Colt Clone, Or Why a Ruby is Worth $70
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Thread: Colt Clone, Or Why a Ruby is Worth $70

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    Colt Clone, Or Why a Ruby is Worth $70

    In the early 20th Century, the Eibar Region of the Basque Country in Spain had dozens of cottage industry gun makers, much like the Liege Region of Belgium where John Moses Browning was solidifying his fame in firearm design at Fabrique Nationale. And these Spanish manufacturers were not shy about producing guns which bordered on patent infringement.

    One of the most successful was the Ruby Pistol which was introduced by the firm, Gabilondo y Urresti (later Llama), in 1914. It was essentially a Colt Model M (or FN 1903) with just enough changes to avoid paying Browning for his patent rights. It even utilized Browning's cartridge, the 7.65X17mm (.32 acp).

    At the outbreak of The Great War, demand for pistols skyrocketed. Several small contractors in Northern Spain began to build the Ruby, and even spilling over into the cities of Hendaye and Bayonne of neighboring France. Interchangeability, workmanship, metallurgy were very inconsistent and the war-time Ruby developed a poor reputation. By the end of production in the early 1930s, over three quarters of a million Colt clones were built.

    Here's a well-worn Ruby. From the muzzle end, it looks much like a Colt M1903, Type III





    For those who might like to learn more about the Ruby. Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons has a nice write-up.

    https://www.forgottenweapons.com/oth...ns/eibar-ruby/

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    Now, to stay on topic for the Colt Semiauto Pistols discussion, we need to get a more complete look at this particular pistol. A well known flea-market-flipper from my town had offered this gun to a local gun shop for $75. The shop owner said that he wouldn't even pay $50.

    I took a quick look at the gun, with the magazine marking catching my eye. Without hesitationI said, "I'll give you $70." He agreed, and the deal was made.

    Not every Ruby is a $70 value, but this one was well worth it.











    The Magazine is a 1920's Type-IV with rounded follower, two tone tube, crimped base and "CAL.380" over "COLT" in small letters. It's worth more than the Ruby pistol itself.

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    And to keep it on topic. Here are a few choice comparison pictures for the Ruby and a 1918 built Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless. You can see just enough dimensional differences to avoid patent infringement, but I'm also sure that you will be able to appreciate the similarities.
















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    The gun makers in Spain didn't seem to be the least bit concerned with paten infringement.
    We had one, made by Astra that was probably an actual French service pistol. Way overbuilt for the 7.65mm.
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    Ken
    "I like Colts and will die that way"

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenhwind View Post
    The gun makers in Spain didn't seem to be the least bit concerned with paten infringement.
    We had one, made by Astra that was probably an actual French service pistol. Way overbuilt for the 7.65mm.
    That is my appreciation also, and or Colt just did not bother trying to pursue it.

    The changes from the Colt-Browning Hammerless I suspect were mostly about cost cutting, and to crank out the Ruby Pistols as fast as possible, for private purchase in the 1914-1918 War Market.

    I do not have a "Ruby" but I do have a kindred odd little Pistol about the size of a .25 Automatic, but it is in .32 ACP.

    If I can find it, I'll post a picture of it.
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    I once had a Hermanos Orbea .38 special that was, for all the world, an identical counterfeit of an S&W model 10. It was not a badly made thing, and the builder took some care in the fit and what was left of the finish. I traded it for a genuine 6" S&W model 10 that did not shoot the way I like 'em to.
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    Your deliberations about patent infringements actually are missing an important component which explains all.

    Patent law in Spain in the early 20th century was very relaxed. To validate a patent in Spain, the patent holder had to actually produce the patented product in the country within a few years, or it expired. So nobody ever worried about paying Browning. This explains not just the Ruby design’s Browning parentage, but also the numerous Webley, Colt, and S&W revolver copies manufactured in and around Eibar through the 1920s.

    Of course these guns could not normally be exported to countries where the original patents were honored; most Spanish copies of American brands ended up in Central and South America, where such guns were much in demand and nobody asked a lot of questions.

    When the French were desperately looking for tens of thousands of pistols in 1915, and Gabilondo y Uresti showed up with their Ruby design, nobody asked about patents either. And the French needed so many guns that within a short time Gabilondo had to subcontract and ultimately more than 50 manufacturers made Rubys for the French.

    The quality varied dramatically. On some, parts weren’t even interchangeable between guns from the same maker. Mine is from Arizmendi y Goenaga, one of the larger companies which made about 80,000.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Absalom View Post
    Your deliberations about patent infringements actually are missing an important component which explains all.

    Patent law in Spain in the early 20th century was very relaxed. To validate a patent in Spain, the patent holder had to actually produce the patented product in the country within a few years, or it expired. So nobody ever worried about paying Browning. This explains not just the Ruby design’s Browning parentage, but also the numerous Webley, Colt, and S&W revolver copies manufactured in and around Eibar through the 1920s.

    Of course these guns could not normally be exported to countries where the original patents were honored; most Spanish copies of American brands ended up in Central and South America, where such guns were much in demand and nobody asked a lot of questions.

    When the French were desperately looking for tens of thousands of pistols in 1915, and Gabilondo y Uresti showed up with their Ruby design, nobody asked about patents either. And the French needed so many guns that within a short time Gabilondo had to subcontract and ultimately more than 50 manufacturers made Rubys for the French.

    The quality varied dramatically. On some, parts weren’t even interchangeable between guns from the same maker. Mine is from Arizmendi y Goenaga, one of the larger companies which made about 80,000.
    Ahhh!

    Makes sense! ( Spain's relation to US and other foreign to them Patents...)

    The 'ASTRA' 300, 400, and 600 Pistols are some of my all time favorites...and, they do not appear to have emulated or borrowed anything from anybody.

    S&W added the "Made in USA" to the side of the Revolver Frames in 1921 or so...possibly this was in response to the flood of Spanish emulations to Mexico and South America and where-ever else.
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    I like the Ruby martin08.

    A Ruby .32 is one of the more offbeat guns on my "want list." One with the grip frame longer than the slide preferably. I think of all those $50 ones I looked at in pawn shops and gun shows that I put down and left behind.

    Don't have a Ruby but do have a cute little Astra M1916 .25 ACP with the neato loaded chamber indicator. It looks for all the world like a "snub" Colt Model 1908 and has proven to be as stubbornly dependable to shoot.





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    Here is the Astra manufactured Ruby. Fit and finish are very good in comparison to most makers. Note the "Star" stamps on butt next to the mag release, as this indicates French Military acceptance.

    Notice that this one also has the "SPAIN" import stamp near the safety. The gun likely made its way back to Spain after WWI, and then came to the US as surplus from the Spanish Civil War in the 1950-1960s.











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