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Colt Revolvers => "Brand X" => Starr => Topic started by: Captainkirk on April 15, 2019, 12:34:17 PM

Title: 'Star Pupil' gets a detention
Post by: Captainkirk on April 15, 2019, 12:34:17 PM
OK, You guys know about the Starr SA I got a year ago or so. If not, you can catch up here:

Well, seems my 'star pupil' got in some trouble. I've not shot this thing yet, but played with it a bunch. In fact, I think I probably even made some wisecracks about wearin' it out before I ever shot it.
Well, not exactly but...before I ever shot it, I broke it.
The hammer would go back to full-cock but not stay there. Great.
After tinkering a bit, I discovered if I pushed forward on the trigger in full cock, it would catch. Well, expecting a sear or broken trigger spring, I reluctantly tore into it the other night during Gunsmoke reruns...
Never having ripped into a Starr before, I wasn't sure what to expect. Probably a good thing.
First off, this ain't your garden variety Colt or Remmy. Not even close.
But let's cut to the chase. What I was looking for was a broken spring, probably a broken trigger spring. What I found, was that the trigger spring was bent to where there was a gap between the trigger and the spring, hence the no lockup at full cock. That was an easy fix; pop the trigger pivot pin out and bend the tip of the trigger spring until there was again positive pressure on the trigger. Now, this is probably complete nonsense unless you've had the pleasure of field dressing a Starr SA before, if so, it probably makes perfect sense to you. Short answer, that fixed it right up. The longer, and more complex question is "why did this spring bend, and will it do it again?"
I'm guessing, "poor tempering", and "yes". And considering seeing if I can locate spares BEFORE it breaks.
But irregardless, this was my first autopsy of a Starr SA, and some findings:

1) This thing is way, way more complicated than it needs to be. The parts have odd geometric shapes that can't be adapted from other gun spares, say, Colt or Remmy design, and can't readily be field-improvised. The hammer-to-spring attachment is sort of a pendulum/hook arrangement, really odd, and if it breaks you are dead in the water. The hand is really odd, not at all like your typical Remington or Colt design.

2) All the inside finished edges of this thing are sharp as razor blades. I found tiny cuts and blood all over my hands after cleaning up. Not a particularly user-friendly firearm by any means.

3) This is NOT the gun to disassemble at the range. If you have a malfunction, throw it in the case and address it at home.

4) Nothing, NOTHING you have in your possibles bag is gonna fit this gun, so don't even try! Not screws, springs, parts, none of it. If you need spares, I suggest you order them beforehand.

5) My cylinder notches are starting to peen a bit, but as they are not square notches, I can see dressing them is gonna be both an exercise in patience and skill. I believe the timing probably needs a bit of fine tuning, but I don't even know where to begin. More on that later when I address it.

All in all, I'm still quite pleased I got the gun. It is indeed unfired as there was no evidence of any powder residue anywhere and the guts were still full of packing grease. It does appear to have been dry fired as the nipples showed flattening on one side with hammer marks. Nothing most used guns don't exhibit, though. From a historical standpoint though, keeping one of these up and running during wartime would probably require an army gunsmith as I find it way too complex for the common Union officer in the field without firearms repair training. And that's my take on it...

Next time I tear this thing down, I'll try to get some photos and add them here.
Title: Re: 'Star Pupil' gets a detention
Post by: sourdough on April 15, 2019, 02:07:53 PM
Sounds like a real learning experience! I feel you got it for a very good price, especially since (new) they seem about as scarce (or more so) than a (new) Pietta G&G.

Awaiting to hear about your first range session!

Title: Re: 'Star Pupil' gets a detention
Post by: ssb73q on April 16, 2019, 05:12:17 AM
Hi Kirk, I looked through my library and could only find one reference to the Starr, David R Chicoine's "Gunsmithing Guns of the Old West. No drawings, just a two page description on how difficult a revolver design and maintenance difficulty. One comment : "although moderately successful, was just plain crude." Another: "Almost all Starr revolvers whether they are original or not, will often balk and hesitate while cocking, occasionally the cylinder will "throw by" the bolt and fail to lock." He did say that the Pietta copy is a much better gun than the original Starr revolver.

It seems that Pietta has discontinued the Starr. I would suggest not shooting it and keep it as a collectable. While you can you may want to purchase some spare parts, springs and other delicate parts to keep in reserve. If the Starr is truly discontinued, spare parts will dry up quickly.

BTW, you can still buy Chicoine's book here for a low price:

Title: Re: 'Star Pupil' gets a detention
Post by: ShotgunDave on April 16, 2019, 09:22:15 AM
Thanks for the report Capt.

I always think I want to try something different. A LeMat, Starr, Savage, whatever. Then I read the reports like yours, and it changes my mind.

I thinks I'll sticks with me Colts.
Title: Re: 'Star Pupil' gets a detention
Post by: Captainkirk on April 16, 2019, 11:39:37 AM
BTW, you can still buy Chicoine's book here for a low price:


Ouch...they're mighty proud of that book...even a used copy will run ya half a hundo.
A bit steep for two pages of relevant info. How is the rest of the book WRT the other guns we own and shoot?
Title: Re: 'Star Pupil' gets a detention
Post by: ssb73q on April 16, 2019, 08:05:27 PM
Hi Kirk, a better book for general use is Chicoine's "Antique Firearms Assembly/Disassembly". However, there is nothing about the Starr in that book.

Title: Re: 'Star Pupil' gets a detention
Post by: mazo kid on April 20, 2019, 10:27:29 AM
I haven't shot any of my Starr revolvers yet either. And I'm glad I got my Chicoine book when I did, about $20.00 IIRC, used like new.