Star Firearms: H-series pistols

Star Firearms — H-series pistols

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The H series is a straight-blowback vest pocket pistol, mechanically designed along the lines of the model F. The H falls between the C and I series in total size.

While similar in design and configuration to the model F, I believe it is distinctly not the same in most ways. The dimensions are somewhat more compact in the breech, and there are differences in the gripframe configuration that would be needlessly difficult to change if they were all coming off the same line.

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 vest-pocket and target pistols operate and strip in approximately the same way. These manuals are very slim, and do not provide really useful step-by-step instructions. It may be beneficial to review all the manuals for this series to assure you have gotten all relevant information.

As some of these manuals are not in english, and have no diagrams, I will explain the basic takedown procedure here. Stripping is just like taking down most any straight-blowback, fixed barrel european gun (e.g. the Walther PPK). This is, however, somewhat unusual if you have only worked with larger Browning lock pistols in the past.

  • As with any time you are working on a pistol, assure it is empty first.
  • Remove the magazine and cycle the slide several times.
  • Push down on the button at the top of the left grip panel, in front of the safety lever.
  • While holding this button down, pull the slide to the rear approximately 1/2".
  • In this position, the slide can now come up thru notches in the slide rails. Pull the rear of the slide up,/em. off the rails. Use caution, as the slide is still under full spring pressure.
  • Lower the slide over and off the end of the barrel. Be careful not to scratch the barrel or other parts.
  • Reassemble in the reverse manner.

H & HN Pocket Pistols

The H is a straight-blowback, single action pistol of conventional layout in .32 ACP (7.65 mm). The safety lever is in the then conventional location for many pocket pistols, forward of the left-side stock panel. A lever, hinging under the stocks, is rotated down to fire. Immediately below this is a magazine release. The button to the rear of the left-side stock panel is the takedown lever, allowing over-extension of the slide. The gun has an external, spur hammer.

Production began in 1930 or '31. The HN is the exact same gun in .380 ACP, with production of both models beginning the same year. Some data sources indicate the first .380 pistols (until 1932) were also named model N, without the caliber-denoting suffix, but this would be unusual.

The rear sight is a rudimentary notch, but a reasonably large, sharply-cut front blade sits atop a short rib machined into the front of the barrel, and would presumably allow a decent sighting refernece for the short ranges expected with such a small pistol. Finishes appear to be only blue, though of course many custom finishes and engraving may be encountered as well. Stocks are slightly arched plastic panels with molded in checkering and a prominent Star emblem. Stocks may be red/brown or black.

Production of both calibers ceased very soon, in 1936, for no reason I am aware of. Star had many other vest-pocket pistols, not to mention literally hundreds of other manufacturers, so it may have encountered low sales in the crowded market.


Between 1936 and 1955 there were no H series pistols produced at all. While Star had certainly discontinued lines, bringing them back is – unless my memory fails me – unprecedented and odd.

The Revival in .22 – HF & HK

More interestingly, the H line was revived with a different caliber. While clearly if the same basic design as the earlier pocket pistols, they never re-emerged as .32 or .380 caliber guns.

I am at something of a loss as to explain why this gun exists. It appears to be a pocket pistol, and there was certainly enough competition for guns of this size in larger calibers. In addition, the Model C (in .25 ACP) would seem easy to change to a .22, or better yet they could have simply made an abbreviated Model F (as they did in .32 and .380 with the Model I series).

Model HF

The HFs are, apparently, simply revivals of the original model H design, in a new caliber (.22 Long Rifle) and with an aluminum alloy frame. They were notable at the time for being of the 1930s design, with a blocky gripframe, and none of the improvements made to other pocket pistols in the intervening years. There were produced only in 1955; very few have, apparently, been produced and even fewer made it to the US.

Model HK

The Model HK replaced the HF after just one year of production, and continued to be produced until 1983, when most of the Star line was switched over to newer models.

This is the last of the small and pocket pistols to carry out this update; all the others instituted these changes in 1942. They include the additon of a thumb safety, in the more conventional position at the rear of the frame, contour changes to the beavertail and stocks to accomodate this safety lever, and improve ergonomics, improved (though still very small) sights, contour changes to the lower portion of the gripframe to improve ergonomics, and simplification of the barrel profile and sight rib. The hammer is of the rowel or commander style, rounded off for less snagging when carried.

The HKs are mechanically all but identical to previous models, and retain the alloy frame of the HF. Some were made two-tone, with nickel barrels and frames (as these are permanently attached pieces) and blue slides. There were also solid blued guns, but I am not aware of solid nickel guns. Stocks continued to be checkered plastic panels in red/brown or black, though of course redesigned to accomodate the new contours and with a much smaller Star emblem.

Boxed Lancers

I have also just encountered a number of HK Lancers that have pearly white plastic stocks, and a spur hammer. At least one of them came in an unusual plastic box, which may indicate it was some sort of special edition at the time, but none of the associated paperwork discusses this. If more comes to light, I'll add it right here.

The Lancer Brand

A number of modern-era Stars, such as the Megastar and Firestar line, have been sold almost entirely under their sub-brands. The HK was, similarly, also sold as the "Lancer." The Lancer brand is different in that it also has it's own logo, carried prominently on each of the pistols sold by this name. The word "Lancer" is laid over a stylized image of a lance, all rollstamped into the right side of the slide below the ejector port area. The logo stamping appears to vary slightly, with some having more details than others. This may simply be the quality of the stamp, or wearing of the die, however.

The reason for this name is unclear to me. It may have some historical meaning that works better for Europeans. It is also a notable sub-brand in that it appears to be universal. Most named pistols use the name only in one or a few markets. The HK appears to have been universally, globally, marked as the Lancer as well as the model HK.