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Hi fellas! What are the differences between the A-80 and A-100? They look identical to me. And, are they good in any caliber, or?

Thank you,
Dave
 

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MG Mike had given a very thorough and technical answer to your question in a thread about a year ago. I can't remember all of Mike's finer points but, he basically said the A-100 is stronger than the A-80 because of the method of slide construction.
 

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Hi fellas! What are the differences between the A-80 and A-100? They look identical to me. And, are they good in any caliber, or?

Thank you,
Dave
Dave. I have one of each in 9mm so I can't comment on the other calibers in either model. They are both sweet shooting pistols and in that regard are almost identical in my opinion. The 80 has the european style mag release on the butt of the weapon which is different from the 100 which is behind the trigger guard. All other controls are the same on both. After the A-80 was in production Astra built the A-90 which had the A-100's mag release but added a thumb safety on the slide, apparently at the request of law enforcement and military agencies.

I know I will get some flack from Sig lovers but I found shooting both very similar to shooting the Sig P-228. There is a slightly lighter, thinner feel to the Astra grips which fit my hand perfectly.
I have not measured the slide, frame, grips etc., but to my eye, the dimensions appear identical. I can't say whether parts are interchangeable but it would be interesting to know if they are. Over a thousand rounds through both and never a problem. I would not hesitate to pick up another for the right price.
Regards,

Cal
 

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Astra A80-90-100

The referenced thread goes back to Feb. 2007 and is too old to be retrieved with the "search" function on this forum. But I saved a summaryof my comments, and FWIW, here they are again:

M


Posted - 02/08/2007 : 08:09:34 AM

The A80 was loosely based on the SIG P220, but too much was lost in the translation. The basic problem was that the locking system dwell time had been reduced to the point where the gun was practically a delayed blowback. The breech would unlock almost as soon as the slide started moving rearward, and the slide velocity was consequently too high. This was unfortunately combined with inherently weak slide construction; its front end (which incorporated the barrel bushing and the recoil stop surface) was fabricated from four separate parts furnace-brazed together. Under impact from recoil the "chin" of the slide tended to tear downward and jam itself in the frame. At least it "failed safe", most of the time; however, if it broke off completely the slide flew rearward off the gun.

In summary, the A80s in 9mm Para were of marginal construction; in the more powerful .38 Super they were clearly underbuilt and never worked well, and in .45 they were dangerously weak. The barrels in .45 frequently broke off their cam lugs; usually that just disabled the gun, but sometimes it was a job to get it apart afterward. The same was true of the ejector, which had a habit of breaking off its tip. In the A80s it too was permanently furnace-brazed into the frame. It could only be replaced by cutting it out on a milling machine, though it was later redesigned to be dismountable. Astra also subsequently redesigned the slide in late A90s and A100s to make the slide "chin" integral with the slide body, but its cross-section at that point remained very thin, and there was no room to beef it up without completely redesigning the pistol.

Today I would be willing to shoot a .45 caliber A80-90-100 only from a machine rest—not in my hand, and not standing behind it. The easiest way to cure a non-functioning .38 Super version is to use only .38 ACP or convert it to 9mm Parabellum by changing the barrel and magazine. I will shoot the 9mm versions (I have a couple of them for reference) but only with standard loads, and I check very frequently for any sign of slide failure.



Posted - 02/14/2007 : 09:50:28 AM

Astra might have gotten away with the reduced dwell time if there had been additional mass in the slide to compensate for it. But the slide weight minus the barrel is too light to keep the velocity down. And its travel is too short to dissipate the energy before it slams to a sudden halt and is reversed. Many who comparison-tested the Astra against others in its class commented that it seemed to have greater felt recoil, and I believe that was the reason.

Theoretically it is possible--as the Astra 400 and 600 have shown--to design a pistol will NO dwell time, i.e., pure blowback. But it requires a massive, strong slide with a generous length of stroke, plus a heavy recoil spring. All of these are absent from the Astra A80-90-100 series.

It is not practical, and maybe impossible within the A80 envelope--to try to overcome this with heavier springs alone. "Extra-strength" springs are often touted as a way of allowing the use of hot ammunition, but in my opinion that is an erroneous reverse application of the fact that some guns can be made to function with light loads by reducing the strength of the recoil spring. The notion that it works both ways overlooks the fact that heavy loads impose additional stress on some parts that cannot be reduced regardless of the strength of the recoil spring, and that any additional energy absorbed by the recoil spring gets pounded back on the return stroke. So there's no free lunch.

Sophisticated double-spring assemblies and synthetic buffers have been used in some guns to reduce slide velocity at the instant of barrel/slide unlocking, as well as to reduce slide velocity as the slide reaches the end of its travel. These work best when the slide and frame are originally designed to incorporate them. Trying to retrofit existing guns is usually a makeshift arrangement, as the maximum slide weight and length of travel already are fixed, and frequently there's not enough interior room to install them. It has been long accepted that the most practical way to reduce slide velocity is with more mass in the recoiling parts. And more weight may require greater recoil stop surface, which in turn may require a stronger frame, and so on... until practically everything may have to be redesigned (unless they are already overdesigned--which was certainly NOT the case with the Astra A80 series).

Bottom line: The Astra A80 .45 is what it is. You're mining poor ore trying to convert it into an H&K USP.




Posted - 02/15/2007 : 9:49:41 PM

The source of this information is about 25 years of experience in examining a large number of broken Astra A80s and A90s. I used to have a box full of slides in which the brazed joint at the "chin" (which is the recoil stop surface) had torn apart, displacing the "chin" downward so that it jammed in the frame. I am personally familiar with one incident involving an A90 .45 in which this segment snapped off completely rather than tearing. The slide flew rearward off the pistol and struck the shooter in the mouth. His mouth was a bloody mess, but fortunately his teeth were not broken. That incident led to a factory recall of all A90 .45s that had been produced up to then. During that time Astra redesigned the slide to make this part integral with the body of the slide, but there was no room to increase the cross section of the connecting web, and I still don't trust it. I've also personally seen more than a few broken .45 barrels, all with the locking underlug snapped off.

I still have the A100 prototype in 9mm, which actually was factory-assembled with a modified A80 slide (and left so marked), though the slide was of the later "one-piece" pattern (actually two pieces, as a shallow ring which served as a barrel bushing was still furnace-brazed in, but much better than the earlier "two piece" pattern --actually four pieces: slide body, slide chin, barrel bushing and front sight--all brazed together). If the "one-piece" slide is going to come apart, it is likely to do so by gradually tearing rather than suddenly popping off the front end. I have examined at least two late slides of the "one-piece" design that gradually tore in this fashion, but I know nothing of the history of these two, or what ammunition was used in them. There is no doubt, however, that this is the Achilles' heel of that series.

To the best of my knowedge all A100s were made with "one-piece" slides. However, I remain of the opinion that regardless of the slide type, the A80-90-100 series of pistols are of marginal construction. I flat out won't shoot a .45 caliber A80 or A90 with a two-piece slide while holding it in my hand. The 9mms with "one-piece" slide are probably okay from a safety standpoint, but I don't trust any of the others. if I were going to do any extensive shooting with one, I would check it VERY often for any sign of separation at the front.

Lest anyone conclude that I am picking on Astra, one of the WORST guns in this regard is the postwar Mauser HSc. Their slides are notoriously weak and ALWAYS break. The slides of German P.38s are also commonly fractured, but they fail safe. The Star Firestar .45 is another gun with a reputation for self-destruction of the slide, as is the Star 30P (the short model, not the 30M) which doesn't break but chews up its locking lugs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you, Mike! I appreciate the detailed and honest information and thank you for digging the article up for us!

Dave
 

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re Astra A-80, 90, 100

Mike,
Thank you for digging up your old posts. Outstanding and very informative. Antaris mentions the problem with slide chin failure in his book on Astras but your personal experience and detailed narrative is much more illuminating re: the weakness in this particular Astra series. I have the 9mm versions only but you can bet that I will be closely examining the slide very closely in the future.
Your sharing of your experience and knowledge is invaluable to enthusiasts like myself who enjoy shooting these Astras but lack any real technical expertise not to mention joining the forum long after your posts. And since there will be more aficianados of Spanish Steel who will be looking at the Astra A80-100 series as possible acquisitions in the future - is there a way this forum can keep your posts available for future reference?
Regards,
Lee
 

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I will chime in, I am a die hard Sig fan who also has a deep appreciation for Spanish pistols. I have an A-100 in 9mm and it is a great pistol. I was looking for something "interesting" at my local gun shop and the owner suggested the A-100, as it was one of his favorites. I bought a used one about 6 years ago and have really enjoyed owning and shooting it. I also have a Sig 228 and 220 and I like the Astra because it "runs" the same way as my Sigs. Yeah I have had a couple of Sig Snobs turn their nose up at my cheap "Spanish Sig Copy" but usually if I let someone run a magazine of ammo thru it their opinion changes cause it is really an excellent shooter. Interestingly, the A-100 is a heavy gun and its not great to carry, but the extra weight makes it very stable, I seem to be more accurate with my A-100 than any other 9mm that I own!
 
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