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Star PD is a Defective Design?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Drakejake, Apr 3, 2004.

  1. Drakejake

    Drakejake Well-Known Member

    I must admit that I think so. First, this pistol requires the use of plastic recoil buffers that don't have a very long life, are hard to replace, and are currently very expensive and hard to find. Even worse, I believe that the mag latch assembly is defectively designed. I have two PDs which eject mags upon firing. They were in new condition when I got them. I have replaced the mag latch springs with new ones similar to the originals--no luck. I have replaced these springs with stronger Colt springs. These have to be slightly shortened in order to fit. No luck. I looked at the piece of metal which actually latches the mag. It is too small. The mag releases if the latch moves a tiny fraction of an inch. I have concluded that the only solution is to put a small flat spring under the right grip and let the end of it cover the mag latch and thus re-enforce the internal spring. Basically you must add a supplementary external spring to secure the mag. But if the piece of metal used as a spring is too strong, you cannot extricate the mag from the grip. A piece of plastic credit card will also work, but probably won't last as long as metal. I cut off the end of metal nail file and this works if properly installed.

    If anyone has better ideas on this, please let me know.


  2. jercamp45

    jercamp45 Well-Known Member

    The PD was way ahead of it's time.....

    But that time started in the mid to late 70's and ended in the mid to late 80's with the intro of the LW Officer's model(IMHO).
    The Star had a rep for spotty QC, and questionable alloy's that would not stand up to alot of use. But it carried like a dream, had alot of bells and whistles you could not get anywhere else and wazs a great CCW piece, if you had a reliable one, changed the springs often, did not use it alot and kept a few spare parts on hand.
    I had one in '79 and carried it concealed through a stint of guard duty, but I retired it as soon as I got my Commander modified to my specs. The Star was nice, but again, I did not use it alot...having read Jeff Cooper's article in American Handgunner way back then. After I got the Commander broke in, I used the Star more and did have some of the problems you mentioned. I replaced the necessary parts(they were available then) and sold it in 1981.
    Stuck with Colt's ever since. The Commander, then a Officer's, then a LW Officer's which I still carried up until last month when I got my new(to me) Colt CCO.
    I am not a 'smith, so cannot recommend work to be done. If you collect, keep one, then get a modern piece for defensive use. Star may have started the lightweight concealed carry .45 craze, but their are many more to chose from now!!
  3. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Well-Known Member

    I still get letters from people who carry their PDs daily. Never heard of a failure from them, or historically (jercamp45 mentions Cooper's recomendation) in the mag latch area. They are, in fact, the same mag latch as all the M/P series guns, which is just a slightly larger version of the B-series. They are normal and work fine every time I have heard of or seen one.

    Are you using Star mags? There was info spread about at one point that 1911 mags would work in .45 Stars (M, P, PD...) but its not quite true. They fit, and appear to work, but are slightly undersized so don't always work and could fall out.

    Stars, especially of this age, do suffer occasional small part failures. More often than not its a bad spring. Most metallurgy seems good, but the springs are lacking. I seem to recall Wolff has lots of Star springs, so you don't have to make do with 1911 ones.

    Never heard of the buffer. Seems a good idea, since its an alloy frame but I have never heard of a Star factory buffer in anything. Many people who carry (or carried) the PD had two. One to shoot, one to carry, becase it was not that rugged for the thousands-of-rounds-of-practice shooter. I'd put the buffer in a box and try it. For my firestar plus, I use like 22# Wolff springs (14# is standard), to try to reduce battering. Who knows if it works, but the gun never stops.

    The PD was deadly stat-of-the-art when it came out. Nothing was that small and light for the power. It took a few years, but eventually others started making seriously small and light 1911s, and those took over from it. Since most of them are at least semi-custom, they are rightly much better guns for self-defense. In addition, there are now things like the Kahr, G36 and others that are equally tiny and well-designed for daily wear.
  4. Drakejake

    Drakejake Well-Known Member

    I am using Star PD factory original mags. I have replaced mag latch springs and this doesn not seem to be a viable solution. A spring strong enogh to prevent spontaneous ejection cannot be inserted. The problem, I believe, is that the mag latch assembly was designed for a larger, heavier pistol which would have more resistance to recoil. The shock of firing the .45 round through a small, 25 oz pistol is enough to cause the latch to move and to release. I do think think it is relevant that the mag release button needs to be moved only less than an eighth of an inch in order to release the mag. Since I have two Star PDs that do this, and both were new when I bought them (but made a long time ago), I believe that this problem is no accident, but results from a bad design.


  5. aircarver

    aircarver Well-Known Member

    If it spits the magazine out upon firing, it is not up to performing it's intended purpose. :mad:
  6. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Design Defects

    All designs have their unique defects, and none are perfect. Additionally,
    there will always be individual examples of any design that is "defective",
    just like there will always be individual examples that function perfectly.
    Cars, guns, and electric can openers...Nature of the beast.

    I've always viewed the Star as a pistol to shoot a little and carry a lot.
    Shoot it enough to test reliability and for periodic familiarization, and
    carry it. It's a neat little carry piece, and if the one that you have is
    reliable enough to inspire confidence in it, then it's good to go. If it's
    NOT reliable, either get it fixed or get rid of it...with full disclosure of the
    problems noted, or course.

    I've never considered the Stars to be hard-use guns. Like the M-37
    (Airweight)Smith & Wesson J-frame revolvers, they fill a specific niche,
    and do it well as long as one is aware of the limitations.


  7. caz223

    caz223 Well-Known Member

    Mine shoots fine.
    The only minor glitch is that the rear sight screw is bottomed out, but it shoots to POA.

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