Astra 600 – Second Service Life

This is about an Astra 600/43 with an unusual history.  In 1943, the Germans ordered a large quantity of the newly co-designed Spanish Astra 600s in 9x19 mm, essentially a scaled down version of the model 400 (M1921).  Franco’s Spain was officially neutral in the WWII, but provided military support to the Axis in several ways, including the sale of arms.

The redesigned Astra 600 used 9x19 mm ammo, compared to the Astra 400 which used 9x23 mm Largo, unique to Spanish arms.  These Astras are displayed on an Armory Racks® 4-Gun rack.

The first 10,500 were delivered to the Germans from mid-May to mid-July 1944 to the German occupied seaside town of Hendaye France, just across the border from Spain.  These Astras were “Eagle over WaAD20 proofed in France by the Germans, and made ready for use by the Wehrmacht.  This group of pistols is sometime referred to by collectors as the “First Contract.”

The proof on the right tang was applied by the Germans after acceptance of the guns in France.  Only the first 10,500 are WaAD20 proofed.

The Allied D-Day invasion of Normandy June 6th 1944, over 400 miles to the North of Hendaye, and other Allied actions forced the Germans to retreat from France.  This left Astra holding almost 30,000 finished but undelivered Astra 600/43s.  In 1951, then West Germany purchased post-war, what they couldn’t take delivery of during the war, and then some, paying for them a second time.  The Astras were used by the Army and various Police organizations, including the LPN (Landespolizei Niedersächsen) and LBPN (Landesbereitschaftspolizei Niedersächsen).  LPN and LBPN used pistols are easy to identify, as they were commonly marked on the grip straps.  This group of pistols with serial numbers greater than 10,500, is sometime referred to by collectors as the “Second Contract.”

The LBPN grip strap marking signifies post-war use by the Landesbereitschaftspolizei Niedersächsen.

The postwar German-used Astras sometimes have additional parts numbered to the gun that were not numbered by the Spanish Astra factory, most commonly magazines, and sometimes the barrel bushing and barrel bushing lock.  This was likely done by local German police armorers as was the common practice during WWII.   Some Second Contract Astra 600s carry only original factory markings, while others have more extensive additional numbering.

This Astra 600, serial number 8901, was a First Contract weapon and WaAD20 proofed in 1944.  There is no way to know if it saw Wehrmacht service before the end of the war.  What we do know, is that uncharacteristically it somehow found its way into post-war German police use by the LBPN.

This Astra 600/43, displayed on an Armory Racks Wall Hugger, is unusual in it has markings of a wartime accepted gun, and a post-war deployed German Police gun.  Most wartime deployed Astras 600s did not see post-war use, and many were GI bring-back trophies. 

The numbered magazine, barrel bushing and barrel bushing lock were numbered post-war, presumably by the LBPN armorer.  LPN and LBPN marked Astra 600s are not uncommon, but one like 8901 that is also WaAD20 proofed, is, in my observation, quite unusual. 

The post-war numbered parts beyond what was done in the Astra factory is somewhat unique and presumably done by the LBPN.  The magazine numbering suggests there was also a second numbered magazine stamped “2” for this gun.  Notice that the insides of the frame and slide are still in the “the white” as it was when it left the Astra factory in 1944.

Technically a First Contract firearm, 8901 also lived the life of a Second Contract firearm being used by the LBPN for many years following the war.  In all likelihood, post-war, it was carried by a German veteran of WWII doing his service in the LBPN.

At some point, presumably before the Gun Control Act of 1968 due to lack of an import mark, the unique Astra 600/43 found its way to the U.S.

Rich in history indeed!

©2019 RJK Ventures LLC. All Rights Reserved. Other brands, products, or service names mentioned are or may be trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.  Firearms shown here are for display and education purposed only.



  • I stumbled across the Astra 600/43 at my local shop and after a few weeks decided I had to get it. Mine is a 24000 block of number so not an issued number. No waffen acceptance stamps but a wolff spring kit for 11 bucks and a few mags from Numrich and I was off and running. Great piece of shootable history . Nice article thanks for this

  • I have a first contract Astra 600 serial 1940, but unfortunately someone in its past was mean to it – it appears that steel wool was used on most of the slide, removing much of the bluing. The frame is still nicely blued, but it appears that someone tried to scratch up the Waffen WaAD20 mark – it is still visible and legible, but is covered in tiny scratches. :(

  • “I have a Astra model 600/43 pistol with serial number 4029. This pistol was taken off a Dead German officer by my uncle in WWII. This is very rear pistol in good condition. Looking to possibly sell for right price. Paul”

    Paul, first contract Astra 600s (1st 10,500) are prized by collectors. Unlike second contract (undelivered) Astra 600s, they are stamped WaAD20 on the right tang. You should have no trouble selling it is you chose to do so. RJK

  • I have a Astra model 600/43 pistol with serial number 4029. This pistol was taken off a Dead German officer by my uncle in WWII. This is very rear pistol in good condition. Looking to possibly sell for right price.


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