LooseRounds.com5.56 Timeline
Weaponsman.com

 

Spain’s Exceptional Conceal Carry Gun: the Star PD 45 Pistol

By Luis Valdes


In 1975, a company in my ancestral home of España (Spain) released to the shooting community what was then one of the most desired handguns in the world. A compact, lightweight aluminium framed, .45 ACP pistol styled after the 1911. That company was Star Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A. and the pistol was the Star PD 45.

Star Bonifacio Echeverria started making guns in 1905 and sadly went out of business in 1997 with the end of the Cold War and the downturn in the European arms market. But from 1975 to 1990, Star turned out the estimable PD 45, a fantastic little gem of a pistol.

A Colt commander-size 1911 and a compact Star PD 45

Weighing in at 25oz and having a capacity of 6+1, the Star PD was advanced for its era. It sported adjustable rear sights, a polished feed ramp and a fantastic trigger. The layout and ergonomics of the gun scream 1911 but the field stripping and design are more reminiscent of the Browning Hi-Power.

Just like the Hi-Power, the slide is retracted and the safety is engaged in the takedown notch, then the slide stop pin is pushed out. No need to manually line up the slide and awkwardly hold it there as with a 1911. There’s a removable barrel bushing like a 1911 and the PD 45 has no grip safety like a Hi-Power. The recoil spring has a plastic recoil bushing to keep the abuse down on the pistol’s aluminum frame during firing.

And that aluminum frame is the pistol’s one flaw. While the PD 45 is an impressive carry gun, it’s not built for hours and hours of range time and tens of thousands or rounds put through it. Star frames are known to crack if their buffers aren’t replaced regularly. Still, the late great Col. Jeff Cooper loved it for its intended role — combat-capable CCW pistol. But even he knew its limits. The colonel saw the gun for what it is . . .

“A gun to be carried much and fired little” – Col. Jeff Cooper, April 1975 in Guns & Ammo magazine

As a carry piece, though it truly excels. In the late 1970s and 1980s, the Star PD 45 was a very popular piece for plain clothes police work and personal protection. Remember that back then ammunition wasn’t what it is today. Most semi-autos would choke on anything that wasn’t hardball and that meant that the 9mm wasn’t the best choice for law enforcement work.

Hence the popularity of the .45 ACP. My particular Star PD was used as an off duty carry piece back in the late 1970s by my very own father when he was a plain clothes detective in Miami.

Accuracy back then was just as good as it is today.

My father carried the Star PD 45 as his off duty piece during the height of Miami’s cocaine drug wars. As a Homicide Detective who worked cases putting drug dealers away, he wanted something that packed a punch, wouldn’t quit, and could keep his kid safe.

Back then, the drug cartels had no issues going after cops, especially when some of their hit men were dirty cops themselves. But thankfully that era is long gone.

Today my father is retired and the Star PD 45 has also been relegated to the safe. But even in retirement, both my father and the pistol get to relive their glory days occasionally.

Star PD 45 Specifications

Weight: 25 oz
Length: 7.1inches
Barrel Length: 3.9inches
Width: 1.2inches
Height: 4.9inches
Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity: 6+1

A common misconception is that the “PD” in the name stands for “Police Department.” Nope. PD were the initials of Pete Dickey an Interarms employee (the US importer of Star pistols) who submitted the original design idea for the pistol to Star Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A.

Today, these old school classics are gaining popularity again in collector circles. The average price for one is good condition is about $450. Parts are hard to find as are magazines since Star has been gone for 20 years now. But that doesn’t mean you should overlook a PD 45 if you spot one in your local gun store’s case or on a table at a show. If you want a blast from the past don’t let one slip past you.

8 thoughts on “Spain’s Exceptional Conceal Carry Gun: the Star PD 45 Pistol”

  1. Star guns are a screaming deal at times, because most people know little about them. They’re quality pieces sometimes with a rougher-than-American finish. But they can be finished to a high level, and made quite pretty.

    A clarification: Since I’m in a region of the US settled by the Basque, and my Basque neighbors are quick to point this out, Star was located in the Eibar region of Spain, solidly in the Basque lands. Star, the company, and several other gun companies in the Eibar region, were staffed by Basque workmen, who are even in this country, quite fond of their guns.

    There are several fine makers of sporting shotguns in the Basque country as well.

    Reply
    • I bought another Model 31 the other day and its go just the smallest beginning of a crack around the grip area. right up against the rear of the receiver, you know, the usual place they start on old shotguns Any advice on how to nip that in the bud ?

      Reply
      • Well, there are two schools of thought:

        1. Using a a small pilot/countersink drill or a automatic center punch, put a divot right at the end of the crack. Then, using a very small drill, drill through the material where it is cracking. This isn’t ideal, but it is something that many people with some skill can accomplish in their shop. When I say “small” drill bit, I’m talking something that’s down around 0.025 to 0.030″ in diameter. That’s less than 1mm.

        2. Clean the crack really well (you need to strip out any/all oil that might be in the crack) and then put a TIG weld onto the crack, file it back to match the profile.

        The issue in TIG welding on some places on a gun can cause warpage, and when I weld on many gun pieces, most of my welding time goes into fixtures and clamping to keep the part immobile and areas from warping/springing.

        Reply
          • From your comment, it wasn’t clear that it was in the wood. You said it was “right up to the receiver” – and in some older shotguns, the tangs or bolt studs start to crack right at where they meet up with the receiver. That’s what I thought you meant – the stud/receiver area. This is often a problem on guns where someone has sat on a gun that was laying on a car seat (or something similar happened, eg heavy luggage put on top of a soft-sided gun case that was on an uneven surface), and the buttstock tried to bend sideways. FWIW, I tend to use the word “split” when I’m talking of cracks in wood and “crack” when I’m talking metal.

            OK, the wood.

            First, there are three types of splits that happen in grip areas of a stock.

            a) splits caused by the wood drying out. I’ve seen guns that have been in a safe for years and years, with a Goldenrod and desiccants in the safe to prevent corrosion, and someone brings the gun out, bumps it just wrong, and the grip splits, or a piece comes off a rifle foreend or grip cap, etc. I’ve seen a rifle foreend split lengthwise. Oh, that killed me.

            These are and aren’t always easy to deal with permanently.

            They’re often easy in that they’re usually a nice, clean split, and the wood will usually take glue quite well.

            They’re not easy in that, when the wood is really dry and fragile, there could be another split/chip coming out of the wood right next to where the first one happened, parallel with the first split. Where I see these problems most are toes that chip off, chips that come off the bottom of the grip in the grip cap area (especially on stocks without a grip cap).

            Sometimes (eg, lengthwise splits in a foreend or long lengthwise splits in a grip area extending backwards from a tang) they’re not easy to clamp. There’s really no easy way you’re going to make that wood firm and strong again. In my experience, the woods most apt for this type of split are the low-figure black walnuts, and some clear/low-figure maples. I find it is especially a black walnut issue. It’s a wood that splits very easily once made very dry. Black walnut is a very strong wood in shear and compression modes (better than French or English walnuts), but many lower-cost black walnut stocks are often made with very low-figure, straight-grained wood that can split lengthwise quite easily.

            Sometimes, I’ve had to put in a hidden dowel or other wood piece to reinforce the existing stock wood in a hidden area. Once, I had to put some fiberglass mat into the barrel channel and use bedding compound to hold the fiberglass to the wood to keep the foreend together. I greased up the barrel, and clamped the whole thing together. Then I removed the barrel/action from the stock, and re-inlet the barrel channel to re-float the barrel.

            b) There are the splits caused by recoil concentrated onto a small area of the stock. These happen because the mating fit of the stock to the receiver (and/or tangs of receivers on guns that have them) has changed, and the stock is taking the recoil in a very specific area which is forcing the split to happen. This is what I’m assuming your problem is.

            On the 31, where you can get the “tang-as-wedge” type split is on the bottom of the grip, due to the semi-tang on the back of the trigger area:

            http://frankbaumer.com/Heartland%20Pictures/More_Pics/Remington_31_schematics.jpg

            See where the number “43” is at the rear of the trigger group? If the wood is hitting that area first/hardest on recoil, you can see a stock split backwards from that point. The solution is to use a gouge to relieve some of the wood from in back of that trigger group tang, glue the split closed, and re-mount the stock.

            One of the things that happens to guns like the 31 and similar guns where the receiver/stock fit has a “lip” on the rear of the receiver, and as a result the stock has a rebated area all around the head of the grip, is that the wood on the inside of the “lip” or “rim” of the rear of the receiver has shrunk away from the receiver, and the recoil is being transferred by that “rim” or “lip” running around the outside edge of the rear of the receiver to the grip. This will often cause splits or flakes of wood coming off the grip.

            OK, to make it clear what we’re talking about, go here:

            https://www.shop.macongunstocks.com/Remington-Model-31-Example-Walnut-Butt-Stock-Remington-31-Stock.htm

            See that little picture of the buttstock? Click on that. Blow the left picture up. See how there’s an area around the hole for the mounting stud that is flat? That needs to be where the recoil is transferring energy. See that rebated area running around the outside circumference of the grip head? That’s where we don’t want to make contact, or make very, very light contact.

            What has to be done here is to remove the buttstock, glue and clamp the split, allow to dry for a couple of days. My preferred glue for stock work is Titebond III – either water-resistant or waterproof. (I’ll mention more about glue in a footnote below – I have very specific reasons for using the glue I do).

            Then… the stock often needs to be re-inlet to match the receiver/tang/etc. What often happens is that the wood is retreating from the larger areas on the back of the receiver (or it was never quite fit correctly, and now the wood is drying out and getting fragile), and the recoil is being concentrated in one small area of the stock, like the outside of the grip by that “rim” or “lip” running around the outside edge of the receiver.

            To do this, I’ll get out the inletting black, I’ll put a thin coat on the back of the receiver, tangs, etc coming off the receiver. Then I’ll carefully fit the stock back onto the receiver, put in the screw to hold the buttstock on (carefully, so as to not cause a phony reading) and use a small rawhide or rubber mallet to tap on the rear of the buttstock to get a “reading.” A “reading” happens when the inletting black transfers from the metal to the wood, telling you where the wood is touching the back of the receiver.

            Next, I’ll pull off the buttstock and see where the receiver and buttstock made contact – often it will be a minority of the overall surface area. In receivers with tangs, maybe the stock is making contact only at the rear radius of the tang, and the buttstock has shrunk away from the rear of the receiver over most of the area. The rear radius of the tang(s) will split the wood like a wedge.

            I’ll then get out my chisels and gouges, and take off a very thin piece of wood that showed contact (ie, it will transfer the inletting black) and only that area where the inletting black transferred, then re-coat the receiver with inletting black, re-mount the stock, tap again, and get another reading. I’ll continue doing this until I get uniform contact of the buttstock on the rear of the receiver, as evidenced by getting bits of contact over the whole of the mating surface of the grip into the receiver. When you’re doing inletting like this, you will NOT get a uniform black contact patch over the entire thing. You’ll see little bits of contact spread out over the flat surface that mates to the back of the receiver.

            On a gun like the 31, I’ll try to leave the “lip” or “rim” on the outside of the receiver not quite making contact with the forward face of the rebated area, and make sure that the stock is being contact over as much of the inner flat-against-the-receiver area as possible. When I say “not quite making contact,” I mean that it’s not making contact with the mating area of the receiver by like 0.002+” – half the thickness of a sheet of 20# paper.

            Now, there is a detail you need to pay attention to here on guns like the 31 and similar guns: It is entirely possible if you’re not paying attention to change the cast/toe/drop of the buttstock by changing the inletting on the part of the buttstock that mates up to the receiver. Everything about the cast, toe-in/toe-out and drop is controlled by how the head of the grip fits against the rear of the receiver.

            When I’m doing these jobs, I start by putting the gun onto my bench and I use some tools to take stock measurements, including any cast/toe and the drop at the heel of the stock. Remember on a shotgun, unlike a rifle, all stock measurements are taken relative to the rib on top of the barrel(s) – not the centerline of the bore. You can measure drop by using a yardstick and a ruler – you lay the edge of the yardstick on the rib, then you use a ruler to measure how far the heel of the stock drops from the bottom of the yardstick. To measure cast, you run the yardstick smack down the center of the rib, and you see if the buttstock is straight in line with that yardstick. If the rear of the buttstock is off to the right side of centerline, that’s “cast-off” and if it’s to the left of centerline, that’s “cast-on.”

            Toe-out is when the toe of the stock is twisted to the outside, and toe-in is when it’s twisted to the inside. Even if a gun has cast, they usually don’t have toe. I might fit a gun with toe-out for women with larger breast sizes or men with lots of pectoral mass. The other alternative is to bevel off the toe a bit to make it bite less. Guns that bite at the toe can really put a person off shooting in a hurry.

            Cast-off is used more in rifles, but I can address it if you wish.

            The most important thing is to see how the stock drops before you start taking any material off the head of the grip. If you remove more wood from the upper part of the grip head, your drop decreases, and if you remove more wood from below the hole for the stock stud, your drop increases. If you like the fit of the gun before you start (ie, when you mount the gun, does your eye naturally fall down the rib?), then don’t change the drop.

            I will warn you right now that most people lack the patience to do inletting properly. Most people try to take shortcuts – eg, with a Dremel tool or something similar. To quote Rocky The Squirrel “That trick never works!” I’ve seen more bedding jobs and inletting jobs wrecked by Dremel tools than I care to recount. When I’m in a class or seminar, and I see someone pull out a Dremel on a piece of stock wood, I walk away. I don’t want to be in the area when someone makes the discovery….

            c) And then there are the “clear through the grip” splits caused by drops and problems with the wood grain. This could also be related to (a) above, but sometimes these “clear through the grip” splits happen on fairly new wood of low figure.

            These splits, if they’re unmolested, I will glue, clamp the two pieces together, and then I sink a blind, hidden screw (or two) running into the grip (but not through to the grip cap area) from the head of the grip, drilling downwards from the surface that mates up with the receiver with the screw heads recessed. These screw(s) act as both a clamp for the glue job, and a reinforcement of the grip area.

            These types of splits happen most frequently on guns where the wood grain in the grip area is running parallel to the barrel axis, instead of running up the grip along the length of the grip. The wood splits parallel to the bore axis, clear through the grip. Sometimes, people think that it’s all over for their gun, but I tell people “Leave it alone, cover it up with a paper bag or wrap it in paper towels, bring it in without trying to do anything do it.” When I’m really lucky, I can make these splits disappear for most all people but those who know where it was split.

            The worst way to get these jobs is after someone has tried to fix it, and they botched the job, and now they want a miracle where you have to take apart the glue job, and re-set the situation.

            Glues:

            Why do I like Titebond III?

            – Because it cleans up with water, which means I won’t wreck a finished stock on either side of a split I’m repairing

            – Because it gives me a good working time. Sure, there are cyanoacrylates for wood. If you like working at pucker-factor 11, go for it. I like having a few minutes to see how things are mating up.

            – Because it is strong – when you really allow it to dry, Titebond is quite strong.

            – And because it is moisture resistant or proof, depending on which version you get.

            – Because I won’t stick my fingers together, or fingers to my eyes, or fingers to the glue jar – or fingers to something else. Don’t ask. I’ve heard of some really bizarre incidents with super-glues in EMS.

            Everyone is a smug SOB thinking “Only fools do that!” – right up until you’ve got three fingers glued to a little bottle of “Hot Stuff” from Brownells, and then you’re thinking “Ah, craaaaap!” and then you’re spending a half-hour with an eXacto knife, carefully cutting off your fingerprints….

            – Titebond doesn’t foam up out of a joint, the way Gorilla Glue (the original polyurethane adhesive) does. I really dislike the original Gorilla Glue for stock work and fine woodworking. It “foams” up out of joints, and you cannot clean it up completely or well with just water – you end up needing mineral spirits or naphtha to take it off. If you have an oil-finished stock, these solvents can wreck the stock finish.

            I do furniture work too, and I’ve learned the hard way about Gorilla Glue. It’s hell for strong, and I suppose it has a place in construction or something, but it has no place in gunsmithing, luthier or furniture work as far as I’m concerned.

Leave a Comment