Star Bonifacio Echeverria

Star Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A.
Fate Bankruptcy
Founded 1905 (1905)
Founder Julian and Bonifacio Echeverria
Defunct 1997 (1997)
Headquarters Basque region, Spain
Area served
Products Firearms
Services Rifles, Pistols

Star Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A. was a manufacturer of small arms (principally handguns and sub-machineguns) in the Basque region of Spain from about 1905 until 1997.

Company history

Bonifacio Echeverria and the ancestry of Star

The Eibar region has been a center of weapons development and manufacture for centuries, with "Spanish Steel" historically being a selling point with its reputation for quality and durability. When firearms came into being, Eibar retained its edge as a weapons manufacturing center. The oldest known ancestor of the Star lineage is José Cruz Echeverria, who made muzzle-loading firearms in the 18th century.

His two sons, Julián and Bonifacio, entered the firearms business about 1905. They produced the model 1908 pistol, substantially a Mannlicher Model 1900 in 6.35 mm (.25 ACP) caliber. Around 1910 Julián left the business and Bonifacio expanded and began improving their current offering. The model 1914 was released with much the same mechanism as the 1908, but with further improvements to the ergonomics,

Gabilondo Ruby Pistol

As is often the case with weapons makers, a government contract secured the success of the company. The firm was a sub-contractor to Gabilondo y Urresti in producing a version of the Gabilondo Ruby pistol for the French military during World War I. Additionally, Bonifacio Echeverria was directly contracted for a version of the 1914 Model pistol. The "Model 1 Militar" was a 7.65 mm (.32) caliber version of the Model 1914 designed for the French military, who referred to them as the Pistolet automatique, type Star.[1]

The beginnings of Star as a brand

In 1919, Bonifacio formally registered the Star trade name, and all subsequent weapons were marked as such. Note that although some references say that the Basque and Spanish equivalents of Star are also registered (Izarra and Estrella), they seem to have never been marketed as such.

The classic era

Originally, Bonifaco had planned on producing a still more improved version of the model 1914, initially to meet a French follow-on contract for 50,000 pistols. However, the end of World War I led to the cancellation of the contract, and Echeverria decided that clones of the Colt M1911 were more commercially viable.

Development moved rapidly from pistols that looked like Colts to ones that operated on the Browning tilting breech method. The line was rapidly expanded to cover a broad range of pistols in all popular western calibers, as well as the almost uniquely Spanish 9 mm Largo. Additionally, a line of .25 ACP caliber vest pocket pistols were developed, including a series of popular .22 Long Rifle target pistols. These are all straight blowback models.

The modern era

In 1983 production of the classic models was largely ceased in favor of a new series of pistols taking most of their features from the Charles Petter SACM style of pistols (also seen in the SIG P210 and CZ-75. Namely, these all had inverted slide rails and closed cam path locking. Many also had modular (removable) trigger assemblies. Most were double-action, though some retained the classic style single-action lockwork.

The end

The 1990s were bad for defense companies all over the world. For the most part, companies in smaller markets either found their niche and flourished, or slowly perished. In Spain alone Star, Astra and CETME met their end.

The final years at Star saw a relative flurry of new models, and court challenges over restructuring plans and massive layoffs. Star filed for bankruptcy protection in late 1993 after taking out loans to invest in new CNC machinery. They were indirectly affected by the Asian economic crisis; Spanish banks tried to cover Asian investment losses by more aggressively collecting outstanding debt and renewing loans with less favorable terms for domestic companies. Star and Astra began cooperative investment and discussions of mergers in the mid 90s, but Astra was not in much better shape, so this eventually dragged both companies down.

Although rumours abounded that a large foreign cooperative, like Beretta, would snap them up (as they indeed did with Sako) this was not to be. Employees of both companies, through their unions, tried to set up a cooperative to take control of the companies. They planned to upgrade operations again, but also ran into trouble overextending themselves financially, and eventually these organizations also sought protection under bankruptcy laws.

On May 27, 1997 both Star and Astra closed their doors, and were placed in the Spanish equivalent of Chapter Seven bankruptcy, under the control of a Basque regional judge. Eventually, an agreement was reached that settled sufficient outstanding debt, and allowed some of the machinery and the intellectual property to be resurrected in two new companies. Much machinery was also sold at auction to pay debtors. Apparently all unassembled or unsold barrels and frames were destroyed by government order when the company closed. Unregistered parts were retained and purchased by a custom smithing operation known as Ipar Guns.

Star and Astra combined into one company under the ASTAR name, with a new factory, which manufactures a range of new firearms with distribution in Spain and some South American countries.

Production and models


Submachine Guns

Star Model Z-45
Star Model Z-84

Star Pistol model 1919. "Sindicalista" Model

In 1919 Bonifacio Echeverria was interested in the patent of the Belgian Fabrique Nationale on the Colt 1911 pistol. The intention of Echeverria was to design a pistol more to the taste of Eibar.

Echeverria created a 6.35mm caliber pistol that served as base for other models. With a frame clearly inspired by Colt and a slide similar to that of the Italian Beretta.

By 1929 models with calibers of 6.35mm, 7.65mm and 9mm corto had been developed. The 7.65mm caliber model, denominated the "Model Polícia", allegedly began to be used by the gunmen of the C.N.T in Barcelona and Zaragoza. Supposedly the pistol was carried hung by a string from the belt which went through a pocket with the bottom cut out of it, thus suspended down the inside of the trouser leg, to avoid detection by Police patrols.

Code and year of manufacture

After 1927 all the Spanish arms that are proven in the Proving stand Celebrate of Eibar are marked with recording, normally done on the frame, in which it appears the year of manufacture codified in letters.

Table of correspondence between letters and years of manufacture. To raise to images or archives multimedia [ or ]

Star 1914 cal 7,65mm
Code Year Code Year Code Year
A 1927 A1 1955 A2 1981
B 1928 B1 1956 B2 1982
C 1929 C1 1957 C2 1983
D 1931 D1 1958 D2 1984
E 1932 E1 1959 E2 1985
F 1933 F1 1960 F2 1986
G 1934 G1 1961 G2 1987
H 1935 H1 1962 H2 1988
I 1936 I1 1963 I2 1989
J 1937 J1 1964 J2 1990
K 1938 K1 1965 K2 1991
L 1939 L1 1966 L2 1992
M 1941 M1 1967 M2 1993
N 1942 N1 1968 N2 1994
Ñ 1943 Ñ1 1969 Ñ2 1995
O 1944 O1 1970 O2 1996
P 1945 P1 1971 P2 1997
Q 1946 Q1 1972 Q2 1998
R 1947 R1 1973 R2 1999
S 1948 S1 1974 S2 2000
T 1949 T1 1975 T2 2001
U 1950 U1 1976 U2 2002
V 1951 V1 1977 V2 2003
X 1952 X1 1978 X2 2004
Y 1953 Y1 1979 Y2 2005
Z 1954 Z1 1980 Z2 2006

See also


  1. Medlinn, Eugene and Huon, Jean: French Service Handguns 1858–2004, Tommygun Books
  2. personal experience
  3. 1 2 3 Hogg, Ian V. and Weeks, John, Military Small Arms of the 20th Century, 6th ed. DBI Books, Inc. (1991)
  4. Smith, Joseph E., Small Arms of the World, 9th ed., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: The Stackpole Company (1969), pp. 544–546
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Star Bonifacio Echeverria.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 4/12/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.