Unblinking Eye


The Nueva Alkar 6.35mm

by Ed Buffaloe

Alkar Trademark
The firm of S.A. Alkartasuna was formed, probably in 1917, by employees of Esperanza y Unceta (later known as Astra), with the blessing of its management, specifically to manufacture 7.65mm Ruby-type pistols for the French during World War I.  The Alkartasuna factory was destroyed by fire in 1920, though the company is known to have continued in business until 1922.  According to Leonardo M. Antaris, Alkartasuna manufactured approximately 80,000 Ruby type pistols.  These guns were marked S.A.ALKARTASUNA / FABRICA DE ARMAS / GUERNICA on three lines on the left side of the slide, next to the company logo--a stylized “S” with “ALKAŔ” above it and “MARCA RDA” beneath.  The letters “AK” in an oval were stamped on the frame behind the grip.

A few other guns were made by Alkartasuna during its brief existence, including an Eibar- or Ruby-type 6.35mm pistol, and a 7.65mm pistol reconfigured to look like the 1910 Browning but which still retained the recoil spring beneath the barrel like the 1903 Browning.  Finally, the company made the Nueva Alkar 6.35mm pistol described here.

Nueva Alcar 6.35mm

Nueva Alcar with Fully-charged Magazine

The Nueva Alkar is a most unusual gun, and a clear design departure.  While based (like the Ruby pistols) on the 1903 Browning, the Nueva Alkar has a number of unique features, including a loaded chamber indicator, a grip safety, and seven numbered windows in the left grip panel that allow the shooter to see how many cartridges remain in the magazine.  The magazine has a vertical slot on the left side and a shiny brass plate attached to the bottom of the magazine follower that is visible through the windows in the grip.  The brass cases of the cartridges above the follower show through the windows, as does the brass plate itself, and as each cartridge is fired the windows darken one by one.*

The grip safety is of a design unlike any I have ever seen.  Once the gun is cocked, the grip safety must be manually engaged by pulling it back, using the serrated surfaces on either side.  When the grip safety is engaged, the hammer moves forward into a half-cock position.  In this half-cock position, the hammer and trigger are both locked.  The gun is fired by squeezing the grip safety and pulling the trigger at the same time.  When the grip safety is squeezed, the hammer moves to the rear, and when it reaches a certain point the trigger is unlocked and the gun can be fired.  After firing the first round, the grip safety remains disengaged, and the single-action trigger pull is quite light.

The loaded chamber indicator is a small lever beneath the extractor, the forward end of which is pressed outward when there is a round in the chamber.  At the rear of the lever is a small protuberance which is depressed somewhat when the forward portion of the lever is pushed outward by the cartridge.

Nueva Alcar slide lock plunger

Slide Lock Plunger

The Nueva Alkar has a unique method of locking the slide open.  There is a small plunger in the grip tang on the left side of the gun.  When the grip safety is forward (disengaged) this spring-loaded plunger is forced up and out of the way, but when the grip safety is pulled all the way back, this plunger is free to move downward.  When the slide is pulled all the way to the rear at the same time as the grip safety, this plunger moves down into a hollow on the underside of the slide rail, locking it open. Difficulty is sometimes encountered in disengaging this little plunger--I have found that proper lubrication helps a lot..

The Nueva Alkar features the company logo on the left side of the slide, along with the legend AUTOMATIC PISTOL MODEL NEW “ALKAŔ” on one line.  The serial number is on the left side of the frame, above the trigger.  The right side of the gun is unmarked, except for the word SPAIN stamped on the trigger guard bow.  The grips are hard rubber, marked CAL 635 and NUEVA ALKAR.

According to Juan L. Calvó, the Nueva Alkar pistol was later marketed under the brand MANUFACTURA DE ARMAS DE FUEGO - GUERNICA, which name was stamped on the left side of the slide.  The company is described by Calvó as the successor to Alkartasuna.  The Alkar stylized “S” logo on the left side of the slide remained the same.  I have located a photograph of one of these later pistols, which appears to have been slightly redesigned, but I have been unable to examine one in person.  The grips are simply marked ALKAR / CAL 635, and the grip windows are enlarged for better cartridge visibility.  There appears to be a difference in the left rear grip tang, so it is possible that the slide lock mechanism was redesigned to make it easier to disengage.  The gripping surfaces on either side of the grip safety were changed from vertical serrations to a small round area on each side with checkering.

Field Stripping

  1. Remove the magazine and clear the chamber.
  2. Pull the slide all the way to the rear, then let it ease forward about 2 or 3 millimeters.
  3. Twist the barrel a quarter-turn (or perhaps a little more) counterclockwise (as you face the front of the gun).
  4. Ease the slide and barrel off the front of the frame.
Nueva Alcar Components

Nueva Alcar Components

Unfortunately, the slide does not lock open at the correct point for turning the barrel, so you have to hold it open with your left hand while twisting the barrel with the right.  I usually wear a leather glove on my left hand in order to grasp the slide firmly enough to hold it back against the force of the recoil spring.  Do not engage the safety while the gun is disassembled, as this will allow the slide- lock plunger to descend and block the slide from going all the way to the rear on the frame.

I urge caution when handling these guns.  I had a round fire when I was chambering it, even though I was careful not to have my finger on the trigger.  I may not have pulled the slide back quite far enough for the sear to fully engage the hammer.  Fortunately, I was outside with the gun pointed in a safe direction, so the bullet just went into the dirt.  And, most of important of all, my wife wasn’t home--she frowns on shooting guns in the backyard.  The incident, along with the very light trigger pull, indicates to me that the sear or hammer cocking notch may be inadequate, or possibly worn.  The gun’s design requirements may have exceeded Alkartasuna’s precision manufacturing capability.  It is a very interesting, if somewhat overly-complex, design.

*  Gaspar Arizaga also produced a pistol, called the Pinkerton, with windows on the right grip for viewing the cartridges, but I believe it appeared after the Nueva Alkar.

Copyright 2009 by Ed Buffaloe.  All rights reserved.
Click most small photographs to open a larger version in a new window, & to see additional photographs.


Astra Automatic Pistols, by Leonardo M. Antaris.  FIRAC, Sterling, Colorado: 1988.
Pistols of the World, by Ian V. Hogg & John Walker.  Krause, Iola, WI: 2004.
Pistolas y Revólveres de los Años 1920’s, by Juan L. Calvó.
Spanish Handguns, by Gene Gangarosa.  Stoeger, Accokeek, MD: 2001.

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