Astra revolver


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Longhunter1750
May 2, 2014, 09:02 PM
Howdy!,new guy here from Mo. got a question for you. I recently pick up this Astra revolver at a local gun show,as you may be able to see in the photo the barrel is mark .357 magnum but the cylinder is marked .38 special. the fella I got it from thought it was a factory mistake but I figured someone changed out the cylinder. my question is,you can chamber a .357 round in the cylinder and lock it up. is this normal,i know a .357 is a bumped up .38 but shouldn't a .38 cylinder be too short to lock up with a .357 round in it. with a .357 in the cylinder there is still a quarter inch of cylinder left,do you think they may have just mislabeled the cylinder.
http://i167.photobucket.com/albums/u137/david50cal/100_1431_zps6320e41a.jpg (http://s167.photobucket.com/user/david50cal/media/100_1431_zps6320e41a.jpg.html)

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silicosys4
May 2, 2014, 09:13 PM
Interesting,
That looks like the frame size of my Astra Terminator.
Do the cylinder chambers look small as compared to diameter of the cylinder? If so, it might be a .44 mag size frame and cylinder chambered for either .357 or .38.
If the gun says .38 special on the cylinder, I'd trust the cylinder markings over the barrel markings, as the cylinder will be taking the brunt of the pressure.
But if the cylinder is a .44 mag cylinder chambered for .38, the extra metal in the cylinder might make a .357 doable....MIGHT. I'm no gunsmith, just my thoughts.

Any chance we can get a shot of the cylinder face?

Edit: Upon looking closer, I don't think they are the same size frame. I would keep my loads to .38 to be safe, if I were you, and go by what the cylinder says. Even if a .357 fits, you don't know if the cylinder has been treated to handle those pressures, and I don't know if you'll find a good answer for something as obscure, and imported, as an Astra.

Neat revolver though. I love my Terminator and am quiet happy with its quality.
If you take your grips off, do you have the adjustable spring as well? It's a ring with different depth slots cut in it for the mainspring to seat. If you seat in a deeper slot, you have a lighter pull...a shallower slot gives a harder pull.
Really neat and innovative.

19-3Ben
May 2, 2014, 09:31 PM
I would REALLY want a gunsmith to check it out before i fired a single round through it. In case it's really a .38spl, where some bubba reamed out the chambers for .357mag, and swapped the barrel or something. I would want to know from a professional that it was safe just in case someone has been shooting loads in it that the gun is just not made for. They may be able to check for cracking and metal fatigue in areas that we just can't see or don't know to look for.
Either way, until it got a clean bill of health from a very knowledgeable gunsmith, I would not want to shoot it if it were mine.

I'll make a gamble and buy a mystery gun, but I'm not gambling my eyes nor hands!

chicharrones
May 2, 2014, 09:38 PM
I recently pick up this Astra revolver at a local gun show,as you may be able to see in the photo the barrel is mark .357 magnum but the cylinder is marked .38 special. the fella I got it from thought it was a factory mistake but I figured someone changed out the cylinder.

From studying the enlarged photo, it does seem to have had the cylinder changed out. Interesting.

Longhunter1750
May 2, 2014, 10:02 PM
I have shot .38 through it and it shoots just fine,i have no intentions of shooting .357 through it. chicharrones what do you see that brings you to that conclusion,i also think it was changed out because of the stampings but as far as anything obviouse I don't see it,the fit and finish is perfect. silicosys it does have the adjustable spring ring.
http://i167.photobucket.com/albums/u137/david50cal/100_1555_zpsd311efaf.jpg (http://s167.photobucket.com/user/david50cal/media/100_1555_zpsd311efaf.jpg.html)
http://i167.photobucket.com/albums/u137/david50cal/100_1554_zps5bc52919.jpg (http://s167.photobucket.com/user/david50cal/media/100_1554_zps5bc52919.jpg.html)

19-3Ben
May 2, 2014, 10:11 PM
I have shot .38 through it and it shoots just fine,i have no intentions of shooting .357 through it.

My concern would not only be limited to .357s. the point of my post, and perhaps i was not clear, is that if that gun was fired with loads that are beyond the threshold for which it is designed, it may have weakened the frame through damage.
Once the frame is weakened, it may not even be safe with .38s, if micro-fissures could open up or something. I'm not gunsmith, nor am I a metallurgist.
My gut tells me that the gun would be loose and that you'd see symptoms of problems like that in the gun's functioning before it would just blow up on ya. BUT if it were me, I'd want it checked out by a real pro before betting my vision or use of my hands on that little assumption.

Longhunter1750
May 2, 2014, 10:20 PM
19-3Ben I understand what you are saying but the frame is marked .357 so I would assume the frame would be able to handle the pressure of a .357 load. my concern would be firing .357 in a .38 cylinder,but it is a mute point as I have no intentions of doing so.

silicosys4
May 2, 2014, 11:34 PM
That's a beefy cylinder for .38 special. Just from appearance there looks to be more metal between the chambers than any of my .38's or .357's except for my 28-2...which is a .44/.45 sized cylinder chambered for .357.
So my first guess of a .44 magnum sized frame and cylinder might not be far off.
My Astra .44 mag Terminator has a cylinder diameter of about 1.72"
Do you have a set of calipers that you could measure yours?
You can see the cylinder has a step in the chambers, so it doesn't look like bubba just straight reamed the cylinder for .357.
I second a double check with a good gunsmith to see what they have to say about the chambers.

Longhunter1750
May 2, 2014, 11:44 PM
1.570

silicosys4
May 2, 2014, 11:54 PM
interesting, definitely a .357/.38 cylinder then,
guess my eyes were just playing tricks on me.
Solid guns though, hope she shoots well with .38's! Be interesting to hear what a smith has to say about the cylinder.

mackg
May 3, 2014, 12:11 AM
Would the chambers accomodate a little more than a 357 case, as most makers will allow? Some "Spl" guns will allow chambering of magnum ammo (NOT shooting).

This is all very academic though, as Astra might not have used the same steels / treatments for these two calibers, and we don't know what this cylinder was intended for.

They had a beefy 357 though, cylinder included, compared to mod 19's, Taurus, Rossi and Llama's productions.

chicharrones
May 3, 2014, 12:17 AM
I have shot .38 through it and it shoots just fine,i have no intentions of shooting .357 through it. chicharrones what do you see that brings you to that conclusion,i also think it was changed out because of the stampings but as far as anything obviouse I don't see it,the fit and finish is perfect.

Of course, I am just looking at the photo, but it seems that the polishing on the cylinder and crane is a bit better than the frame and barrel. Almost like the cylinder and crane came from another gun.

Although, all of the polishing might look the same in person. Hard to tell from here.

rswartsell
May 3, 2014, 12:23 AM
Length of cylinder is usually the first discernable difference between .38 S&W Special and .357 Mag. Also there are differences in chamber throating. Does the chamber readily accommodate the 1/8" longer .357 cartridge?

These questions must be answered before we can reliably go forward.

Longhunter1750
May 3, 2014, 12:24 AM
you cant tell by looking,if the cylinder was not marked .38 special you would never know anything was different

silicosys4
May 3, 2014, 12:26 AM
S&W 586 cylinder diameter - 1.55"
Colt Trooper mk III cylinder diameter - 1.55"
S&W M19 cylinder diameter - 1.44"

Wow, at 1.57", the cylinder on that .38 may not be a .44 mag cylinder with .38 size holes, but it is definitely beefier than S&W or Colt thought a .357 needs to be.

Is the .38 stamping on the cylinder the same font as the barrel markings? Possible...and I'm randomly thinking out loud here...but that stamping could have been put on a duty gun to signify the proper duty round....?
If it is a different font, perhaps it is a .357 proper, and was stamped post-factory by the agency issuing it, for use as a duty revolver only with .38 special duty rounds. If the gun was surplussed from a foreign government or police issue and then imported, that is. I know there were runs of revolvers made to order by S&W and Colt that you'd expect to be .357, in .38 special to satisfy duty requirements concerning issue loads. The Colt Trooper mkIII comes to mind, I know that a small run was made in .38 special...and there were a few model 10's chambered from the factory for .357. Both of these runs were done at the request of certain police agencies to satisfy their duty requirements.
Maybe a foreign force needed .38's for its force, and instead of paying for a special run of otherwise .357 guns, just had the cylinder marked for .38 special and issued them for use as duty guns with .38 special.

Edit...It looks like the stamping was done before the gun was blued, I don't see any bare metal in the stampings...but its hard to tell. If that's the case, either the cylinder was reblued after stamping, or it was stamped prior to the gun leaving the factory. Rebluing points to bubba or a custom rechambering/new cylinder, but a stamping from the factory is possibly something that would have on the guns when delivered, if my hypothesis about the guns being marked for .38 duty rounds only, but being a .357 in all other ways. The font not matching would be something that could come from the factory, as they might not have cared about matching the font on the two machines for a duty gun..

I have Rugers and S&W's with significantly different shades in bluing between the cylinder and frame. It's a pretty common phenomenon.
Getting the bluing on the cylinders and frames to match is actually pretty tricky, I've heard, because of the properties of hot bluing and the different alloys and treatment of the steel between the two.

mackg
May 3, 2014, 12:38 AM
Of course, I am just looking at the photo, but it seems that the polishing on the cylinder and crane is a bit better than the frame and barrel. Almost like the cylinder and crane came from another gun.

Although, all of the polishing might look the same in person. Hard to tell from here.

I have a Llama .44 with three different "shades" for the bbl, cylinder and frame... :)

Longhunter1750
May 3, 2014, 12:38 AM
.357 cartridge, a good 1/4 inch of cylinder left
http://i167.photobucket.com/albums/u137/david50cal/100_1558_zpsa66d94d0.jpg (http://s167.photobucket.com/user/david50cal/media/100_1558_zpsa66d94d0.jpg.html)
http://i167.photobucket.com/albums/u137/david50cal/100_1561_zps09b5d49a.jpg (http://s167.photobucket.com/user/david50cal/media/100_1561_zps09b5d49a.jpg.html)

Longhunter1750
May 3, 2014, 12:46 AM
the stamping on the barrel and on the cylinder do not look the same. the stamping on the cylinder (ASTRA .38 SPL.) looks deeper and more prominent. the barrel is stamped .357 MAGNUM CTG.

mackg
May 3, 2014, 12:48 AM
It is their .357 alright. The .44 (a few .45 Colt were reportedly made) would have a cylinder about 1.65 wide; and I don't think the bigger frame was ever made with fixed sights.

As silicosys4 said, many makers had identical looking guns in both calibers, some didn't go as far as using the same steels.

silicosys4
May 3, 2014, 12:54 AM
Does the gun have import marks?
If it does, I would have to stay with my hypothesis, that the cylinder is most likely a .357 that was stamped by the factory as .38 special because the gun was issued to a police or govt. agency that used only .38 special, and was subsequently sold as surplus and imported.

Given where Astra is manufactured and the local gun laws, I don't see the gun being sold locally to a civilian and then modified, then somehow making its way here....and I don't see a .357 Astra being bubba'd here in the USA into a .38 then reblued, or even a cylinder swap...where would you get a .38 Astra cylinder, anyways? Doubt you could get one from Astra, you'd have to find a donor revolver, and Astra's are uncommon.
Astra's are unfortunately (or fortunately, if you like to purchase them) not regarded as a high quality gun, even though they generally are. Why would someone spend the money to bubba an Astra when they could have gotten a S&W .357 for probably around the same money?

No, I am pretty convinced that the gun is a .357 as is the cylinder, and the cylinder was simply stamped .38 spl. at the factory so it could be issued to a domestic agency that used .38 special...then was subsequently imported

Definitely confirm with a gunsmith though.

Longhunter1750
May 3, 2014, 12:57 AM
where would the import marks be and what would they look like

silicosys4
May 3, 2014, 01:00 AM
I have seen stampings along the barrel, along either side of the frame, under the barrel, even under the grips if the importer has a conscience, lol
On my Astra the stamping is on the right side under the cylinder on the frame. "Interarms. Alexandria, Virginia"
Look for a company name and a state. It might be a nice blued rollmark...usually on guns made for import.
On guns that were surplussed off, the stamping might be done with electropencil or a punch.
It should be there somewhere, I think even the guns that were made for import were required to be stamped in some manner.
If it's not import stamped, I am at a loss.

Edit. Here is a slight clue, another thread referring to an Astra model 960...which looks like the same gun as yours, but in a longer barrel, adjustable sights, and in .38 special. The cylinder on the 960 looks to be the same length as yours though. The thread also mentions that .38 versions of the Astra 357 were not imported. I assume your gun is an Astra 357, you didn't mention model number but that would be easy to miss. If the .38 version was not imported, than it would be safe to assume that .38 special cylinders to ream would be next to impossible to come by in the U.S, so that might point towards the conversion and cylinder stamp being done at the factory.

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=390191

Gunz
May 3, 2014, 10:01 PM
That gun is a Barracuda. It is a 70 s vintage leftover Astra production for FN. It has the ability to go from 357 cylinder to 9mm. The guns imported here int eh last 5 years did not include the 9mm. I did find one for mine, though. Mine shoots 38 special and 357. The photos are clear when the 357 round is good. It is safe. To be honest, I like shooting 38 specials more. It is a very nice gun, and shoots well to point of aim and impact. I bought mine because i wanted a 3 inch blued revolver. I paid $380 or so.

Longhunter1750
May 4, 2014, 12:06 AM
according to this serial number chart this revolver was made in 1980,cant remember were I found the chart at.


Using proofmarks to determine year of manufacture:

Series 0 Series 1 Series 2
Proof Year Proof Year Proof Year
A 1927 A1 1955 A2 1981
B 1928 B1 1956 B2 1982
C 1929 C1 1957 C2 1983
CH 1930 CH1 CH2
D 1931 D1 1958 D2 1984
E 1932 E1 1959 E2 1985
F 1933 F1 1960 F2 1986
G 1934 G1 1961 G2 1987
H 1935 H1 1962 H2 1988
I 1936 I1 1963 I2 1989
J 1937 J1 1964 J2 1990
K 1938 K1 1965 K2 1991
L 1939 L1 1966 L2 1992
LL 1940 LL1 LL2
M 1941 M1 1967 M2 1993
N 1942 N1 1968 N2 1994
1943 1 1969 2 1995
O 1944 O1 1970 02 1996
P 1945 P1 1971 P2 1997
Q 1946 Q1 1972 Q2 1998
R 1947 R1 1973 R2 1999
S 1948 S1 1974 S2 2000
T 1949 T1 1975 T2 2001
U 1950 U1 1976 U2 2002
V 1951 V1 1977 V2 2003
X 1952 X1 1978 X2 2004
Y 1953 Y1 1979 Y2 2005
Z 1954 Z1 1980 Z2 2006

larryh1108
May 5, 2014, 08:16 PM
chart referenced:

http://www.9mmlargo.com/year_codes.htm

Longhunter1750
May 5, 2014, 09:25 PM
yes! mine is marked Z1(1980)

Jim K
May 5, 2014, 09:43 PM
I do not own one of those guns, but have seen several and none had any caliber markings on the cylinder, only on the barrel. I suspect that marking was put on by/for some police organization to keep their folks from using .357, though the gun should be easily capable of firing that round.

Jim

WestKentucky
May 5, 2014, 09:52 PM
Do a search for Astra cylinder markings. You may find an answer that way. I suspect that the cylinder and crane came from another gun, possibly because it was a straight swap from 357 to 38spl. It is not uncommon to see companies making 38spl on 357 frames as it makes financial sense so assuming the gun is assembled from parts, it could easily be a safe gun to fire. I would focus my efforts on figuring out where that cylinder started it's life and go from there.

slick6
May 9, 2014, 03:49 PM
silicosys4:

I'm the owner of the 4" Astra 960 revolver shown in the link posted in your thread. The 960 .38 Special was identical to the Astra .357 as the frame was the same. The size of these two revolvers were equivalent to the S&W Model 28-I have verified this via comparing my 960 with my 4" Model 28. It was only legal to import the Astra .357 but not the Astra 960 .38 Special, as strange as this seems! I was only able to acquire my 960 here in the U.S.A. because my specimen was brought into this country by the original owner.

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