IN the mid-1960s. Astra began the development of their first double-action semi-automatic pistol. It was not until 1970 that the first production models were shipped to the United States.
These original pistols in calibers .32, .380, and .22 long rifle were all equipped with plastic grips affixed with a single screw on each side and an integral thumb shelf on the left side. Early guns also had fixed rear sights and positive firing pins. The positive firing pin meant that if the pistol, with chamber loaded, were to be carried with the hammer fully down and the safety "off,'' the firing pin would impinge on the cartridge primer. The proper method of carrying the pistol, then, was with the hammer down and thumb safety engaged.
Later pistols were equipped with flat plastic grips lacking the thum-brest but affixed with two screws on each side and a rear sight adjustable for windage. Still later, positive firing pins were changed to firing pins of the inertia type, making it safer to carry gun with loaded chamber with the safety either in "on" or "off" position. This change in the firing pin was accompanied by minor changes to the safety, the disconnector and the slide retainer. The firing pin change took place in the .380 and .32 calibers at Serial No. 1091101, and in the .22 calibers at Serial No.
1140551. Since that time the Constable, now imported by Interarms of Alexandria, Va., has undergone no major changes except that now the .22 and .380 calibers only are being imported, the .32 cal. having been dropped.
The compact Astra Constables are, like other Astra products, of good quality and are well finished throughout. At various times they have been offered in blue, chrome and chrome-engraved finishes. The Constable Sport model in 22 long rifle only is equipped with a 6" barrel, adjustable sights for windage and elevation, and a barrel counterweight. It is made in single-action version only, and at this writing has not been imported into the U. S. in any quantity.
Field Stripping Instructions:
Depress the magazine catch button (30) and remove the magazine (32) from the pistol. Retract the slide (1) and release it after checking that thechamber is empty. Leave the hammer (19) at full-cock position. With the thumb and index finger of the lefthand, pull down the takedown latch (12) located in front of the trigger, and with the right hand pull the slide fully to the rear. The slide may then be lifted and removed from the frame (33). This is all that is necessary to clean and lubricate the pistol. Further takedown is not recommended by the factory. ■
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