OT - Other Pistols

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himmel
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OT - Other Pistols

Post by himmel » March 16th, 2006, 9:54 am

A few years back, when I lived in San Angelo, it seemed there were gobs of those Astra 400s around, in the pawn shops and such. That was just about the time 9mm was all the rage, and I was thinking I could pick up a "nine" at a bargain price--but I was woried about that odd caliber and didn't do it (BTW, I think that's "Bergmann", WH, but I'm not sure...) Haven't seen one since it seems...Funny thing, saw one in a pawn shop, asked about the price--and the guy practically begged me to dicker him down! *sigh*

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OT - Other Pistols

Post by abwehr » March 16th, 2006, 5:44 pm

himmel,

I have one if the Astra 400 pistols that was sold to Germany during the war. What I have read about these particular pistols is that they were issued to the Railroad Protection troops going to and from Russia. About 1 year later, they were replaced with the P.38 and then re-issued to one of the foreign SS units from Romania or Hungary, I can't remember. Somewhere in my documentation, I have this info.

These are really neat pistols being in 9mm Largo and a blowback design. Yes, the recoils spring is strong, LOL

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Post by himmel » March 16th, 2006, 6:04 pm

Wow, that's some neat history--Railroad protection troops, huh? You know I read a book once, called "We Shall March Again"--about Germany in the last days of WWii--and that's what the German protagonists were doing, protecting a railroad in Russia against partisan attacks. Man, the things that come back to you..LOL! BTW the boys were pretty impressed with your "uniform" photo on another thread here--I was a bit surprised myself, my first thought was that an Abwehr man would be in mufti...LOL! Wish I had that Astra from the pawn shop now--like i said, there's plenty of ammo for it here just now...

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Post by abwehr » March 17th, 2006, 4:53 am

himmel,

One of the probelms with the Astra 400 was the ammo. Even though it would feed and fire the 9mmP, it was not 100% reliable and tended to jam. I think if I was depending on a weapon, I would want one the WAS reliable. I guess Germany was not as concerned about the foreign troops as much as their own.

I also have an Astra 200 in 9mmK that was issued to German troops. This pistol has the same appearance as the 400 except smaller. It is a really neat pistol too!

Thanks for the comment about the uniform. I use this with my display and educational display with the MG42 machinegun. This particular uniform was made by a company in Germany named "Janke". They make the best uniforms today and they were an actual manufacturer of uniforms during the Third Reich. It is not called a reproduction, but a "new made" uniform.

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Post by himmel » March 18th, 2006, 11:05 pm

I'm told that the 400 would chamber just about anything in 9mm--even .38 acp! I also understand that the Germans often outfitted their "allies" ( such as Nazi sympathizers in countries that the Reich conquered) with obsolete or otherwise not-their-best equipment...I think that a smaller-version Astra would indeed be a good-looking gun! How does it shoot--or do you shoot it?

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OT - Other Pistols

Post by warthog » March 19th, 2006, 1:00 am

I wouldn't shoot anything but 9mm Largo in an Astra 400 though.
I doesn't matter what will chamber, it matters what the gun is rated for, IMHO at least.

That said, I still don't have one. :(

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Post by abwehr » March 19th, 2006, 4:40 am

himmel,

The Astra 400 will chamber several rounds, but I have to agree with "warthog" that only 9mm Largo shoud be fired in them. The 9mmP will chamber fine, but the case is too short to seat correctly and will cause malfunctions. I have talked with folks that shot 9mmP and the pistol worked fine, but I believe in firing what the firearms is chambered for.

As to Germany providing captured and secondary weapons to their Axis partners is correct. They wanted the German soldier to have the finest equipment they could provide. The exception to this rule was the SS. The SS had to scrounge for ALL their equipment, firearms, etc until about mid-war. At this time, the Waffen SS (not the Allegemeine SS) had performed so well, they began to get the pick of the best equipment available. Having read many German side books on the war, the Heer soldiers were always happy to see the Waffen SS come to help out when they were in a "pinch".

Most of the second line troops that were not in actual front line combat (soldiers stationed in France prior to the invasion) were issued captured weapons. POW camps had secondary weapons, and the list could go on. Germany used whatever they had as a means to the end.

The little Astra 300 is a small scale 400, and is absolutly beautiful. MIne was shipped to France just prior to D-Day and was Waffen stamped (accepted) in a town called Hendaye, France. I did fire the pistol one time and it was a dream to shoot. The recoil was almost nothing. These are not super rare, but you don't see the German accepted one very often.

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OT - Other Pistols

Post by xelloss » March 20th, 2006, 9:41 am

One thing the Star Model B's (and thus likely the Astra 400s as well) being imported can be easily modified to take is .38 Super... Case length, etc. is almost exactly a match for 9mm Largo, but the .38 Super is semi-rimmed, requiring slight modification to the ejector (easily done by a skilled gunsmith)... A friend of mine has two modified in this manner (one ported for competition shooting, one unmodified for CCW use)... Never has shown the slightest hint of trouble in well over 4000 rounds... I gotta say, even though .38 Super +P is a cracking round, the 9mm Largo makes it seem sluggish and quiet, lol...

-Mark

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OT - Other Pistols

Post by xelloss » March 20th, 2006, 10:02 am

abwehr, one of the things that always struck me as interesting was the German army's willingness to use any and all captured, scrounged, and bought weapons to equip their units... Photographic evidence shows the use of Russian SVT autoloaders and PPSh SMGs by German NCOs in Russia (even among standard units), and the Waffen SS in western europe armed with #4 Mk1s, FN Hi-Powers, and even M1 Garands... As a matter of fact, the #1 small handgun in use by the Wehrmacht wasn't the Walther PP/PPK, Mauser HsC, or Sauer 38H, but rather the Czech Cz27 (Total German production for military use of over 460,000)!!!

As far as Astras go, Germany purchased 6000 400s in 1939, followed by an order for 10,450 Astra 600s in 9mmP and over 85,000 Astra 300s chambered in both .32 and .380 ACP (or 7,65mm and 9mmKurz to use the German terms for the rounds ;D ;D ;D)... Of these, approx. two-thirds of the 600s went undelivered due to the Allied reconquest of France...

The one collectors gun I've always dreamed of would be an Astra 400 that could be traced to the Spanish Blue Division of volunteers who fought in Russia... Now THAT would be mega-cool, lol... 8-) 8-) 8-)

-Mark

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Post by abwehr » March 20th, 2006, 3:54 pm

xelloss,

Yea, tracing a particular firearm is almost impossible. Like the Astra 400 I have, which is in approx. 95-96% condition, is how did this particular pistol stay in such good condition to have been issued to the Postal Protection Force, and then to the Hungarian SS units??????

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OT - Other Pistols

Post by warthog » March 20th, 2006, 4:55 pm

Converting a Star or Astra to take a different round is not a good idea.
These are older guns and not meant for the strain of a modern cartridge like the 38 Super.
Like you said, it is a "crackin' round" and that is bad news for an old gun.
Yeah, you might have put thousands of rounds through yours without a problem.
That doesn't make it a good idea though. You just got lucky.
I have seen a bunch of these pistols that have come apart from shooting something other than 9 Largo.
Even if you make it fit the chamber properly, it just isn't a good idea.

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Post by abwehr » March 21st, 2006, 6:21 am

I agree with "warthog" leave the original chambering in these old guns. One thing I have seen over my many years with firearms is how were these pistols treated in it's past history? You can abuse a pistol and it not show until years later. Any old forearm should be treated gently anyway, especially with Mil-Surp stuff, you never know who or what has been done to one.

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OT - Other Pistols

Post by abwehr » March 21st, 2006, 6:28 am

I bought another pistol last evening......but it is not a P-64. I bought a 1941 Luger "Black Widow" pistol. I have anice collection of Lugers, had a 1942 "Black Widow", so a 1941 would add to my collection nicely. I haven't bought a Luger in about 2 years, so it was time! I will post a photo when it arrives next week.

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Post by himmel » March 21st, 2006, 6:28 pm

OK, I'll bite... :D What makes it a "Black Widow"?? ( to me, a "Black Widow" is a P-61--which is an airplane, not a pistol!! :D )

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Post by abwehr » March 22nd, 2006, 6:27 am

himmel,

The "Black Widow" Luger is a "byf" code (Mauser) Luger made in 1941 or 1942 which had black Phenolic grip panels rather than the standard wood panels. The Phenolic panel Luger were not selling vey well since most folks waned the real wood panels.

The words, "Black Widow" was coined by Mr. Ralph Shattuck, a big Luger dealer. About 25-30 years ago, to help sell these "red headed" stepchild Lugers, Ralph came up with this name to help move the pisols he had in stock. Well, the name stuck and it actually boosed the pistols price by about 25%. All Luger collectors know the story now, but they are in demand.

When the name was first put on the collectors market, everyone thought they were all black for issue to the SS, and this certainly helped the mystique of the pistol. On the Luger Forums, you still have new collectors thinking they are SS issue, when in fact, the Phenolic panels werre used as substitutes when wood panels were in short supply. As to the collectibility, approx. 20-30% of the 1941 and 1942 Lugers hade the black panels, so they are a minor rarity, but not for the prices they are bringing.

A defineite marketing ploy that WORKED and worked well.

Since I can't access "photobucket" because of firewall, here is a link to photos of what a 1941 Black Widow looks like. Notice the Phonolic checkered grips: http://lmd-militaria.com/page156.html
Last edited by abwehr on March 22nd, 2006, 7:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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