ASP: Custom made pistol designed and built by Paris Theodore

Author: Ian Hogg

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The ASP 9mm Auto Pistol answered the U.S. Government’s quest for a new concealable pistol. Almost 20 years ago, the clandestine services of the U.S. Government stated a requirement for a concealable but powerful automatic pistol, and the first response was a cut-down .45 M1911A1 Colt developed by the CIA.

Early Design

While this worked, it could hardly be said to be an elegant solution. It was noisy, had excessive muzzle flash, a magazine capacity of only four rounds, and more negligible target effect than the average .38 special revolver.

Another solution was sought, which was to be based on the 9mm Parabellum cartridge, and this led to the design, which is now commercially available as the ‘ASP,’ named for the company that makes it.

The ASP pistol was a custom-made handgun designed and built by Paris Theodore, owner of Seventrees, Ltd., a custom gun leather shop in New York City from the early 1970s to 1987.

ASP 9mm Auto Pistol by Paris Theodore
ASP 9mm Auto Pistol invented by Paris Theodore in New York (Photo: XY)

Smith & Wesson Model 39

The ASP is a re-manufacture. It begins life as a standard Smith & Wesson Model 39, which is then severely cut. The butt, slide, slide stop, and safety catch are dimensionally reduced, and lightning cuts are made in the slide to distribute the balance correctly. The barrel is shortened, throated, and polished, the feed ramp smoothed and polished, and a custom-built barrel bushing pressed into the slide.

The Smith & Wesson model 39 was the 1st double action semi-auto made by Smith & Wesson
The Smith & Wesson Model 39 was the 1st double-action semi-auto made by Smith & Wesson (Photo: XY)

New recoil spring and guide are fitted, every weapon’s edge is hand-smoothed, and the entire surface is coated with ‘Teflon’ to give a smooth, black, resistant finish. The butt plates are replaced with special models, with that on the left side having a transparent panel which allows the contents of the magazine to be checked. The trigger-guard is given a forward hook, and the magazine floor shows a finger rest, aiding the holding of the pistol in combat mode. Finally, a ‘Guttersniper’ combat sight is fitted to the slide.

This is a trough with the interior walls colored yellow, and if the sight picture is correct, the target can be seen within three equally-proportioned walls. If the aim is off, then the sight walls display an unbalanced picture that indicates the sighting error.

Conversion Kit

The resulting weapon is not cheap; it is necessary to buy the Smith & Wesson Model 39 first and then add $350 for the conversion. But for those whose lives could depend upon quick and accurate firepower, the price is immaterial. The ASP promises to be the correct answer.

A Smith & Wesson M39 modified to become a ASP 2000
A Smith & Wesson M39 modified to become an ASP 2000 (Photo: XY)

Technical Specifications

Manufacturer: Paris Theodore, Seventress Ltd.
Type: Double action, tilting barrel, locked-breech
Caliber:  9x19mm Parabellum
Barrel: 3.25 in (82,5 mm)
Weight: 1,5 lb(680 g)
Magazine capacity: 7-round box magazine
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