Star Firearms : B-Series Pistols

Star Firearms — B-series pistols

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The model B pistol is the 9 mm Parabellum/Luger 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 upates over the years.

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.

First Model B

The first Model B is a transitional design, with much the layout of the 1922, but retaining the T-shaped extractor of the Model 1921. The frame is also a middle ground between the shape of the 1921 and the final shape of the A/B seen from the 1922 model onwards.

It is very odd they did this, as later A and B model guns shared many parts including complete frames, and the 1922 was a very different design with a grip safety backstrap, so it's not that these were made with spare parts.

The Model B was developed and marketed approximately synchronously with the model A versions, with production commencing in 1924. The model ceased production in 1931, when it was replaced with the Second Model B, below. The large lanyard ring on the left side is retained from the military model 1922. Later pistols of all series are often distinguished by the military models having lanyard rings, and the commercial models not having them.

Only a few First Model Bs seem to have been made, apparently mostly or entirely for export sales.

The one example I have seen of this gun has a simple rear sight, much like the model 1922. Without more to compare to, and lacking any special marks on this gun, its hard to determine if this is typical of all of them or if it is indeed an issue piece for a non-domestic customer. This example also bears no clear marks as to its model designation; while the serial number is in the subsequently conventional location on the butt, it is not accompanied by other marks. Identification must be based on features and caliber alone.

Second Model B

In 1931, production shifted entirely to this updated version which added several, mostly external,features to make the pistol look and handle more like the Colt 1911A1. The frame was changed to provide an arched backstrap and a larger safety as well as more rugged and higher-visibility sights were fitted. Numerous small changes were implemented across the design, from a shortening of the barrel bushing, to elimination of the separate safety guide bar.

Large numbers of these guns were produced. The image at the top of the page is a typical european commercial model with wood stocks and blue finish. Many variations of finish, stocks and sights were produced. This basic model B remained in production continuously until 1983, a 52 year production run, replaced then with the very similiar Super series.

Model B (.08) for German Army Service

During the Second World War, Germany issued a number of small arms not internally developed in order to fill gaps in production. An especially large variety of pistols were issued, and among these were a relatively small number of "B .08" pistols. These were issued to German Police and "certain military units." In general, lower-priority organizations such as the police could not get first line German-made weapons during the war, so external contracts such as this are not unusual.

These were made for only from 1942 to '44 and are substantially Second Model B pistols. The only changes of which I am aware are to markings. Reportedly, Stars issued to WWII German troops do not carry Nazi proofmarks, the only foreign arms exempted from this requirement. But, I have encountered some owners with overtly german proofed weapons, so this may be untrue, or inconsistently applied.

All these pistols should have the last 3 digits of the serial number on all major component. Note that marks along the lines of "P'08" on the chamber hood or "F. Patr. 08" are just ways to denote 9 mm Parabellum, and do not mean it was necessarily German issue. For extra confirmation, check the date of proofing. they will most likely display date codes N, Ñ or O. Positive identification of these pistols, to me, still seems difficult.

Model Bs in Soviet Block Service

Crate of Soviet re-arsenaled Model B pistols

Following WWII, the Soviet Union (and many others) reviewed the weapons that had been captured during the war and at its conclusion. In some cases, small arms were captured in such large quantities it made sense to officially adopt them into government stocks. The Soviets did this with, in one case, the Model B.08 pistol. It is not clear if these were issued to any military, police or paramilitary organization. They may have simply been stockpiled as export aid to their many friends and insurgencies.

As was typical Soviet practice at the time, a re-arsenal finish (or "Dipping" or "dip bluing" is a sort of hot bluing process that quickly puts a thick coating of something very black on the outside of all mild steel parts. Harder parts (such as extractors), bare stainless components and other pieces of metal in the white tend to turn purple instead. Stocks, on rifles, are also often quickly dipped in varnish, so end up with a rather thick coat and many drips. The thick finish tends to obscure many marks, so determining dates may be trickier on these guns.

SAFETY & OPERATIONS NOTE: The Soviet process at this time relied on interchangability of all parts. So, when these guns were being repaired, refinished maybe, or even cleaned en masse, they would all be disassembled and the parts mixed. Handguns particularly tend to have fitted parts, such as the sear/trigger interface. These guns may well have very poor (or dangerously light) triggers as a result. The interaction of the safety lever on single action pistols such as these is also dependent on individual fitting of the hammer to the safety. Most of these pistols seem to not allow application of the safety when cocked. Instead, the user must pull back the hammer slightly, and jiggle things. This is not the original way it was intended to operate, and in my opinion is an inherently unsafe thing. At the least, since it discourages use of the safety. If you will shoot this gun much, please get it to a gunsmith to get that part fitted.

These are being imported to the US now, so if this sort of thing thrills you, get on it quick. Thanks to Dans Sporting Goods for the images here.

Model B-Super

Made from 1946 to the end of classic-model production in 1983, model Bs with Super upgrades were produced. The major change is the replacement of the swinging link 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 slightly different from the later 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.

Model BS

The model BS is a normal, second Model B, except with the addition of a magazine safety, made for individuals, locales and agencies which require one. It was produced from 1957 to the end of classic series production in 1983.

Model BG

I have never seen a model BG, and hardly heard of one. It supposedly had a small change to the magazine latch; only about 2,000 were made, in 1965 and '66.

Compact Models BKS/Starlite, BKM & BM

The BM, BKS and BKM are shortened, compact versions of the basic Model B pistols. None were made in the "Super" configuration with the linkless barrel.

The BM is steel while the BKS and BKM are alloy framed. The BM and BKM have the same dimensions, and are noticably smaller than the slightly earlier BKS (see the comparison diagrams below). The BKS was also sold in the US under the Starlite name. This is presumably because it was unusual at that time to have an alloy frame, so the light weight was of note. The BKS, at least, had a magazine safety as on the BS.

While used model BMs are still relatively cheap and plentiful, the alloy framed pistols are decidedly not. This may indicate that 1970s aluminum technology was not in fact up to speed, and few have survived in a shootable condition.

At least a few are still around, and in very shootable condition. They don't come up for sale much, as they are still happily shot, and carried, by their owners.