The Model 700 Special was an attempt by Astra to piggyback on the popularity of the FN Model 1910 automatic pistol. Astra took their Model 100 (a renamed Ruby pistol of WWI lineage) and changed the styling to resemble the FN gun, including adding a rotating mainspring cap around the barrel, as the 1910 used. The other internal parts, however, remained pure Ruby – including the barrel installation method, the shrouded hammer, the trigger mechanism, and the mid-frame safety.
These pistols were made for sale primarily in China, although they did not prove to be very popular items. A total of 4,000 were made in 1927 and 1927, and they remained in Astra’s catalog into the early 1930s. Seeing the failure to get initial success, Astra cut off production when they introduced the Model 900 – a visual copy of the Mauser C96 Broomhandle, which would prove to be far more popular and successful.
Are you surprised the Astra 700 failed? It seems that the FN guns were much better in quality…
“FN guns were much better in quality”
So far I know, ASTRA automatic pistol worked properly, so it might be viable option for someone needing just functional automatic pistol.
The fail might be effect of bad timing, as after WW1 market was flooded with small automatic pistols.
“Surplus, surplus, everywhere! Nor any market for me…” This is what killed the Madsen M47’s chances of success. Same problem but different era…
Ian, have you ever had the chance to look at a Finnish Lahti-Saloranta LMG as used in the Winter War? With the interest in that conflict, bet a lot of folks would enjoy to see a review. Just wondering.
I have not, but it’s on the list…
“(…)total of 4,000 were made in 1927 and 1927(…)”
Should be 1926 and 1927 xor 1927 and 1928?
“FN Model 1910 automatic pistol”
For me Astra 700 special is aesthetic-wise close to Llama Danton:
FN created the M1910/22 as a holster pistol for police and etc. by extending the length of the 1910’s grip frame to accommodate a longer magazine holding one more round, ans extending the barrel plus adding that extra shroud section to the front of the slide.
I suspect the Astra 700 Special had a similar genesis for similar reasons, i.e. turning a compact pocket pistol into something more “serious-looking” for open carry in uniform.
Just a guess.
Ironically, during the heyday of GCA ’68, the M1910 was prohibited from being imported into the U.S. due to being “too short” both lengthwise and height-wise, but the M1922 was considered “tall and long” enough. My guess is the Model 700 Special probably would also have met the GCA minimums for import.
“accommodate a longer magazine holding one more round”
This seems as answer to GABILONDO RUBY automatic pistol as used by French forces during WW1, which has capacity 9 of 7,65mm Browning (.32 Auto) cartridges.
1910/22 was made specifically cause of the request from Yugoslavia (back then named Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) for larger 1910 with 8 x .380 rounds capacity and longer barrel.