Book Review: “Star Firearms” and “Astra Firearms” by Leonardo Antaris

Leonardo Antaris has written massive and excellent volumes on two of the major companies in the Spanish firearms industry, Star and Astra. Both of these companies made a wide range of military and commercial handguns, and Antaris’ book cover everything. They include historical context for the guns, details on many competitors to Star and Astra products, detailed production records, and excellent explanations of the differences between variants.

The books are not cheap, but are absolutely worth the price for anyone interested in Spanish handguns. Once they sell out (and only a few hundred of each were printed), they will be gone forever – so get your copies now.

Star Firearms:
Astra Firearms:


  1. “Star and Astra”
    Now name analogy struck me – Star, Astra – name derived from aster (star in Greek).
    Most company names are derived from founder name(s) of founder(s) or place where it is (like TOZ which bring its name from Tula or Freedom Arms from Freedom(Wyoming))
    BTW: Which company you consider most creative and which most strange?

  2. Geez, I wish to be into Spanish guns; the books look excellent. One my relative had Astra .357 revolver – robust weapon. Finish may not have been as flashy like S&W product, but it was a solid piece.

    • Your comment reminds me once again of the fact that the Star and Astra firearms were fairly often actually better-built from a functional and utilitarian standpoint than the originals they were derived from, but were not as well-finished, which resulted in visually-based misperceptions concerning their overall quality. It is a well-known and consistently persistent foible of human nature to be most attracted to what looks good on the superficial level, i.e., the surface, at the expense of the true value that lies hidden beneath.

      • You know Earl, I am to certain degree a perfectionist (but by no means ‘fanatical’ one). I guess this is done to me by my past professional career; there was no other way.

        In many circumstances things like inconsistent finish or fading roller-marking on one side of label would be a detriment and would lead me to be biased about attitude of people who had their hands on it. In this case it did not work that way. I realized first of all the humble conditions of those small Basque firms who worked so strenuously and so long to offer Spain and other people their product. I believe there was honesty and professionalism behind it. It was train of passion they were riding and this is what I value the most.

        • As a fellow technical perfectionist, I understand entirely. As I have gotten older, I have come to value the real underlying qualities more than the obvious, especially the ones that reflect our humanity, and the joys and sorrows it brings. I find that more meaningful than pure technical perfection.

  3. There was another member of Spain’s biggest three handgun manufacturers branded “Llama(pronounced as yyama)” that the latest generations of its revolvers might be accepted as simplest and strongest of all revolvers made until to that time. They used a very clever hammer safety been used by “Hopkins and Allen” company deades ago called “Trible Action Lockwork” that the trigger actuation of which would cock, release and rise the hammer up from the firing pin. The revolver had fewer and sturdier parts than its counterparts.

  4. Me Wants!

    Wanting those books is a good reason for me to look for a better paying job.

    I never got much chance to play with Spanish pistols and carbines, but what I did get to play with was pretty amazing.

    The Spanish state arsenal at La Coruña might have made the worst Mauser 98 rifles ever made anywhere but they’re still good guns, I’d buy one of them over a 1903 Springfield of any vintage, any day of the week. Same for a Santa Barbara.

    Star, Astra and Llama, to the best of my knowledge, aways produced excellent quality and very innovative guns at very reasonable prices.

    Regarding the historians (and Franco Fascists’) claims of “too much competition” driving quality down

    the relevant/pertinent questions are:

    Too much competition for whom? for the customers and consumers? or for the larger companies who had the ear of influential people in the regime?

    There are definite parallels there with similar “rationalizations” and cartelizations of Railroads, meat packers, Banks etc during the “Progressive Era” in American politics.

    and parallels with the earlier mercantilist lobbying of high end British makers for the establishment of proof houses and proof laws in order to impose extra costs on competitors, it didn’t matter if the customer wasn’t interested in a gun being proved – the law forced EVERY GUN to be submitted for proof.

    and for whom was quality “too low”? clearly there was a ready market for cheap pistols – if there hadn’t been, they wouldn’t have sold and as a result, no one would have made the things.

    In each case, it seems to have been driven by big manufacturers seeking favors from an absolute state.

    • Under ‘normal’ circumstances you would expect the weak ones to fall out of chain and strong to survive and grow. That is under circumstances which were fair and equal for all; kind of ideal world. I am not that far familiar with details of relations between Basque and Spain as whole and cannot judge if there were impediments to their gun industry as a result of political relations.

      One thing is that they survived for long, but finally they did not make it. Simply, competition from outside was stronger and Spanish state did not assist them enough.

      • IIRC, the three gun making companies had borrowed heavily during an inflation of the money supply, when banks were very keen to make loans at low interest rates.

        When the money printing slowed or stopped, the banks were over extended and forced the liquidation of the gun makers to save their own crooked arses.

        The mechanism that the banks use (fractional reserving) is well worth understanding.

        • Good link, Keith — thanks! This helps to explain in greater detail some aspects of how the banks actually go about setting themselves up to protect and maximize their own interests, frequently at the expense of a befuddled public which generally understands that it is being taken advantage of, but which cannot figure out how.

  5. I had a look on and on the book depository (it’s amazon too), but they’re not coming up.

    Is there a UK seller?

  6. Love the look of Astra pistols. I’m a cult genre film addict fixated on European B grade cinema, many were filmed in Spain and there always seems to be an Astra-looking handgun or two in most of them set in modern times. Have also come to understand that most of the 1911 looking pistols used in action film shooting scenes from the 60s/70s/80s are actually Star .45s as they didn’t choke as readily on blank rounds. Been wanting to learn more about them, more a casual observer than someone who’d be shopping for such books but glad to know they are out there.

  7. For what it may be worth. When I was in southern Africa in the 70s and 80s there were a lot of Spanish pistols and shotguns around. The shotguns had a very good reputation. As far as the pistols went the received wisdom was that one needed to find out what contract they were made for, which told you what materials and fitting had been specified. When the pistol was part of a high spec order, such as those made for the SADF, or a reputable RSA distributor, the weapon was as good as any, better than most. However, if the order was from another government or dealer, whose specs were (I paraphrase.) “Give us a bunch of guns, as cheap as you can make ’em, that will go bang most of the time.” you were taking the luck of the draw. Sometimes they were as good as any, excepting finish, other times they needed a prolonged stay at the armorers shop to be brought right. To be fair, most of the problems were things like godawful trigger pulls or shooting way off point of aim, the type of thing which can be fixed. I never heard of one that was actually unsafe to fire. Again, for what it may be worth.

  8. In the ’80s, a fellow Army officer had an Asta A-80 acquired from the U.S. Cavalry Store in Radcliff, Kentucky next to Ft. Knox when that store briefly sold firearms.

    It was a wonderful pistol, accurate and reliable. Years later I was disappointed to hear that Astra had gone out of business. I wonder what happened to the tooling for the A-80, A-90, and A-100 since they were fine guns and would probably still sell today if offered at an attractive price.

  9. I bought each book of Astra and star Spanish firearms,
    These are big books hardcover full color, and 1st section,
    What I need to know how many copies of each book were,
    Published,the exact number for each book

    Thank you for your time and help in this matter

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