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firestar new grips on box

(This is a reader-submitted review as part of our gun review contest. See details here.)

By Hoplopfheil

I’m not very keen on practical pistols, which is what leaves me digging up weird old crap and playing with it in the woods. That’s what brought me to the Star Firestar M-43 9mm, imported by Interarms of Alexandria, Virginia more than 20 years ago.

The story of Interarms is really what makes Star Firearms so interesting. The founder of International Armament Corporation, Samuel Cummings, was a real life Lord of War. After serving in World War II, he bought up an enormous quantity of surplus arms from across Europe. In the 1950s he set up Interarmco, and began importing military surplus to the United States. At the same time, he started exporting American firearms to hotspots around the world; notably supplying Armalite AR-10s to Dominican revolutionaries and General Trujillo at the same time, which went over about as well as you’d expect.

Interarms imported a number of high-quality firearms from Europe, including the Mauser HSC, the Walther PP series, various and sundry Luger pistols, and seemingly the entire range of Star pistols like the 9mm 1911 clone Model B, the Megastar, and this:

firestar in box

Star’s Firestar is a weird mechanical hybrid of their classic Model B, and the later Model 28 series of Wondernines they designed to appeal to military contracts. As a result the Firestar is something of a transitional firearm. The action is strictly old school; single action like their 1911 clones. It’s a very heavy, stainless on stainless pistol, made at a time when the Gen 2 GLOCK 19 was an option. At the same time the Firestar is extremely compact for the caliber, cornering the single stack pocket 9mm market 20 years early.

firestar and shield
Firestar and a S&W Shield

The three models of the Firestar are the M-43, M-40, and M-45, chambered in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP respectively. The M-43 and M-40 are nearly identical in size, and most parts and magazines should be interchangeable between the two. The M-45 is, predictably, chunkier to accommodate the girthy 45 Auto cartridge.

This one is in Star’s “Starvel” nickel finish, which looks tremendous when in good shape. When in bad shape, it looks like chrome paint chipping off of a plastic bumper. Everything else on the Firestar is quality. Most of the gun is satin nickel, except for the flats on the slide which are more polished and have a brushed look to them. The checkering on the front and backstrap, the front of the trigger guard, and the controls (slide release, ambi safety, and combat hammer) is sharp and clean.

The only negative from an aesthetic standpoint is the mediocre soft rubber grips. After some fevered internet searching, I found some custom wood grips made by an eBay seller. These are checkered French walnut with a cool Star logo. If you had told me two years ago I would get so obsessed with stainless pistols and wood grips, I would have laughed in your face, and maybe kicked you in the nads. Addiction really sneaks up on a guy.

firestar wood grip install

The Firestar is not a duty pistol. The small size means a small magazine capacity of 7 rounds for the M-43, and 6 rounds for the .40 caliber M-40. Extended 10-rounders are available from Triple K and ProMag, but the Firestar is a concealed carry gun through and through. Reloads could certainly be faster; ejected magazines do not drop free, and in fact only drop a centimeter when empty. This is a side effect of the magazine disconnect, which relies on the magazine impinging on a tab to allow the trigger bar to travel rearwards and trip the hammer.

The whole magazine disconnect assembly is easily removed with a brass punch, but it’s pulling double duty as a stop for the bottom of the mainspring. When the disconnect is removed, the mainspring drops in the housing by about 3/4 of a centimeter. I modified my Firestar in this way, and haven’t had any issues with reliable ignition, it’s just something to be aware of.

With the magazine disconnect removed, pressing the mag release causes the magazines to leap from the bottom of the gun like a 2 dollar bill getting rejected by the vending machine in my office (damn you, PepsiCo, I need a Dew and I don’t have any friggin’ quarters!)

firestar mag well

I haven’t bothered with the Triple K magazines, partly because their AMT Backup magazines are shockingly poor, but mostly because they have star shaped witness holes which is tackier than wearing Birkenstocks and tube socks (sorry Dad). And don’t even get me started on the ProMags.

The rest of the controls work just fine. The magazine release is oblong, and the extra length front to rear makes it very easy to reach. The ambidextrous safety actuates cleanly with a nice click and stays where you put it. The sloping, textured surface and the position of the safety make flicking it off very easy. The large surface of the slide release is just as easy to actuate, which comes in handy as the Firestar has reversed slide rails like a CZ-75 and there’s not a lot of real estate for a powerstroke.

firestar stripped

I am a large-handed individual who finds the grip of a GLOCK 19 (if anything) too small, and the Firestar fits my hand perfectly. The grip is exactly as short as I would ever want from a concealed carry pistol. Any shorter and you have to make a no-win decision about where to keep your “extra” finger, any longer and they might feel the need to put some unnecessary finger grooves on it.

Shooting the Firestar is extremely pleasant. The gun is damn heavy; unloaded it weighs more than a fully-loaded GLOCK 19. I have it on my lap as I’m writing this, and I think it’s cutting off the circulation to my lower extremities. The upshot is that recoil is mild for a gun of its size, which makes speed shooting fun and easy. I would love it unconditionally if only I could out shoot a Stormtrooper at 7 yards. What a twist!

firestar range

The single action trigger is not 1911 style, and I have a hard time with it. For one, it pinches gloves and prevents the trigger from resetting until you pull your finger completely out of the trigger guard. That’s not likely to be a concern in a suburban defensive role, but I wouldn’t carry it camping. Even after spending a few lengthy sessions snappin’ caps while watching Bob’s Burgers, I still can’t predict the break. Careful target shooting slowed to a crawl at the range while I tried to slowly increment pressure to find the break. It was throwing fliers like a kid with a missing cat.

firestar sight picture

The Firestar has adjustable 3 white dot sights. The rear sight has a generous gap for the front dot, which makes getting your sights on target very fast, but getting your rounds on target a bit harder. Some glow-in-the-dark sight paint would make them a bit easier to pick out. For that matter so would a fresh coat of white, since the M-43’s sights have gone to beige in the last 25 years.

Standing between you and carrying the Firestar is a dearth of available holsters. The only one I could find that is still in production for the Firestar, is a Bianchi 6D with a host of minor problems. For one, it only “kinda” fits the Firestar, as well as several other models of pistol. I really don’t like using a holster that only fits my gun by coincidence. Second, it has a retention strap with a thumb break which I think is unnecessary for an IWB holster. Not only does the thumb break just get in the way, it also doesn’t fit the M-43 properly.

I modified this one by cutting the thumb break off on one side, and sliding the adjustable strap completely out of the other side. This left a big strip of useless Velcro on the inside, so I cut out the stitching and removed that as well. Unfortunately the Velcro was also held on with contact cement, and removing that was a pain in the ass. I also trimmed the leather on the bottom of the holster by about a half inch so it didn’t overlap the muzzle so far. It’s not a great holster and rides slightly high, but it works well enough when modified this way.

firestar with awful holster

I really love my Firestar M-43, and the understated panache of the rest of Star’s lineup has me wanting more. The rest of the Star/Interarms story kind of sucks. Spanish arms companies Astra, CETME, and Star all went bankrupt in the 1990s. Star went out kicking with a torrent of new models before the end, but none of them really caught on and the doors closed on this excellent small arms company in 1997. Samuel Cummings had no one to take over his company, and when he died in 1998 Interarms died with him.

firestar box contents

The last years of Star were impressive, though not financially. The Firestar M-43 got a late-life upgrade to the appropriately named M-43 Plus, a double stack version of the same gun. It boasts a chunky GLOCK-like grip width to accommodate a larger magazine, and a lighter alloy frame. More impressive was the Megastar, a big double stack, double action combat pistol chambered in .45 ACP and 10mm. In 1992 it was probably the only 10mm pistol that wouldn’t destroy itself under normal use of full power 10mm loads.

There was also the Ultrastar, their first polymer framed pistol. The Ultrastar honestly looks like a legitimate contender in the modern concealed carry market, and based on my experience with the Firestar I’d take one over a S&W Shield or GLOCK 43 just to be different. If I ever get one, you’ll read about it here.

The Firestar represents an interesting enigma. On one hand, it’s not a combat pistol. The capacity is too limited, and the controls too slow (especially ejecting spent magazines). But on the other hand, the Firestar shoots well. The weight keeps it controllable, and the uncomplicated single action trigger is capable of combat accuracy if you can learn to stop anticipating the break.

On still another hand, that weight and that single action manual of arms make it a less than stellar carry pistol. And on yet a fourth hand, the Firestar’s small size makes it a carrying contender after all.

m43 firestar recoil

Specifications: Star Firestar M-43

Caliber: 9x19mm
Capacity: 7+1
Barrel Length: 3″
Overall Length: 6.5″
Height: 4.6″
Width: 1.1″
Weight: 30oz
Price: About $350 (approximate Gunbroker price for one in good shape)

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):

Style, Fit & Finish: * * * *
Star’s electroless nickel “Starvel” finish is drop-dead gorgeous when new, but when it starts to go it looks like hammered fecal matter. Nice proportions and quality machining make the Firestar look good even with those meh rubber grips.

Accuracy: * * *
Mechanically accurate maybe, but the trigger break is too vague. The sights are too coarse as well, so accuracy will come down to the shooter.

Ergonomics (Carry): * *
Dimensionally the Firestar is very similar to a Smith & Wesson Shield, but for the all-important width. The horizontal beefiness makes concealment unusually uncomfortable for such a small gun, and the ambidextrous safety stabs at thee from anywhere you tuck it. And it weighs about as much as a gold brick.

Ergonomics (Shooting): * * *
The Firestar is hand-filling and barely seems to recoil. Large handed shooters will feel the ambidextrous safety biting into the web of their hand with a high grip, and the mushy trigger discourages accurate shooting.

Reliability: * * * * *
My Firestar has literally never malfunctioned. I don’t mean “almost never,” I mean literally not even once. It always shoots, it always cycles, it always ejects. Through several hundred rounds of hollow-points, cheap ammo, and even steel cased Tula.

Customize This: – 
No rail means no add-ons, and the Firestar’s EOL status means no good holsters. Aftermarket magazines are of questionable quality, and the only source of custom grips is one guy on eBay.

Overall: * * *
Compared to the modern polymer single stack, the Firestar just doesn’t compete. It’s too fat, too heavy, and it has a manual safety and a single action trigger. In the early 90s, though, it was ahead of its time, and today fills a niche as a good-looking and affordable curio. The size and weight allow it to fill an unexpected role: a great handgun to introduce novice shooters to centerfire shooting. The Ultrastar, Star’s successor to the Firestar, looks like it might come a bit closer to stacking up, but that’ll be a story for another day.

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  1. There’s no such thing as a missing cat. They’ve just found better deals and moved on.

    I had an older buddy, since deceased, who bought the .40 cal version of this gun. He was getting to the point where fighting was not an option and he had never owned a gun. I advised him to buy a revolver and offered to help him shop.

    He went by himself to a gun store and the cheapest, new pistol they had was the Star. He loaded it but never fired it. It stayed in his bedroom, unfired, til he passed.

    • I bought a Star Firestar .40 S&W. It is definitely the worst Star I’ve ever owned. I have a PD and had a 30M, (stolen), both of which are reliable and accurate. The Firestar ain’t. Though it is a great paperweight!
      t is a common misconception that “PD” stands for “Police Department,” however, “PD” is actually the initials for Pete Dicky who submitted the idea for the Star PD to Star Bonafacia, in Spain.

      • Interesting! Since writing this, I’ve read about several people having issues with the .40 cal version. I wonder if it just wasn’t “ready” for the high pressure cartridge.

        I read on (amazing resource) that the M-40 had a redesign to possibly fix issues with the gun. I wonder if you had an early version?

        Since I wrote this, I actually tracked down that Ultrastar I’ve always wanted, and it too has been reliable. Fantastic gun, I bet it would have been huge if it wasn’t for the AWB.

        • I carried a Star Firestar M40 in early 90’s and absolutely loved it. No problems. Excellent performance. Extremely accurate and ergonomical. Couldn’t say enough. Great gun! Was missing it and now all I can find is in a .45. How do these compare. Anyone else know of any for sale?

      • I bought a Star model 31P in .40 S&W when I turned 21. .40 was the hot new thing then and I paid $500 for it-probably too much. It was a great pistol that also never malfunctioned except that it broke the extractor once. I wrote to now-defunct Interarms and they sent a replacement extractor. I believe it was for a 9mm. It would not function with any ammo so I took it to a gunsmith. He said he worked on the new extractor all day trying to get it to eject. Afterward it was again a very reliable pistol. But I sold it and replaced it with an XDs when I got my CWP. I’ve researched these pistols a lot over the years and it’s the only .40 I’ve ever seen of this model. According to this:
        31P’s chambered in .40 are so rare it’s just a rumor. That’s just too unique.I couldn’t even buy a spare mag.

  2. Stars are substantive, and apparently you share my experience, they just plain work.

    I’ve got 2 30Ms right now. I shoot one, and if something ever breaks, I’ll move to the other until I can fab a replacement part. Though, I’m pretty sure by now, nothing will break before I achieve some ridiculous round count. The only problem I’ve had is the (only available) aftermarket mags are so poorly designed, that you have to remove about 4 hundredths from the flanks to get the thing to come out of the gun without needing a screwdriver to pry. Knowing that they’re easily fixable.

    Thanks for reminding me to grab an M43, next time a clean one pops up on Armslist.

    • My experience as well. I have a Mod 30M and it is a perfectly competent full size 9mm pistol.

      For those who aren’t familiar, if you handle one you’ll note a bit of similarity to a S&W 5900, a bit of SIG and a little bit of Beretta in the design along with some pretty unique little features (like you can detail strip it with no tools – the takedown pin and firing pin can be used as punches to disassemble the rest of the gun).

      I like my Star a lot and, for what it cost, it’s probably the best bang for the buck in my safe.

      • Agreed completely, bang for the buck winner, hands down. At least that I own.

        Supposedly 5900 series mags will work, with some tiny modification. I have yet to try this, so don’t my word for it. Gun show in a coupla weeks, if I don’t find Model 30M mags, maybe I’ll give it a go.

    • LOL weren’t we discussing Stars like two days ago?

      I really want one of the Model A’s from the Spanish Air Force there’s one up on gunbroker now, but $495 is a bit steep for that gun.

      There’s another one that’s $300 but doesn’t have the Air Force stamp…. dammit I need to stop looking at gunbroker.

  3. At first, you say its a stainless gun, then you state that it is nickel-plated. I think you made a mistake on the stainless part.

  4. For only 3 or 4 bills, I’d buy one.

    Seems like a good option for a glove box/center console gun. One which has some heft to it, so you aren’t worried about ruining it and you can womp folks with it.

    Side note: “…made at a time when the Gen 2 GLOCK 19 was an option.”

    If I had my druthers, the Gen 5 Glocks would be on Gen 2 frames.

    • i would say this is measured step up from a raven/lorcin, it made from steel, not just plastic and zinc, not to meantion that it has mechanical reliability.

    • Israeli army and police thought highly enough of the Firestar to issue them. I own several in all 3 calibers and all are extremely durable. The only caveat to this is that the .40 caliber frames were reported to crack sometimes although I havn’t experienced this. Not surprising since Star used the exact same frame size on the 40s as on the 9mms.
      In fact the top end of the two calibers will interchange on each other’s frames and the magazines are identical as well.

    • $350 for something made of solid steel which isn’t a jam-o-matic…

      What is your standard to consider the price unreasonable?

      • Folks Who Are Looking at Firestar for Concealed Carry: Wonderful gun, but too heavy and should not be carried in Condition 1 by anyone who is not a regular shooter and versed in its operation. I am a Glock fan anfd have several m odels in various calibers that I would trust implicitly. However, the price of these pistols is 2x the price of another pistol I have several issues of and that is the Kahr line of 9mm, compact sgl. stack pistols. I have had their full steels pistols in 9 and 45 and consider them to be exceptional, but expensive .($750.00 )Since they went to polymer on some of their pistols, I gave them a try. Viola! Small, sgl. stack, 9mm, no safeties to worry about and a good trigger, once you’re used to it. All for $260.00 Try ’em out. Now you’re talkin’ concealed carry.

    • My dad has a Star in .380. It’s been perfectly reliable and decently accurate. I would have a problem carrying that gun.

  5. I used to patronize a gunsmith who used to work for underarms. He had his shop in an old Interarms storage shed on Union Street. He was out of business when the firing pin on my Yugo Mauser broke and I haven’t be able to find a replacement for a reasonable cost. He would have done it cheap.

    If you haven’t figured it out Interarms was an Agency connected business.

    • He was at one time employed by the CIA, sold guns worldwide for decades. I thought his ‘side work’ was pretty well common knowledge by now, but like you (apparently) I find the odd minutae far more interesting than the main story, so I guess normal people may not be aware.

  6. Well THAT was interesting…especially the phrase “hammered fecal matter”. I’ve dealt with lots of bad nickel plating(only 1 old gun) over the years. Peeling thick nickel sucks. Great review and background on Interarms too.

  7. Excellent review, but no representative target pic? “Capable of combat accuracy” is a pretty vague measure, it would be nice to see an actual example of the gun’s accuracy.

    • Apparently that only counts if you put it in a ransom rest, and I don’t have one of those. Or the inclination to use one.

  8. I got an M-40 when they first came out and carried it in a series of raggedy ass cheap holsters. Recoil was pretty fierce with some on the .40 self-defense loads, but it worked a lot better than the Officer’s Model 1911…

    Michael B

    • Me, too. Starvel still looks great on it. The M-40 is a snappy little thing but fun to shoot at self defense distances. Never a single issue with it but dang, it was heavy to carry compared to the PPK I alternated with at the time. And yet I barely notice the G22 I carry now.

  9. I’ve fired many rounds through a firestar M40 (.40S&W). Nice little gun. Heavy and was a bit snappy in the 40 caliber, but a solid and reliable pistol. Mags were unobtainium at the time though. It was around 1999. The specimen I shot was brand new – not a scratch on it – in the stainless/nickel finish.

  10. “….digging up weird old crap and playing with it in the woods.”

    RE: the cemetery cleaning crew in “Shawshank”. “Horse apples”

  11. Great review. I would love to find a Star in .380 to add to my collection. On a side note, has Promag EVER made a product that worked? Their products suck!

    • None that I have ever purchased! Bought mags from them for my Star .40 and .45, neither worked, sent them back, they sent me new ones, they also didn’t work! Then they tried to tell me that MY gun was ODD, that their mags fitted in everyone else’s Stars!

  12. I had the exact pistol, starvel finish, couple of spare mags. Carried for years, being a southpaw, I even installed the left hand mag release (changed it back, to damned used to middle finger release). I bought it based on my experience with my 30M, worked great, even liked the safety (I shot a series 70 Colt Gov’t a lot).
    The gun was plenty accurate, reliable, and could be concealed rather well. Was heavy and a peave was the magazine would not always lock slide back when empty. But this was over two decades ago, not a hell of a lot of small 9mms to choose from, tried that Detonics 9mm hand mashing, crap.
    I actually enjoyed shooting the Firestar, that weight really helped. Time marches on, but even with the flaws I wish I would have kept the Firestar.

  13. I picked up a used 9mm star ” firestar ” a couple of years ago for 250.00 and was able find a couple of extra clips for it on Ebay ! I find that it makes a good trade off gun as i usually carry a 1911 officers mod. clone, as my c.c.w. . It’s never failed to work in any way and it is beyond dependable as far as i’m concerned, plus a lot cheaper to shoot then my .45. I have had several offers to buy it, and my only answer has been that it’s not for sale, or trade at any price. I consider it one of the better deals that i have made in the last 20 – 30 years.

  14. I love my 9mm firestar. It has been trouble free until I used it for my CCW test. I was using +P rounds just to make sure I was comfortable with them to be used for CC. The +P broke off the corner of the extractor and I had to fire the rest of the course single shot style dumping each round and recycling. It was a good learning experience. Don’t use +P. I sent it to be repaired and there have been no other issues. No stove pipes or ftf with any ammo. Just stay away from the jot stuff and you will be fine

    • Probably not be the ammo. Early Firestars (up to a certain serial number) had issues with extractor breakage. I’ve fired factory +P and my own hot reloads in my M43s with no issues.

      • Ditto here. I got my M43 new in the mid 90s somewhere. We were allowed privately owned guns for a while in my agency and I opted for a Glock 17. Got the M43 for non-duty carry purposes. I put a raft of Fed 9mm BPLE through it since Uncle Sugar was paying for it at that time. No issues in either sidearm and 9BPLE is +P+

      • Ah, the M43. I had a blued one–briefly. I liked the trigger. It fit my hand well. Recoil, as others have noted, was minimal. Mine was very accurate at 7 and 10 yards. It happens that I prefer single action only pistols with frame mounted safeties, too. But it wouldn’t extract three rounds in a row. The gunsmith said the extractor was broken and the manufacturer was out of business, so lotsa luck finding a replacement. I ended up taking it back to the store and getting my money back. If I’d been able to get a replacement extractor for it, I’d still have it. The way it pointed and balanced encouraged confidence. It was a heavy little chunk of metal, as heavy as a LW Commander or heavier.

        I wish someone out there would pick the design back up and make one in 9mm on a lightweight aluminum alloy frame, with a modern corrosion resistant finish–matte black anodizing on the frame, black Melonite on everything else. Maybe with concessions to current tastes, like a length of Picatinny rail on the bottom of the dust cover–or not. Maybe bring back the .40 version–or not, as much as I like the .40 cartridge, I remember reading that the Firestar frame was just too small for the cartridge and the .40 caliber versions would self-destruct after a few hundred rounds, with unrepairable peened and cracked frames. Maybe better steel and better heat treatment would help–Star products were always known for soft steel and a distinct lack of durability.

        I have heard repeated rumors that Cugir in Romania has manufactured a copy for export, but thus far they’ve only shown up in Canada. I don’t know why it would be difficult to import them into the US–there was no obstacle to bringing them in when they were made in Spain.

      • Reference for M-43, M-40 Stars: Don Humes 53-111 Jit Slide is an almost perfect fit for both. The Jit Slide is a leather OWB holster. Another near perfect fit is the Fobus C-21B which is a molded plastic OWB. How do I know this? I know ’cause I use these holsters with these pistols often. The M-40 is a frequently carried CCW arm.

        Actually, about any 1911 Officer sized holster is going to be about perfect. Full sized 1911 holsters will likely be a little long but will work if you don’t mind the muzzle overhang.

        The PD and the BM pistols will be a bit loose in these holsters but in a pinch they work too.

  15. An error in the article states that the Firestars were stainless steel pistols. Actually the non-blue Firestars had a proprietary electroless NICKEL finish which Star termed STARVEL.
    Love my Firestars! I lost track of the number of complete pistols and parts kits I have now in all three calibers.
    Did you know that the top mechanicals of a 9mm Firestar will swap onto a .40 frame and vice versa? The magazines of the two calibers are identical as well.

  16. I have one of the non-nickel plated 9MM’s , bought it back when they first came in, had to replace the extractor and firing pin on mine. Not a single issue since, the shop I bought it from ordered both parts when the firing pin broke, the early guns they over heat treated extractors and firing pins..

    I shoot 1 box of 147GR Hydro-shocks through it per year.. (Swapping out the old ammo for new.) Very occasionally I’ve shot a box of basic FMJ’s to keep in practice with it..

    Its my “need a carry gun today” gun. It fits in a Carheart Jacket pocket…

    I’ve shot 4″ swingers at 25 yards and it cycles cleanly enough to shoot one, and shoot it again at the top of the swing.. I’ve even managed to stack all 7 shots so its a nice functioning little unit. Shoots < 1 MOBG (Minute of Bad Guy) 😀

  17. I love my model 43. Had it since they first came out. It was chosen as Handgun of the year in “91 or “93. They do not build guns like that any more. No one mentions the inward slide rails to give it extra strength also more full slide to frame contact. The heavy solid weight {to me anyway} make it a pleasure to shoot. It can be picky about lower powered ammo such as Federal Champion 9mm FMJ….It’s a good practice round but my gun will not cycle it. Not at all. The speedier stuff, no problem. Remember when cleaning and re-assembling it, do it CORRECTLY as if you go too fast and put the pin stop in too soon when it’s not correctly lines up, IT IS A BEAR to get the slide back off. So pay attention !!

  18. I just picked up a blue, M-43, 9mm, Firestar. It was as new, being stored in a dresser drawer for the last 25 yrs. Factory 7 rd magazine, and a factory 8 rd extended. I love this pistol. I had a starvel 9 back 25 yrs ago. It was a great pistol then, and is now. Wolff has replacement springs. It will reside in my desk drawer.

    • WHY not shoot it, being ALL metal and NOT plastic they are a pleasure to shoot and if YOU are up to it , they are very accurate pistols to shoot. Sitting in you drawer does neither YOU nor the pistol any good!

        • Well, this “young fellow” is just shy of 80 years old and after serving for 30 years on Active Duty with the U.S. Marine Corps has fired about every type of weapon both U.S. and foreign made during the past century! My first highly accurate weapons was a BAR, which I could shoot quite accurately at 1000 yards and at one time won the yearly Base BAR competition at Camp Pendleton! Of course as YOU state, I know nothing about guns!

        • Stepped in crap when you dissed old Gene there didn’t you? You do know that it’s a whole lot better to keep your mouth shut and let folks think you’re an ass than to open your mouth and prove it, why you do that?

          I’ll give credit to the old Sarge, he gives damned good advice and some will likely gain by listening to it. Then like you, there’s those we don’t want to confuse with facts ’cause they already know it all.

          Just another 87 year old gunny here.

  19. I had one in 9mm carried it for 15yrs. Selling it was the worst mistake ive made!! Was very dependable! Will be looking for a new one shorty.

    • Good reliable NON PLASTIC pistols, I have one in 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 APC and a later model double stacker in 9mm! Good shooters, never had a problem with them!

      • You have my agreement on these pistols, they are as good as any produced today. One shortcoming to some is capacity. In this day of those who need to spray and pray, they just won’t get that 6-7 in the mag and one up the pipe gives enough for taking care of business. Anyone needing more than that should have called for a police escort. I think that many PDs actually practice spray and pray.

        I can’t remember where I purchased them now, but I have a pair of mags for the M-40 that holds 10 rounds. Of course they stick 1 and 7/8″ below the grip. And they also work in the M-43. I saw in the article that the mags wouldn’t drop. Maybe for him, but I have never had that problem with my pistols. Push the button and I better grab the mag right then.

        One gripe for me is the trigger. If I get too much finger and low in the trigger guard (without a glove) I get an irritating pinch between the guard and end of my finger. Any time I get the 40 into rapid fire, I wind up with a blood blister on my trigger finger. I can discern no visible difference between the 40 and the 43, the one pinches and the other doesn’t

  20. Star Starfile 9mm: With the hammer cocked can the safety be moved to the fire position?…The only way my Starfire will work is the safety lever must first be moved to the lower safe position…I’m used to have a pistol with the hammer being cocked the safety lever can then be moved to the fire position…Can some one out there tell me how the safety is supposed to work on this pistol.

    • Afraid I don’t understand just what a Star Starfile pistol is. A Star Firestar Pistol is what I’m going to assume you are asking about.


      The Starfire M40 and the 9mm work the same way. With the hammer cocked and the safety in the upper position (lever covering the red dot on the frame) the pistol is in the safe condition. Lowering the safety lever to the lower (white dot covered, red dot uncovered) position, the pistol is off safe and the hammer will fall with a pull of the trigger. The safety may be moved from firing position to safe (and vice-versa) with the hammer cocked or un-cocked. The pistol will fire with or without a magazine installed and care must be taken to insure that no cartridge is chambered when uncocking the pistol. I don’t recommend this pistol being carried in condition 1, the safety is too easy to swipe to the fire position inadvertently.

      The safety lever lower position on the Firestar pistol is NOT THE SAFE POSITION! The safety is OFF when in the lower position and the hammer will fall if pulled. There should be paint marking in the upper and lower indicator positions. When red is showing in the upper dot the pistol WILL FIRE if the hammer is cocked and the trigger is pulled. WHITE showing in the lower dot, the pistol is safed and the trigger is blocked.

  21. First semi-auto I ever bought was a new Star Firestar Plus in 9mm Starvel, somewhere around the $325 range, I think. Being young and extremely dumb, I traded it for the old S&W 380 that had a pot metal barrel and couldn’t hit a door at 5 feet. The Firestar Plus went for peanuts after the company went under. I heard new ones in the box were going for north of $110 (or some low price in that range) way back when.

    There is a used starvel Firestar Plus like mine, in 98% condition, on Gunbroker right now, with bidding starting at about $300+ fees. I am tempted to buy one, just for the nostalgia, but I remember I couldn’t shoot it well. I don’t do well with fat blocky grips when the rest of the gun is a lot smaller. Thin grips on bigger guns, I shoot well. Not sure why.

    Seeing a Firestar Plus brings me down memory lane. Luckily, parts (and firing pins, which are known to break) are still available from Sarco.

    • Yes, the Firestar and Megastar pistols had rather large grips. The P series was a little bit scaled down. I think it originally came only in 9mm. I had a P31 chambered in .40S&W. Apparently, there were very few made in .40 right before the company folded. I broke an extractor on it and sent for a replacement from Interarms in VA. They sent one for a 9mm that wouldn’t function. I took it to a gunsmith who tweaked it until it ran fine. He said it was one of the hardest smithing jobs he’d ever done. That gun was very accurate and well balanced. But I traded it for an SKS and later traded that and some cash for an AR.

  22. Have the Firestar M45. Bought it when I turned 21 long ago in the 90s.

    Wanted a single action compact .45 that wasn’t a 1911.

    Compared to the new wave of single stack polymer guns..there is no capacity disadvantage and capacity is overrated for CCW. Capacity matters when volume of fire tactics like the PD uses are employed, or like in Argentina when a crew tries a home invasion or abduction when you get into your driveway.

    The weight of this thing and bulkiness isn’t more (in fact is less) than a G19 fully loaded, which everyone and their mother seems to carry.

    My only concern is the loss of velocity on .45 ammo when using a shorter barrel. the energy levels of .45 are advantageous over 9mm but not when a 3.5″ or smaller barrel is used. The M45 has a 3.8 which I consider to be minimum length for a .45. Otherwise, you’re firing rounds with energy comparable to what a basic HST 9mm would deliver from a G19 type platform. The 9mm is a lot more shootable in terms of recoil and at the same energy levels per round, I wouldn’t advocate .45. back when I bought the pistol, .40 was brand new and there were very few rounds which delivered adequate terminal performance and where equivalents could be practiced with, so the choice of .45 over 9mm was obvious then.

    need to chrono the rounds I have to see exactly what I’m getting, but I switched from 230g +P HSTs to Underwood 185g +P; at nearly equal felt recoil, they have considerably more energy from this platform.

  23. Bought my M43 at Miami gun show.for $100 brand new in 1992. The seller bought it early on Saturday and determined it was too heavy for shoulder carry. He brought it back the same day and he bought a Glock with no trade .I was standing at the table when he turned and offered it to me for $100..Still have it 29 years later with 2 extra mags and 9 mm Black Talon I use for carry
    Love Spanish guns
    .My mother was from Tuy, Spain.

  24. I just bought the Star Firestar plus 9mm in the stainless for $200 plus 2 13 round magazines. I just spent 2 days polishing it, it looks beautiful and my buddy just offered me $500 for it!!! Shoots like a dream, hate the trigger!!

  25. @ Dan, picking up on your Firestar review. In your tech specs, you list the barrel of the M43 as 3″. I have the Firestar M43 (bought new years ago, probably around 150 rounds through it max) and the barrel measures to more like 3.6″ and it’s the same as a S&W M&P m2.0 3.6″ barrel. I actually bought the M&P for edc wanting a barrel a bit longer than the M43 for better site radius. Turns out, they are the same. I should have measured them before buying the M&P 3.6″.
    I also found a suitable IWB holster for the M43 from 1791. It’s their size 3 IWB for sub-compact firearms.
    Bought two extra mags for it and had to file down the ears to get them to feed properly. All ok now.


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