The pistol illustrated was manufactured by Astra of Spain from 1982 to 1989. It was once a common pistol in American gun stores in both .45 ACP and 9mm Luger (and even a few in .38 Super), eventually being replaces by the A-100 model. The primary difference between the A-80 and the A-100 is the A-100 uses a Browning type magazine release while the A-80 uses a European heel-type magazine release. While most Americans prefer a Browning type mag release, the heel magazine catch is secure and trouble-free…if not quite as fast.
The Astra A-80 bears a strong resemblance to the SIG SAUER P series pistols, but this is at best skin deep. The operating mechanism differs on several points. The pistol uses a single locking lug to lock the barrel versus the SIG’s system of jutting the barrel hood into the ejection port.
The Astra de-cocker and slide lock are similar to the SIG pistols, too. The Astra’s takedown lever is located on the right side of the pistol. The P-80 was available as a fifteen-shot 9mm and nine-shot .45 ACP. The pistol here is the .45 ACP version.
The A-80 uses a double action first shot trigger pull. On this point there is no comparison to the SIG. The Astra double action trigger pull weight is a whopping sixteen pounds with plenty of stacking. The single action pull is spongy, but breaks at much more agreeable 5.1 lbs.
The hammer may be de-cocked by a SIG-like de-cocker lever located on the frame in front of the grip and behind the trigger. The pistol features a firing pin block/drop safety similar to the SIG.
The sights are average to good for the time, comparable to many service pistols. The front blade is painted white on the shooter’s side. The rear sight has a vertical white line below the notch. Line them up and you’re on target.
This pawn shop find was purchased along with two magazines. One holds nine rounds and doesn’t lock the slide open on the last shot. The other will accept only eight rounds, but the slide stays open when empty. Extra magazines can be found from time to time on the usual auction sites, usually for anywhere between $40 and $60 or so.
I have fired this pistol and found it very reliable. It’s certainly accurate enough for personal defense use. It will place an entire magazine into a ragged hole at seven yards and will feed hollow points admirably.
Most of the ammo the gun has seen since I’ve owned it has been with the Black Hills Ammunition 200 grain LSWC. Since the Astra features a steel frame and weights 35 ounces, recoil is very reasonable.
I have fired the pistol at a long 20 yards to evaluate accuracy potential. It will place five rounds in about four to four and one half inches at 20 yards and this one fires slightly low in relation to the sights. That’s accurate enough for most chores considering the pistol usually runs about three hundred dollars or so used.
While I wouldn’t seek out an A-80 as a combat handgun, it’s still a good deal for anyone needing a pistol right now that functions and is reliable. In today’s money this is still a quality piece for relatively little cash.
Specifications: Astra A-80 Semiautomatic Pistol
Caliber: .45 ACP
Overall Length: 7.1 inches
Barrel Length: 3.75 inches
Weight: 35 ounces unloaded
Price: Anywhere from $300 on up depending on condition and magazines included
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * * *
No failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject. It’s fired and cycled everything I can afford to feed it.
Accuracy: * * *
It’s not a tack driver, but it’s well within minute of bad guy. Accuracy is fine at personal defense distances. Things break down a little beyond 10 yards partly due to a spongy trigger.
Handling and Ergonomics * * * *
If you like the SIG you will like this pistol. The steel frame soaks up recoil. The high bore axis, as with the SIG, makes for a fair amount of muzzle flip.
Concealed Carry * * *
It really isn’t much bigger than a SIG P228, the slide is more rounded and the barrel hood isn’t as blocky. Stick it in a Falco fit them all and go about your business. One caution- spare magazines, grips and other parts may be difficult to obtain.
Overall * * * *
It isn’t handsome, but it isn’t ugly either. This old Astra has a decent finish, too. The best part is it’s reliable and accurate enough in a big boy caliber. This used gun is an affordable, shootable .45 option that lets you leave some money in your pocket.