Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Star BM 9mm

One of my favorite activities is searching for quality firearms at excellent prices and such is the subject of this review the Star BM 9mm pistol.  When you pick this pistol up you will immediately notice two things.  The first is the weight.  This is an all steel handgun which weighs in at 2.14 ounces.  In today's stock of modern alloy and polymer framed pistols this much weight on a concealed carry pistol is a little uncommon.  The weight means that you will definitely have to find the right belt and holster for carry.  The weight also means that recoil is not much of a concern.  

The second thing that you will notice is that the right side of the slide is stamped "CSP" which stands for "Cuerpo Superior de Policia" or "Superior Police Corps".  From what I can gather this was a renaming of a police organization in 1978 in order to lessen the stigma that the police force gained under the Franco regime.  The police forces were reorganized again in 1986 as a national police force began to solidify.  Perhaps some of our readers or listeners in Spain can clarify this for us.

In the earlier parts of the 20th Century Spain was home to some very good firearm manufactures such as Star, Astra, Ruby and Llama.  Their fortunes waned in the later parts of the century.  Internet rumor tells us that when these manufacturers lost their military and police contracts they were unable to survive solely upon commercial sales.

The good news is that Star pistols are still very much alive on the secondary markets.  Although parts are still available they are not as plentiful as say...Glock parts.  Star's have always had a reputation for quality at a reasonable price and such it was with this specimen which I picked up at an online auction for $275.00.

The BM 9 is obviously a 1911 clone with some significant differences.  There is no grip safety and I certainly don't miss it.  The take-down process is also slightly different.

After removing the magazine and checking to make sure that the pistol is unloaded you move the slide to the rear however, instead of retracting it until a notch on the slide lines up with the slide stop pin you retract it until the thumb safety aligns with the slide's take down notch.  You then push the safety up and into the notch as noted in the image below.

From there you push the slide release pin out (and mine pops right out).  Then push the slide off the front and remove the guide rod and spring out of the slide.  At that point you just need to turn the barrel bushing
a quarter turn to the right and it can then be pulled out of the slide.  The barrel can then be easily extracted through the front of the slide.

It would have been great to find in mint, unissued condition as the black finish appears to have had a high gloss in its original condition and the hammer and trigger were case color hardened with a little of that bright blue finish still evident on the hammer.

The front and rear sights are fixed.  The rear is a standard square notch and drift adjustable for windage.

If I were to have any work done on the Star it would be to widen the rear notch and put a brass bead on the front sight.

Let's review the rest of the pistol's specs.  It has an overall length of 7.25 inches, has a height of 5 inches and has a barrel length of 3.77 inches.  The width of the slide is .84 inches and the width across the plastic grips is 1.23 inches.  The trigger pivots instead of sliding back.  I did not realize that until I took a closer look at a schematic online.  The trigger pull comes in a 5 pounds 4 ounces which some might consider a little high but doesn't bother me on a carry handgun.  Lastly, the magazine holds 8 rounds giving you a total capacity of 8+1.  

Let's Look at the Targets!

Most of the range testing was done with Magtech 115 grain FMJ ammo.

Here's the warm up target with 8 rounds fired at 15 feet:

  9 rounds at 21 feet:

20 rounds at 35 feet:

24 rounds at 50 feet:

18 rounds at 75 feet

Next I began testing some defensive hollow point ammunition.
First up is Federal Premium 124 grain Hydra-Shok JHP.  Here is 8 rounds at 21 feet:

And lastly, I fired 9 rounds of Barnes all copper 115 grain 9mm +P at 21 feet.
The recoil with the Barnes +P was very soft.  I should note that the Star BM, having been made some 30 + years ago, is not exactly rated for +P ammo.  It you get a BM exercise restraint with the hot ammo.

Final Impressions

The bushing is a little flimsy when compared to modern 1911 bushings but it does not seem to effect practical accuracy.  However, it does make me wonder how much more accuracy could be squeezed out of the BM if a heavier and tighter bushing were fitted to the pistol.

I always talk about the importance of the feel and fit of a handgun in regards to the accuracy, reliability and the perceived recoil the pistol will produce.  Those factors on this pistol are excellent.

If you come across a Star BM and are in the market for a heavier compact pistol the Star BM is definitely worth your attention.


Anonymous said...

Sincerely, I have liked to devote a few words to the Star BM, in my opinion, an excellent weapon that does not show the passage of time or use. The initials stamped on the gun CSP (Cuerpo Superior de Policía), belong to the old police force dedicated to the work of detective, also known as judicial police work. Subsequently both the CSP (Cuerpo Superior de Policía) and the PN (Policía Nacional), were united in the Cuerpo Nacional de Policía(CNP).
Regarding the Star BM, and the ammunition that is capable of using, and whether resists the use of live ammunition + p, is fully capable of it. These guns are designed to fire ammunition Santa Barbara with NATO specifications, which exceed the load carrying ammunition + p in USA.
In Europe the 9mm Parabellum, including trade marks ammo, usually come with very hot loads, and if this ammunition is acquired by law enforcement agencies or the military, even come with more powder charge. Myself, when I train with H&K usp compact and other weapons of Spanish manufacturing (Star BM, Star 28pk, Star Firestar, ...), I use ammunition 9mm NATO Santa Barbara, fiocchio or S & B, which have specifications to be fired in SMGs (h&k mp5, Star z70).
Sorry for my poor English usage, and happy to answer any questions that may arise all guns manufactured in Spain, as I have had occasion to try and get to know most of them.

Anonymous said...

Add some checkered wood grips and it could pass for a non existent Colt Commander 'Compact' minus the beaver tail and grip safety.

Did you mention the mag disconnect safety and how easy it is to remove?

Anonymous said...

I can not get the mag release screw out. Is there someway to remove it without FURTHER damaging the screw? Thanks, JA

Brad said...

Use a small screwdriver. Depress the screw and turn it about 1/8 inch counter clockwise. It will lock in place and the Mag Release will push out left to right.

Brad said...

Get a small flat blade screwdriver. Push the screw on the right side in and turn it counter clockwise. It will lock in place and the Mag Release button is pushed out left to right.

Anonymous said...

I have this exact gun and after it sitting in my drawer for the past 25 years I decided to go shoot it. It shot great (only the 3rd time I have shot it since I have owned it. However, when I cleaned it, I noticed that there was a small gap on the lower rail on the left hand side of the gun right above the back hole for the pin. Any way you could look at your gun and see if you have this gap? I am trying to see if this is normal or an exactly straight crack.