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December 02, 2004

The 9mm Star BM a real bang for the budget

For some reason I have had a long time hankering for a the relatively inexpensive Star BM and I can not explain why. It is no secret that I have been a 1911 fan for more years than I care to admit and the Star bears a striking resembelance to the old warhorse. I have even been know to build one or two of John Brownings best on occassion. I guess my first experience with the Star BM was at a gunshow somewhere years ago. Since that time I have handled many of them at various shows deciding that someday I would get around to owning one. The Sunday of a Labor Day weekend gunshow I finally got around to buying one.

Prices that I have noted over the years at gunshows have varied from one hundred and fifty bucks to nearly three hundred. The one now in my posession set me back one hundred and eighty bucks tax included. Not a bad deal really, considering that Shotgun News has them listed for one hundred and thirty bucks. By the time you add shipping and a twenty dollar dealer transfer fee you would have nearly that much in one anyway. I carried this one out the door of the gunshow figuring the extra ten bucks was worth not having to wait a week or more for it. Less than two hundred bucks for a good reliable self-defense firearm is a pretty good deal not withstanding it is chambered in what some call the 9EW (EuroWeenie).

The BM is to Star essentially what the Commander is to Colt. It is a scaled down version of the full sized B model. This particular size Star was also made with an alloy frame to reduce weight and designated the BKM. Except for the lack of a grip safety externally it looks pretty much identical to a 1911. Holding it in my hand and in ways that are hard to explain, it seems to fit better than a 1911. And this is from a guy that at times was spending more time with a 1911 than my wife. Raising the BM to eye level and looking down the highly visable sights it most certainly has the look and just the hint of a Browning Hi-Power feel to it. Yea strange I know, but you'll just have to experience it for yourself, I'm not the only one that has made this observation. In my hands it registers real high on the pointability scale. The trigger is even more Hi-power than 1911 and has a distinct reset so that a complete pull is not required for successive shots. Anyone that shoots a Glock knows what I refer to concerning the trigger. My particular firearm appeared not to have been fired very much. For a firearm that is every bit of 50 years old it was exceptionally clean and the recoil spring fairly stiff.

My wife (AKA- She who must be obeyed) and I went to the range on Labor Day to shoot the BM and her new Walther P22. (ed...the P22 is another story) I had one hundred rounds each of Winchester White Box 115gr FMJ's and Remingtons budget box 115gr hollow points. As was our intention to specifically practice for an upcoming bowling pin shoot (ed.. yes I had one of my Glocks with me as well) we set paper targets in the shape of bowling pins on the target stand and did most of our shooting from 25 feet.

Breaking open the box of Winchesters and loading the BM magazine, I deliberately slow fired the first 8 rounds. The Star functioned flawlessly and I printed a two inch group just left of my point of aim. That was nearly the last time the gun functioned through a magazine flawlessly with the Winchester ammo. Just about every magazine after that at least once it would extract the spent case but fail to eject it from the gun causing it to jam. The first time it happened the wife was shooting and I thought maybe she had "limp-wristed" it. When it happened to me as well, I was pretty sure I hadn't "limp-wristed" it. It seemed that the slide was just not coming back far enough to eject the spent case because it wasn't picking up the next round in the magazine either. Even with the ejection difficulty my groups, as I got used to the pistol got smaller. It is a very accurate firearm. All told we fired about 80 of the White Box FMJ's.

Shooting it with the Remington hollow points brought forth two immediate observations. The first is that there was significantly more recoil and the second being that with more than fifty rounds fired we did not experience one single failure to eject. Not one. It also seemed that the Remington ammo was just a bit more accurate than the White Box. One fairly rapidly fired group at 8 yrds measured right at two inches. I was definately impressed with not only the BM at this point but the Remington ammo in particular.

Upon reflection the White Box ammo was just not "hot" enough to cycle the action. It is primarily a practice round, with I suspect just slightly more than enough powder to punch a whole in paper. The Star as I have mentioned has a pretty stiff recoil spring. Since the malfunction was not repeated with the Remington ammo I chalked the ejection problem up to the ammo.

This observation has been borne out on two other occassions as well. On the second occassion the wife, our two sons, the oldest sons father-in law and I were at the range shooting a variety of firearms. We all shot the BM and to a person experienced the same malfunction with the White Box ammo. Again the Remington rocked. On the last occassion our yougest son elected to try his hand at bowling pins with Dad's Star. During a little pre-match practice he, and the two other people that shot the gun (ed... they just had to try it) had the same problem. During the match using the remington rounds the firearm ran flawlessly. He ended up loosing out to his Mom and her 40 caliber Browning Hi-power in the third round though. I don't think it helped that before they shot it out I whispered in his ear "There ain't no family on the firing line, but that is your Mom your shooting against, even if you win you lose."

All kidding aside the Star BM is a very accurate, and considering the price of many new pistols a reasonably affordable firearm. To date we have run in excess of two hundred plus rounds of Remingtons 115gr hollow points without one single hiccup. If someone on a budget is in need of a serious pistol for personal protection or home defense they could not go wrong with a Star BM. As with all semi-automatic pistols it may take a box or two of different brands or bullet weights of ammo to find something that functions reliably. As for my Star I am convinced that the White Box just doesn't have enough ooomph to cycle the action and the few times that I have carried it, it was loaded with the remington offering and, I did so with complete confidence.

Once last observation on the BM is that the magazine does not fall free. This is entirely atributable to the magazine safety disconnect system. The BM will not fire when the magazine has been removed from the gun. If you do not care for this feature it can be easily changed to both, allow the magazine to fall free, and fire while it is removed. I will not detail the simple procedure here, suffice to say it is something I am capable of doing if I choose to, but encourage anyone that does not have a level of gunsmithing experience to have it done by a professional. Safety is paramount when it comes to firearms.

Posted by Gunscribe