Sunday, February 4, 2018

I Said It Would Be a Saga

Right about three years ago I got myself a model B Super, with a broken slide stop. Gun ran fine, but for the lack of the last shot hold open, and generally having a floppy part on the side.

But no problem, I know all about this, and can replace a gun part. Well, wrong. 

Star pistols as a whole have been out of production now for over twenty years, and it is starting to show. There are simply no spare parts for many of the most common problems (and the slide stop nub on the Super series was apparently a bit of a problem), and especially for many of the Classic series guns generally. 

This is a truth we're going to have to start facing, as the stocks of parts dwindle, and there is no longer a go-to supplier anywhere in the world to solve our needs. It may be time to start considering our Star firearms to be more for fun, and for discount collecting, than for day to day shooting, as when that one part breaks the gun may be entirely unshootable forever. 

Regardless, I wanted to shoot my Super, and so started looking into repairing it myself. The overall plan was to:
  • Remove the plunger, spring, and cap screw that sit in a channel under the broken off stop stud
  • Weld (or solder, or braze) on a small piece of steel
  • Lacking even good photos or drawings, file it to shape based on trial and error
And this seemed to be going well. But, it always failed. It is very hard to weld the small part, and too aggressive a weld will damage the slide stop or fill the plunger channel with weld. 

When I went to file off the bead so it would fit flush, or change the size of the stud to make it fit into the hole so the part moves enough to re-assemble the gun, it would break off. 

Three times. 

Well, yesterday, I was doing some other firearms work at a friend's house, and my pipefitter friend as going to be TIG welding an engine part, so said to bring the part by one more time. 

And this time we got enough penetration along the joint to work. About 10 minutes of filing when I got home, and it works. 



I have yet to shoot it, but cycling with dummies presents no issues at all. 

As you see, not the prettiest thing ever, from all the times clamping, welding, welding again, filing, etc. Bit it works. 

And the shape seems to be pretty unimportant. There's a lot of magazine follower, and the position is in a dead space sort of under the feedramp, so any size of stud will do, much to my surprise. 

The biggest shaping issue is making one that will pass through the round hole in the frame, and also move down enough to clear the slide for normal operation, but go up enough to lock the slide back. That's harder than I expected, and hand filing that roundness is hard.

Also, unlike many other firearms, the stud doesn't pass through a constant thickness part of the frame, so you cannot just file in a notch for it to engage into. The entire piece has to be the proper size and shape due to the tapered shape of the front of the magazine guide. 



One welding job did penetrate into the plunger channel, and it took a bit of drilling to clear it out. Frightening drilling as the cap screw is very tiny, so I feared ruining the threads especially. But, it worked just fine. 

So, if anyone else wants to try a similar repair, you have a tiny bit of a guide now for how to approach the work. 






Monday, May 25, 2015

B Super Slide Stop: The Saga Begins

Parts have finally started really drying up for Star pistols, and we're now going to be moving into a new phase, where you have three choices:

  1. Everything becomes a wall-hangar. Oh, you can take it down and click it occasionally, but don't shoot it as it might break. 
  2. Get by with broken bits, but keep shooting. 
  3. Repair the parts yourself. 

I have recently acquired a B Super (I didn't have one lately before this) largely with Option #3 in mind.

It has one of the key problems that some readers have sent to me, namely the follower detector on the slide stop is sheared off. This is a real problem as there appear to be no replacements around anymore.

It is my intention to repair the part then, but first, let's examine it. This is a single part number to Star, in all lists and manuals. But it's not a single piece. Look close at the back end.


There's a screw. It's staked to avoid falling out, but not very hard. Wobbling it back and forth very carefully, with a very well-fitted screwdriver will allow you to remove it. Note that the screw has no stop point, so you can twist both ways and won't be over-tightening it. This is convenient for our removal purposes.

Once you get it loose, slowly unscrew it as there is spring tension. Not much, but be careful as these are tiny parts.



Back to front there is the screw/guide, a spring, and the plunger that provides spring tension for the whole slidestop/takedown lever portion.

I was hoping this would mean the follower sensor is also a separate piece that can be simply filed to shape, but no such luck. The answer will be welding a rod on here, but at least that welding won't ruin the slide stop mechanism now that we know how to take it apart.

When I get to the next step, I'll post that also.

Monday, June 30, 2014

What Should I See at the National Firearms Centre?

In a few weeks, I'll be in London on other business and will be taking the train up to Leeds to visit the National Firearms Centre. If that doesn't sound interesting or familiar, remember the Enfield Pattern Room? That moved to Nottingham in the 1980s and much more recently was joined with the Tower collections and put into an all new building.

I have some plans to look at a few of the SMGs, and compare features of the firing assemblies, and so on. They do not have every gun I am interested in, so I can't meet every need. They also may not allow the photos to be posted here, though I am working on that. At least, I'll have more info to add to the site and hopefully clarify a few things.

Note, they charge about $75 / hour, so I will only have so much spare time either. If anyone wants, I'll happily take donations or you can buy manuals or Star branded clothing. A tiny amount of each sale goes to run this site. If you really want to help, you can also just PayPal me a donation specifically for this trip and visit.

P.S. Soon I hope to have even more Star branded stuff. So, stay tuned.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Interviewed for a Newspaper Article

Aside from answering your questions about your personal guns, I have stumbled into being a sort of information repository on Star pistols. I also answer questions from gunsmiths, forensics investigators, and police departments across the world. It's pretty weird.

Recently, as a followup to a notorious 1970s murder in Palm Springs, I was interviewed because the investigators are sure a PD was used in the crime.


If you live in the area, do read it. The point is not just sensationalism but the hope that someone will remember a detail, or find something incriminating like the gun, and they can solve the case for good. But at least read for my quotes, and tell me what I (or they, in their quoting) got wrong. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Parts & Spares for Your Star Firearms

This is one of the most common questions I get, and has gotten harder over the years. First, the basics.

  • This is not the official website of Star Bonifacio Echeverria. They went out of business decades ago. This is just an informational site.
  • There are no new parts available anywhere, and no factory service.

So, parts are starting to become out of stock. Much worse for some of our readers is that IPAR Guns has, apparently, folded. They had a good inventory, and the blueprints and knowhow to make parts (or guns, I think) so that resource is gone now.

Parts are listed here: http://star-firearms.com/info/parts.shtml


In case this all makes you depressed, you are in good company. My beloved Smith & Wesson 5946 broke an extractor a little while ago. It is a slightly odd variation of the very well-used third generation series of Smith auto pistols. And just with the transition to plastic pistols, I could not find the part. I had to call the manufacturer (no email, no web ordering) during business hours and pay $35 plus shipping just for an extractor. Oh, and it's still not here several weeks later.

Apparently, this is typical. I am told by my friends who shoot pistols older than just a few years that unless a very, very popular gun without serious changes, it's often nearly impossible to get parts even if the manufacturer is in business.