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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I ran across an interesting gun a few weeks back, and I've finally gotten the store to sell it to me (long story - it was buried in storage during a remodeling).

Spanish handguns have a mixed reputation. Frankly, I always turned my nose up at them when I was a young lad. I've mentioned before the story of when an old guy who was ogling an A600 challenged me to pull out a P-08 in the case and show me how the quality of manufacture was any less. (It wasn't. In fact, the Germans paid Astra a whole lot more for each 9x19 A600 than they paid DWM for each Luger.) Despite this "schooling," I tended to sneer at the whole breed, worried about "soft steel" and shoddy manufacturing techniques.

The truth is, some Spanish handguns are junk. But the ones that were made in the '20s, '30s and '40s are absolutely top-notch.

The Astra 300 was a "Dick Tracy" looking blowback modeled after the (also blowback) much more powerful Astra 400, which updated the old Spanish Campo-Giro military gun. The Astra 400, the military Model 1921, was the Spanish service pistol for some time and used the 9x23 "Largo" cartridge. The slightly smaller A600 was designed in 9x19 in response to orders by the Germans during WWII.

The A 300, first in .380 and then in .32, followed soon after the A 400 in the '20s. The Spanish, remarking on the tubular construction of these pistols, referred to the 400 as the "Puro" (cigar) and the 300 as the "Purito" (little cigar :) ).



These guns sold find during peacetime, and they were used heavily during the Spanish Civil War in the '30s. The Purito was heavily used (in its .32 calibration), to the point of being emblematic, by the Nationalist forces of Franco's Falange. It was only natural that the Germans, who certainly loved sub-caliber pistols for use by officers, would turn to Astra in ordering Puritos for their own troops during WWII.

The Germans (and most Europeans), as we all know, actually preferred the slightly less energetic 7.65 Browning/.32 ACP chambering to the 9mm Kurz/.380 ACP (the .32 was considered more penetrative and accurate - I've personally noted that the cartridge seems to be inherently pretty accurate). The Germans ordered most of their A300s with checkered hardwood stocks, as opposed to the hard rubber stocks that had been used since the model's introduction in 1923. Ironically, the majority of the thousands A300s that were delivered to the Wehrmacht were chambered in .380 (6-round mag). The .380s were stamped with a Waffenamt marking.

The Luftwaffe, however, managed to get its preferred 7.65 Browning caliber delivered (7-round mags). Almost 22,000 were delivered to the German air force during 1944, with serial numbers running from 593001 to 615800. These were not given a Waffenamt mark, and - according to Gene Gangarossa's Spanish Handguns - the last ones were delivered to the German air force in France on July 21, 1944.

I have number 604141. :)



According to the fellow at the gun store, it was sold by the son of the guy who captured it from a Luftwaffe member. The guy at the gun store said, "I don't know if it's a lie. It doesn't have any Nazi markings on it." (And it turns out that it shouldn't!)

When I got this home late last night, I tore it down on the kitchen table and cleaned the heck out of it. There was a whole lot of what appeared to be dead oil mucking up the works, as well as old NM dust coating the outer surfaces.



The A300 is one of the most precisely put-together commercial guns I've seen. Frankly, it makes a Walther PP look pretty shlocky in comparison. This particular specimen retains more than 80% of its bluing, with some pretty ugly dings and rust marks, as well as a recent and unfortunate gouge in the bottom of the right stock (I believe this was probably put there by a dingbat who did not know how to release the mag (push in the button on the bottom of the LH gripframe). It was made in 1943 (as is evidenced by the "
 

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Cool piece of history. One of the overlooked gems of a bygone era.

Thanks for researching it and writing it up.


Regards,

Pat
 

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Hello Erich,

Very nice report and it sounds like you have another winner in your collection.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all for the kind words; I'm sure enjoying pride of ownership in this one.

And Chris has a dandy little .32 also . . . :)
 

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Very nice write-up on what appears to be a fine little pistol. The more I read about some of these old .32's, the more intrigued I am. Back when the choice in concealable revolvers was mostly limited to .32 and .38 S&W's (and their Colt counterparts), I believe the .32ACP just might have been a better alternative. The ballistics of those revolver cartridges out of two-inch barrels was pretty low (700fps or so), and with stopping power being a moot point, short-range practical accuracy and sufficient penetration were the important requirements.
 

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Thanks alot for the informative thread and terrific pictures.
I've got one of the bigger "hermano" pieces you mention: An Astra Modelo 1921 (400) in 9mm largo--_el puro_. Mine has wood grips quite like yours, although not in as nice condition. I'll probably get some replacements at some point. I enjoy mine, and find it capable of good accuracy, but there is "sting" to the recoil caused, I believe, by the grip angle. I'd agree completely with the observations about quality of manufacture.

Again, thanks for the post on your .32 Astra--its neat!

--d.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks to both of you gents for the kind words. I'm more pleased with the price I got - similar guns on GunBroker have been going for $330-400. :)
 

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Very interesting report and nice pics that push me harder to look for one! These old .32 (Colt 1903, Browning and so on) are usually very well made. Machinists of the yesterday knew how to use a mill.

Popularity of .32 (7,65 Browning here) in the Old World comes back to the 1900 Browning that was a huge success. Other manufactures made copies and home designs and the caliber came standard for non-military use to the 70s.

In WW2, the Wehrmacht was so short on weapons that they used whatever they found. .32 were normaly given to high officers NCOs, auxiliaries and as back-ups for soldiers. But it is difficult to draw a rule as necessity WAS rule.

L.
 
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