Star Guns

Not too many years ago, the Spanish arms industry was alive and producing guns in quantity, particularly with handguns. Like any product-driven industry, the Spanish companies made pistols and revolvers designed to sell at many price points. The best of these guns, particularly the automatic pistols, were fully competitive with other European designs. Then, almost overnight, and for reasons unknown to me, everything stopped. There were different companies producing firearms in the post-war era, but most of the well-made pistols came from one of three companies—Llama, Astra and Star. Look through any decent handgun encyclopedia and you will find many of the Spanish guns that bear a strong resemblance to the Colt 1911 pistol. This is particularly true of the 9 mm Luger Star Model B.

Model B pistols are an advanced form of the Modelo Militar that dates to the World War I era that were made until the 1970s. The pure Model B is a full-size service auto that is so like the 1911A1 as to confuse all but the most astute observer, as it is an all-steel pistol, beautifully machined from forgings. Hollywood prop men had an obvious need for 1911 pistols modified to shoot blanks and real 1911 45s were expensive and hard to functionally modify. However, the Model B looked enough like the 1911, to get by and it was easy to modify to shoot 9 mm blanks. A key to telling the difference between the two is the Star’s visible external extractor as opposed to the unseen internal one on the genuine Colt product. Try to spot them in the next war flick you watch. 

Of course, Model B Stars were also used by armies and police agencies all over the world. In the 1970s, several new variations of the gun came along, including an abbreviated 9 mm for concealed carry. This gun came in both all-steel and alloy-frame versions and enjoyed a steady popularity in the United States. The most popular Star ever was the PD, which was a mid-size .45 ACP with an allow receiver. I carried one as a off-duty gun for a time and found it to be a handy and powerful gun. In the years just before all production ceased, Star made a series of modern DA/SA pistols that worked well. This included a massive double-wide service auto called the MegaStar, one of the few portable autos that managed the 10 mm cartridge well. At its best, the Spanish pistol makers in general and Star in particular made some fine firearms.

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4 Responses to Star Guns

Phil wrote:
December 10, 2012

A friend of mine owns a 1911 style Llama in 9mm Luger. It originally had an extremely heavy trigger pull. So I had a trigger job done on it for him. Now one doesn’t mess up their sight picture while pressing the trigger and it will shoot nice tight groups. One strange thing about this gun is that on the slide (slide stop side) it’s stamped Cal 9m/m 38 “LLAMA”. On the ejection port side, it’s stamped CAL 38 SUPER AUTOMATIC “LLAMA” ESPECIAL. I had the gun checked and it is 9 mm Luger caliber and will not chamber 38 Super ammunition. However having both calibers listed on the gun could get someone into trouble if they didn’t know better. It also has a vent rib on the top of the slide and has wooden checkered grips with a LLAMA emblem installed in them. The Blue Book of Gun Values doesn’t list this particular model unless it is a Government model (IX-C) or maybe MAX I model. But the BBGV book states the MAX I model has rubber grips and 3 dot combat sights and this gun doesn’t have those. Regardless since the trigger job, it’s now a very good shooter. I have a Star M43 Firestar (9mm Luger) which I’ve owned for many years that is also a good shooting piece. Too bad these companies are no longer in business, as their guns were well made and inexpensive.

Dan Cain, Sr. wrote:
November 27, 2012

I have the Star model B in carry format from a number of years ago and it is a sweet shooter in 9mm. My son has the MegaStar in 45 and it is truly fun to shoot.

Ed wrote:
November 23, 2012

Greg, the Star Model I is listed in the Standard Catalog of Firearms under Echeverria,Star-Bonaifacio SA

Greg wrote:
November 22, 2012

I have a star model I .32 caliber. I took the grips off and the frame is stamped with the letter J. It looks to me like the pistol was made in 1966. I cannot find a value on this pistol. Can you help with that. I have looked in the Gun Digest book and did not find one listing for this manufacturer. Thanks, Greg