Star Model BM
The Star Model BM is a single-action semi-automatic pistol that fires the 9 mm Para pistol cartridge. It was produced by Star Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A. in Spain. Although its external appearance resembles the classic M1911, its design is different in several respects. For example, the Star does not have the 1911's grip safety. In addition, the thumb safety on the Star disengages the sear, whereas it blocks the motion of the sear on a 1911.
A total of 217,682 Star BM pistols were made between 1972 and 1992. BM serial numbers ranged from 1,226,501 to somewhere around 1,942,445. The pistols were made without mechanical variation throughout that period, but there may be a lot of different cosmetic variations depending on agency issue and commercial sales. In general, earlier pieces were more highly polished and later ones were more of a matte finish. After serial number 1,560,901 in 1981, all BM pistols were fitted with a ramped and serrated front sight. At approximately this same serial number a few other shortcuts were used to expedite production – a shorter rollmark/slide legend, coarser polish limited to side of the slide and frame, and all the small parts were given a bead blast matte finish. The slide cocking serrations are also reduced in number on these later pistols.
There have been three importers of ex-Spanish BMs to the United States; Garcia Sporting Arms, Interarms, and most recently Century (CAI). Most of what we see in the US are arms that were traded back in by various Spanish military branches to Star for exchange for newer model 28/30M and 28/30PK pistols. For the Interarms imports, Star reworked all these trade-ins prior to selling them to Interarms. Spain's Guardia Civil used BM's up through about 1990 or so as did many other police agencies in Europe and Latin America. Importers like Interarms got a hold of them when the agencies traded up to more modern designs.
The US-based gunsmith Timothy F. La France, the principal of LaFrance Specialties (formerly of San Diego, California) used the Star BM pistol as a basis to manufacture a sub-compact custom pistol called the NOVA 6-Pack, basically a Star BM shortened to pocket-size; the NOVA 6-Pack was manufactured only under custom order in a very small number of samples, and was, at one time, the smallest 9mm handgun in the world.
In the motion-picture industry, particularly in the filming of war movies, a Star Model B pistol would often substitute for a Colt 1911, since the former works more reliably with blank ammunition, and the two appear quite similar from a distance.