The Astra model 900 semi-automatic pistol was introduced in 1927 by the Spanish company Astra – Unceta y Cia. Designed to compete with the highly successful Mauser C96 pistol of German origin, this large semi-automatic handgun was quickly followed by several select-fire automatic pistols of same basic layout. In the year of 1928 Astra introduced models 901 and 902, which featured integral (non-detachable) magazines with 10 and 20-round capacity, respectively. In the year of 1932 the Astra 903 automatic pistol entered production, which featured detachable box magazines with 10- or 20-round capacities. Next year, Astra 904 automatic pistol was introduced, which had a fire rate reduction mechanism, built into the grip. The Astra modelo F pistol also has detachable box magazines, and select-fire mechanism with rate reducer. All Astra pistols in the 900 – 904 series were chambered for 7.63×25 mm Mauser ammunition, while the Astra Modelo F pistol was chambered for the Spanish service 9x23mm Largo ammunition, because it was intended for use by Spanish Guarda Civil.
Many Astra model 900, 901, 902 and 903 pistols were sold to China during late 1920s and 1930s. Quite a few Astra 900 pistols also saw the action during the Spanish Civil war. Total production of those pistols varied from roughly 20,000 of Astra model 900 pistols to just nine of Astra model 903 pistol. Most widely manufactured automatic handgun in this line was Astra model 902, with roughly 7 thousand made. Of other models, following estimated numbers of pistols were made: Astra 901: 1,600; Astra 903: 3,000; Astra modelo F: 1,200. All Astra 900 series pistols were normally shipped with wooden shoulder stocks – holsters.
Astra model 900 semi-automatic pistol uses short recoil operated, locked breech action. Its bolt of generally square cross section rides inside the box-like barrel extension, which can recoil against the pistol frame. Breech locking is achieved by a vertically tilting locking piece, located under the bolt. All pistols feature external hammers with single action triggers. Manual safety lever is located next to the hammer. Automatic pistols such as Astra 901, 902 and 903 feature a fire mode selector, located on the right side of the frame, behind the trigger. Astra 904 and Astra modelo F pistols feature rate reducing mechanism, located inside the pistol grip, and the fire selector lever is located above the right grip panel. All pistols feature double stack, double feed box magazines, placed in front of the trigger guard. Pistols Astra 900 – 902 have fixed box magazines, loaded with loose rounds or stripper clips through the top of the action, with the bolt locked back. Pistols Astra 903, 904 and Modelo F feature detachable box magazines with capacities of 10 or 20 rounds. All pistols were equipped with adjustable rear sights, rather optimistically marked for range from 100 to 1000 meters.
|Astra 900||Astra 901||Astra 902||Astra 903||Astra F|
|Barrel length, mm||140||140||180||160||160|
|Weight, empty, kg||1.26||1.26||1.53||1.45||1.45|
|Magazine capacity, rounds||10||10||20||10, 20||10, 20|
|Cyclic rate of fire, rounds/min||–||900||900||900||350|