During the Second World War, Germany issued a number of small arms not internally developed in order to fill gaps in production. An especially large variety of pistols were issued, and among these were a relatively small number of "B .08" pistols such as this one. These were issued to German Police and "certain military units." In general, lower-priority organizations such as the police could not get first line German-made weapons during the war, so external contracts such as this are not unusual. These were made from 1942 to 1944.
The Echeverria (Star) company has published records of five variations (shipments) which are the ACTUAL Nazi German delivery contracts. This Star B has the serial #255598 (from the fourth variation/shipment), which was delivered on June 6, 1944 to Handave France, a town near the Franco Spanish boarder. The shipment included 8000 pistols; serial numbers 248001-254300 and 254551-256250. Its amazing to think that this gun was in that shipment.
Back in the 1920s the company began to develop semi-automatic pistols, based on the Browning-designed Colt M1911 design. These pistols were more or less similar to the original M1911, but chambered for 9x19mm Luger. During WW II, the Star factory produced numerous arms for mostly Axis and other aligned countries. The full-sized guns such as the model B were employed by police, second-line units and certain Special Forces troops. They are recoil operated, locked breech, single action pistols that were Browning-deigned, and used the linked barrel locking principle. This is a 9mm Parabellum which simply describes the cartridge by its purpose 9mm for war. The Cal. 08 marked on mine is the Luger, and more recently the cartridge that fits it is called the 9 mm. The Star B appears in many Hollywood movies (i.e, 1987, The Untouchables) and more recently the Matrix.
Understanding the marks are important: The helmet over the X indicates admission to (receipt at) proof house (Used after July 9 1931). Secondly, the P in the circle indicates passing of proof test Automatic pistol from Eibar proof house (Used after December 14, 1929). Finally, the Q with an asterisks over it indicates year of proof. Across the slide it is stamped as follows, "STAR B. ECHEVERRIA", and then underneath that is "EIBAR-ESPANA" and at the end of it all is "S.A. CAL 9mm". The first part of this inscription identifies the pistol as the Star Model B that was manufactured by ECHEVERRIA. The next part of this stamp, "EIBAR-ESPANA" indicates that the firearm was manufactured in the Eibar region of Spain. The abbreviation "S.A." is basically the Spanish equivalent of "inc." or incorporated.
I am very aware of the Bulgarian tampered Star B scam which occurred about 12 years ago with the fake Waffenamt marks on them (mine does NOT have the fake Waffenamt mark). I can confidently say this because my serial number does not fit in the serial number range that the unethical arms dealer had. Here is the scam: around the same time Star was producing deliveries to the Nazi Germans, they also got contract orders from the Bulgarians. Rather than doing slide legend changes and die retooling, they just produced the exact same pistols as delivered to the Germans to fill the Bulgarian contract. They will have the "Patr. 08" stamped on the barrel hood, (like this one) etc. However, none of the original Bulgarian contract pieces were ever Waffenamt marked. The following serial ranges were delivered to the Bulgarians: 9/9/43: 225007 to 225775; 226101 to 230331, 12/2/43: 230332 to 230375; 230826 to 231756; 231758 to 235782, 3/23/44: 235901 to 240900. This Star Bs serial number obviously does not fit into these year ranges. The dealer in Germany (12 years ago) bought up the Bulgarian arsenal surplus when it hit the market. He selected pieces out of that lot that had been refinished and the Bulgarian arsenal marks obliterated, and applied Waffenamt marks to them. He then charged US importers an aditional $100 per pistol that was "Waffenamt" marked versus the plain ones he was selling.
Its easy to figure out which Star B Waffenamt marked pistols are fakes or the real thing. The primary distinction is that the Fake has the 2nd A centered under the eagle. The Authentic mark has the A offset to the left of the eagle. The second reason I know that this was not one of the faked stock is that it has sat in a gun collectors safe for the past twenty years. He bought it from a widow whose husband had owned it for some time.
Following WWII, the Soviet Union (and many others) reviewed the weapons that had been captured during the war. In some cases, small arms were captured in such large quantities it made sense to officially adopt them into government stocks. The Soviets did this with, in one case, the Model B.08 pistol. It is not clear if these were issued to any military, police or paramilitary organization. They may have simply been stockpiled as export aid to their many friends and insurgencies, which could explain the excellent condition of this Star B, produced in (1942-1944).
As was typical Soviet practice at the time, a re-arsenal finish (or "Dipping" or "dip bluing" is a sort of hot bluing process that quickly puts a thick coating of something very black on the outside of all mild steel parts. The thick finish tends to obscure many marks, so determining dates may be trickier on these guns, which explains the obscured Waffenamt marking near the beavertail.
The final reason that I believe that this is an original Star B delivered on June 6, 1944 the Germans and dip blued by the Soviets after the war is that the Soviet process at this time relied on interchangeability of all parts. As a result, when these guns were being repaired, refinished, or even cleaned en masse, they would all be disassembled and the parts mixed to speed up the process. What they didnt take into consideration is the fact that guns, particularly hand guns tend to have fitted parts, such as the sear/trigger interface. The interaction of the safety lever on single action pistols such as these is also dependent on individual fitting of the hammer to the safety. As a result of mixing up the internal parts, most of these Soviet dip blued Star Bs seem to have a problem allowing the engagement of the safety when cocked. Instead, the user must pull back the hammer slightly to engage the safety while the hammer is cocked, which is exactly the case with this gun.
The gun price guide states that the going rate for a gun in this condition is worth around $300. The exciting part is that it goes on to point out that any Waffenamt marked Star Bs worth increases by 150%, which would put the value of this gun at $750. This being said, the fact that it was dip blued after WWII by the Soviets decreases the collectiblitly and thus the value. A reasonable price for this piece would be around $400.
After 30 hours of research and help from numerous websites, gun forums, and knowledgeable friends, I believe that the mystery of this gun is solved.