Star Firearms : A-Series Pistols

Star Firearms — A-series pistols

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The model A pistol is the 9 mm Largo variant of the A/B series of 1911-inspired pistols that led Star design for the next 60 years. The models A, B, P and M had roughly comparable updates over the years. Many other models were related to this series; for example, the model S is simply a scaled-down model A/B series design, and was first produced concurrent with the earliest model As, in 1922.

Pistols marked 9 mm / 38 or any similar variation, are designed to fire .38 ACP and 9 mm Largo ammunition, but NEVER .38 Super. Read more detail on ammunition for older pistols.

A Series

Model 1922 pistol of the Guardia Civil

As a general rule, date coded guns (e.g. "Model 1940") are military issue and letter coded (e.g. "Model A") are commercial or export versions, but these are only versions. The Star factory considered at least guns from the 1922 onward to be "Model A" versions, to the point they sometimes shipped military models in commercial, full color graphics, Model A boxes, with a sticker or hand-written mark indicating the specific sub-model.

Manuals & Disassembly Instructions

I do not have manuals for every pistol shown on this site. However, in many cases there is a related manual. Partly to make the series relationships clearer, and partly to assist with speed and accuracy of updating, all manuals can be found in one place, the manuals page. All manuals available are provided as downloadable PDFs, or you may purchase a printed copy of the entire set of handgun manuals.

All Classic series pistols strip in the same way. Do note the significant differences between older swinging-link versions with a takedown pin, and later "Super" variations with a takedown level.

Model 1922

The Model A and B didn't emerge out of the minds of the Star designers, or due to some marketing genius trying to copy the Colt. The first of the series was the Model 1922, a pistol for the Guardia Civil, and which was a direct descendent of the Model 1921.

While we don't have the details, the Guardia didn't seem entirely satisfied with the Model 1921s, as they had them for less than a year before the new version. Changes from the 1921 seem to all be involved in simplifying and refining the design. The extractor is now of a simpler shape, as is the magazine release bar. Most of all, the grip safety has been removed, and the entire rear grip area recontoured. The beavertail is of more conventional length now.

The safety lever, slide lock and most mechanical components are unchanged. All issue pistols (as opposed to the Model A for export and commerical use) seem to have a simple, fixed sight.

First Model A

First Model A, 7.63 mm Export Model

Star produced a commercial version of the Guardia Civil's model 1922 pistol as the model A. The only difference (aside from markings on some guns) is, an adjustable sight. This might seem to be a needless complexity on a design that seems to be getting more simple, but is robust, and much less intrusive than the large tangent sights on some contemporary designs, as it is sunk into and integrated with the top of the slide. As the model 1922 has a simple fixed sight, it is possible some model A pistols also had this instead.

These pistols were made in 7.63 mm Mauser for the export market, and 9 mm Largo for the Spanish market and Guardia.

The First Model B, first produced in 1924, is a transitional model, with most of the features of the 1922 and First Model A, but the extractor of the 1921, and a middle-ground shape for the backstrap. Model Bs are in 9mm Luger/Parabellum

Second Model A

In 1924, minor changes were introduced without a model designation change. The previous variant was discontinued in favor of the second variant. I am not clear on what the changes are, or even if they were to both the commercial and Guardia variants or not. I believe that a major feature may be the change from the early T-shaped extractor to the more modern rounded-end extractor; the older extractor is present on the first model B, and on all older guns such as the 1922, but not on the gun shown to the right. Production ceased in 1931 in favor of the third model A and model 1931 pistols.

Third Model A & Model 1931

In 1931 a more serious round of changes took place, mostly notably with the reshaping of the backstrap to match the arched mainspring housing of the Colt 1911A1. There were also changes to the style of the thumb safety, and some small internal changes, mostly for manufacturing reasons. The second model A was discontinued in favor of this third model.

Second Model A 7.63 mm Export Model

Some of these changes were to meet Spanish government requirements, and a model 1931 was produced in some quantity, mostly for Guardia, but also for other police and some military forces.

Model 1940

Further refinements and requirements led to the development of the model 1940 pistol, produced from 1940 onward. This was issued in quantity to various Spanish military forces. A Star pistol in 9 mm Largo is still seen in quantity in South Africa. I believe some or all may have been this variant.

Super A

From 1946 onward, Star produced a Super version of the model A pistol. Besides the improvements from the model 1940, this as usual consisted of a number of upgrades to the weapon. Mostly the swinging link was replaced with a Sig 210 (or modern Star) style closed cam path integral to the barrel. Related to this, a full-length guide rod with captive spring, and a quick takedown lever were added as well. All of these models have a magazine safety, but one different from the previous S variants, and the extractor is modified to double as a loaded-chamber indicator. Additionally, the sights are improved in shape to make them easier to see, and minor changes were made to the trigger system. These were also apparently exported for extensive foreign military use.

Model Super A

Most Super pistols, of all series, were not labeled with the overall series letter. This has caused no end of confusion, and a number of guns are now sold at surplus as the Modelo Super, or even as model Bs, that are actually model As.

As there are aftermarket barrels available to allow firing of 9 mm Luger/Parabellum ammunition in Largo (model A) pistols, caliber is no longer a completely sure way to identify Super marked pistols. Use care when trying to ID these pistols.

Model AS

The final model A variant of which I am aware is the AS, produced from 1956 to the end of primary A/B series production in 1983. This seems to be a commercial version of the model 1940 pistol, including the swinging link, and with the addition of a magazine safety and loaded chamber indicator. It was sold on the commercial and export markets exclusively.

Model AS – Cal 38

A small number — reportedly 60 — model AS pistols were marked "Cal 38" on the side and barrel hood. Per the importer, this indicates they are able to safely chamber and fire .38 Super ammunition. It is unclear if this is the primary chambering, or they are simply upgraded 9 mm Largo dimensioned chambers able to handle the extra pressure.