Curious Relics #033: The Steel Spanish Star BM – Part II
Welcome, if you are a newcomer to this fun bi-weekly segment of AllOutdoor.com! The last time around I covered the history of a very common surplus pistol. Today we are jumping into the Spanish Star BM and its variations and how to date your personal 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!
Variations: Spanish Star BM
The Star BM or Star B “median” (meaning medium) was ascetically a small Colt Model 1911 (Think Colt Commander size) and chambered in 9mm but the design does not compare much to the actual Colt design. The grip safety was replaced with a magazine safety and the manual safety blocks the hammer instead of the sear like on a normal 1911. The trigger pull is noticeably different in the sense that the trigger pivots on a pin like on a Luger P08 instead of being attached to a long trigger bar. When it was introduced it was available in slight variations. The most common one is the BM itself but there were two others that exist.
- Star BKS/Star Starlite: The first iteration in the Star B “median” is a sort of black sheep of the lineup. This one was introduced in 1970 and after an unsuccessful bout in the commercial market overseas, it would eventually be imported into the United States but only for a short few years before its importation by the Garcia Corporation and Interarms ceased. The Star Model BKS or Starlite as it was marketed in the states was an alloy framed Colt Commander sized 1911 style 9mm handgun. It is significantly different than the later alloy framed BKM (and steel BM) by its dimensions being larger in some ways. The overall length itself is a whole half an inch longer.
- Star BM: Our gun today was introduced in 1972 just two years after the arguable failure of the BKS. This was a much more rugged design with a steel frame and slightly decreased size. The Star BM would quickly be accepted by many Spanish police departments and later be sold as a reliable well-built 1911 style handgun as surplus on the American market.
- Star BKM: The Star Model BKM was introduced in tandem in 1972 with the Star BM albeit I believe later in the year. They are twins in every way except for the frame composition being an aluminum alloy in the BKM rather than steel. The BKM shares a kinship with the BKS in that sense. It was likely thought that with the popularity and acceptance of the Star BM in police and military circles that the BKM with its lighter frame may be popular in the civilian carry side of the world. Today the BKM model is pretty uncommon as they were expensive. Their price was probably due to the alloy working technology at the time being nowhere near today’s automation or standards. They were produced just as long as the standard Star BM.
Dating: Spanish Star BM
The Star BM was made from 1972 to roughly early 1992. Its importation as surplus today has made it a fairly common and decently regarded little 1911 carry piece. That being said a lot of gun owners who have taken it upon themselves to pick up one of these small pieces of history may be curious how to track down its age and year of manufacturing. This thankfully can be done by analyzing your pistol’s proof marks as well as possible date codes. Since I only have my personal Star BM to use as an example I recommend you follow along while looking at the following link here. My Star Model BM was manufactured in 1979. I know this because thankfully a “79” is stamped on the right side of the frame on the forward most side of the trigger guard. I am unaware if this was done to all and if your Star Model BM does not have a stamp there fear not!
Note: Many Star BM pistols were accepted to be the Spanish Civil Guard’s service pistol before it was later replaced by the Beretta 92. My personal pistol was almost certainly issued to them because the Civil Guard marking is milled off. The marking is crossed swords and fascine inside a diamond located on the right-hand side of the pistol. One is stamped on the slide and the other on the frame below it. You can see remnants of the diamond marking to the left of the serial number just under the milled circles where they once sat.
When you remove the lefthand grip panel you will see a set of clustered markings. Many are proof marks that will narrow down dates and explain if it was accepted into military establishments. My personal Star BM has a proof house marking (the box with the “x”) that was only used after July 9th, 1931. It has a flaming bomb but the center has no noticeable letters. If it has a “P” in the center it would mean that this was proofed in the Eibar region of Spain (used after December 14th, 1929) and if it had an “I” it would mean that the pistol was accepted for Spanish military or police service. This is not confirmed but I am guessing the lack of either letter would indicate that year it was obviously proofed in the Eibar region after 1929 but also and most likely was a Spanish police pistol (this one was a Spanish Civil Gaurd pistol). Below the proofing marks, there should be what is referred to as a date code. This is a simple code that coincides with particular and sometimes multiple dates. My Star BM has a “Y 1” which according to the charts I have seen and verified, would mean that this handgun was made in 1979 which matches the marking on the trigger guard.
End of Part Two: Spanish Star BM
The Star BM had some interesting and lesser-known siblings in the way of the Star BKM and BKS. I tried tracking down photos of the BKM and BKS to use for this article but all I found I was not able to obtain permission to use them. I highly recommend looking them up to see the rest of the family in all their glory. So did you find out if your Star BM is older or younger than mine? Does it still have its military markings? Please feel free to let us know in the comments below! Next time I hope to close out the Star Model BM with some Specifications, range time, and aftermarket parts and accessories. Until then, be safe and stay tuned!
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.