BY IÑIGO DIAZ-GUARDAMINO
BY IÑIGO DIAZ-GUARDAMINO
The name Astra was registered in 1914 by Esperanza y Uneeta, some six years after the founding of the firm at Eibar, Spain. The present plant was built in 1913 in Guernica. Spain, where it remains. The firm name was changed in 1926 to Unceta y Cia.. and changed again in 1953 to Astra-Unceta y Cia., S.A.
Up until 1960. Astra, as it has come to be known, had manufactured many semi-automatic pistols, but no revolvers. In that year, they introduced the Cadix revolver in .22. .32 and .38 Spl. calibers. The Cadix line proved profitable to Astra, and in 1969 they began the development of a revolver similar to the Cadix but built on a medium-sized frame to handle the .357 Mag. cartridge. Initial deliveries were made in September of 1971. Like the Cadix. the Astra 357 is similar in its internal construction to the modern Smith & Wesson revolver. Internally, the most significant difference is the coiled, music wire mainspring which, around its strut, impinges on an internal ring in the butt of the revolver. This ring has four annular holes which are counterbored to varying depths. The ring can be turned manually after the removal of the grips and mainspring assembly, so that different trigger pull weights can be achieved.
In 1971, the 357 was available with 3". 4" or 6" barrel lengths, and in 1976 an 8'/2" barreled version was introduced.
Astra 357's have been manufactured in blue- and chrome-finish and in precious-metal plated, engraved versions. Though the 4" barrel is the most common, lengths ranging from 3" to 8V2" have been made and imported for United States sales.
By mid-1979. approximately 55,000 357s had been made and sold in blue, chrome, and engraved versions. Current plans call for the introduction of the 4" barrel version in stainless steel in the very near future. In addition to the 55,000 unit quantity, over 16.000 similar guns in .38 Spl. caliber have been produced, but are seldom encountered in the United States. The standard version of the .38 Spl. gun is termed the Model 960. and a single-action version with screw-adjustable trigger, designed for competitive shooting, is termed the Match Model. ■
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