A Critical Look at the Star Model 28


It has been said, "With age comes treachery" and some have asked the question, "Why is youth wasted on the young"?  I believe that the first is true for some of us and don't have the answer to the last.  I will say that I envy the young their youth.  I envy their sharp eyesight, quicker reflexes, but most of all I covet their enthusiasm for that which appeals to them.


And so it was with me in 30 years ago.  I got into handguns and shooting to almost obsessive levels and this trend continued for more than a few years.  In the '80's I was still single and had been promoted to police sergeant and was making the best money I'd ever made in my life.  I might have to eat pork and beans for a month but if a new handgun came on the market that I was intrigued by, I usually was able to buy it…or at least pay it out.


I do not remember the shooting magazine in which I first saw the Star Model 28, but I liked what I saw: 15 shots of 9mm, reportedly smooth double-action, light single-action, and good accuracy coupled with reliability using a wide range of ammunition. On Jan. 18th, '85, I bought one for the then princely sum of $355.00.  A while later I bought another.


I have never regretted it.


Physical Description: The Model 28 is a forged frame, all steel handgun that mimics both the CZ-75 and the SIG P210 in certain aspects of its design.


Weight: 2.38 lbs.

LOA: 8.07"

Bbl Length: 4.33"

Stocks: Checkered black plastic in earliest guns and replaced with checkered rubber having steel inserts.

Sights: Fixed, but with the rear sight blade click adjustable for windage.  The front sight is a serrated ramp that is integral to the frame.

Action: Conventional double-action for the first shot followed by single-action for subsequent shots.

Magazine Disconnect: Yes. It also vigorously ejects released magazines.  With a magazine out, the trigger does not engage. It can be moved, but it is moving no other part of the firing train. Unlike the Hi Power, the magazine disconnnect on the Model 28 does not affect trigger pull.

Finish: Blue

Magazine Capacity: 15 rounds in 9mm and I'm not aware that the Model 28 was produced in any other caliber.

Removable Bbl Bushing: No

Internal or External Extractor: External, but "self-sprung" ala the internal extractor common to most 1911 pattern pistols

Loaded Chamber Indicator: Yes, on top of the slide but it was removed on the gun pictured when the Millett rear sight was added.

External Safety: Yes, ambidextrous thumb safeties, which are mounted on the slide

Full Length Guide Rod: Yes




Here you can see the Star Model 28 compared to the CZ-75.  Both of these pistols have had some custom work done. The CZ has had the hammer bobbed, the barrel hard chromed, and Novak fixed sights added with the sides of the slide being polished and bright blued. The rear sight on the Star is an adjustable from Millett while the front sight is from the factory.  The trigger on the Star was narrowed to the same width as the CZ-75, and all internals were hard chromed, as were other parts that are visible in the picture. The Model 28 in the picture is wearing the checkered rubber grips with steel inserts. The Millett was chosen over the S&W K-frame rear sight simply because it covered the slot for the loaded chamber indicator, which could not remain in place with the sight installation. The magazine release is located at the lower rear of the trigger guard and is retained in the same manner as the 1911 and Hi Power.


Like the CZ-75 and the SIG P210, the slide rails are reversed and the slide rides within the frame and not without as per the 1911, Hi Power, etc. It has the one-piece feed ramp and cases are well supported.  There is no internal firing pin lock unless the safety is depressed and the firing pin is held in place with the traditional firing pin retaining plate. The firing pin and spring are easily removed for cleaning.


The thumb safety is slide-mounted with "down" being "safe" and "up" being for "fire."  There is no internal firing pin safety and the traditional retaining plate retains the pin.  Unlike most autos having this type of external safety, engaging it does not drop the hammer.  Instead, it cams the firing pin forward until it is just below the rear surface of the retaining plate.  The trigger will drop the hammer if pulled even with the safety engaged but the retracted firing pin prevents the hammer from striking the rear of the firing pin.  Theoretically, this is safe, but I wonder what might happen if parts became worn and the firing pin was not retracted quite enough. (This brings to mind the old adage of never completely trusting any mechanical safety device.)


Field-stripping is not remarkable.  The slide is retracted until a witness line on the frame matches one on the slide and the slide stop is pushed out. (The magazine should be removed before doing this and the gun should be double-checked to make sure it is empty.) The slide, barrel, captive recoil spring and guide will now slide off the front of the frame. This is normally enough disassembly for most cleaning purposes, but the if more is desired, the Model 28 does allow it in a manner similar to that of the SIG P210. The hammer and the firing train except for the trigger and drawbar can be lifted from the frame after depressing a spring-loaded button at the lower rear of the rear grip strap. This is also necessary for removal of the gun's grips. They use no screws, but are "lipped" and held in place by the rear, removable grip strap.



On the left we see the firing pin retracted by the thumb safeties when in the "safe" position.  The firing pin is retracted so that it is below the outer surface of the retaining plate and cannot be struck by the hammer.  The safety does not block anything else. Neither the sear nor the hammer is blocked.  The gun could be dry-fired loaded and theoretically be safe.  (I do not recommend such at all.) If you look closely it is apparent how the slide rides on reversed rails inside the frame. Despite the gap between the slide and the ejector, and the rear of the slide and frame, there is very little lateral movement of the slide and none vertically.  Barrel-to-slide fit is rock solid. On the right is a spare Model 28 barrel showing the ramp and degree of case support provided.  Note the relatively large cut to the right of the cartridge for the generous extractor claw.



                Here is the Model 28 disassembled for routine cleaning. It is not difficult at all to take apart to this level.


On the left we can see the button that is depressed before lifting the (lowered) hammer assembly from the top of the top of the frame.  The grips are "lipped" to catch under the frame fore and aft, and are held in place by the rear grip strap.  When it is removed, the grips drop off.  A word of caution is in order here. Early Model 28's had plastic grips.  These could somewhat easily be broken in the assembly/disassembly process.  Later grips were hard rubber with steel inserts.  That's what the grips pictured are.  If you have one of these pistols or plan to get one, remember this, as spare grips are difficult to find.



Shooting: The Star Model 28 was fired with several commercial factory 9mm loads and each was chronographed.  Related following figures are based on 10-shot averages fired 10' from the chronograph screens.


Chronograph Results: Star Model 28:



Average Velocity (ft/sec)

Extreme Spread (ft/sec)

Std. Deviation (ft/sec)

Federal 105-gr. EFMJ




Sellier & Bellot 115-gr. FMJ




Sellier & Bellot 115-gr. JHP




Winchester USA 115-gr. JHP




Winchester USA 115-gr. FMJ




Federal 115-gr. JHP




Corbon 115-gr. DPX +P




Corbon 115-gr. JHP +P




Corbon 124-gr. GDHP +P




Federal 123-gr. FMJ




Federal 124-gr. HydraShok




Federal AE 147-gr. FMJ




Winchester 147-gr. STHP




Remington 147-gr. GS





It becomes apparent that the Model 28 runs at the low end of the expected velocity envelope. Corbon 115-gr. JHP +P is advertised at 1350 ft/sec and it certainly meets this, but in similar size pistols, the load normally averages 40 to 60 ft/sec higher.  The Federal American Eagle 147-gr. FMJ is moving at some .45 ACP velocities but is often on the low end for 9mm velocities in this bullet weight.  The Silvertip from Winchester and the Golden Saber from Remington are in the accepted range of velocities from most 9mm handguns.


The Model 28 has considerable free bore compared to most other automatics I've seen. I'm not sure why this was done but I think that it is very efficient in handgun-length barrels.


Here is the interior of the Model 28 chamber. Note the area devoid of rifling just in front of the chamber and before the rifling starts.  I cannot prove it but I believe that this possibly accounts for the slightly lower than expected average velocities in the Model 28 compared to other 4" barrel 9mm pistols.


So if velocities tend toward the slow side of the average 9mm-velocity envelope, does that mean that the gun will not group acceptably?  Absolutely not!  The Star Model 28 shoots considerably better in my observation than some more expensive 9mm pistols.



The groups shown in the pictures above were fired at 15 yards in single-action.  A two-hand hold was used and my wrists were braced while I was in a seated position.  These were fired in slow-fire.





This ten-shot group was fired at twenty-five yards in the same manner as were the targets at 15 yards.


Due to time constraints I did not fire the gun beyond 25 yards but have no reason to believe that it would not meet expectations based on past shooting sessions over the years.


Observations: Several examples of the Model 28 have proven themselves utterly reliable with regard to feeding, extraction, and ejection, and each has come with an exceptionally light single-action trigger pull. In normal trim, these pistols come with rear sight that is click-adjustable for windage but fixed with regard to elevation. I have never shot a Model 28 that did not hit way high for me at any practical distance and that was the reason for the addition of adjustable sights.  I appreciated and liked the small groups but didn't care for their being about a foot high at 25 yards! (I note that this is not a problem on the Model 30M that was based on the Model 28.  The rear sight blade is lower. If you have a Model 28 and opt to file down the rear sight blade, you will have to deepen the notch appropriately or it will be too shallow in my opinion.  This was done on the Model 30.)


I find this somewhat heavy all-steel 9mm to a most pleasant range gun and frankly, like it better than the CZ-75 with respect to "feel."  This is highly subjective and other folks may very well hold the opposite opinion.  Interior finish is satisfactory and all parts work smoothly.


There are some "faults" with this pistol…as is true for anything made by man. If attempting to rack the slide to chamber a round, it is much easier to do if the safety levers are in the down position.  In a deadly force scenario, this costs precious time.  I would also prefer it if the pistol's average velocities were more in line with other 9mm's of its size. As Star has been out of business for several years now, parts are becoming harder and harder to find.  The Model 28 may have competed in the US trials for a new service pistol in the '80's but they've been pretty well forgotten now.  Spare parts for the Model 28 and its progeny are almost nonexistent when compared to the Model B, B Super, and BM single-action Stars.


The slide on the Model 28 is most easily hand-cycled when the hammer is cocked and the thumb safety levers are down. Note that the extractor effectively obliterates the rear slide serrations.


It is my observation that the Model 28 feeds about any 9mm-bullet profile available and groups well with a wide selection of loads.  These 147-gr. Remington Golden Sabers fed smoothly and grouped quite well from the Model 28.


Though I think the Star Model 28 is a very nice 9mm pistol, I do not suggest buying one unless the price is very, very right.  IF your gun's performance matches mine, the pistol will be reliable and accurate, have somewhat slow velocities and will hit high.  Combined with the lack of spare parts, I think there are other 9mm pistols to buy.  If Star was still in business, I might offer a very different opinion.


The Star Model 28 is an interesting handgun and one that is capable of considerably better accuracy than might be expected for the price.  I find these pistols to be extremely comfortable and a pleasure to shoot. They have proven reliable in the extreme. From the factory they come with the top of the slide serrated as are the front and rear grip straps. Sadly, they are long out of production. I thought enough of my Model 28's to have custom work done but times have changed. With the company no longer in business and spare parts a major problem, I wouldn't make the same decision today.


I have a brace of these pistols; each a mirror image of the other and have some spare parts purchased back when they were available.  I will continue to use the Model 28 at the range but that will be about it. This is sad in my opinion because they are truly fine shooters.



One of the most comfortable pistols to hold and shoot, I regret strongly that these guns are no longer produced.  If they were I would hope that the barrel's free bore would be reduced or eliminated so that average velocities would be more in line with other 9mm service pistols.




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