Spanish 1911 The Star Model B 9mm
When I was poking around the evidence room one night years ago, I saw what I took to be a Colt 1911-series 45ACP with a funny grip. On closer inspection, I found that it was neither a Colt, nor a 45 at all.
I held it up to Art, the wonk of the evidence room, "What is this thing?"
Art laughed, "That is a Star 9mm. Good gun. Heavy as heck though"
And here is what else I found out over time:
The Basque region of Spain, near Eibar was renowned for firearms manufacture. What Detroit was to automakers in the US, Eibar was to European gunsmiths. In 1905 Bonifacio Echeverria, SA was formed to make handguns under the trade name of Star. In 1924, Star took the Colt 1911 design of John Browning and reworked it.
Where the 1911 was a 7-shot .45ACP, Star made it an 8-shot in the more common (in Europe) 9mm chambering. They modified the trigger and extractor and converted everything to metric measurements. In the end, they wound up with a single-action semi-auto pistol with an overall length of 8-inches with a 5-inch barrel. At 38-ounces unloaded, they are actually a little heavier than the Colt 1911 they were based on.
Shooting the Star
Firing 9x19mm out of a relatively heavy pistol gives the Star very little recoil. With the easy availability of the rounds, your Model B can be used as a plinker, home defense, or camp gun. Carrying this long slide firearm may be tough for CCW practitioners, but on the bonus, most 1911 holsters will work rather well with it. Its long sight radius provides decent accuracy and its inherent design is reliable with few moving parts to break.
It was made for military use and designed in the 1920s so gratefully almost everything, including the magazine followers, is steel. As with any vintage semi auto, it's a bad idea to dry fire them. Magazines are hard to get so if you find a deal stock up on them. Recoil springs are often worn out on surplus guns and it's always a good idea to have it checked by a gunsmith knowledgeable with the design to make sure it's shootable before heading to the range. Good news is Wolff CZ-75 springs tend to work well in these guns as replacement.
Star went bankrupt in 1997 and the Model B hasn't been manufactured in decades. In fact, it's so old that it's usually Curio and Relic (C&R) eligible. This hasn't stopped collectors such as Steve Hober from maintaining a pretty good website for parts suppliers
Even Julius in Pulp Fiction liked the Star 9mm
Sometimes Star Model A's appear on tables at your local gun show or behind the glass of your local shop. Odds are they will be very cheap (about $150) and in poor condition. Stay away from them as they are chambered for the old 9x23mm Bergmann/Largo round which is near impossible to find. What you want is are Models B (made before 1946), BM (compact version with an inch shorter barrel and slide) or B Super (made 1946-83 with a full-length guide rod and captive spring) and it will be marked as such on the slide. Star B Supers were the standard side arm of the Spanish military until 1990 and many have been sold on the surplus market. Typically, you can pick up shootable pistols in good condition for $200-$300 all day.
Many Model Bs were used in WWII, as the 9mm Luger ammo they used was very common. As such, these guns are slightly more valuable to collectors. German marked examples (look for the stamp "P'08" on the chamber and an N or O proof mark by the trigger guard) can go more nearly double the regular market price. These guns, provided by Franco to Hitler, were generally not marked with the standard Nazi eagle so be wary of fakery if you come across a Star that has these.
Aimsurplus is currently selling a lot of Curio and Relic eligible WWII-era Stars for $399, which seems a little high but they are low-mileage guns. Manufactured in Spain between 1943-44 as part of a 15,000-piece contract for Bulgaria, they were refinished by the Russians after WWII, as was common practice with firearms they obtained during & after the War.
All in all, not a bad little (I mean big) 9mm.
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