Curious Relics #032: The Spanish Star Model BM – Part I
Welcome, if you are a newcomer to this fun bi-weekly segment of AllOutdoor.com! The last time around I covered the unique roller-locked 7.62×25 CZ52 pistol in its entirety throughout three separate parts. Part One, Two, and Three can be found at their respective links. Today we are jumping into another surplus handgun that is much more common these days, the Spanish Star Model BM. This pistol has a history of being reliable and an affordable entry into the 1911 pistol-style world. Let’s dive right into the rabbit hole!
Welcome to our recurring series of “Curious Relics.” Here, we want to share all of our experiences, knowledge, misadventures, and passion for older firearms that one might categorize as a Curio & Relic – any firearm that is at least 50 years old according to the ATF. Hopefully along the way you can garner a greater appreciation for older firearms like we do, and simultaneously you can teach us things as well through sharing your own expertise and thoughts in the Comments. Understanding the firearms of old, their importance, and their development which lead to many of the arms we now cherish today is incredibly fascinating and we hope you enjoy what we have to share, too!
History Abridged: Star Model BM
Spain has long been an avid copycat so to speak of firearm designs. I say this with no ill will in my heart toward any foreign company attempting to make or reproduce quality products in service of their country which was much of the case of a lot of Spanish copied small arms. Star Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A or Star as we know of it in hindsight today branded itself in the early 1900s around roughly 1905. The company however would not commit to “Star” as their ultimate company name until around 1919. Star was a company like many from the Eibar region of Spain which is known for its rich gun-making culture.
Starting out in 1908 they chose to lead with a pistol design and despite how popular or not that it was they must have been of the opinion or position where handguns were the route of the future! Eventually, Star would be a subcontractor for Gabilondo y Urresti during World War One producing the Ruby Pistol as many other companies did. Securing this contract gave Star grounds and funds to build on. That being said and fast-forwarding to the 1920s we have the introduction of Spain’s copy of the Colt Model 1911 in the form of the Model A in 1922. The Model A and its later iterations are strikingly similar to the good old Colt but when you look at them something just seems off. They look as if you pinched the muzzle and heel and stretched the pistol ever so slightly. These initial pistols however were chambered for 30 Mauser and 9mm Largo.
Later in 1924 the Model A design transitioned to 9mm (Luger, Parabellum, 9x19mm) and called it the Model B. The Model B was still full-sized and retained a majority of the Model A’s likeness besides now using a previous pistol’s T-shaped extractor until changing once again later on. The Model B would be produced all the way until 1931 but would quickly be followed up with a Second Model B that would have variations and iterations made special for both German and Russian forces. Starting in the 1940s Star made the Star Model B-Super which basically was a melding of a Colt 1911 and a Sig 210, a very good-looking handgun. Between the Model B-Super and our gun today, were slight design changes or modifications for certain requests but none of which hold significance to this article.
In 1972 Star unveiled their new compact 1911 style 9mm pistol as the Star Model BM, BKS, and BKM. The BM model name broken down simply is a Model B but “median” meaning medium for its Colt Commander size comparison. The differences between the BM and its brothers the BKS and BKM was that the BM was manufactured using a steel frame and the others were of alloy composition. The Model BM was ascetically a Model 1911 scaled-down and chambered in 9mm but the design does not compare much to the actual Colt design. It is still single action but it completely does away with the classic Model 1911 grip safety and justifies it with a magazine safety. The thumb safety is in the same configuration and operation but blocks the hammer whereas the 1911 blocks the sear. The trigger is also different and is more similar to a German Luger where it pivots on a pin instead of traveling straight back attached to a trigger bar.
The Star Model BM would be sold commercially as well as marketed for military and police use. The Bulk of the military and police contracts went to literal Spanish police departments. Famously in terms of military use, the Star BM was used by the Spanish National Guard (La Guardia Civil). Roughly 217,700 Star Model BM pistols were manufactured between 1972 and 1992 which is fairly astonishing because that is two whole decades versus the two total years of CZ52 (covered last time around) production which yielded a similar 200,000 made. I am sure this has to do with the reliable and rugged lasting design of the Star BM which is now a popular and available surplus pistol on the market.
End of Part One: Star Model BM
Star would close its doors in 1997, almost 100 years after its first handguns hit the market. The Star Model BM would go on to continue serving in military and police possession even up until now but many have been imported into the US market and are being sold for cheap prices as surplus. The next article in Curious Relics is the typical direction of variations, dating, and maybe even specifications if word count allows. Hope to meet you all here then! Take care and stay safe out there.
In closing, I hope our Curious Relics segment informed as well as entertained. This all was written in hopes of continued firearm appreciation and preservation. We did not just realize how guns were supposed to look and function. It was a long and tedious process that has shaped the world we live in. So, I put it to you! Is there a firearm out there that you feel does not get much notoriety? What should our next Curious Relics topic cover? As always, let us know all of your thoughts in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.