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This Model B pistol was manufactured by STAR Echeverria in the city of Eibar, Spain in 1946 and was sent to the West German police after WWII. It is a single action semi-automatic pistol that is of the recoil operated, locked breech design. It is chambered for the 9mm Parabellum cartridge. This Model B is constructed of steel and has a blued finish. The Patridge type sights includes a blade front sight and a square notch rear sight that is drift adjustable for windage only. The pistol has a barrel length of 4.8 inches and weighs in at around 38 ounces. The Model B has a slide hold open feature to inform the operator that the last round has been fired and to facilitate reloading when a fresh magazine has been installed. On the left side of the receiver is a push button magazine release located at the rear base of the trigger guard. It is fed by a single column detachable box magazine with an 8 round capacity. The diamond pattern checkered grip panels are made of wood.

The Star Model B was inspired by the Colt 1911A1 pistol design and although it is some what similar in appearance to the model 1911A1, the parts are not interchangeable. The pistol pictured on this page is the second version of the Model B which STAR began producing in 1933. This updated version of the Model B added several, mostly external, features to make the pistol look and handle more like the Colt 1911A1. Some of these changes included, adding an arched backstrap to the frame and a larger safety. The arched backstrap allowed the pistol to fit the shooters hand more comfortably as well as aided in the operation of the pistol. The height and ruggedness of the sights was increased to aid in visibility which allowed the user to obtain a greater accuracy and a quicker sight picture. Some of the more notable small changes included a shortening of the barrel bushing and the elimination of a separate safety guide bar.

These changes proved so successful that large numbers of these pistols were produced and have been used by many nations over the years. This included the Nazi's during WWII and the pistol later served with the West German police after the war. The South African Army purchased the Model B in large numbers and it served with them until the late 1980's. Numerous other countries bought these pistols as substitutes for their armed forces. By the time the Echeverria firm ceased production in 1975, the Star Model B had become the favorite of many knowledgeable pistol shooters. This pistol is fast handling as well as stunningly accurate and it remains an excellent choice for self defense to this very day.

The pictures of the Star Model B above were taken shortly after the pistol was removed from its shipping container and inspected to be sure it contained no live rounds. The UPS truck was probably still in the neighborhood when these photographs were snapped. In the above pictures, the paper tags from the distributor are still attached to the firearm.

The white tag has printed on it the model of the pistol and the serial number. The large orange tag has printed on it the usual warnings about the safe handling of firearms to include keeping the firearm pointed in a safe direction, do not load until ready to fire and so on. Oh, the paper towel underneath the pistol is in place because the shipping box was opened on the kitchen table and these old firearms usually come packed with a ton of cosmoline on them, some thing that the wife is no longer fond of having on the dinner table.  

The photograph on the left was taken to show that some of these curio and relic firearms will need a little tender loving care. If the reader was to examine the picture closely, they will notice the awkward position of the rear sight. It has come loose from the top of the slide and will need to be drifted and set back into place for proper accuracy.

The picture on the right is of the markings that are found on the right side of this firearm. The barrel has been stamped with "Cal.08" and with the flaming bomb proof that consists of the letter "P" inside of a round bomb. Please see the text in the set of pictures below for a full description of the flaming bomb proof mark. We know that this pistol has been chambered to fire the 9mm Parabellum round, so why has the barrel been marked with "Cal. 08"? The answer to that question lies in Germany's adoption of the Luger pistol in 1908. All Star Model B pistols that were made for the Germans will have the "08" caliber designation stamped on them.

While difficult to see in the right photograph, the right side of the receiver has been marked with a stamp that no collector wants to see on a historic firearm that is in their collection. This is an importers stamp that is now required to be placed on firearms that have entered the U.S. after the late 1980's. On the plus side, every marking on a firearm will help to tell us its history and this importers mark is no different.

With this importers mark, we now know that this Star Model B came in to the U.S. some time after the late 1980's. This import mark which has been double struck in a sloppy fashion reads as follows, "C.A.I. GEORGIA VT". This marking is what the law calls for except it would have been nice if the importer would have hid this stamp under the grips rather then stamping it on the side of the receiver. This import mark identifies the importer as Century Arms International Inc., and tells us that they are located in the city of Georgia in the state of Vermont which is in the United States of America. The front flat of the trigger guard in the bottom right corner of the picture has been stamped with the word "SPAIN". This mark has also been added by the importer and identifies the country of origin of the firearm.

The importer, Century International Arms Inc. is still in business today and offers collectors a wide variety of firearms from around the world to choose from. The import law that is mentioned above can be referenced by viewing the gun control Act of 1968, Public Law 90-618 and under Subpart F-Conduct of Business sub-section 178.92 (a)(1) Firearms.  

These next two photographs show the markings that are located on the left side of this STAR Model B pistol. Across the slide it is stamped as follows, "STAR B. ECHEVERRIA", and then underneath that is "EIBAR-ESPANA" and at the end of it all is "S.A. CAL 9mm". The first part of this inscription identifies the pistol as the Star Model B that was manufactured by ECHEVERRIA. The next part of this stamp, "EIBAR-ESPANA" indicates that the firearm was manufactured in the Eibar region of Spain. The abbreviation "S.A." is basically the Spanish equivalent of "inc." or incorporated. It can be further explained with the Spanish words, Sociedad Anónima or Sociedad por Acciones. The last part of this inscription indicates that the pistol is chambered for the 9mm Parabellum cartridge.

  

The stamps in the picture on the right are proof marks and year of manufacture marks. Starting at the top left, what appears to be the letter "D" with the asterisk or * on top of it, is actually a poorly struck letter "P" and indicates that the pistol was manufactured in 1946. This was realized after the research into the serial number on this pistol did not match with the letter "D" date code. The serial number also puts this pistol in a batch of firearms that was issued to the West German police after WWII. The symbol next to it, the knights helmet and shield with the X inside is the admission proof mark that appears on Spanish handguns submitted to the official government proof house in Eibar, Spain after July 9, 1931. All proofing of handguns in Spain still occurs in the city of Eibar at the Banco oficial de Pruebas(official proofhouse) and the same symbol is still applied to this very day.

Another symbol that is still in use today is the flaming bomb symbol that is shown above on the trigger guard in the picture on the right. This flaming bomb symbol was introduced on December 14, 1929 and has the letter P inside the bomb for semi-automatic pistols or the letter R for revolvers. The flaming bomb proof indicated that a semi-automatic pistol was fired and had passed two proof loads, each of which was 30 percent more then the normal maximum operating pressure. This is then followed by two more rounds fired at normal pressure levels to determine whether the self loading mechanism is still functioning properly, if it was, then the stamp was applied to the firearm. For a revolver, where reloading takes place by means of the turning of a cylinder, an over pressure load is used. The letter for the date code with the asterisk on top is still in use as well, and today the letter is followed by a single digit number.

An interesting note is that Spain took longer to establish national proofing laws and standards for firearms then some of the other important firearms producing nations, notably Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Great Britain. Although Spain began proof marking shotguns in 1910, it was not until July 18, 1923, nearly 5 years after the end of the first world war that Spain's proofing system for its pistols came into use.

  

The full serial number of the Star Model B pistol is found on the heel and underneath the right grip.

  

  

Resource:

Spanish Handguns by Gene Gangarosa

Astra automatic pistols by Leonardo Antaris

The standard directory of proof marks by Gerhard Wirnsberger              

Official guide to gunmarks by Robert Balderson  

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