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Discussion Starter #1
When it came out, the American shooting public for some reason just didn't seem to care.

But man, what an AWESOME little pistol, almost looks like it was designed by JMB himself. The upper half looks Sig-ish, and the lower half looks kinda like a Star model B. Single action with pivoting trigger gives a downright decent trigger pull of just under 5lbs with a pretty crisp break. Sights are small but stand out good. The shape and feel of the grip is simply outstanding, especially for the ladies. In fact, I've never seen a pistol with such universal love from the female gender. Literally every last time I've taken a woman shooting and I've had an Astra A-70 it was their favorite, and often I get offers to buy the gun. One time, about 15 years ago, I let the lady talk me out of my beloved Astra A-70.

Now that my little 105lb 12 year old daughter is a handgun shooting fan I decided it was time to get another Astra A-70. She just lit up the target when I put my LW Commander .45 in her hands, so I knew if I put a gun with even better ergonomics and nearly as good of a trigger, in a more size appropriate package into her hands that magic would happen; and I was right. When I brought it home, it was a cold drizzly day outside. I said I had something to show her. She pulled out the magazine and drew back the slide (just like dear ole dad taught her), without me even having to remind her. The first thing she commented on was how easy it was to operate the slide. After checking it, she took a good grip, assumed a two handed firing stance and let a dry one go. She looked at me and said "load up a magazine…I know it's cold and wet outside, but I gotta shoot at least one mag through it." Who was I to deny her. After the first 4 rounds kicked a can 4 consecutive times, she just turned to me, smiled and said, "This one's mine daddy." That was my intention all along. I'll probably keep it as my car gun, but when we're out at the range, it's hers.

She really wants to personalize it, so I may have to find some extra grips because she wants to Duracoat her grips lime green…hey, she's a girl, what can I say.

Guys, I'm here to tell you; if you can find one, and they're not easy to find. This is one of the best bargains going in a defensive pistol. My first pistol saw thousands of rounds, and this one has already seen hundreds, with many different bullet weights, sizes, and shapes…she just gobbles them all up and clusters bullets into a group worthy of any Browning Hi Power or 1911. They typically go for around $300 when you find them because most people don't realize the quality of Astra. For some reason the American shooting market thinks Spanish pistols are junk, and I'm cool with that; more Star's and Astra's for me (you can have the Llama's with a couple of exceptions).

http://www.armyrecognition.com/images/s ... sh_640.jpg
 

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Springfield Inc. was going to import the Astra line and rebadge them under their own name back in the 1990s, but the deal fell through.
 

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Daniel Watters said:
Springfield Inc. was going to import the Astra line and rebadge them under their own name back in the 1990s, but the deal fell through.
Springfield had some great plans back then. It's sad they had problems.
Their CZ75 clones were very nice--I miss mine. :(
Their plans to market copies of the Free World's major battle rifles was ambitious--I still have the brochure that came with my M1A.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I’m convinced Astra just wasn’t very committed to the US market, since they always worked with very small importers and never had much of a marketing budget. Their marketing seemed completely ineffectual and their market saturation was almost nil. To this day most refer to Astra as an “off-brand” maker of second rate pistols. They’re certainly off brand in America, and while there are some of their designs I’ve never cared for (the 1921,400,600 series are interesting, but not something I want to carry), after examining an Astra, I have never been left with the impression that Astra’s products lack ANY quality. Currently I have two Astra pistols, a Model 3000 and the A-70. Trying to find a machining mark on either pistol is a real challenge inside and out. The execution of manufacture is near flawless on both pistols, one made in 1947 (the 3000) and the other made either in the late ‘80’s or early ‘90’s (A-70). I did manage to find a machine mark on the A-70, it was on the base of the grip, which would be the bottom of the mainspring housing on a 1911; there were some fine swirrels. The A-70 is almost entirely investment cast, yet you see no casting lines and only on very close inspection was I able to find one very small inclusion, which is fantastic for a nearly all investment cast pistol. Ruger’s autos are almost completely investment cast with very little machining and virtually no hand fitting. I find the final fit and finish of the Astra to be a good step up from that of a Ruger, and I don’t consider Ruger to be any kind of a slouch in the realm of investment casting, a technology they absolutely excel at.

Like many things in the world, you can have the best product, but if you don’t know how to sell it, then you have no hope. As we used to say when I was in sales, “NOTHING happens until the sale is made.” And while that may seem a touch backwards in the gun industry, nothing can happen if there’s no hope of a sale.
 

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Sounds like a great pistol. Speaking of Llamas, I bought a Llama Comanche III 4" .357 new in 1985 and it was a great revolver. I traded it to my brother a few years back and he still has it and it's still in great shape. I've heard bad things about Llama autos, but this .357 was and is a nice gun.
 

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I bought an Astra A-70 about 20 years ago for a car gun. I took my wife shooting and let her fire it and that was the end of that. She claimed it and now it is HER car gun. The same thing happened to the AR 15 and the AK 74. She is now eyeing my P63 for possible annexation. :thumbsup:
 

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Alaska 11; all,

i feel your pain!

i once had a engraved/fully polished S&W Model 60 that i bought & "put away" & that "mysteriously disappeared" from the gun case & strangely appeared in the right rear pocket of a certain lady's size 6 Chic jeans! = haven't had my hands on it since.

her comment, when i inquired about it, was: "OH, it's a GIRL's gun & way too feminine for a man to carry".
(i HAD to laugh.)

2011 update: i used that as "a convienient excuse" to buy an "old school" S&W .44SPL, with 5.5" barrel!

yours, sw
 

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WaltGraham; all,

fwiw, the one that i'd like to have back was the Condor Legion-marked Astra 400 & holster that i paid about 20 bucks for in 1965. - i carried it for quite a while when i was a Deputy Constable of Precinct 3 in Clark County, AR.
(in those long ago days, every officer in our county bought their own uniforms/gear, carried whatever weapons that they wished, drove their own vehicles & "conformity" was "unknown". = one Constable was carrying his great grandfather's Colt's SAA in .38-40. - the SAA had been carried when his great grandfather was a DUSM in The Indian Territory/Oklahoma!)

that old Astra 400 would happily shoot ANYTHING that would chamber!

NOTE: being a Deputy Constable was my FIRST law enforcement job. - i was :
1. a "red hot 18 years old",
2. a college sophamore,
3. "flat broke",
(my father had just passed away.)
4. knew ZILCH about police work
(in those far departed days, there was NO "academy" for county officers. - you "learned by doing" = the county sheriff gave me a "tin star", a copy of The Arkansas Penal Code, a "sawed off" Parker 10guage double-barrel with hammers, a county credit card for gas/oil/tires, shook my hand & wished me "luck"!)
and
5. paid FIFTY BUCKS a MONTH!
(fwiw, i thought i was suddenly RICH! = ROTFL!)

GREAT memories!

yours, sw
 

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to ALL:

if all ya'll need a LAUGH this fine PM, my very first "criminal case" as a LEO was the nightime theft of HALF a pig, from a subsistence farm near Kirby, AR.

after a few days of "nosing about", i figured out:
1. who had stolen the half of a pig,
2. arrested the two men
and
3. recovered the (cut-up & frozen) pork & returned it to the farmer.
(upon conviction, the two sneak thieves got thirty days of "working for the county".)

what is FUNNY about that one little/rather silly little case was that i got my picture on the front page of the local (weekly) newspaper, with a long/detailed/grossly overblown article on what a "gifted detective" that i was.
(this might have had something to do with the fact that my girlfriend worked for the newspaper as a "college intern"!)

never again, in over 40 years of being "pinned to the badge" did i ever receive such wide/public acclaim!
(obviously, that incident was my "15 minutes of fame"!)

yours, sw
 

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Stand Watie: GREAT cop story. One day I'll tell you the one about handcuffing an Emu. :lol:

Kevin, we had an Astra A-70 in our evidence room for years, until we got a bunch of guns condemned and sold to a local dealer. (There were a few gems. Most were junk.) The Astra sure seemed like a solidly built gun.

My only Astra was my very first handgun...a Model 600 in 9mm I bought in 1976 for $90. It fed hardball flawlessly, and was amazingly accurate. Had a hellacious recoil spring as I recall. Anybody know if it was a straight blowback or not? Hey, I was a freshly turned 21 year old A1C who didn't know anything about handguns or how they worked, and my memory isn't good enough to figure it out now! :lol:

Edit: I seem to remember the barrel being fixed with the recoil spring fitting around it. That would tend to make me think it was blowback. I'll Google it and see if I can find out... :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yeah, the 400/600 (1921) series Astra’s were straight blowback with a horrendous spring. Couple that with a grip that doesn’t help in the way of recoil and you end up with the whippiest 9mm I’ve ever shot. They are exceptionally well made pistols and like you said, very accurate and very reliable. Served well in a few wars across the globe, but mostly in the Spanish Civil War (on both sides), and then in use by the Nazi’s in WW II, both times served with distinction. But they’re not the funnest 9mm in the world to shoot.

I have the little model 3000 which is like a ½ size Xerox copy with a redesigned grip and they moved the magazine catch where it belongs. Now in .380 and .32 it’s a joy to shoot. But the bigger brothers, cool guns that they are, are not the most enjoyable things to shoot.
 

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Irish Cop,

fyi, my "police car" (remember i was providing/driving my own POV) was a RED/WHITE 1960 Metropolican convertible, with a 40 horse/4-cylinder motor. - it got over 30MPG but wouldn't outrun a fast bicycle!

also, i once arrested a drunk cowboy at night for "chunking beer bottles" at houses, while "operating a horse while intoxicated". = in AR a horse, believe it or not, is considered a MOTOR VEHICLE & is a DWI!

yours, sw
 

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Kevin Gibson,

you know, i've heard lots of folks, over the years, complain/moan/whine/whimper about the recoil/grip angle of the "straight blowback" Astras BUT mine never bothered me. - instead, i just wish that i had kept it, as Condor Legion marked handguns of all sorts are now $$$$$$$$$$$$.
(i recently saw an engraved/CL-marked 400 for sale at a local gun-show for well over 2,000USD.)

the Astra 400 & possibly the 600 was/were "issue" to Luftwaffe "volunteer" pilots & some other German officers during the Spanish Civil War & during WWII.

otoh, i used to carry/shoot a S&W, 4" barrel, Model 29 as a duty weapon, so i may NOT be the one to comment on "recoil".
 

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Discussion Starter #15
stand watie said:
Kevin Gibson,

you know, i've heard lots of folks, over the years, complain/moan/whine/whimper about the recoil/grip angle of the "straight blowback" Astras BUT mine never bothered me. - instead, i just wish that i had kept it, as Condor Legion marked handguns of all sorts are now $$$$$$$$$$$$.
(i recently saw an engraved/CL-marked 400 for sale at a local gun-show for well over 2,000USD.)

the Astra 400 & possibly the 600 was/were "issue" to Luftwaffe "volunteer" pilots & some other German officers during the Spanish Civil War & during WWII.

otoh, i used to carry/shoot a S&W, 4" barrel, Model 29 as a duty weapon, so i may NOT be the one to comment on "recoil".
I've never seen a Condor Legion 400, I thought all those were model 300's?
And while I do think the recoil and slide operation are rather severe for a 9mm, I do think the 400/1921 series were very fine pistols.
 

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Kevin Gibson,

NOPE. the Luftwaffe (and perhaps other German police/military organizations, that had "volunteers" in Spain) issued 300/400 Astras and a LOT of other "off the shelf" commercial buys in handguns from Spain, Hungary, Italy & other places to the "volunteers", at least until the start of WWII.

furthermore, LOTS of WWI (and earlier!) weapons were removed from depot storage, "fixed up" & re-issued:
1. some of GEN Franco's units were armed with PRE-1900 (blackpowder) weapons early in the conflict.
2. the "Republican" forces reportedly issued Orange Free State "surplus" Mausers from the Boer War period & Czarist-era Russian weapons/equipment.
(obviously, the SCW was, at least early-on, a "come as you are" conflict for both sides.)

fwiw, i've heard, but cannot actually confirm, that at least a FEW "US manufactured" weapons were bought, exported to Spain & issued during the Spanish Civil War. = about 1970, i talked to a former Condor Legion pilot in BRD. he claimed to have been issued (and still owned) a 1917-vintage S&W, .45ACP, revolver, when he arrived in Madrid.

yours, sw
 

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Kevin Gibson,

fyi, my ONLY "problem with" the Model 400 was that it was H to re-assemble after being disassembled for a through periodic cleaning. = reinstalling the that spring/slide is "a BEAR".
(when i bought the Astra, it was FILTHY inside/out & (internally) UN-oiled, as the seller said that he had NEVER really cleaned it in the over 25 years that he had owned/shot it. - otoh, he HAD externally smeared it with motor oil from time to time. - that alone should tell anyone, who wonders about the quality of the Astra 1921, all that they need to know about how well-designed & TOUGH the pistols are.)

yours, sw
 

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to ALL:

(06/18/11 update)

fwiw, i talked to a local history prof from UTSA last week, reference weapons used in the Spanish Civil War.
(the history of the SCW is one of my numerous "historical interests".)

"the good prof" stated that he "knows for a certain fact" that MANY Remington Rollingblock rifles/carbines in .43 caliber & short/long lever Martini single-shots in .450Brit (AND converted to shotshell use!) were ISSUED "officially" by both Loyalist & Republican forces.- he believes that MOST of these single shot rifles were issues for "village defense groups", "local militia" & "local constabulary groups", until/unless "something more modern" could be aquired for those "more or less irregular forces".

yours, sw
 
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