES" with "S&W" or "SMITH & WESSON" in big letters. The guns sold for a couple of dollars and nearly ruined S&W. Not only did they take away sales, but people who bought the Spanish junkers demanded that S&W repair them when (not if) they broke! Some were better than others but none, repeat none, could come anywhere near the quality of an S&W or Colt of that era, and most were just junk. I have seen several that blew up, including one whose cylinder was blown apart by a factory blank!

    S&W struck back. They copyrighted their case colored hammer and trigger. If the Spanish did the same, S&W could have the guns seized as violating copyright. If the Spanish didn't copy the case coloring, the guns wouldn't look like S&W's.

    One result is that in order to protect their copyright, S&W has to continue to use coloring on their hammers and triggers, even when the parts are made by MIM and don't need case hardening!

    As for the auto pistols, only Astra and Star were decent qualilty. Llama guns were always soft and never up to the quality of major U.S. and European makers, and they continued to use a lot of hand fitting and filing long after even the other Spanish makers went to automatic machines and interchangeable parts.

    Jim
    Jim
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