Astra Model 400 (1921)
|Astra Model 400 (Click to Enlarge)|
|Rifling||6 grooves, RH|
|Magazine Capacity||8 rounds|
|In Service Dates||1921-1915|
|Country of Origin||Spain|
The Spanish Astra 400 (also known as the Model 1921), is a unique, strait blowback-operated, semi-automatic pistol, that is capable, in excellent condition, of firing a variety of 9mm cartridges, from 9mm Parabellum to 9mm Largo. This sturdy built handgun was quite favorably regarded by the German ‘volunteer brigades’ during the Spanish Civil War.
Initially, based on a Browning design, the Astra 400 is one of the few blowback pistols to be chambered for a powerful 9mm cartridge. The Astra benefits from the simplicity and reliability of a blowback action, with no locked breech or buffer system. It can withstand the pressures and a recoil of large 9mm cartridges by a powerful recoil spring and comparatively heavy recoiling parts. As a result, pulling back the slide of an Astra 400 pistol requires a good deal of physical effort.
One very unusual feature of the Astra 400 (left) is the wide variety of ammunition that it will fire. Chambered for the 9mm Largo (Bergmann-Bayard), most Astra 400s in good condition will also function with 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Steyr, 9mm Browning Long, 9mm Glisenti, .38 Colt Auto, and .38 Colt Super cartridges. This omnivorous capability is encouraged by somewhat loose tolerances in the chamber, and by a long firing pin that can reach out and strike the primer of shorter cartridges. Although a .38 ACP cartridge does not have sufficient power to function the Astra 400’s action, it will fire in most specimens.
The cartridge designated by Spain as the 9mm Largo was designed initially in 1910 for the German Bergmann-Bayard semi-automatic pistol. This sturdy round found its most famous acceptance in Spain, in various Astra pistols and contemporary copies, and the ‘Destroyer Carbine.’ Adopted as the Spanish service pistol in 1921, the Astra 400 was used in some foreign brigades including the German Condor Legion, during the Spanish Civil War. This experience probably influenced the German Army to order 4500 Astros in the August of 1941. And 1500 more just three months later.
The German Army was so impressed with the strength and quality of the Astra 400 that they required no German proof marks or Wehrmacht acceptance stamps on these pistols but accepted them as ordered. An Astra 400 with German proof marks is a fake, stamped with marks just in increase collector value.
|Astra 400 Holster|
|Engraved Astra 400 (Click to Enlarge)|
|Ad for Astra 400 (Click to Enlarge)|
|Astra 400 Exploded Drawing (Click to Enlarge)|