Guns And Ammo Astra

As indicated above it is not clear as to when the name Victoria was changed to Astra on the 6.35 mm. pistols, and it may well be that both names were used for some time. Specimen No. 251,141 which is identical to the pistol marked Victoria No. 229,363 bears the name Astra, as do those of this design produced subsequently. This Astra specimen is marked „1924 Model." Actually there was no 1924 Model, the designation simply indicates the year in which it was made. When the Banco de Pruebas (Proof House) began to function it required that completed pistols be stamped with the year of manufacture. Pistols which were unblued were stamped with the Spanish proof marks, without the year.

The name Astra had previously been used on the 7.65 mm. pistol (No. 925, for example) which bears the inscription


The brand name Astra was not actually registered until November 25, 1914, hence it appears that the name was used prior to official registration, a practice not uncommon. Many Spanish pistols bear the word PATENT though no patent was issued. In passing, it may be remarked that at least one other Spanish manufacturer pirated the name Astra, and this may have been the reason for the registration, i.e., protection. The author owns a 7.65 mm. pistol bearing the name Astra which obviously is not an Esperanza y Unceta product (though similar in design), as it is very inferior in workmanship and does not have the word HOPE on the barrel - a distinguishing feature of the early production of this firm.

The early 1911 Victoria and the 1911 Astra pistols did not have a grip safety. The grip safety is reported, in recent correspondence with the firm, to have been introduced at Serial No. 233,460 (year not stated). Presumably the pistol was made in both forms, with and without this additional safety device, as the 6.35 mm. specimens No. 251,141 and No. 269,399 (the latter owned by the author) do not have the grip safety. No. 296,446 in the same caliber does have a grip safety.

Model 200-Recent correspondence from the firm also states that the Mod. 200 (a „new model" having a grip safety) includes the 6.35 mm. pistols numbered in the following serial number blocks: 233,460-317,350; 500,001-506,000; 648,601-663,300; 678,001710,000; 722,001-759,500; and 780,001-785,300 (Figs. 103, 104).

The statement is made that with the introduction of this new model (in May 1920) the use of the word HOPE on the barrel was discontinued. This statement does not seem to correspond to some facts, however, as specimens with serial numbers as high as 269,399 (specimen owned by the author) have the word HOPE on the barrel and are of the earlier design. Evidently both the earlier and the 200 design were made simultaneously.

Pistols in the 200 Series appeared with several finishes, and to distinguish between them they were designated as Models 200, 200/1, 200/2, 200/3, etc., depending on the kind and extent of engraving. Specimens of Mod. 200 with serial numbers approaching 900,000 have been examined and measured, so production of this model did not cease at No. 785,300 as might be inferred from the statement above concerning numbering blocks. This model is sold in the U.S. under the names Astra Fire Cat and Astra Fire Cat CE (engraved).

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