I don´t know if this is the right forum to show this one but this time I really need some help here. A couple of month ago I trade some militaria items (a German M43 Police Cap and another German NCO peaked cap from a Pionier unit) for this pistol – which I actually know almost nothing. Shame on me. But now I finally take some pictures to post here.
When I got this one I thought that it was a Astra Model 901 but a closer inspection shows that it isn´t. But it´s Spanish for sure (typical Eibar proofs), chambered to 7,63mm Mauser and has a fire selector. The only name that I could find was “ROYAL – Patent Nº 105614”. According the letter “D” stamped just above the right grip it was made in 1931. But that´s all I managed to discover!
Although the gun it´s not in perfect shape, showing extensive use (Spanish Civil War???), it is so difficult to find any gun with fire selector that I decided to go ahead and make the trade. So I decided to post its pictures here to see if someone could put some light over it.
Your pistol is a Mauser Broomhandle spanish copy from the Beistegui Hermanos factory. It was called "M.M.31" for Modelo Militar 1931 and was a select fire pistol in 7,63 mm Mauser Caliber. It was a very close copy of the Mauser 1896 pistol with mechanical improvments and select fire option. Beistegui Hermanos started to built copies of the Broomhandle in 1927 behind the trade mark "ROYAL" especially for the chinese market in a time when Versailles treaty prevented Waffenfabrik Mauser from manufacture such guns. In spite of a poor quality, these guns were a commercial success in China, especially when an automatic version was created. In 1929, Beistegui Hermanos had got a great experience in the Broomhandle manufacture and decided to built a new version wich production started in 1930. This pistol, the M.M.31 was mecanically totaly different from the Royal and very close to the real Mauser. The quality was high grade, with first class imported Böhler austrian steel. It had the usual 10 shot fixed magasine alimented with stripper clips and the select fire lever in the left of the frame as your pictures show. Approximately 10000 M.M.31 were manufactured before a new version with detachable magasine replaced it. The serial numbers run from the end of the Royal production, near 23000 to 33000.
With the Astra 900, it is the more common broomhandle copy of the spanish civil war.
Your version has less common markings as "Royal" is stamped in the right side of the frame. Majority of the production bears a "M.M.31" marking in an oval but some specimens keeped the old mark "Royal" when they were selled in countries where the older models of the firm where famed and appreciated.
I hope this could help you, for more details, I recommend you the book "Las pistolas espanolas tipo Mauser" de Artemio Mortera Perez.
P.S: Sorry for my english...
An other detail, your pistol has been manufactured in 1931 as the "D" letter on the left side of the frame indicate.
Concerning the use of the M.M.31, it was extensively used in China and in both parts of the spanish civil war but production had ceased near 1934 due to political restrictions in the guns laws in Spain.
Unlike his competitors, the Astra broomhandle pistols, the M.M.31 had never been bought by the germans during WWII.
On the other hand, numerous M.M.31 were confiscated by french military police when the defeated spanish republican army entered in France in 1939. Those guns were stocked in all the Gendarmerie centers of the border remaining there during german occupation till 1942. At that date a lot were stolen and used in the resistance maquis. That's all I know about the use of these pistols.
Many thanks for you help. It was decisive to help me to understand what I have in my hands. Very interesting information concerning its use by the maquis. I also become interested on the book you mentioned.
Douglas, you'll find detailled informations about your M.M.31 pistol in the book:
"LAS PISTOLAS ESPANOLAS TIPO MAUSER" (Spanish langage).
Author, Artemio Mortera Perez, QUIRON EDICIONES in Valladolid, Spain. I don't remember their website but you'll easily find it with their name. They are very kind and they sent me the book in France where it wasn't available.
I recommend it to you and it maked me discover those fascinating weapons. Good reading!
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