The Astra model 400 was a Spanish service pistol produced by weapons manufacturer Astra-Unceta y Cia SA. as a replacement for the Campo-Giro 1913/1916, which had also been chambered in 9mm Largo. It was the standard issue sidearm in the Spanish Army during the Spanish Civil War and also saw service in Germany during World War II.
The pistol was mass produced and many examples still exist today. The Spanish Navy, along with the German Luftwaffe and the Chilean Navy primarily use the smaller variant Astra 300 and the Wehrmacht later altered the Astra 400 into the Astra 600 to better handle the 9mm Luger. The 400 was considered heavy as in order to handle the power of the 9mm Largo round in a blowback action the 400 had a reinforced slide and tough spring.
The Astra 400 is heavy compared to many contemporary service pistols of the time like the Tokarev TT-33 but is similar in weight and length to the Colt 1911. The Astra 400 was designed to be safe to fire with a simple blowback action unaided by any breech-locking devices. This is only possible with a heavy slide and strong recoil spring. It was fitted with an internal hammer which was considered very hard to cock. The pistol also featured grooved finger grips and left sided trigger catch behind the trigger guard. The original design was chambered in 9mm Largo, but later variants would be chambered differently to better fulfill different military needs.
Astra made some experimental variants of the 400 chambered in 7.63mm Mauser, .32 ACP, and .30 Luger. 9mm Largo rounds were often in short supply outside of Spain and though several other 9mm cartridges like the 9mm Luger and .380ACP could feed, be fired, and eject successfully. This was a capability of questionable use where 9mm Largo ammunition was available, as chronograph tests show considerably higher muzzle velocities and thus energies with the 9mm Largo than 9mm Luger and .380. The 9x23mm Steyr cartridge is more similar in dimension to the 9mm Largo than both the 9mm Luger and .380 and performs better as well.
The Astra 600, a slightly shorter and lighter version of the Astra 400 that is chambered in 9mm Luger, was later developed for export sales, primarily to Nazi Germany. A smaller variant for both domestic and export sales, the Astra 300, was offered in .32 ACP and .380 ACP. By the end of 1947 171,300 were made and were primarily issued to security forces of the Spanish Navy and the German Luftwaffe.
Manufacturer: Astra-Unceta y Cia SA
Number built: approx 106,000
Variants: Astra Model 300, Astra Model 600
Weight: 1.14 kg (2.5 lb)
Length: 225 mm (8.9 in)
Barrel length: 150 mm (5.9 in)
Cartridge: 9mm Largo
Muzzle velocity: 335 m/sec (1,099 ft/sec)
Feed system: 8 round Box
Sights: Front Blade, Rear Notch