firearms, shooting equipment, and outdoor gear for the average enthusiast.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Astra A75L initial impressions and review

The Astra A75 is a strange duckling, with the A75L (L denoting Lightweight) being rarer still. This is the only Astra I have ever seen in person, and when it became available I purchased it promptly. I do not believe they are still being imported, but the
remaining parts available are under the care of EAA corp, which posts both a manual and parts list on their website.

The gun was manufactured in Spain and mine was imported through EAA in Florida. Aesthetically I would pin the Astra as a mediocre Sig p6 copy. Disassembly though, is more in line with the Browning style firearms which utilize a take-down notch on the slide which allows the slide stop to be pushed through the gun- thus field stripping the pistol.

My example has been loved little and shot less- as is evident by the significant pitting on most of the bare metal. A detail strip and clean was in order, and as one gets into the Astra, it is a very simple design that offers little challenge to work on save for the removal of the roll pins- which can be totally annoying.

My gun had some years on it- and I can track at least two previous owners. So to reduce any unnecessary stress on the lightweight frame, I replaced the firing pin spring and the recoil spring with new ones from Wolff.

The DA pull is heavy but smooth, and breaks very predictably. The SA pull is surprisingly good, breaking at a reasonable 5ish lbs with an impressively short reset.

How worn out was my recoil spring? frankly I'm not sure- comparison to the new spring (a crappy metric at best) would lead me to believe that at least some compression / set had taken place in the spring- but how much usable life was left in the spring is unknown to me.

I will say that the piece of mind I got from a fresh spring was totally worth the 7 bucks- and it is good practice when buying used guns that are very dependent on recoil spring for functionality (which is virtually all of them) to throw in a fresh spring.

That all being said, my pontifications on the history and breakdown of the Astra is completely unwanted to many of my readers, who would prefer I get onto the 'how it shoots' portion of the review.

Sadly, no pictures from the range, as it rained like a bastard the whole time I was there- but I can say the following- The Astra is actually a super fun gun to shoot. So far I have put just shy of 100 rounds through it, and I can say it has been completely reliable with everything I have fed it. There is a definite preference for 147 gr ammo, as my sights seem better regulated to the heavier ammo's impact point- but the gun is just as happy to chug along on 115 gr or lighter stuff.

I was able to shoot  all of the following:
147gr Speer Gold Dots
147 gr American Eagle FMJ
115 gr Federal FMJ
105 gr LSWC reloads
125 gr LTC reloads
120 gr LRN reloads
115 gr JHP reloads (Winchester HP)
115 gr Winchester Silvertips
115 gr Tula steel cased FMJ

The majority of the shooting was done with the Tula- which performed well. I was actually super surprised with its performance for under 9 bucks a box. I'll definitely be keeping this stuff on hand for any testing that needs to happen with new guns.

Transitions from DA to SA are something I need to practice (who doesn't?) but really controlled pairs were very acceptable on an 18 inch target all the way out to 20 yards. Though I didn't really get any overly brag-worthy targets from this gun- there was plenty of 'good enough for social work' accuracy which was easily obtained at speed.

That right there, is what you call 'pitting'
I don't often shoot guns with a decocker, but this was actually a pleasant experience and I have no negative comments on the set up. The gun carries well in a remora style holster designed for officers sized 1911 guns- though the holster is just a touch too large.

Magazines are available, and I picked up 4 at 6 bucks a piece with a bit of google foo from a retailer that is now out of stock. Expect prices to float around 12-20 bucks a mag when you do find them, and they hold a total of 8 9mm rounds or 7 40sw rounds.  All have been reliable at feeding and locking the slide back, despite being multi-caliber and  I am exceedingly pleased with the purchase.

I paid a grand total of 220 bucks for the gun, and it came with 300 rounds of 9mm ammo  and a shitty IWB holster from a LEO friend in the WNY region. After shipping I invested another 30 bucks in mags, and about 10 more in springs. All said and done, I have 260 bucks into a nice shooting, good carrying pistol with 5 mags and a decent amount of practice ammo to go with it.  I think this deal is a bit ridiculous, and if anyone else finds one similar- you should BUY IT. Realistically though, this is probably a 250 dollar gun and shooters that want one should shop accordingly.

Extra parts, magazine availability, and holster compatibility are all going to be issues with this gun- so lay into the above whenever you find them to increase the value of the pistol and the justification for owning it.  If one can get over those detractors and doesn't mind either going with custom holsters or 'universal' style holsters- this is a great carry gun that can take some abuse without making you overly sad about it.


CTone said...

Good find. I find value in having some reliable pistols sitting in the safe not getting mileage. I think it's a good looking pistol even with the pitting.

mike's spot said...

it is also a nice bridging gun between my smith 36 and my officers sized citadel cs both dimensionally and in terms of firepower. I'm definitely pleased with the little thing.