SATA – Italian .25 acp pocket Pistol (Sabatti and Tanfoglio)
A few weeks ago, I went into a pawnshop and spotted a neat little .25 acp pistol. I could tell it was an older piece, so I asked the clerk to let me look at it. I immediately noticed the bold letters “ SATA ” on the grip panels. The left side of the slide read ‘PISTOLA AUT. “SATA” Calib. 6.35 Brev. 1955 - MAGNO di GARDONE V.T. - Brescia - ITALIA. The right side simply read “MADE in ITALY” and the serial number. I had never heard of this maker, so I was immediately curious. Behind the right grip panel was a series of standard Italian proof stamps that included a shield with a star above it, the letters ‘PS’ with a star above it, and the date ‘1958’. The shield and star proof is also stamped on the chamber of the barrel at the ejector port. The pistol fits my large hands fairly well for a .25. The magazine has a heel release, and holds 7 rounds. Initially, I thought the pistol was a derivative of the Walther Model 8. In fact, it looks almost exactly like a Walther Model 8, but only in outward appearance, as the internal design is completely different. To me, it looks like the SATA is a crossbreed between a Walther Model 8 and Model 9 – and perhaps a model of the Armi Galesi knock-off line. Instead of utilizing a hidden-hammer (Mod 8), the SATA uses a spring-striker and a lollipop shaped guide on the backstrap to hold the slide on (Mod 9). But even then, the similarities between the Walther model 8 & 9 and the SATA stop. To me, the SATA is a semi-unique design. It is a fixed-barrel design, with a pinned barrel. The slide is removed by pulling it back about a quarter-inch, and rotating the safety lever 180 degrees to the rear, which releases the lollipop shaped guide for the slide, The guide springs out from the back-strap, kind-of like a small grip-safety. Interestingly, this guide is the only thing that holds the slide on the frame.
I did a little research when I got home and found next to nothing about this pistol. A Google search didn’t dig up much more. But, from what I can find, SATA was a partnership between the Gardone Val Trompia families of Sabatti and Tanfoglio---hence the SATA namesake. Both families have been making arms for centuries, and still do today. According to both of the current company’s websites, the cooperation that became SATA began shortly after WW-II. Established around 1946-48, the cooperation made firearm parts, primarily shotgun receivers and lock-works. Around 1953-54, SATA began to produce complete firearms in the form of small automatic pistols for personal defense in .22 Short and 6.35 (.25 acp). The cooperation only lasted until 1960, when the two families split and went their separate ways, with Sabatti making sporting shotguns, and Tanfoglio making cheap revolvers and small-framed automatics. http://www.sabatti.it/storia.php?lang=EN http://www.tanfoglio.it/eng/company.php
I did find a poster on the Gunbroker forum (perhaps a Gunboards member also?) who states that he contacted Tanfoglio, which confirmed the cooperation dissolved in 1960. Tanfoglio also stated that the SATA cooperation made less than 8,000 of the pistols. The poster also had the following characteristics; 1. Semiautomatic pistol (pg. 178 TRIPLE K catalog)
2. SATA model
3. ----- (the company went bust in 1960)
4. .25 acp (6.3mm browning)
5. BBL LENGTH: 2 9/16"
6. OAL:4.68" / OAH:3.50"
7. Weight unloaded: 13 ounces
8. Semiautomatic blowback pistol
9. Single stack detachable mag / 7+1 capacity
10. Rifling: 6-groove right hand concentric twist
11. Unusual takedown via the safety lever located on the left side of the frame http://forums.gunbroker.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=105009
Looking at the few photos I have seen of other SATA’s on the net, it appears that the pistol went through a few subtle design changes throughout its short production run. These changes include moving of the extractor and ejection port from the right side of the slide to the top—as well as widening the ejection port several times on the top to almost an ‘open’ slide – like a semi-Beretta style --- probably to improve ejection. Other changes include variations in the slide markings, as well as personal options, such as white or black grips, and blued or chrome finish.
I know that Tanfoglio has made some ‘cheap’ pistols in the past, but has a fairly successful production line now. And I know nothing about Sabatti’s. But this little pistol has a sense of quality to it. There are crude machine marks in hidden areas, and the action feels a little gritty, but it shoots pretty well. On my first outing with it, I shot two jam-free magazines through it before it started raining. I could hit a 2x6 ‘most’ of the time at 25 feet – which is on par with other 25s I have shot. Initially, I thought I might have over-paid for it at $130.00 otd. The pistol has freckling and pitting from poor storage. I also thought it might be a cheap FIE or Armi Galesi knock-off. But the more I shoot, study, and marvel over it, the more I really like this little pistol. It’s the story and history behind obscure and unique firearms that keep me interested in the hobby. Anyone else seen or heard of one? Any comments? TOM
Old post, new guy. I just wanted to thank Tombstone for explaining how to take this gun down, as I could not figure it out myself. I got my Sata after my wife's grandmother died. It is a 1957 model which she bought at a flea market or yard sale in North Carolina. She used to keep it loaded, in the side pocket of her favorite recliner. I cleaned it (as best I could without disassembly) and test fired it at the local range. It is pretty accurate for such a tiny gun, and I think very well made.
Garland, Welcome, and glad the ‘Board’ could be of assistance. You inherited a nice looking pistol. They are no Colt M-1908, but the SATA sure is an interesting piece. I do have a question – are you sure your SATA was made in 1957 ? What little I could find on these indicated that the ejector port was moved to the top of the slide later in the pistols production run. Perhaps the date on yours is a lightly-struck “1959”? What is your S/N range---as yours looks like it should be in the 6,xxx – 7,xxx range.
Anyone else have one? How about a .22 short version??
The 950 is designed to extract without an extractor, probably using lighter slides and springs. I doubt changing ammo would work in a SATA, as they are not finely machined Beretta's -- but it doesnt hurt to try - maybe with a high velocity load (CCI's). An extractor is not too dificult to make if you are handy with a grinder, drill, and file. One could be made in less than an hour once a suitable piece of steel was found. There is a complete slided for sale on GB, so that is an option - as is your local gunsmith.
Nice little .22 short. It would go nice with my Colt Jr 22 short.
I also have a .22 short sata handgun. I have been desperately looking for a magazine for it and have had no luck online. Do any of you gun experts think the beretta 950b minx mag would work for my .22 sata since they look identical and both use .22 short. What are your ideas any help would be greatly appricated since this is the only thread i have seen about the sata .22 cortoThanks shane