Star Megastar: Spain’s Massive 10mm Autopistol

In the late 1980s, the Spanish gunmaker Star decided to join the new hot trend of 10mm semiauto pistols. The cartridge was getting a lot of press, and Star saw this as an opportunity too ride the wave and also the get a pistol on the market that would attract IPSC competitors. Unlike some companies adapting existing .45ACP designs to 10mm, Star decided to start from scratch to build a pistol that was massive and durable; able to handle the power of the cartridge without any worries.

Star engineer Eduardo Zamacola (who had previously designed the M38/30/31 series for Star) had the first prototypes ready in 1990, in both 10mm Auto and .45 ACP. The design took cues from the Petter designs of France and SIG, with full-length internal slide rails and a removable modular fire control system. It offer 12 round capacity in .45 and 14 rounds in 10mm.

The pistol was quite massive and heavy (1.4kg / 3.1 lb), and failed to sell well from the start. The 10mm craze and flared out rather quickly – it remains a niche cartridge to this day, despite periodic releases of new 10mm pistols (the SIG 320 in 10mm being the most recent). what really killed the Megastar, though, was the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban in the US. This prohibited new magazines holding more than 10 rounds, and the whole point of the bulk of the Megastar was to allow larger double-stack magazines. With those no longer available, there was really not much reason to get a Megastar instead of something like a 1911. In total, just 978 were made in 10mm and 5,424 in .45ACP, with production ending in 1995.

29 Comments

  1. These are magnificent pistols. Yeah, they’re carved out of stone, but that makes them a dream to shoot hot ammo through. Oddly reliable, too. Did this sample not have the decocker function, though?

  2. This is an impressive piece although, as Ian says, mired due to its cartridge. I consider somewhere around 1kg empty as acceptable limit, for steel framed guns. Many guns are well within, although they are in 9mm Para.

    It is well made however, as some other Spanish guns I have seen. One of them was Astra .357 Mag revolver owned by one of my relatives. It was well made and solid gun, albeit with slight visual flaw (roll marking on barrel was running out on one side). Pity the Spanish makers are gone.

  3. Fast forward to the 2000’s and suddenly 10mm has a huge resurgence in companies now making guns for it including Glock, Sig Sauer, and others. More varieties of ammo are listed in manufacturers catalogs than ever. What caused the resurgence?

    • People learning about it, really.

      I hike around black bears, which have grown unpleasantly habituated to people around here. The options for dealing with bears and potential two-legged predators are not really all that good, when you look at the entire picture. A Glock 10mm has been the go-to solution for a lot of outdoorsmen, and it’s only recently really become widely known about its virtues in that regard. Good balance of penetration and bullet weight, decent chance of putting a bear down without having to carry something like a .444 Marlin around with you…

      It’s what you really want when the bear takes a solid shot of bear spray dead in their faces and then just looks at you like you’re the waiter grinding pepper into his salad, and you’ve stopped grinding long before he’s ready to say “enough”. Had that happen over our trash cans about a month ago, and I was sufficiently unnerved by the experience to immediately double-check the usual carry piece.

      Neighbor later showed me video of what looks like the same bear trying to open their front door and the sliding glass patio door to their place, looking exactly like he knew precisely how both doors worked. Didn’t even hesitate–Just wandered up, tried the knob, leaned on the door, failed to get in, and then went around to the sliding glass door like he was a teenager trying to get into the house he was locked out of by mistake… Bold as brass.

      Keep telling the “responsible authorities” around here that we have a bear/cougar problem that’s gonna end badly, but they’re oblivious to it all, mostly because the urban migrants we have infesting the place don’t want any form of hunting or pressure applied to these animals ‘cos “wildlife is why they moved here…” Same idiots posting looking for their little lost kitties and doggies they let run loose, never connecting all that “wildlife” with their missing pets. Hell, we had a cougar try and grab an 8 year-old out of a city park year or two ago… And, the idiots keep on petitioning to “stop hunting”, while the deer are eating their lovely landscaping.

      Dude, if you see one deer around here, there are ten more you don’t see, and a cougar lurking somewhere nearby because that’s where their dinner is. Only thing is, it’s a lot easier grabbing Fluffy or Moppsy out of the backyard than it is to run down one of those deer, sooooo… Yeah. Dumbasses.

      • Be aware that bear spray doesn’t always work. Some bears will seek revenge… And then you’d have to break out a gun with lots of PUNCHING POWER, preferably a rifle chambered for a large caliber Nitro Express cartridge.

        • Having used it, now? I’m really not impressed with the efficacy of it. At. All.

          Next time I need to dissuade a bear from molesting my trash, I’m gonna use copious amounts of electricity. As in, about 7,000 joules worth of juice, some nice hog fencing, and good grounding.

          It’ll also be fun watching the kids try to put trash in the trash cans. They have enough trouble with the straps to keep the lids on, and keep forgetting to do them the right way, which just encourages the bear to come back again and again. I figure once he’s gotten electrocuted a few times with the electric fence charger, he’ll learn. Maybe.

  4. Fired one of these in 10mm, once. It was about the time that a friend of mine was deep into the whole 10mm cartridge thing, both of us wishing that the BREN 10 would be successful. He bought a Colt Delta Elite as soon as they were available, and that thing was just a nightmare–His went back to Colt at least three times, and I have the distinct impression that he was probably their number-one pain in the ass, because he actually fired his versus taking it out to the range once or twice. There at the height of his infatuation, he was probably trying to run upwards of a thousand rounds a month through his Delta Elite, and it just wasn’t standing up to the use.

    While he was on hiatus from his 10mm excursion during one of the “return to factory” issues, he showed up with a borrowed Megastar in 10mm. First time I fired that thing, I was looking at the slide to make sure I hadn’t picked up something in 9mm, because the full-house 10mm that he usually shot was just not feeling the way it did in the Delta Elite. The Megastar tamed that load very nicely, which was still within SAAMI specifications but slightly hotter than the original Norma loads they’d sold for the BREN 10. Only flaw of the Megastar was its size and weight, which got it reluctantly returned to the dealer. We were joking around about it being an “anti-tank pistol”, and that’s about what it was–You really needed a pistol belt and a set of suspenders to try and holster that thing, especially with extra magazines. It was on the ragged edge of qualifying as a “service pistol”, and really too damn big and heavy for that role.

    Nice pistol, though. Highly reliable, and very nice to fire in 10mm, even with fairly hot loads. I wish I’d had the spare cash to lay out for one, back in the day.

    Glock really ruled the 10mm roost, though, what with the 20 and 29. Still does, in my book…

    • “(…) It was on the ragged edge of qualifying as a “service pistol”, and really too damn big and heavy for that role.(…)”
      Period brochure http://www.star-firearms.com/firearms/guns/megastar/index.shtml states that
      Indeed, Megastar’s outstanding
      design was not for a servi-
      ce firearm. For the first time in its long
      corporate life, Star follows and
      crowns a cherished American ideal:
      THE PISTOL; in capital letters, in ex-
      clusive formulation: a powerful caliber
      fired from the most powerful hand-
      gun.

      Though this raises question why they lanyard loop.

      • (Tongue in cheek) The lanyard loop was supposed to be used to prevent the gun leaving your hands with the supposedly massive recoil. Why else would they spend the time to add it?

        • We speculated that the lanyard loop was where you mounted the optional tripod…

          I can’t overemphasize the mass of this pistol. It’s like a Desert Eagle, in terms of feel.

          Granted, I only handled one the once, and fired a magazine or two out of it, but… It made an impression.

          • That makes sense as an option for smaller framed people with egos that demand the most ridiculous size handguns they can buy. Witness the S&W X frame being mated to the k frame grip. for reference, I am 6’3″ and the hardest kicking handgun I shoot is an N frame Smith .41 magnum, and I load .41 Special (210 gr bullet 1000 fps) for 90% of my shooting.

  5. “(…)Unlike some companies adapting existing .45ACP designs to 10mm, Star decided to start from scratch to build a pistol that was massive and durable; able to handle the power of the cartridge without any worries.(…)”
    http://www.star-firearms.com/firearms/guns/megastar/index.shtml does show scan of period brochure for this fire-arm, title page says

    MEGASTAR 10mm/.45 BORN TO LAST

    text inside claims

    Most pistols chambered for
    10mm. auto have been
    redesigned from original 9 mm.
    models through thickening of
    frames and slides to cope with high
    pressures and recoil.
    Star took the safer, harder path:
    true to its renowned drive for
    strong, durable designs as a basis
    for trouble-free, long-lasting
    product, it built MEGASTAR in
    perfect conjunction with the
    10 mm. round;
    (…)

    So were other 10 mm automatic pistols mainly derived from 9 mm designs xor .45 Auto designs?

    • CZ-75 derivatives, 1911 derivatives, Glock/XD/S&W M&P, S&W 59 derivatives…

      I bet I see 87 of these @ the Wanenmacher show in November.

      • The Glock 20 was a purpose-built 10mm that they rechambered to .45 ACP. The further derivatives like the 29 and the 40 were thus based on an actual designed-for 10mm platform.

        A lot of the other designs, not so much. I’m not a fan of the caliber-converted 9mm Glocks to .40S&W, nor of the 10mm to .45 Model 21 and its derivatives. The 9mm is a stout design for that caliber, which I can attest to through having put around a thousand rounds of Uzi carbine ammo through my 19 due to a rather foolish trust put in an idiot ammo dealer. Aside from some heavy flash, it did nothing to the pistol.

        Do that with the equivalent .40S&W, and you’re looking a KABOOM in the face.

  6. “(…)prohibited new magazines holding more than 10 rounds(…)”
    According to http://www.star-firearms.com/firearms/guns/megastar/index.shtml
    Magazines held 12 rounds of .45 and 14 of 10 mm. For no clear reason, most 10 mm magazines in the US have a strip of steel welded to the inside to limit their capacity to 12 rounds also. The .45 magazines will function correctly, however, and hold the full 14 rounds.
    Did any obscure rule applicable in U.S. make 12-round 10mm magazine kosher, as opposed to 14-round one?

  7. It looks like everything that the Bren 10 was supposed to be

    OK, no “cocked and locked” option on the star, but the star actually worked and it didn’t fall to bits.

    A lot of Spanish stuff was (and with shotguns still is) very good.

    • To me the prize of “everything that the Bren Ten was supposed to be” goes to the Tanfoglio T95, and derivates. It doesn’t even need to be that massive.

  8. Although I am a big fan of the 1911 if I were to buy a 10MM it would be a Glock.
    As it is, my bear country pistol is a Ruger Blackhawk in .45LC loaded with “Buffalo Bore” factory loads.

    • I still believe that if you think a handgun is enough (at least marginally) for defense against dangerous animals, it needs to be a revolver.

      Self-loaders can and will hang up at the most inconvenient moments. Revolvers do, as well, but the number of possible malfunctions is much smaller.

      cheers

      eon

      • It has to be said that, not counting hard primers, when a semiauto jams, 99% of the times it’s enough to operate the slide to clear the malfunction. When a revolver does, it’s usually locked, and to simply open it is an armorer’s job.

      • Lemme see if I can do the math for you… Revolver: Six rounds. Lotta fine muscle movement to reload another six, to get 12 rounds shot at large dangerous animal rushing me with intent to kill. Semi-automatic Glock 20: 15 rounds, no need to reload.

        I can just about see getting off maybe one, two revolver loads before being reached by a bear. Given the options, I’d rather have the semi-auto and be able to do a mag-dump of 15 rounds. There’s more room for error with the Glock 20 than with the revolver, TBH.

        I know one guy who has actually shot bears with pistols, and his choice of weapon is the Glock 20. He used to carry a large-bore revolver (I think a Ruger Blackhawk in something bigger than .44 Magnum), and what he found the first time he had to do it was that the adrenaline dump of realizing a bear was charging him just wasn’t conducive to hitting the damn thing. If the hunter he was guiding hadn’t have had the presence of mind and ability to put that bear down, he’d have been toast. After that, he went with a Glock 20, loaded with some fairly hot handloads. He’s had to use that twice, and it’s worked out better. The Glock 20 is easier to carry and a lot easier to get into action than the revolver he was using, but I’ll freely acknowledge that he and I both agree the 8″ Blackhawk he was carrying the first time around was a lousy choice…

  9. And it was the pistols adapted to the 10mm & not built for it that had the “nice” folks at SAAMI folks step down the standard 200grain/1200fps loads so that guns simply not designed for it wouldn’t break and some big names in the industry would look bad due to safety recalls/failures. Just like they did with the .22 Hornet & the 7.92×57. Hornet loads in rifles designed for 22LR didn’t do well when the bolt handle posing as a lug met the Hornet & the mere thought of an unconverted 88 Commission rifle had the 8mm Mauser/IS downloaded to almost .30-30 levels Last I bothered looking, at least the CIP standards were “unmolested”. (now get off my lawn)

    • There’s a long rant to be had about SAAMI specs.

      Back before +p 9mm loadings, there were actually articles in magazines/ books like handgun digest, about how to load 9mm p, warm enough to reliably cycle a luger.

      7×57 and .303 are two other rounds that are drastically underloaded in America.

      • Always remember that the SAMMI specs are designed to put safe ammo in the oldest/weakest design rifles and the uncertain metallurgy of the turn of 1899-1900 firearms still in use. The 1889 to 1898 Mauser, The Remington Rolling Block the early Lee Enfield etc. come to mind as reasons for keeping pressures down as do the Krag and the very early 8×57 which were loaded with two different diameters. Many people do not realize how comparatively weak the metal in early smokeless powder rifles can be.

        • Nope, nobody is aware of the .318 v .323 Mauser issue. Many people do not realize how comparatively weak the construction of the Colt 10mm’s was. Oh, wait. They do. Instead of telling Colt etc to do a recall, the round got downloaded. I’m just surprised that after the Eddystone rifles, the .30-06 cartridge didn’t get neutered too. FWIW, one of the tales I’ve heard is that “foreign” cartridges got downloaded specs was to limit the appeal of “cheap surplus guns”. Not that the US firearms industry would ever do something so stupid as to bite the hands that feed them money. Well, no more than a few times a decade anyway. (grumbles about lawn again)

          • Yes, and then spend lots of money on “new and better” cartridge designs that literally ballistically match older and proven cartridges. Some designs make sense like the Winchester short magnums for short actions, many do not like the Remington Utra Magnums and the necked down .378 Weatherby series. Why the .30 super carry when we already had the 7.5 fk which is a far superior cartridge?

  10. All,

    I currently own a Star Megastar in 45ACP. Heavy, large, but lovely. Used it to qualify for my CHL and did quite well.

    Question: can a 45ACP Star be reconfigured to 10mm?

    Thanks in advance.

    D in Texas

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