August 21, 2004, 05:37 PM
What ever happened to the star line of pistols? You used to hear a lot about them in the mid-late 90's but I haven't heard anything about them if quit a while.
August 21, 2004, 05:49 PM
Star and Astra are both out of business, taken over by Llama. AFAIK, both lines have been discontinued, though I could be wrong.
August 21, 2004, 08:29 PM
Based on what I was able to dig up last year, when looking into a possible Llama purchase:
The triumvirate of Spanish pistol-makers, Star, Astra and Llama all went under in the 1990's.
STAR (Bonifacio Echevarria SA, Eibar) filed for bankruptcy protection in late 1993. They had taken out a number of loans to invest in CNC machinery, and were affected by the Asian Economic Crisis: Spanish banks tried to cover Asian investment losses by turning the screws on those owing them money, like Star.
I'm not clear on what happened next, but apparently, Star ran for cover by seeking receivership under its rival ASTRA (Esperanza y Unceta, later Societa Unceta y Cia, and lastly Astra-Unceta y Cia), which as it later turned out, wasn't in such good shape either, and for similar reasons that affected Star. ASTRA (with Star) went completely under in 1997.
ASTRA's employees tried to set up a cooperative to take over the company, but they took out too many large loans (just like their former employers) towards a too-ambitious relaunch, upgrade and retool, and soon, once again, protection was sought under Spain's bankruptcy laws. Much of the companies' assets were seized and sold off.
Some old STAR employees set up IPAR guns, an outfit specializing in gunsmithing and target pistols. Other STAR and ASTRA employees went to work for a new company, ASTAR (Agrupacion Social Trabajadores Armeros, SAL), turning out pistols that look very similar to the old STAR's
So, STAR and ASTRA are no more.
However, the runt of the Spanish triumvirate suffered a kinder fate.
Gabilondo y Cia, makers of the Llama brand, filed for bankruptcy the earliest, back in 1992. The following year, 60 of its employees set up a cooperative to take over Gabilondo. They went slow and steady, minimizing any additional financial exposure, and by year 2000, they secured the Llama name. That cooperative, the new company making Llama pistols, is named Fabrinor Corta y Microfusion, and for a while operated out of the decrepit Llama factory in Vitoria, but recently relocated to a new facility (with all the upgrades and retooling that Star and Astra employees had tried to get cold turkey) in nearby Legutiano, Gojain.
Not surprisingly, many former Star and Astra master gunsmiths now work for Fabrinor (Llama).
The company is doing remarkably well in term of sales, particularly after tying up with the Sodini family
(SGS Importers Int'l) for marketing and distribution in North America under both the Llama name and the US brand 'Firestorm'.
I suspect Llama (Fabrinor) should very comfortably be able to retire the debts inherited from Gabilondo within just a few years, and move on strongly from there.
August 22, 2004, 02:31 PM
Yep, Star imploded.
August 23, 2004, 12:09 AM
Interesting to read this - a Star Firestar was my first .45 and I used it as a carry gun when I had a permit for a couple of years in CA. It's like carrying a brick and it doesn't begin to compare to current carry gun (Kimber CDP), but I still like the old pistola and it's right here in my desk! :)
August 23, 2004, 08:33 PM
Actually, I've never even so much as handled either a Star or an Astra.
However, it seems everyone I've spoken to who has, keeps a positive
impression of them: heavy, a little rough, but dependable. It also seems
that there's quite a dedicated following for such Spanish pistolas
chambered in 9mm Largo.
August 23, 2004, 08:55 PM
Thanks for the info, Horge. That is a lot more than I knew about the situation, and I am sure Pumpkinheaver appreciates it.
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