The basic Star B pistol produced by Bonifacio Echeverria SA of Spain from 1928 to 1983 was at one stage a household name in South Africa. For more than two decades, it was the official handgun of the then South African Defence Force, issued to officers and armoured vehicle crews. The web page http://www.army.mil.za shows, as infantry equipment, a well-worn 9mm Star Pistol with a lanyard ring at the bottom left of the grip.
Slightly enhanced models, such as the Star BS (the S indicating magazine safety) which was produced from 1957, were also issued to SA military personnel. Echeverria SA closed in 1983, after having sold thousands of Star handguns.
All the B-series pistols have the look and feel of the Colt 1911 pistol. This series was one of Star’s great successes; thousands of B pistols were sold to the German Army and Navy for use during WWII. German police also used them, and one reference indicates that Bulgaria bought about 15 000.
I recently had an opportunity to shoot a Star BS that remains in mint condition. Like all B-series pistols, it does not have the 1911’s grip-safety, but has a redesigned trigger and sear configuration, and its external frame-mounted safety locks the hammer.
The BS’s slide is 180mm long, and the barrel is 4.8ꞌꞌ. The pistol weighs 871g without the magazine and 1046g with the eight-round magazine loaded to capacity.
It works on the Browning system which momentarily locks the barrel and slide together by means of mutually interlocking lugs just ahead of the chamber. On firing, the gas-generated pressure pushes the slide and barrel rearwards for a brief distance during peak pressure, after which an oscillating barrel-link draws the chamber-end of the barrel downward, disengaging it from the slide which continues rearward to extract and eject the fired case and cock the hammer. The single compressed recoil spring then pushes the slide forward, scooping a fresh round from the magazine and feeding it into the chamber as the slide’s locking lugs re-engage those of the barrel, readying the pistol to fire. After the last round, the slide stays open.
The test pistol manifested very little play between slide and frame. The solid trigger worked smoothly with a short take-up and crisp break. Trigger-pull was 6lb and the reset was short. All the controls are on the left side of the pistol. The small, grooved magazine release button is on the frame just behind the trigger-guard, within easy thumb-reach without changing your grip. The slide-release lever is likewise within easy reach. The large frame-mounted safety lever was just above my gripping hand’s thumb and worked efficiently.
The all-steel single-column magazine was easy to load and performed faultlessly. The magazines are slotted vertically on each side for easy load-checking. To disassemble the magazine, push in the floor-plate knob at the bottom of the mag, slide out the magazine floor plate, pull out the spring and the follower.
Read the full article in the October 2019 issue of Magnum.