Spanish Blue Steel

M1913 & M1913/16 Campo Giro

   By Cliff Carlisle

In the 19th century the Spanish military placed very little value on the pistol and considered them as a secondary weapon.  By the beginning of the 20th century it was obvious to them that the rest of the major military powers were evaluating & adopting semi auto pistols for their military forces.

After a series of trials the decision was made to adopt the Theodor Bergman Mars Pistol #6 as the Pistola Bergmann de 9mm Modelo 1903 as a service pistol.  This pistol was chambered for the Bergman Bayard cartridge, a 9X23 that the Spanish called the 9mm Largo (Long) to differentiate it from the 9X19 Luger round.  After evaluating the first few pistols received the Spanish military requested changes in the design of the safety.  These changes resulted in the M1908 Bergman.  It was adopted by Spain in 1909.  The Spanish military issue Bergman Bayard M1908 pistols have the army acceptance stamp of a 3 pointed star in a circle stamped on the frame & slide.

While this search for a military pistol was going on Don Venancio Lopez de Ceballos y Aguirre, Conde del Campo-Giro, was working on a pistol of his own design.  The Count of Campo-Giro was a retired Spanish army Lieutenant-Colonel.  The M1904, his first design to have a prototype made, was in 9mm Largo and was tested by the military.  This design was modified into a locked breech pistol, also in 9mm Largo.  25 of these were tested by the Spanish military as the M1910 but it was not adopted.  This model was further modified into a blow back design that used a heavy recoil spring & a buffer instead of a locked breech.  This design was adopted by the Spanish military as the Pistola Campo-Giro, de 9mm, mod. 1913 on 24 September 1912.

The M1913 Campo Giro.  This pistol had a unique magazine release.  The lever located behind the trigger guard is the magazine release.  Pushing it from left to right would release the magazine.  Only 1300 of the M1913s were produced making it a fairly rare pistol.

During the production of this model the Count was working on improvements to the design.  The magazine release was moved from behind the trigger to the bottom of the left grip frame in the magazine cut out, the frame design was changed to eliminate the step (in the photo above note the step behind the magazine release & above the crown in the grip), the grips were changed to be retained by 2 screws instead of 1 & the shape & design of the safety was changed.  The redesigned pistol incorporating these features was adopted as the Pistola Campo-Giro, de 9mm, mod. 1913-16.

The M1913/16 Campo Giro, left side view.

Right side view.

Photo of the markings stamped on the left side of the frame.  The Spain marking was a requirement of the US 1890 Trade Act that required all firearms imported into the US to be stamped with the country of origin.  The Act was amended in 1923 to require “Made in” to be added before the country of origin.  This pistol, from Astra records, was manufactured late in 1919 & delivered to the Spanish military on 5 January, 1920.  From the Spain marking, instead of the Made in Spain, it was imported into the US prior to the 1923 change in the trade act.
Photo of the marking stamped on the top rear of the slide.  These markings are the same on both the M1913 & the M1913/16.  Note that the rear sight is part of the pistols bolt.

Photo of the re-located magazine release.  This is actually very handy.  The left thumb pushes the release up as the thumb & finger grasp the serrations on the bottom of the magazine body and pull it out.

Photo of the M1913/16 disassembled.  Note the size of the recoil spring & the buffer spring & plate under the barrel.  The pistol is easy to take apart if you have 3 hands.  The locking wedge is shown between the slide & bolt.  This is beat up and/or scratched on most of the pistols, including this one.  To remove the wedge the firing pin must be pushed in to free it from the notch in the wedge.   If this is not done, the wedge will not come out.  For disassembly, make sure the magazine is empty & no round is in the chamber.  Insert the magazine until it locks in place.  Pull the slide to the rear.  The magazine operated slide stop will hold the slide to the rear.  Using all 3 hands, hold the pistol, use a tool to push in the firing pin as far as it will go &  with a different tool push the wedge out from right to left.  After the wedge is removed the slide must be pulled to the rear just enough (about 1/16”) for the bolt to clear an internal lug.  The rear of the bolt includes the rear sight.  While holding the slide to the rear this 1/16”, use the sight to rotate the bolt 90 degrees counter clockwise & then let the slide return to the locked position.  Now, tightly grip the slide & frame with one hand.  The recoil spring is strong.  Place your second hand over the rear of the slide to catch the bolt.  With your third hand, remove the magazine.  If you are holding on tight with all hands, none of the parts will fly across the room.  Reassemble in reverse order!
The magazine has 2 unusual features.  The serial number is applied to the follower instead of the magazine body and the tab normally found at the bottom front of a magazine is located at the rear.  It would appear that the sole purpose of this tab is to prevent the magazine from going to far into the frame.  The magazine is removed by grasping the semi circular serrations on the sides at the bottom.

By 1920 the Spanish military had decided that a more modern semi auto pistol was needed.  After more trials the Astra 400 was adopted as the M1921.  Of the original 1300 M1913 Campo Giro pistols produced only 960 were delivered to the military.  These were all received by August, 1914.  The first M1913/16 pistols were contracted for in December 1916 & delivered in 1917.  The last ones were made in 1919 & delivered to the military on 5 January 1920.  A total of 13,625 were produced with 13,178 going to the Spanish military.  The Spanish military procured ones have the 3 pointed star in a circle proof stamped on the left tang.  Both models were limited production & very collectible.

References;  Handguns of the World by Edward C. Ezell
                   Astra Automatic Pistols by Leonardo M. Antaris