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Star PD .45 Semi-Auto Pistol: An Old-School Nonte Creation

Gunsmith George C. Nonte modified the Star B to create the Star PD .45 semi-automatic handgun, and it served many a shooter and police officer well over the course of its lifespan.

Star PD .45 Semi-Auto Pistol: An Old-School Nonte Creation

The Star PD was a modified Star B and was a great semiautomatic carry gun.

As a young man, I read everything I could about the 1911, including work by George C. Nonte, an innovative gunsmith who “chopped and channeled” Government Model 1911 pistols. One of his interesting pistols, the Star PD, was featured on a 1975 cover of Guns & Ammo—and found its way into the holsters of many shooters.

The pistol was a highly modified Star B, a gun produced by Star Echeverria in Eibar, Spain. The Star B isn’t really a 1911, but it is close. It doesn’t use a grip safety. The pistol’s action features a drawbar that trips the sear, and while the pistol is similar to the Browning Hi Power in some ways, it is unique in others. As an example, the safety may be placed in the Safe position with the hammer down.

The Star PD is a chopped Star B, and it retains the swinging link of the 1911 and also a shortened barrel bushing. The pistol also featured good quality adjustable sights and a decent trigger. The Star uses a unique six-shot magazine with a generous witness slot on each side.

Star PD .45 Semi-Auto Pistol Trigger
While similar to the 1911 in some respects, the trigger was of a completely different design.

At the time, ammunition makers were pushing wide-nose hollowpoint loads that were ill-suited to the 1911’s feed ramp. The overall length was too short for feed reliability, and the nose snagged on the feed ramp. Not so the Star, which came out of the box running with every current jacketed hollowpoint circa 1981 when I was in service.

By the time I became a peace officer, the once-difficult-to-find Star PD was in the supply chain, and I carried the Star PD .45 for about six years. The Star went through several recoil buffer assemblies. The original buffer required a complete replacement every 500 rounds or so. A later design allowed changing a plastic recoil buffer alone.

I loaded my own ammo and shot the pistol a lot, finding it to be reliable and accurate. Carried in an inside-the-waistband holster, at 25 ounces the Star wasn’t a burden on the hip. I worked plainclothes, targeting liquor houses drugs and gambling, and I cannot imagine a better tool than the Star PD .45.

Star PD .45 Semi-Auto Pistol Recoil Buffer
The gun’s recoil buffer took a beating over time. Many are found with pieces of the buffer in the action.

The pistol was a rattling wreck by the time I fired 2,000 rounds through it. I replaced it with a Colt Officer’s Model, but the Star was an invaluable learning experience in so many ways and led to my development as a shooter. It also protected my life at a time when I could scarcely afford a better gun. It was the right gun at the right time for many of us.

Until last year I hadn’t seen a Star PD for sale locally in quite a while. However, while writing this article I’ve seen a few more. I think as older shooters pass on we will see more come out.

As for the less rare Model B, unmodified guns in good but not mint condition are holding at around $400. I would be leery of paying more, but some examples demand $600 to $700. These are interesting shooters and a link to a time when Spanish makers were well respected and ran a thriving business.




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