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What happened to the Spanish gunmakers?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Mooseman, Sep 6, 2009.

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  1. Mooseman

    Mooseman Member

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    I was looking at some of the Star and Astra C&R handguns available and it made me wonder whatever happened to these companies. To the best of my knowledge the Spanish gun makers such as Star and Astra were decent size firearms producers. It seems that the product they put out was reasonably good. What made them go the way of the dodo?
     
  2. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    I think Llama was spanish too. Don't know the answer to your question.

    Added: Just looked up Llama in the Blue Book. They went bankrupt in 1992. Reopened under the name Fabrinor SAL in 2000. Closed in 2006.

    Astra went out of business after trying to get the Star patents in July 1998 after several re-naming's which I assume means new ownership. All remaining inventory was sold off in 1999.

    Star went out of business in June 1997.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2009
  3. paintballdude902

    paintballdude902 Member

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    did spain crack down on gun laws?
     
  4. Mauserguy

    Mauserguy Member

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    Recently there was an article in the Shotgun News on Spanish pistols. It made is sound as though the Spanish manufacturers, particularly Star, were marginally profitable, living on government orders, then the Spanish army stopped buying Star guns, switching to something else, and they simply ran out of cash.

    Frankly, from what I have observed of the gun world, I think that they hadn't had much interest in inovation since the nineteen twenties, escept for a few new Star designs in the early nineties, so they fell behind the curve when the plastic pistols emerged. Perhaps they should have had a more active design team.
    Mauserguy
     
  5. CornCod

    CornCod Member

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    I would think that before the death of General Franco in 1976, a lot of left-wing European countries didn't want to do business with Spain. During the Eisenhower administration, the US sold weapons to Spain which was controversial on the continent. Spain had to make a lot of its own arms and do without a lot of modern weapon systems. When the Generalissimo passed away, Spain joined NATO and started buying European stuff, in particular a lot of German arms. When smaller countries join NATO, a lot of their local arms companies take a hit because they are virtually forced to buy stuff from England, Germany and the US. Its a bit of a scam really and probably one of the big reasons American and EU defense contractors are so hot for totally unnecessary NATO expansion.
     
  6. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    Every Astra I've seen (unlike many dubious Spanish pistols) were on par with US gunmakers in fit and finish.
     
  7. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Member

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    Google them. Should be able to find information.
     
  8. indiandave

    indiandave Member

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    They may not make guns anymore, but they still make good Paella and Sangria.
     
  9. Starship1st

    Starship1st Member

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    It is unfortunate that only the large companies seem to stay a float. These small companies made a good and less expensive alternative. :cool:
     
  10. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    I know Colt used to have their Junior pistol made by Astra until passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act. Colt viewed it as sort of a saturday night special and dropped it. That is so typical of Colt in the post 1950 time frame.
     
  11. alistaire

    alistaire Member

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    You mean like S&W and Ruger, they decided they could not beat the anti-2A gang and caved?
     
  12. Tinpig

    Tinpig Member

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  13. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    Psst, Colt Junior was made through 1973. The .25 was waning in popularity and that's why Colt dropped it.
     
  14. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    Colt Junior: That is correct, but not in Spain after 1968 as I recall. It was not a bad little pocket pistol. Colt could probably sell a few these days.
     
  15. Tinpig

    Tinpig Member

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    I agree about the Astra Colt Jr. I bought one because I saw it as the natural little brother to my 1911 and 1903.

    [​IMG]

    It wasn't badly made, it was just underpowered, inaccurate, and with a safety that was too small to be safe. It really had no use and I sold it with no regrets.

    Tinpig
     
  16. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    The Spanish have made, and still do, excellent break action shotguns. (The top gun makers are actually Basque, I believe.) The best ones are handmade. I have a Grulla SxS proofed in 1953 that has helped me put quite a few pheasant on the table.
     
  17. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    Nothing wrong with the Basque/Spanish shotgun makers - they're all doing as well as any business in this economy
     
  18. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Augusto Unceta-Barrenechea, the last successful manager and owner of Astra, was killed by ETA terrorists in 1977.

    After Astra went out of business, it was merged with STAR. This company began making weapons as ASTAR (Astra/Star = ASTAR). Astra went out of business at the same time as STAR. Then Astar went out of business.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astra-Unceta_y_Cia_SA

    rc
     
  19. eye5600

    eye5600 Member

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  20. medmo

    medmo Member

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    The quality of the Astra, Llama and Star products were a big hit/miss in my experience. I had one Astra 44 mag that I wish I never traded. The Llama camming device for their large frame revolvers was very innovative. The Star PD 45 ACP was way ahead of it's time. I think the problem with quality differences from piece to piece really hit their marketability in the US which finished them off in the commercial market.
     
  21. smoke14me

    smoke14me Member

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    I have an astra a70 9mm, that is a great little 9. It shoots reasonably accurate, does not jam and cost less than 300 new.
     
  22. Shung

    Shung Member

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    news from Switzerland ;)

    Astra Arms SA
    (Sitz: Sion)

    SHAB-Nr.: 170 - 03.09.2008

    Grund: Handelsregister (Mutationen)
    - Eingetragene Personen

    Astra Arms SA, à Sion, CH-626.3.011.114-6, société anonyme (FOSC no 145 du 30. 07. 2007, p. 18, publ. 4047890). Inscription ou modification de personne: NOFIVAL SA, à Martigny (CH-621.3.002.011-3), organe de révision [précédemment: Nofida Nouvelle Fiduciaire SA, à Martigny].

    Tagebuch Nr. 1466 vom 28.08.2008
    (04636546/CH62630111146)


    Astra Arms S.A. - Switzerland
    In the year 2008, 100 years after the foundation of Esperanza y Unceta (Astra Unceta y Cía), a Swiss firearms manufacturing company, founded by the Italian entrepreneur Massimo Garbarino and located in the city of Sion, has adopted the name Astra Arms S.A. and took over the rights on the Astra trademark.[2] Although the company website is yet "Under Construction" as for early April 2009, official company literature states that Astra Arms S.A. will "manufacture handguns and rifles for self-defence, target shooting, professional training and law enforcement"; the company registration available on the Internet, states its activities as "Production, commerce, maintenance and reparation of firearms of all sorts and ammunitions, as well as of electronic, mechanical and other optical accessories".[3] According to sources gathered by Italian gun magazines at the 2008 EXA arms expo (Brescia, Italy, April 12-15, 2008), Astra Arms S.A. will establish a manufacturing line for high level 1911 and a manufacturing line for AR-15 rifles, StG-15 & StG-4, to be distributed on the European, Asian, South American and African market so to circumvent American regulations currently requiring the issue of an End user certificate for every single firearm of that kind that is exported from the Country, even when manufactured for the civilian market.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astra-Unceta_y_Cia_SA

    Site en construction :
    http://www.astra-arms.ch/

    [​IMG]
     
  23. CWL

    CWL Member

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    I think that the main reason why Spanish pistol makers went away is that their country stopped supporting them. When Franco was in power, he set-up severe laws regarding licensing and ownership of firearms and these laws remain to this day. While shotgunning and .22lr hunting is still popular, pistols outside of organized competition is not accessible to the average Spaniard.
     
  24. czkahr

    czkahr Member

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    There were a number of Spanish makers of motorcycles up into the 70's. Several were highly regarded and well made machines. For reasons I dont know, they all faded away. Perhaps govt protectionist policies, coupled with the onslaught of the Japanese brands. Same thing happened to all the British makers.
     
  25. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    Gun laws are hard on gun companies. When your market is limited by gun laws, then there is less profit to be made.

    When the major market is LEO and the military you depend on contracts, that while big and lucrative at the moment, can cease abruptly at any moment. After a company has grown large that sudden loss of most revenue results in bankruptcy.

    Europe in general has come to have many firearm restrictions that reduce the market. There is still a market for some shotguns, and a smaller market for various restricted items. But what creates a thriving vibrant market full of large and small competitors has been killed in most of Europe.
    You need a very large number of civilian customers willing to buy many unique items on a regular basis to support such a market.

    There is still some companies, and many that mass produce military and LEO arms, but far fewer of the unique companies that produced a large variety of civilian arms.
    The market for SxS shotguns still allowed by the government is only so large. There is only a limited number of civilians willing to go through the complex lengthy processes for various other types of arms.

    Just as various crazy laws have an impact though to a much lesser extent in the USA. If a manufacturer makes arms not legal in California, New York, or elsewhere they just cut out a significant portion of thier potential market. Now imagine every single state had such ridiculous laws, but all slightly different, with different random banned characteristics, exceptions, licenses, fees, etc
    The market would be much more difficult to remain a thriving gun manufacturer in. Outside of LEO and military sales it would be a complex and changing web.

    Plus with such restrictions, like requirements to belong to a club for X number of months to acquire the next gradual license in the tier system, it requires too much time, energy and investment for the casual citizen. Further reducing the families which have grown up with firearms, and the normalcy of such firearms. Which further reduces the number of customers in the next generation.
    So such a market is tough. Some companies can still do it, and some do it well. But it is not as easy as it was when mom and pop gunshops that gained reputations for quality and fine design could exist selling to regular citizens.
    Its no longer like opening up a small store selling food or fashion accessories. And a big company with a team of lawyers to do constant research can do it much better than a small store hand crafting fine arms one at a time to a dwindling market of customers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2009
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