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The Star Model 1919

by Ed Buffaloe

Julian Echeverría helped to design an improved version of the Steyr-Mannlicher M1901 pistol for the Spanish arms manufacturer Gárate, Anitua y Cia.  The gun, known as the La Lira, and later as the Triumph, was externally nearly identical to the Mannlicher, but had a removeable magazine and was chambered for the 7.65mm Browning (.32 ACP) cartridge, which was more readily available than the proprietary 7.63mm Mannlicher cartridge.

Probably at about the same time he worked on the La Lira pistol, or soon thereafter, Julian designed a blowback operated pistol, which was also based on the Steyr-Mannlicher; he received a patent for it in June of 1907 (Spanish patent number 40,763).  Most Star pistols were based on this design up until 1920, and even after that Star’s small caliber blowback pistols continued to have a fixed barrel, an open-top slide, and a top-mounted extractor like the Steyr- Mannlicher, though each new model saw some design improvement.

The Model 1914

Before the beginning of World War I, in 1914, Star brought out its first pistol in a larger caliber:  the 7.65mm Model 1914. The M1914 was very reminiscent of the Steyr-Mannlicher and, even more so, of the La Lira/Triumph pistol, though unlike these two it was blowback operated (rather than delayed blowback).  The M1914 retained most of the features of Julian’s first pistol design, though it was larger in size, had a takedown lever in front of the trigger guard, and a U-shaped lanyard staked to the corner of the left grip.  Antaris states that the M1914 had a high polish midnight blue finish which he compares to the early Colt and Webley & Scott automatic pistols.  The pre-war version of the M1914 came with either a 110mm or a 130mm barrel, with a magazine that held eight rounds.

The wartime version also came in two sizes, both of which were sold to the French during the war.  According to Antaris, the smaller gun had a 138mm barrel and a nine round magazine, whereas the larger gun had a 160mm barrel and a ten round magazine.  However, Medlin and Huon state that the smaller gun had a 126mm barrel and a seven round magazine--it was informally referred to as the Officer’s Model--and the larger gun had a 138mm barrel and a nine round magazine--it was informally referred to as the Trooper’s Model.  A smaller 6.35mm version was produced in very limited quantities before the war, but there is no record of it being sold to the French.  According to Medlin and Huon:  “Star products were highly regarded by the French since they were of superior quality when compared to the common run of Rubys.”  The French purchased about 20,000 Model 1914s under contract with Star during the war.  Total production is estimated at only about 23,000.

1919 Star .380

Star Model 1919 in .380 Caliber

1919 Star .380
1919 Star .380
1919 Star .380 - safety off
1919 Star .380 - components
The Model 1919

The wartime contract with the French enabled Star to expand its workforce and move into a larger facility in Eibar.  The company reconfigured the M1914 and offered it in more calibers, and the new gun eventually became known as the Model 1919.  Though the gun used the same magazine as the M1914, the steel in the frame was thicker, and the slide was larger and heavier, probably to make sure it was strong enough for the 9mm short cartridge (.380 ACP).  The visible differences are that M1919 has a smaller magazine release button than the M1914, a more exaggerated hammer spur, finer serrations on the underside of the frame, and a lanyard that swivels.  The hammer of the M1919 turns on a pin rather than a screw, the spring extractor also tensions the safety lever, and the finish is a rust blue and does not display the high polish that was seen on the M1914.  This gun is sometimes referred to as the Sindicalista, due to the pocket model’s widespread use by union members (sindicalistas) prior to and during the Spanish civil war.

The M1919 was available in three calibers:  6.35mm (.25 caliber), 7.65mm (.32 caliber), and 9mm short (.380 caliber).  The 6.35mm pocket pistol was available in a single size only, with no lanyard, a 68mm barrel and an eight round magazine.  The larger caliber pistols were available in two models, designated the Pocket Model and the Military Model.  The Pocket Model had a 95mm barrel; the 7 .65mm version came with an eight round magazine, and the 9mm short version came with a seven round magazine.  The Military Model was available in two barrel lengths, 115mm and 138mm, and had a longer grip than the pocket model; the 7.65mm version came with a nine round magazine, and the 9mm short version came with an eight round magazine.  Most of these guns are found with checkered hard rubber grips with a star banner.  However, the early guns in 7.65mm and 9mm short came with checkered wooden grips.  Very early 6.35mm pistols had a rounded hammer with no spur.  All others had spur hammers, though the shape of the spur changed somewhat over time.  Total production of all three calibers is estimated at about 65,000.

The gun, like its predecessors, is relatively simple in design, with the barrel fixed to the frame, an open-top slide, a cover beneath the slide to hide the recoil spring, and a safety that directly blocks the hammer from hitting the firing pin.  The open-top slide is essentially a breech block, containing the firing pin and extractor, with two metal wings that extend beneath the barrel on either side and meet at a cross-piece in the front.  The front portion of the recoil spring guide fits into a metal post in the cross piece at the front of the slide, and the rear portion of the recoil spring fits into a hollow in the frame beneath the barrel.  The ejector is on the right side of the frame.

We found that the Model 1919 in .380 caliber fed and ejected every kind of ammunition we put into it, even hollow point.  The only problem we encountered was that after one or two rounds were fired the force of the recoil would throw the safety lever into position to block the hammer.  Apparently the spring that tensions it is no longer strong enough.  Accuracy at 20 feet was excellent.

Field Stripping

  1. It is not necessary to remove the magazine, but you should make sure it is empty and clear the chamber.
  2. Press the lever at the front of the trigger guard and remove the recoil spring cover toward the front.
  3. Using a small tool, or your finger, pry the recoil spring guide rod toward the rear, disengaging it from the metal post in the front of the slide.
  4. Remove the recoil spring and guide rod.
  5. Draw the slide all the way back, lift up the rear, and remove it toward the front of the gun.       

Copyright 2009 by Ed Buffaloe.  All rights reserved.
Click most photographs to open a larger version in a new window.


References

“Bergmann System Military Pistols,” by James B. Stewart.  Gun Digest, 1973.
Blue Book of Airguns, by by Dr. R. Beeman, J. Allen, and S. P. Fjestad.  Blue Book Publications, Minneapolis, MN:  2008.
Dictionary of Guns and Gunmakers, by John Walter.  Greenhill, London:  2001.
 

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