Astra Hope or Victoria? And how much?

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by Vectrexer, May 18, 2008.

  1. Vectrexer

    Vectrexer New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    Messages:
    10
    Hi All. I had been looking for decent Spanish steel. My grandfather emigrated from Spain so there is a personal tie for me to own a gun from Spain. One of the manufacturers I considered was Astra. Old line. "Good" quality. Sometimes very unusual appearance as with the Model 400 line and its siblings.

    While I was in a local store in the SF Bay area (http://www.taborshooters.com/) I ran across a consignment. It was an 6.35 mm (.25 cal) ACP marked and sold as and "Astra Hope". I have read that the marking "Hope" was placed on more than one of their pistols. I have also read the line may be more properly known as the "Victoria" model.

    No matter what the markings and listing was stating, I told shop that I would buy the pistol if it fired. Frank (yes, one of the Mythbusters resident experts) was nice enough to check out pistol and tell Herbie (another shop employee) The Astra was safe to shoot. A few rounds were fired into the testing rig Tabor's has in the shop and the pistol had my dollars right then.

    Can someone help me identify the pistol I bought. As far as the R.O.K. (California) is concerned it is a "Hope" in their records becasue that is what is stamped into the barrel. But for myself I am not so sure the records are correct.

    I also need help in valuing the Astra. If it was a plain Astra Victoria or Firecat I could guess. But this one has what looks to be custom grips. And yes, the grips really are mother of pearl instead of some imitation. The grip work is beautiful with the small little recess for the panel alignment pins being carefully drilled and perfectly placed. I came to appreciate the grips even more after the first time back from the range during cleaning. No damage but I will wait until I get some plain grips before I fire the pistol again. The one on the pistol are just too nice to risk cracking or breaking.

    It would also be nice to get a more concrete information for the pistol. If serial of 293933 can help determining the age and manufacture location.

    There was now box or instructions. Just the pistol and magazine in the condition shown. The serial numbers on the slide and frame match. The internals are in same great shape. The pistol does not look to be refinished to my eye.

    Below are pictures of the pistol. Sorry for their size but I have not found any others like this so I thought the detail might be appreciated by other also looking for information about this model of Astra. If anyone desires to use these images on their web site or publish in any other media the please give let me know and give me credit. Better resolution images and shots from other angles available on request.

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    BTW the pistol fires perfectly and reliably. Easy to aim and shoot. Feels good in my hand and is relatively accurate for its size. Ate everything I threw at it which was some Speer Gold Dot, Winchester white box, and some Miwall new manufacture rounds. If I ever had the gun pointed at me I would be seriously concerned if it had the Gold dot ammo. The combination of the Astra and the Speer is not bad at all for the caliber and snappy for the size.

    No matter what I find out from the responses here I am very happy with my Astra purchase and will be keeping the pistol.

    Chris
    Last edited: May 18, 2008
  2. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Joined:
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    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    What you've got is an Astra Model 200....known in the U.S. as the "Firecat". I've never heard of the Model 200 referred to as the "Hope" or "Victoria".

    The Model 200 was made from 1920 to 1968 and is basically a copy of the Browning "Baby".

    Blue Book value:

    100% - $295
    98% - $220
    95% - $165

    The pearl grips might bring a little extra, but I don't know how much.
  3. Vectrexer

    Vectrexer New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
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    Thanks for your help. Now I know what model of black grip to go find.
  4. Vectrexer

    Vectrexer New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
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    I have looked at some of the other Firecats and notice ther other have a flat topped slide. On my slide there is a dimple. Is this an indication of another variation of the same model? Perhaps and earlier run?
  5. DJnRF

    DJnRF Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    35
    Location:
    Central IL.
    Vectrexer, what you have IS called the HOPE gun if it has the word Hope stamped on the barrel and visible through the ejection port. It should show markings that show it to be the model of 1917. Many of these guns were also issued to officers of the HOPE ships during WW 1. That is how the word came to be on them, and even before they were available as a 1920 and later commercial production. All of those were in .32 caliber. Models of 1920 and later were either 25, .32, or .380. The grips on these were a light brown wood. Of course, The more the pistol was handled/ carried, the darker the wood became. The Hope guns today are rare to find.My grips are still very light, and the checkering on them is still very sharp and crisp. The gun itself appears to have no more than some very light holster wear on the front edge of the slide. You can contact me at DJnRF@yahoo.com
    Dave.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
  6. RJay

    RJay Active Member

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    That is very interesting in reference abut the Hope name and the Hope ships, what reference are you using. I would very much like to read more on the subject.
  7. RJay

    RJay Active Member

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    That is very interesting in reference abut the Hope name and the Hope ships, what reference are you using. I would very much like to read more on the subject. I was always under the impression that the founder of the Astra linage, Enceta Esperanza Y Cia, used the name Hope because Esperanza is Spanish for Hope. I also was under the impression that the ,25 caliber Hope/Victoria/Firecat was developed in 1920, 2 years after the Great War. Could be wrong, been wrong before and there is the possibility that I might be wrong in the future
  8. DJnRF

    DJnRF Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Location:
    Central IL.
    I wish I could provide some other reference for you. However, it was through my work years ago with Maj. George C. Nonte when I found out about this pistol after we got one in the business. (I ended up with it, and still have it.) George had the full data and history of that weapon. Unfortunately, he died years ago, and I did not get to keep the info for myself.

    Actually, where the model 200 did not get commercially produced until
    1920, the Hope gun was actually developed for the Spanish military as an
    improved model of the one they made for the Germans, and it was actually
    made in 1916. Most are stamped as the model of 1917, though. Mine has
    it stamped as 1917. Being made so late in that war is probably why mine
    shows so little wear. When we first got it in the office we both thought
    it had never been fired. It looked very new in condition.

    In years after Hitler came to power in Germany, and from their previous
    business with Spain making pistols for them, another version of pistol was
    ordered to provide to some Nazi officers, and some others in special
    jobs. At the moment I am at a loss as to what that one was called. My
    wife was our editorial and research assistant back then, so maybe she
    might remember some of the details here that I cannot. (About the mid-
    seventies these days, her mind is still better than mine on details. lol)

    Many people, and places don't ever hear of things such as this one.
    But, this one isn't so difficult to understand when so many places state
    that this model wasn't made until 1920, and then one comes across
    one that is dated in 1916, or 17. You should see all the conflict about
    the original AR-16, AR-15, AR-18, and the AR-180. All the stories about
    those rifles are all wrong. Not even today's Armalite has it right. I had
    tried to point it out to them one day. (they are located not far from me.)
    I guess it is the old story of to whisper a secret to one, and then hear
    how it has changed so much when it finally gets back to you. And,
    everyone believes the latest version. Another example is that Gene
    Stoner did not design the AR-15. He was only one of three that did
    that, and he only designed the basics of the action. When he left
    Armalilte he had obtained the rights to the AR-15 from Armalite as
    it could not pass military testing, but he used it to coax Colt for a
    job with them. But, that is how it was that the M-16 ended up with,
    and still has, the gas tube instead of the gas piston. Only the gas
    piston can be considered a 'self-cleaning' rifle, coupled with the
    chrome lined chamber, and the proper gunpowder. When these things
    were not used in the converted AR-15 in the making of the M-16 the
    problems that troops had in VN were the direct result. The AR-18
    was (and still is) a much better rifle than the M-16/ AR-15. It was
    unfortunate that Armalite (owned by Fairchild Aviation then) was
    not knowledgeable about military contracts, so even though their
    rifle was the one that actually passed testing before the M-16, and
    even was issued to the SEALs for trials (which they refused to turn
    in after their use) that a political blunder caused the contract to
    be awarded fully to Colt for the M-16. As a result of that the AR-18
    was turned into the AR-180 for civilian sales marketing. The only
    military use of the AR-18, full auto version, was by the IRA. They
    bought up (by hook and crook methods) all they could get. The
    numbers of AR-18's made was not as many as were purchased by
    the IRA. So .... how did that happen??? Well, the original AR-180's
    were merely made by the change of a couple of parts to make it
    semi-auto, so many of the 180's were converted back to 18's for
    sale to the IRA. Because of that fact is why the AR-180's today
    are a complete change of the lower unit from the originals. It
    only takes two simple changes to an original 180 to make it into
    the full auto 18. With side-by-side pictures of the parts of both
    rifles a person can see those simple differences.

    Well, so much for my 'Useless Tidbits and Wisdom' here. Old men
    such as I, along with us as writers tend to always ramble on.
    If I do find some of the references on your queries, I will get
    back to you. I will ask the wife to see if we might have some
    saved in our library. (We did publish a lot of books as well as
    writing a lot of articles for Shooting times back then. George
    was the first writer for the Shooting Times back in the day.)

    Take care,
    Dave.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2013
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